What makes one house haunted while the house next door isn’t?

The history of most haunted houses explains why they’re haunted.

haunted U.S. Library of CongressEach site was the scene of conflict, power struggles, tragedy and death. (Those are the “big four” when you’re trying to explain a haunting.)

However, many older homes and buildings have similar histories… but no ghosts.

(Skeptics love to point this out, and they’re correct.)

I believe other factors are involved. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough information to be certain.

Historical and geographical patterns of activity may provide some answers.

Austin, Texas

My research in downtown Austin, Texas, revealed patterns that connect — and predict — ghostly activity in that city.

Patterns emerged as I studied Austin’s ghosts. I saw unique factors affecting most (not all) of Austin’s haunts.

Here’s one pattern:  In Austin, buildings constructed with Shoal Creek clay are usually haunted.

  • The haunted Governor’s Mansion includes those bricks.
  • So did the UT Tower, site of the terrible 1966 shootings.

You’ll find a longer list in my book, The Ghosts of Austin.

Those patterns separate Austin’s most haunted buildings from neighboring sites with no ghost stories.

Looking for ghosts around Austin…? Find houses with those bricks, and you’ll find ghosts.

Ley Lines

More often, geographical patterns – usually ley lines (also called “energy lines”) – seem to make a difference.

Two houses can have almost identical histories, but only one of them is haunted.

Why?  As they say in real estate: Location, location, location!

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, I was able to identify haunted locations — the exact spot where hauntings occur — within feet. All I had to do was plot ley lines on a map.

When a History Channel TV producer called me, I was able to tell her exactly where to look. And, when she asked me about grisly tragedies in the area, I could tell her why they happened at those exact locations… why the guy jumped off the hotel at the precise spot where he did.

You just need to know where to look, and how to connect the dots.

Displaced Hauntings

Now and then, I discover a haunted site where nothing notable happened at that location.  A nearby location — one that’s not haunted — was where violence and tragedy occurred.

Haunted Sise Inn, Portsmouth, NHThe Sise Inn in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is an example.  Some of the staff have reported amusing ghostly phenomena at the Inn.

(My favorite is the recurring, unexplained trail of ice cubes in hallways, leading away from the ice cube machine.)

However, the Sise Inn site seems to have no tragic history.

But, a nearby building has the appropriate history… but no reports of ghosts. Did the ghosts migrate? I have no idea.

I’d like to see more research into displaced hauntings.  Studies could reveal more elements that attract or repel ghostly energy.

We have some answers. We’re still looking for others.

How can you tell if a place is really haunted?

The truth is, nobody can tell if the place is really haunted. We can’t even prove that ghosts exist.

It’s possible that you pass by haunted sites every day.

Investigators can study evidence a location. They can say that it’s not haunted, possibly haunted, or even probably haunted.

An investigator might say that he (or she) believes the site is haunted.  That’s a personal opinion, not proof.

For example, I believe that the following locations are among the world’s most haunted locations.  I’ve investigated all of them and each one gave me chills.

  • Brennan’s Restaurant (New Orleans’ French Quarter, LA, USA). Visual phenomena, even in broad daylight.
  • Columbus City cemetery, Columbus, TX
    Columbus City Cemtery, color streaks & eerie mist

    Columbus City Cemetery (Columbus, TX, USA). Ghost photos and EMF spikes, even during the day.

  • Edinburgh’s underground vaults (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK). Apparitions and heavy residual energy.
  • The Falstaff Experience (also known as Tudor World, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, UK). Apparitions, physical phenomena, poltergeists, and some activity I’ve never experienced anywhere else.
  • Gilson Road Cemetery (Nashua, NH, USA). Physical phenomena, cold spots, hot spots, apparitions (even in daytime), EVP.
  • Golden Fleece Pub (York, England, UK). EVP, physical phenomena, psychic energy.
  • Greycourt State Park (Methuen, MA, USA). EMF anomalies, apparitions in ghost photos, hot and cold spots.
  • The Mount (Lenox, MA, USA). EVP and audible “ghost voices,” EMF spikes, residual energy, excellent for “ghost box” activity.
  • The Myrtles Plantation (St. Francisville, LA, USA). Poltergeist activity, ghost photos, EMF spikes, cold spots, ghostly voices and unexplained noises.
  • Houmas House, Louisiana. Daytime apparitions, indoors and outside. Active outdoors, after dark. (See old servants’ quarters, especially.)
  • The Salem Inn (Salem, MA, USA). EMF spikes. Excellent for Ovilus research. Cold spots and hot spots.
  • The Spalding Inn (Whitefield, NH, USA). Apparitions, EMF anomalies, EVP and audible voices with no explanations. (This hotel was owned by Ghost Hunters’ Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, and their families. They sold the hotel a few years ago. I’m not sure if it’s still open to visitors.)
  • Hotel Wentworth-by-the-Sea (New Castle, NH, USA). Very convincing apparitions, EVP, light poltergeist activity.
  • Witch House (Salem, MA, USA). Poltergeist activity, objects moving, psychic energy, ghost photos.

It takes a lot to impress me.  Reputation alone isn’t enough.

For example, I’m not convinced that the Lizzie Borden House (Fall River, MA, USA) is haunted by anything more than residual energy. (However, I did see the “ghost cat.” It looked solid enough to be a real cat.)

I’m skeptical of the LaLaurie Mansion (New Orleans’ French Quarter, LA, USA), too. The stories about Madame LaLaurie are largely fiction, especially when they involve a French accent. (She was the daughter of an Irish immigrant. She didn’t have a French accent.)

A deep personal experience can convince you that a site is haunted.  Seek hard evidence before you make a firm decision.

Evidence to look for at most haunted sites:

  • EVP.
  • Unexplained EMF readings.
  • Baffling hot and cold spots.
  • Other measurable evidence, including strange photos.

However, none of that proves that ghosts exist.

When weird things happen at a location, we say that the site is “haunted.” That’s a description, so everyone understands the kinds of unexplained activity at a site.

Dedicated, skeptical critics will almost always find normal explanations. If all else fails, they’ll claim that the ghost hunter’s evidence is a deliberate hoax or the product of mental illness.

(Some skeptics’ rudeness knows no limits. Don’t take it personally; they’re simply bitter and unhappy people, best left alone.)

Are you pretty sure that a site is haunted? Do you have evidence that’s convinced (or nearly convinced) you?

That may be as good as it gets.

The only “proof” is what you’ve experienced for yourself. That’s why I encourage people to go on ghost investigations, to decide for themselves.

Learn what’s normal (but kind of weird), and then see if you can rule that out when weird things happen at haunted sites.

As Sherlock Holmes once said, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”