Haunted places open a doorway to a harrowing unknown — unexplained mysteries, terrifying ghostly encounters and paranormal entities clinging to their former lives. These apparitions lurk unseen, laying a dark, perturbing blanket over the atmosphere, heavy enough to keep you up all night. Some of us spend the month of October searching for this bone-chilling thrill, while others of us play it safe and just trick-or-treat. But, for those brave souls who celebrate Halloween seeking terror-filled, hair-raising scares, we bring you a few of the most haunted spots in Alabama. These are not for the faint of heart. Read on, if you dare …
13 of Alabama’s Most Haunted Places
1. Sloss Furnaces (Birmingham, AL)
In the years following the Civil War, Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces became the mecca of pig iron needed for thousands of steel products around the country. This industrial boom coupled with the city’s seemingly overnight transformation into a metropolis unfortunately came at a cost. In the early 1900s, James “Slag” Wormwood, foreman of the graveyard shift between sunset and sunrise at Sloss Furnaces, led a group of over 100 workers who lived in cramped housing on the furnace site, forcing them to take dangerous risks in order to speed up production. During his reign, a total of 47 workers lost their lives and numerous others lost their ability to work due to horrific accidents, including an explosion that left six blind. The rumor is that workers, fed up with their daunting and dangerous nights, fed Slag into the furnace in October of 1906.
After his disappearance, workers continuously complained of an “unnatural presence” in the worksite, and some complained of being pushed from behind or being told by a mysterious voice to “get back to work.” Three supervisors were even found unconscious and locked in a small boiler room, only to emerge with stories of a seemingly burned man who shouted at them to “push more steel.” There have been more than 100 reports of suspected paranormal activity at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham Police records, and it has even been named one of Fox’s Paranormal Team’s Scariest Places. Experience the fear for yourself at slossfrightfurnaces.
2. Redmont Hotel (Birmingham, AL)
Birmingham’s oldest and most historic hotel, The Redmond Hotel has a surprisingly haunted past. Apparently, the ghost of a woman in white who passed away in the hotel has been seen on the ninth floor. Additionally, the ghost of a former owner, Clifford Stiles, is said to walk the halls. And a small dog is seen trotting about the hotel as well. But the most famous ghost of the hotel is that of famous singer Hank Williams, who has been seen in the room he stayed in right before his death. Strange occurrences such as the opening of doors and movement of furniture or baggage have also been reported by guests. If you visit the hotel, keep your eyes out for a ghastly pup!
3. The Tutwiler Hotel (Birmingham, AL)
The Tutwiler Hotel (recently renamed Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham) has an especially interesting and haunted past. Apparently, a bartender working at the hotel in 1995 experienced a multitude of ghost sightings after the lights of the bar and kitchen would turn on by themselves. The bartender reportedly turned the lights off four times for them to be snapped back on for five nights in a row. On the sixth day, he was greeted by a mysterious and unexplained multi-course meal with candles and wine. Many believe it was offered by the ghost of Colonel Tutwiler, for whom the hotel was named. Although messy, Tutwiler was a respectful ghost as no further paranormal shenanigans occurred since the bartender began to conclude each shift by bidding the Colonel a good evening and kindly asking him not to leave a mess. At least he follows requests! When staying here, remember to tell messy Tutwiler to take care of his dishes.
4. The Drish House (Tuscaloosa, AL)
According to The Lineup, Tuscaloosa’s Drish House has officially been named the most haunted place in Alabama. It was built in 1937 by Dr. John R. Drish over a 450-acre plantation. Apparently Dr. Drish, who loved gambling and drinking, died in 1867 from falling down a stairway while drunk. His wife, Sarah, became obsessed with planning her husband’s funeral, so much so that it became an overly elaborate event. She even kept the candles from his funeral with the intense hope that they be used at her own funeral. When she passed in 1884, her family searched the house endlessly to find the candles, but could not. This is said to have angered Sarah so much that she has come back to haunt the house, even allegedly causing a fire in the third-story tower by lighting the candles. The Drish House has been featured in the short story “Death Lights in the Tower” in Kathryn Tucker Windham’s popular book of ghost stories, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. The Drish House is now a venue for receptions and events.
5. Jemison Center or Old Bryce Hospital (Northport, AL)
This Northport hospital is a hot spot for those seeking a haunting experience. A former insane asylum, Old Bryce Hospital had a reputation for treating its patients horribly, even verging on torture. Visitors claim to feel hot and cold spots, see items moving of their own accord and hear ghostly sounds and footsteps. Some have even seen the tail of a doctor’s coat travel through the halls. Screams, scuffling of feet and unexplained creaking of doors have been reported. You can explore Old Bryce Hospital today, although it is often patrolled by police officers.
6. Lucas Tavern (Montgomery, AL)
The haunting of Lucas Tavern is a bit lighter than the rest. From 1820 to 1840, the tavern was a favorite upscale place for travelers to enjoy a clean bed and safe place to stay. It was run by Eliza Lucas, who found great joy in hosting her travel-weary guests. The tavern eventually became a private home for Lucas, and in 1980, long after her death, the tavern was restored to its former glory. That’s when the ghost of the friendly hostess began to visit its occupants. The most common sighting of Eliza Lucas is that of a short woman dressed in a Victorian dress waving kindly and smiling at passers-by in the doorway of the tavern. A favorite story of Eliza occurred while she attended a committee member meeting. When one member became hostile and angry in his response to a controversial topic, Eliza allegedly blasted a great puff of ash and smoke atop him to show him that his temper did not agree with her high standards for genteel Southern manners. Eliza is proof that some ghosts stick around simply to keep tradition alive. You can visit this ghostly Southern belle today at Old Alabama Town in Montgomery.
7. Bill Sketoe’s Hole (Newton, AL)
Another one of Kathryn Tucker Windham’s short story subjects in 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, Bill Sketoe is reported to haunt the bridge over the Choctawhatchee River in Newton, Alabama. During the Civil War, Bill was the victim of a lynching for reportedly hiring a substitute to fight for him through the war while he came home to take care of his sick wife. Although he denied the charge, he was hung from the bridge, but being that he was a tall man, a hole had to be dug beneath his feet to properly execute the lynching. To this day, the hole has not and cannot be filled. Many have reported putting debris or trash in the hole to find it perfectly cleaned out the next day. You can visit Bill Sketoe’s hole and grave this Halloween in Newton.
8. Gaines Ridge Dinner Club (Camden, AL)
The Gaines Ridge Dinner Club has been named the “Most Haunted Restaurant in Alabama.” The popular restaurant is located in an 1820s Antebellum home and is well known for its family of ghosts. Several guests have reported hearing screams, the aroma of pipe smoke when no one is smoking, a floating woman in the windows, the cries of a baby and apparitions in mirrors of a tall, bearded man in black. The owner reports her experiences with the ghosts as “ghost truths” rather than ghost stories, because she has absolute conviction that they happened to her. She says she heard the mysterious screams of a co-worker who denied calling out to her even though they both heard the yelling. Why not dine at the most haunted restaurant in the state during this fear-filled month?
9. St. James Hotel (Selma, AL)
Located just an hour away from the Gaines Ridge Dinner Club and built in 1837, the St. James Hotel is one of the oldest operational facilities in Alabama. During the Civil War, soldiers used the hotel as a place to discuss battle strategies, and when the Battle of Selma took place, the entire town of Selma pretty much burned to the ground, but the St. James Hotel remained standing. After the Civil War ended, a man named Benjamin Sterling Tower became the new owner and allowed a group of outlaws, led by the famous gang leader, robber and murderer Jesse James, to stay at the hotel one night. Several guests have reported seeing the spirits of Jesse James and his girlfriend, Lucinda, as well as a man fully dressed in clothing from the 1800s in rooms 214, 314 and 315. Lucinda, a lover of the scent of lavender, allegedly leaves the lovely scent in her path, alerting guests to her presence. James’ black dog also haunts the halls of the hotel, as evidenced by guests accounts of incessant barking with no dog in sight. You can book a room at the St. James Hotel today, and if you’re brave enough, request room 214, 314 or 315.
10. Highway 5 Ghost (Lynn, AL)
This stretch of road is haunted by the ghost of a woman who was killed by a trucker. Apparently, she travels up and down the road searching for her killer and has been reported to bang on truck doors in the midst of her searching. She supposedly steps on the side of trucks and peers inside the window to get a look at the driver. Not wanting to experience the sight of this angry apparition, many truckers bypass this stretch of road, choosing instead to take Highway 13. Truckers admit that driving down Highway 5 in a truck is still undeniably eerie.
11. Fort Morgan (Gulf Shores, AL)
The Fort Morgan area has become a vacation spot for beach-goers hoping to relax and enjoy the sand and surf. Little do they know, Fort Morgan has a rich haunted history dating back to the Civil War. The fort took heavy fire throughout the bloody Battle of Mobile Bay. It is rumored that visitors can hear the cries and screams of men late into the night, and they have seen the ghost of a solitary woman searching for justice after being killed at the fort. If you visit Fort Morgan, look out for men in confederate uniforms hidden in the shadows!
12. Jack Cole Road (Hayden, AL)
Jack Cole Road is an unpaved road surrounded by dense woods and wilderness off Highway 7 in Blount County. Since 1890, 68 deaths have been reported on Jack Cole Road, 60 of which were due to an outbreak of Cholera in 1900. The other eight were caused by stranger events, including murder. People claim to see things like lights in the woods, to hear loud sounds, to glance ghostly figures walking along the road and, strangest of all, to see a deformed Bigfoot-like animal that looks to be half-wolf and half-man. Suffice it to say, we wouldn’t recommend taking a nice weekend drive down Jack Cole Road.
13. Ghost Bridge (Florence, AL)
Last, but most definitely not least, is the haunting of Jackson Ford Bridge, properly nicknamed “Ghost Bridge.” This spot already appears terrifying and haunted simply by its dilapidated and decayed appearance. There are also several rumors from locals of a white mist that rises from the creek and lays atop the bridge as well as sightings of a strange orb of light, the apparent sound of footsteps and monster-like beings walking the bridge at night. We suggest a detour from this nighttime scene!
So, if you’re looking for a truly hair-raising experience, forego the candy for the thrills with a visit to one of these scary haunts this Halloween!
Alabama’s haunted past may be rich with ghost sightings and paranormal hotels, but if you are searching for something less frightening this Halloween, we have a comprehensive list of local Happenings and Events just for you!
And be sure to keep up with the very best of Birmingham by downloading our free SB App. Click here to get started!