March 1, 2024 | Jamie Hayes

Every American State's Most Iconic Urban Legend

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Every corner of the United States has its own creepy story to scare children. The Red Ghost wandering the Arizona Desert. No-Face Charlie stalking the highway in Pennsylvania. 

Do you remember the biggest urban legend from your state?



If you were a child in Asheville, Alabama, your parents probably scared you with stories of Huggin Molly. Legend has it that this ghostly woman grabs children who wander out after dark, but she never harms them. She only screams.

Paranormal , female ghostLario Tus, Shutterstock


If you see an otter in Alaska, it might not be an otter: It might be a shape-shfiting Kushtaka, ready to lead you into the Alaskan wilderness—never to be seen again.

Originating with the Tlingit people, the legend of Kushtaka still spooks locals to this day.

creature similar to otterTim Rains, Flickr


Countless people on the Arizona frontier claimed to see the same, chilling sight: An enormous, blood-red camel with a sunbleached human skeleton on its back. They called it the Red Ghost.

camelAnthony, Pexels


The scariest part about the Red Ghost? Local legend says a hunter named Mizoo Hastings actually shot the camel. When he inspected it, there really was a body strapped to its back—though no one knows why.

Girl scared of the darkMaster1305, Shutterstock


So the story goes, a girl named Jane from Henderson State University in Arkansas was dumped by her football player boyfriend in the 1920s. When Jane found out he was dating another student, she donned all black and threw herself into the nearby Ouachita River.

To this day, students claim to see Jane, now called the Lady in Black, stalking the halls in a black dress and veil.

female ghost in blackRaggedstone, Shutterstock


If you’re wandering through California’s Santa Lucia Mountains, keep an eye out for tall, ghostly figures in brimmed hats. These Dark Watchers, or Los Vigilantes Oscuros, have been haunting the peaks since Spanish settlers first arrived in the area.

Ghost in forestdrasa, Shutterstock


The Ridge Home Asylum in Arvada, Colorado spooked local residents for years before it was shuttered for good in 1992. Paranormal sightings around the site still happen to this day—but horrific things practiced there, from sane patient confined against their will to forced sterilizations, were all too real.

Abandoned Asylum on Poveglia Island in ItalyJames Kerwin, Shutterstock


The movie Annabelle was based on a real Raggedy Ann doll studied by real-life ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens claimed the doll was possessed by the spirit of a girl named “Annabelle.”

Annabelle at the Los Angeles premiereTinseltown, Shutterstock


The Warrens kept the doll sealed in a glass case in their Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut, where its said you could feel her spirit just by being in the same room as her.

, 'Annabelle' the dollVisit El Paso, Flickr


Fort Delaware is one of the most haunted places in the United States. Dating back to 1859, the site was used to house 13,000 Confederate POWs, who were subjected to horrific conditions.

Nearly 3,000 men perished in the camp, and their spirits still haunt the Fort’s tunnels and hallways.

Fort DelawareMichael Swanda, Wikimedia Commons


Visit Cassadaga, Florida to sit in the Devil’s Chair. The town is said to sit in a psychic vortex, much like Giza and Stonehenge. Those who sit in the broad, red brick seat are said to hear the Devil whispering in their ear.

To this day, if you leave an open can of beer Devil’s Chair, it’ll be empty by midnight.

The Devil's Chair, Cassadaga, FloridaJenna Rose Robbins, Flickr


There are lots of scary stories swirling around Lake Lanier in Georgia—more than 200 people have lost their lives in the waters since 1994—but the scariest is probably the Lady of the Lake, a woman in a blue dress whose car careened into the lake in 1958.

She’s been haunting visitors ever since.

Lake Lanier, GeorgiaVincent, Flickr


People in Hawaii have told stories about terrifying Choking Ghosts for hundreds of years. You’re awoken by the sensation that something is pressing down on your chest. You want to scream but you can’t cry out because something is choking you.

Man chocked in his sleepRoman Samborskyi, Shutterstock


Near Pocatello, Idaho is a site with a disturbing history. Years ago, the Native Americans who lived there were said to have suffered a famine. Mothers with new babies could not feed them, so they were forced to drown them in the local river rather than let them suffer.

Even today, if you go to that spot, locals swear that you can hear the wailing of the Water Babies.

Ghost woman and babytopten22photo, Shutterstock


Sometime in the 1920s or 30s, a woman named Mary was struck in a hit-and-run after a night out in Chicago. Ever since that night, people driving past Resurrection Cemetery, where she’s buried, have reported seeing a young woman in a white party dress with blond hair and blue eyes by the road.

Usually, she disappears before anyone gets out of their car, but one man claimed to picked her up and spent the night dancing with her in 1939.

Female ghost in white dressLario Tus, Shutterstock


The 100 Steps Cemetery in Indiana sits at the top of a hill. You have to climb, you guessed it, 100 steps to get there. But don’t do it lightly—the cemetery’s ghostly caretaker has been known to appear before those who climb the steps at night to show them a spectral vision of their own demise.

ancient stairs in nature,briandalzt, Shutterstock


Stony Hollow Road is the most haunted stretch of pavement in Iowa. Many spirits haunt the road, but the most famous is Lucinda, who threw herself from the cliffs along the roadside. They say if you say her name three times on Stony Hollow Road, she’ll appear. 

Stony Hollow RoadBryan Vorkapich, Flickr


A doctor in Atchison, Kansas once had a patient named Sallie, a young girl. The doctor, performing surgery in his home, botched an appendectomy, and poor Sallie bled out screaming. She still haunts the Sallie House to this day. 

In 2016, the house went on the market for $1,000,000. Then the price dropped by half. By 2017, it was off the market.  

sallie house kansasKansas Tourism, Flickr


Mary Evelyn Ford was burned at the stake in Pilot’s Knob, Kentucky over a hundred years ago. The townsfolk buried her in an elaborate grave, surrounded by crosses, to make sure she couldn’t escape.

Only, if the stories are true, it didn’t work. Ever since, the Little Witch of Pilot’s Knob has appeared to visitors after dark.

Pilot KnobAnthony, Flickr


In 1932, a young girl ran screaming through the streets of New Orleans. She claimed that two brothers held her and others captive to drink their blood. Authorities were skeptical—until she led them to the house to find the poor blood bags inside.

Scared little girl705847, Pixabay


The owners of the house, the Carter brothers, John and Wayne, claimed to be vampires. They immediately confessed and were promptly executed—but it’s hard to finish the undead, so they say.

The Rosegate House at 1239 First Street in New OrleansCarlos Pacheco, Flickr


There’s an eerie stain that looks like a human leg on Colonel Jonathan Buck’s tomb in Bucksport, Maine. His heirs tried several times to clean it off, but it just kept reappearing. But there’s more to this story…

Grave Markers Of Col. Jonathan Buck (1719-1795)Bruce C. Cooper, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons


It also just so happened that when Colonel Buck burned a woman at the stake for witchcraft, her disembodied leg managed to roll itself out of the fire. It’s said the woman’s last words were: “Your Tomb shall bear the mark of a witch's foot for all eternity!"

Buck's Tomb, Bucksport MaineDrStew82, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons


If you find yourself in Prince George’s County, Maryland, don’t go out in the woods after dark, or you might come across the Goatman. This half man, half goat creature has been blamed for the loss of countless dogs—but I wouldn’t want to be its first human victim.

Goatman sightingsJack Boucher, Wikimedia Commons


The first stories of the Black Flash in Provincetown, Massachusetts, were from children who came home in tears after seeing a “monster” on their way home from school in the 1930s. Parents laughed it off—until Maria Costa disappeared.

After that, all kinds of townspeople started seeing the Black Flash—and they still do to this day.

Commercial Street, Provincetown, Mass.Historical Society of Old Yarmouth, Picryl


The Nain Rouge has haunted the region around Detroit since white people first settled there. Allegedly, the city’s founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, disrespected this impish demon. 

Antoine De La Mothe CadillacMichipedian, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons


The demon’s curse eventually stole everything from Cadillac—and it’s still haunting the people of Detroit today.

Detroit DwarfFujiwara06, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons


Minnesota has vast swaths of wilderness—and since long before Europeans arrived, stories of the Wendigo have frightened locals. 

3d illustration of a WendigoJM-MEDIA, Shutterstock


It’s said that whenever someone eats the flesh of another person, they are warped into the malevolent Wendigo, doomed to stalk the woods looking to satisfy their insatiable hunger.

wendigoPepgooner, Shutterstock


According to Mississippi legend, an old woman once lived on the Yazoo River. She would lure fishermen off the river, only to torment them. When Yazoo City sheriff caught up to her, she fled into the swamp and drowned—but not before swearing revenge on the whole town.

The Yazoo RiverMichael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0 , Wikimedia Commons


She said,  “In 20 years, I will return and burn this town to the ground!” 20 years later…a fired destroyed nearly the entire town. But according to those who still live there, the witch wasn’t sated, and she haunts the Yazoo River to this day.

female ghost on haunted lake shorebreakermaximus, Shutterstock


The Landers Theatre is the second-oldest in all of Missouri—and it’s picked up more than its fair share of ghosts in that time. Still in operation, performers to this day claim to see the ghost of a janitor who lost his life in a fire watching them rehearse from the balcony.

The Landers Theatre in Springfield, MissouriRob Kinney, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons


The Landers Theatre janitor is just one of the many ghosts who haunt its halls. There’s also the wailing baby and the blonde actor, dressed in Elizabethan garb—or simply an eerie green orb that appears to people in the unnaturally cold landing between the first and second floors.

theatre ghostthanasus, Shutterstock


Lawler Ford Road has wound through Montana since the 1860s, connecting the river and the railroad, but today it’s known by another name: Zombie Road, and it’s one of the most haunted places in the world.

Zombie Road Bridges in Glencoe, MOEagleScout2017, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons


Since the 1950s, travelers have reported seeing zombies, ghosts, and other paranormal visions along the road. There’s also an enormous Native American burial mound nearby, but I’m sure that’s completely unrelated…

Ghost on the scary roadKseniya Ivashkevich, Shutterstock


Rawhide Creek may sound like an unassuming name—but if the legends are to be believed, the origin of its name is chilling. The story begins when a young white man attacked a Native American woman. When her tribesmen found out, they wanted revenge.

Interstate CanalNational Archives and Records Administration, Collections - GetArchive


The Native Americans tracked the man down to the creek, where they flayed him alive and left him on the banks to rot. Ever since then, people called it Rawhide Creek—but that’s not cowskin they’re talking about.

Rawhide creek signVibe Images, Shutterstock


Area 51 was first created to test top-secret spyplanes, and even after decades of UFO sightings and paranormal activities, the US Government still refused to acknowledge the base’s existence. 

It wasn’t until 2013 when they finally admitted it—but as for what they do there today? It’s still top secret. 

Area 51 border and warning signX51, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire

Goody Cole is the only woman in the history of New Hampshire to have been convicted of witchcraft. Though never burned at the stake, she was ostracized from the town. She eventually passed in a small hut as a withered old crone—but her story didn’t end there.

Witchcraft ToolsMalcolm Lidbury , CC BY-SA 3.0 , Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire

The townspeople of Hampton, New Hampshire allegedly drove a stake through Cole’s heart to make sure she was gone—but I guess it didn’t work. To this day, residents report seeing an old woman wandering the streets, sometimes even stopping to talk briefly, before disappearing into the night.

female ghostjgolby, Shutterstock

New Jersey

The Lenape people of what’s now New Jersey told stories of a deer-like creature with leathery wings. They called it M’Sing. Today, people call it the Jersey Devil. But there’s an even more disturbing origin story.

Jersey DevilKj1595, Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey

According to local New Jersey legend, a pregnant Deborah Leeds cursed her child—and the creature she gave birth to was the devil itself. Was it an M’Sing? Regardless, the bipedal Jersey Devil, with its bat-like wings, hooved feet, and goat-like head, continues to be seen in the forests of New Jersey ever since.

Jersey Devil MiniDystopiamatt, CC BY-SA 4.0 , Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico

People in New Mexico have frightened their children with stories of La Llorona for hundreds of years. Said to be the vengeful spirit of a woman who was forced to drown her old children, La Llorona stalks along bodies of water at night.

The story is good for scaring children away from playing by rivers and lakes—but that doesn’t explain the screams that people hear at night.

Urban ghost SALMONNEGRO-STOCK, Shutterstock

New York

Countless kids from Staten Island in the 70s and 80s lost sleep thinking about Cropsey, the boogeyman who took children for sacrifice. Another bedtime story to scare the little ones—except this one was disturbingly real.

boogeyman and scared girlKjetil Muri Skarstein, Shutterstock

New York

The legend of Cropsey took a disturbing turn when Andre Rand was apprehended. He was convicted to abducting two young girls—but there are at least eight more victims that he’s suspected of abducting, but were never proven.

Shadow hand behind the curtainMonkeyoum, Shutterstock

North Carolina

In the winter of 1953/54, dog carcasses started showing up all over the town of  Bladenboro, North Carolina. Witnesses claimed to have seen a sleek black creature attacking the first dog, and over the following weeks, eight more dogs were found with similar wounds.

BladenboroIndy beetle, Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina

Residents eventually captured a bobcat and claimed they’d caught the “Beast of Bladenboro”—but it did not at all match the sleek, black description of the creature that had been seen.

BobcatVictor Arita, Shutterstock

North Dakota

Careful if you decided to go swimming in North Dakota—you might come across a Miniwashitu. These enormous, one-eyed red river monsters normally hide beneath the dark waters, and it’s said that merely the sight of one is enough to drive humans mad.

river north dakotaJohn Brueske, Shutterstock


If someone tells you “Go to hell,” maybe they’re just telling you to go to Satan’s Hollow in Blue Ash, Ohio. Deep in the woods near the town, a series of drainage tunnels are said to conceal a portal to the underworld, attracting satanists, ghost hunters, and curious kids alike.

Many who have visited those woods have heard screams in the darkness, but no one ever finds the source.

End of a tunnel to a Dark Mystical stairsAtmosphere1, Shutterstock


Unexplained disappearance and strange phenomena are a regular occurrence in Oklahoma’s Beaver Dunes Park. That’s creepy enough—but the plot thickens. Archaeologists attempting to research the site have been chased off by mysterious men in black.

What’s really hiding in Beaver Dunes Park?

Oklahoma’s Beaver Dunes ParkJ. Stephen Conn, Flickr


Countless visitors have claimed to have seen a spectral man covered head-to-toe in bandages at the side of the road near Cannon Beach, Oregon. Legend has it, a man was horribly scarred when he fell onto the blade at a sawmill.

Paramedics covered him in bandages—but the ambulance crashed near Cannon Beach. Authorities found the EMTS unconscious, while the bandaged man was nowhere to be found.

road near Cannon Beach, OregonOregon Department of Transportation, Flickr


Charlie No-Face is one of the least believable urban legends we’ve heard—a man with no face stalks the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at night. But the craziest thing? Charlie No-Face was completely real!

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at nightraffik, Flickr


Charlie No-Face’s real name was Raymond Robinson. A terrible accident when he was a boy claimed his nose, his eyes, and his right arm. He survived, but was left horribly disfigured. He couldn’t stand people gawking, but he enjoyed going for walks at night until he passed in 1974.

Dark shadow of a lonely personUladzimirZuyeu, Shutterstock

Rhode Island

Freddy Krueger is thought to be based on a Rhode Island urban legend. Apparently, Fingernail Freddie grew out his nails long and he attacked anyone who came near his shack in the woods—especially children.

Freddy Kruegermmoroca, Flickr,

South Carolina

Lavinia Fisher lived near Charleston, South Carolina. Her and her husband ran a hotel called the Six Mile Wayfarer House. The couple was beloved, but there were reports of guests at the Inn disappearing.

Charleston, South CarolinaGeorge N. Barnard , Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina

Both Fisher and her husband were eventually executed for their roll in a massive highway robbery scheme, but those disappearances were never solved. To this day, people in South Carolina lay claim the Lavinia Fisher, the first female serial killer in history.

Charleston, SCBilly Hathorn, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

South Dakota

Depressed, distraught young people in South Dakota report seeing a 7-foot tall creature they call Walking Sam. They say he guides the souls of young people who take their own life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Sadly, this legend may simply exist to explain the tragically high adolescent suicide rates in the area.

ghostexebiche, Shutterstock


A young man named Tom from Tennessee once slept with a woman. There was just one problem: She wasn’t his wife, and her husband was brutal. The man skinned Tom alive, and his skinless ghost still stalks Lover’s Lane in Walland, Tennessee.

GhostRaggedstone, Shutterstock


If you see candy on a windowsill in Terrell, Texas, whatever you do, DON’T TAKE IT. It was left there by the Candy Lady, or Clara Crane, who poisoned her husband with tainted candy and was locked up in an institution for it.

If you go for her candy, she take your eyes or your teeth as payment.

Scared man biting his nails looking left in gray t-shirtkurhan, Shutterstock


We’ve never meant “Petrified Forest” so literally. Visitors to the petrified forest in Escalante, Utah occasionally take pieces of wood turned to stone—but they almost regret it. People who take stones from the forest suffer from horrible luck.

Park managers still say they receive dozens of packages every year from people who want the rocks the took to go back where they came from.

petrified forest in Escalante, UtahDominique Boutigny, Flickr


It’s said that extremely poor farmers in pioneer Vermont could not grow enough food to survive the winter, so they drugged the elderly and the infirm. The dragged the bodies outside to freeze, then thawed them out using a special concoction in the spring, after which they returned to life.

Vermont old imagesLibrary of Congress, Picryl


Locals in Clifton, Virginia claim that a bus of mental patients crashed on Halloween night many years ago and one escaped. For years after, people found skinless bunnies hanging from the trees near the bridge where the crash occurred, today known as Bunny Bridge.

Bunny BridgeJack Parrott, Flickr


You’ve heard of Nessie, but what about Caddie? There have been over 300 sightings of a large, sinuous aquatic creature with a horse-like head in Washington and British Columbia—and the rotting, misshapen carcasses that frequently wash up on the shore only add fuel to the fire.

monsterMysikrysa, Shutterstock

West Virginia

The Mothman is one of the most iconic urban legends in America, and it all leads back to a single year in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Several people in the region reported sightings of a massive, man-sized birdlike creature with glowing red eyes.

Mothman StatueCsassen13, Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia

Sightings continued until the December 15, 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge, which claimed the lives of 46 people. Mothman sightings dried up after that, and many locals still believe the Mothman was behind the tragedy.

The MothmanMostlymade, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons


If you take Route 66 through Wisconsin, you’ll drive across Bloody Bride Bridge, just outside the town of Stevens Point. Local legend says that a couple driving home from their wedding crashed on that bridge many years ago, and the bride didn’t survive.

Ever since that night, people have reported seeing a woman wandering the bridge where a red-stained wedding gown.

Bride Ghost in the woods more often at sunset, Halloween, SamhainKateryna Upit, Shutterstock


If you see fog rising over the Platte River in Wyoming, keep your eyes peeled, because you might catch a glimpse of the Platte River Ghost Ship.

The ship is said to appear on misty, fall mornings. In nearly every sighting, the person saw someone they knew on the deck—only to learn that person died the very same day.

Ghost Shipbyronv2, Flickr


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