Do you ever wonder why you’re drawn to the unknown or why spooky homes or quiet and dark places invoke a sense of wonder? Maybe it’s the fact that these forgotten places hold the mysterious stories of people long passed, or you’re looking for a unique adventure. Either way, Western New York is filled with haunted and desolate spots perfect for the traveler looking to get out and experience the unknown.
If you consider yourself a thrill seeker with unshakeable bravery, stop by these haunted spots to see if you’re really as tough as you think you are.
The Blue Ghost Tunnel, Thorold, Ontario
The Blue Ghost Tunnel has garnered a cult following due to its terrifying reputation making it one of the most haunted places to visit around Niagara Falls. Built in 1876, the railroad was designed to connect Thorold to Merritton but it was only used for a little over 35 years. Hundreds of men poured their blood, sweat, and tears into the construction of the tunnel and in the process, there were a number of deathly accidents.
Just a year before the construction wrapped up a 14-year-old boy was crushed to death by a boulder. In 1903, two trains collided resulting in the death of both conductors. In total, 107 men died during the construction of both the tunnel and canal in the area.
It’s said that the tunnel isn’t haunted by just one ghost but that a host of paranormal activity takes place there. The tunnel got its name from the regular spotting of a blue mist in photographs taken by thrill seekers. It’s also said that a ghost dog patrols the entrance to the tunnel. If you’re looking for a thrill this Halloween season, it’s only a short drive to the next attraction.
Screaming Tunnel, Niagara Falls, Ontario
The Screaming Tunnel in Niagara Falls has one of the darkest stories of any haunted location on this list, which is probably why it’s one of the most haunted, and a favorite spot for paranormal enthusiasts. To be fair, there’s actually two variations of this story but both are equally disturbing. The first being that a young girl, hiding from her abusive parents is hunted down by her father and set alight with gasoline and a match. The second story is a slight variation, being that it’s the wife of an abusive man who would regularly go to the tunnel to scream out her frustrations. After years of doing this, locals began calling the tunnel the screaming tunnel in honor of this woman.
Visitors swear that if you stand in the middle of the tunnel holding a lit match that it will be blown out, followed by a terrifying scream. It’s believed that the young girl murdered by her father is reaching out from beyond the grave but there’s no confirmation as to whether or not the scream comes from the ghost or just the petrified visitor. If you’re feeling extra adventurous this Halloween season stop by to see how far you can get into the tunnel.
Summit Mansion, Lockport, New York
The old stone house sitting at the top of the hill has been a legend amongst thrill seekers in the area for decades. Built in 1834 by a contractor on the Erie Canal, the Summit Mansion holds tons of stories within its walls. The magnificent home was one of the nicest properties in the area for over a hundred years before it was abandoned. It was sold a number of times but none of the owners invested much time or effort into the house. Fast-forward to present day and the house, thankfully, has been purchased and updated. While the home may not still sit in the same condition that doesn't change the fact that it's one of the most haunted places in town. The graveyard still remains off to the side of the property, abandoned, waiting for its day of resurrection.
In an interview a few years back with a past owner it was mentioned that the house is broken into nearly once every ten days or so by those looking for a fright. Some say that they used to see apparitions in the windows when driving by at night but the windows have since been boarded up.
But it’s not just the haunted mansion that draws spectators. About a hundred feet from the front door in the midst of trees and brush lay a small cemetery filled with the former owners and family members who once lived in the home. It’s been decades since the cemetery was maintained so the cracked gravestones are mostly covered with ivy and left to be taken over by the woods over time. Tales of a ghostly apparition making its way from the home to the graveyard have popped up over time, drawing regular visitors hoping to catch a glimpse.
The Oban Inn, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
This historic property not only has its fair share of ghost tales but also experienced a catastrophic event that some blame on paranormal activity. The property was built as a single-family home for a wealthy captain in 1824 and passed to his son upon his death. The son went on to turn the large home into a bread and breakfast in 1895 and for nearly 100 years it was one of the most popular hotels in the area. On a fateful Christmas Eve in 1992 that all changed. With 12 of the 16 guestrooms filled and nearly 200 people eating a Christmas feast in the dining room a fire broke out on the third floor. Everyone was safely escorted out of the building but due to the wind and severe cold, the property couldn’t be saved. Firefighters tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the flames but they quickly spread throughout the property as hundreds of guests watched as the hotel burned down.
The owner at the time quickly rebuilt the property in the same fashion and it operates as a hotel to this day. For that reason, it’s believed that the same ghosts that haunted the last property have decided to stick around as they are comfortable in their familiar surroundings. Guests of the hotel have complained about loud footsteps coming from the second floor believed to be the captain that originally built the place. The ghost of an old woman has been spotted on the property since the 1930s, aimlessly walking the halls. For this reason, the inn has become a regular stop on ghost walks within Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Love Canal, Niagara Falls, New York
A once thriving enclave situated just a few minutes drive from downtown Niagara Falls, Love Canal has a sordid history that makes it one of the creepiest places in Western New York.
Established in the 1890s, the area didn’t start to really take off until the 1940s when families started looking for more space and some peace and quiet away from the city. By the 1970s the streets were lined with compact starter homes filled with young families, but a dangerous secret would soon gain this small town national attention. Due to years of dumping toxic chemicals in the area residents were getting sick and the land was declared the first Superfund site in the country by President Jimmy Carter, making it unfit for habitation.
Nearly everyone moved away and the vast majority of the town was demolished, leaving barely a trace of existence. Over 100 homes, two schools and parks were wiped clean, leaving next to nothing behind. Today, the eerily quiet streets are a popular destination for amateur photographers and those looking for a scare. A drive through the abandoned streets will ensure that you’ll have an uneasy night’s sleep. The sidewalks are overgrown with weeds, stop signs remain but bleached from the sun and only a handful of houses still stand within the contamination zone.
Former Buffalo Psychiatric Hospital, Buffalo, New York
Arguably one of the most famous buildings in Buffalo, the H. H. Richardson Complex is finally getting the attention is deserves. Built in 1872 in partnership between famed architects Henry Hobson Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted, the complex was designed to house the mentally ill. It operated for nearly 100 years before the building was abandoned in favor of a newer complex that was built on the property.
Left to rot, the complex suffered break-ins and vandalism. Stories began to circulate of apparitions appearing in the hospital windows and sightings of ghosts on the lawns. It was expected that the property would eventually fall victim to the wrecking ball, but thankfully its fate is now much brighter.
The complex is in the midst of a multimillion dollar renovation to turn the property into a hotel and event space with an emphasis on its history. While the property may be updated there's no guarantee that the ghosts won't still remain. You'll have to check for yourself in the near future when the hotel opens up to the public.
Forest Lawn Cemetery
This list wouldn’t be complete with at least one cemetery on it, and Forest Lawn Cemetery is the perfect one to make the cut. Situated in the heart of Buffalo, Forest Lawn is one of the largest cemeteries around and holds a number of prominent and distinguished individuals including former President Millard Fillmore and rock legend Rick James.
Unfortunately, I haven’t come across any stories that would suggest that the cemetery is haunted by the “Super Freak” singer, but I have heard of a number of other hauntings. There’ve been tales of a disappearing car that drivers around the premises, a lost child who wanders around the entrance, and a barefoot woman in a white gown who walks throughout the graves.
Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown, New York
Since 1726 this fort has stood on the banks of Lake Ontario overlooking the Niagara River. First constructed to protect the interests of New France in North America, the fort saw its first battle during the French and Indian War. In the following years, it would also play a part in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and has been used as a museum ever since.
There have been tons of tales of visitors and workers coming in contact with the ghosts of fallen soldiers, or hearing their moans beyond the grave. The fort has earned such a reputation that two different ghost hunting shows, Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab and Syfy’s Ghost Hunters have filmed there.
If you’re feeling adventurous there’s a ghost tour that takes you through the property at night, or you can stay the night. If that’s a little too much for you the fort is open throughout the week for regular viewing hours.