Ask teenagers. They usually know many local urban legends, and some of those tales will point you to actual haunts.
Local historians can be good sources of information, too.
Ask a parent or grandparent, especially someone who’s lived in the community for 20 or more years. He or she may know regional folklore.
Consult local newspapers and magazines published around Halloween.
Look for back issues, published years ago. They usually include even more stories about local haunted places.
Regional books may describe ghosts and haunted places in your area. Check your public library and local bookstores.
But keep in mind: many ghost hunting books weren’t well researched. Authors and publishers threw them together to cash in on the popularity of ghost hunting.
To be blunt: A lot of books copy from each other, and simply rewrite stories they found online.
Many websites and forums list haunted locations.
Before taking those sites seriously, verify their stories.
- Check other credible sources.
- Double-check historical records.
- Even famous, “everyone knows” stories can have fatal historical flaws. A little research may point you to the really haunted site… the one that inspired the urban legend.
- Almost every community has one.
- They’re free to visit.
- And, if you find a ghost, the nearby tombstone may tell you the ghost’s name. That makes ghost hunting a lot more real.
My “Beginner’s Guide…” can help you find haunted cemeteries, and plan your first ghost hunt. (I’m updating that book for late 2017 or early 2018.)
Meanwhile, remember that some of the most famous haunted places aren’t so haunted. Often, you’ll encounter more ghosts on your own. They can be close to home. Sometimes very close to home.
Here are some not-so-haunted places places you may have heard of.
- One of America’s most famous ghosts, Ocean-Born Mary, never lived in the New Hampshire house she supposedly haunts.
- Tennessee’s “Bell Witch” ghost was probably created by a schoolteacher with ventriloquist skills and secret access to the Bell family home. He had a particular interest in one of the Bell family’s daughters, as well. That can’t explain everything that happened, but the teacher may have been a major culprit in the hoax.
- New York’s “Amityville Horror” house owners swear that the house is perfectly normal. (I’m not so sure of that, but if they’re living there with peace of mind… good for them!)
- In 1992, a Halloween episode of “Ghostwatch” presented an investigation of a London (England) home. The family reported having terrifying, ghostly experiences for nearly a year. The presentation was convincing. People called the police and claimed “the forces of darkness” were invading. Yes… it was a hoax.
Generally — especially if you’re a new ghost hunter — it’s best to rely on first-person stories in your community. You’ll find plenty of resources at your public library, and local historians who specialize in “folklore.”
Ley lines and other patterns can lead you to even more haunts. But, that’s an advanced technique. You’d need a lot of research experience — and patience — to use it.
For now, rely on local resources. With them, you should find plenty of good ghost stories and eerie haunted places to investigate, close to where you live.