A historic asylum, an airplane crash site, a home with a horrifying past. Iowa is full of chillingly haunted places. Here are eight of them.
Villisca Ax Murder House – Villisca
On June 10, 1912, someone took an ax to six members of the Moore family and their two overnight guests. Six of the victims were children and each had been viciously struck in the head. Though authorities investigated many suspects, including one man who stood trial twice, none were found guilty, and the murder remains unsolved. Today, the home is reportedly haunted by the slaughtered victims. Strange activity includes vanishing bloodstains, disembodied voices, and shoves from unseen hands.
Oakland Cemetery – Iowa City
Many creepy tales surround the “black angel” of Oakland Cemetery. Some say those who kiss or touch the angel will suffer an agonizing death. Others believe a curse causes the angel to darken each year. Many paranormal investigators are drawn to the statue and have recorded strange audio and shadows in the night. One cold night, a televised team pointed a thermal camera at the statue only to discover it was red hot.
Iron Hill – Charles City
According to local legend, a fiery train crash killed several orphans sometime in the 1920s. Now, the anguished children reportedly haunt the area, their disembodied voices crying and screaming for help. Some people in the area report smelling smoke when no fires are around. Others have seen a little girl in a white dress drifting through the woods.
Carlos O’Kelly’s – Marion
Diners and staff at Carlos O’Kelly’s have experienced a number of strange events. Phones ring over and over, though no one is ever on the line, plates fly off shelves, and blenders turn on and off by themselves. What’s more, something regularly trips the motion sensors late at night. The property used to be an old amusement park, and legend has it the restaurant is haunted by a child who died after falling from a Ferris wheel.
Buddy Holly Crash Site – Clear Lake
February 3, 1959 may be the day the music died, but do the musicians live on? Rock and roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died after their plane smashed into a cornfield. Now, the site is reportedly haunted. Visitors report seeing shadowy figures moving in the distance and music playing far away. Whenever someone tries to get closer, the figures disappear and the tunes abruptly stop.
Independence State Hospital – Independence
Built in 1873, Independence State Hospital once housed thousands of mentally ill patients and is now said to be home to more than a few ghosts. Alleged paranormal activity includes apparitions, disembodied voices, phantom footsteps, shadowy figures, and mysterious mists. The hospital was once severely overcrowded and doctors also performed lobotomies there. Could the miserable conditions be to blame for the haunting?
Grand Opera House – Dubuque
A prankster spirit reportedly haunts this 126-year-old opera house. Lights switch on and off, ghostly singing emanates from the stage, and electrical equipment regularly goes on the fritz. Small items also have a way of disappearing. As early as the late 1920s, police have been called to investigate strange noises and lights in the seemingly empty building.
Mason House Inn – Keosauqua
According to the owners, at least fives spirits inhabit the historic Mason House Inn, including a mischievous little boy, a woman in white who lurks near bedsides, and a ghost that tugs on clothing in Room 5. There’s also a bed that refuses to stay made. One group of guests took a photo of what they believe is a Civil War soldier’s ghost standing in a doorway.