Welcome once again, Hoppers! I’m square in the crosshairs of Hurricane Sandy at the moment, and things are a little tense in the Washington, DC Metro area, so we’ll see if I get to finish out the next few entries for you guys. If nothing else, I might be able to drag out some abbreviated versions of the longer posts I had planned. At the very least, I’ve hit the minimum-five-posts goal that I had set for myself. Just warning you in case there’s radio silence for the next few days.
Let’s get on to today’s topic: the REAL haunted places of the world. While the list of fictional places was fun, this is the stuff that I live for – the places that I like to visit when possible. I could probably write a list of 20 places; narrowing it to five was almost impossible.
5. Kolmanskop (Namibia). The discovery of diamonds in southern Namibia in the early 1900s led to a diamond rush not unlike America’s gold rush of the 1840s/50s. There was just one catch: much of southern Namibia is a desert. It didn’t deter the more courageous, greedy souls, who built small and company towns in the area; Kolmanskop was one such town. Founded in 1910, the town once boasted a school, a hospital, and even a casino.
Kolmanskop flourished for a few years, but hit troubled times when diamond sales dropped after the first World War. As prices continued to trend downward, the town slowly emptied out, at last losing its last residents during the 1950s.
That’s when the desert began to reclaim the town.
Before long the gardens, streets, and even houses were buried under sand. Doors and windows creaked as the desolate wind pushed through them, and shattered windows stared out into the desert.
The desert may be reclaiming the place, but visitors claim that ghosts still haunt the town. They have reported hearing whispers and footsteps, seeing apparitions, and even experiencing ghostly physical sensations.
I’d love to visit the place.
4. Stanley Hotel (Colorado, USA).You may know the Stanley Hotel as the Overlook Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining.
You see, the Stanley served as King’s inspiration when he stayed in the near-empty lodge during the 1970s. Built in 1909 by the co-creator of Stanley Steamer, the hotel has played host to a number of celebrities and dignitaries from around the world.
It’s also known as one of the most haunted locations in the United States. Guests have reported innumerable incidents of ghostly sounds and sightings, primarily in the ballroom. Kitchen staff have reported to have heard a party going on in the ballroom, only to find it empty. People have also seen a man standing over the bed in one guest room. Others reported to have seen ghosts in their rooms in the middle of the night, standing in their room before disappearing.
Well worth a visit.
3. Gunkanjima (Japan). Gunkanjima does the ghost-town concept one better: it’s a ghost island. Life on the island began in 1890, when Mitsubishi bought the island and began a project to retrieve coal from the bottom of the sea. Like Kolmanskop, this brought in the workers, and in 1916 they built the first permanent structure on the island: a block of apartments that would both accommodate workers and protect them from typhoons.
Located between Buffalo and Rochester, Rolling Hills Asylum is located in Bethany, N.Y. Opened on January 1, 1827 and originally named the Genesee County Poor Farm, it was created to offer housing for those who needed it, included the poor, alcoholics, the blind, orphans, the handicapped, and, of course, those with mental illness. In the 1950s it became the Old County Home & Infirmary, and then in the 1990s was transformed into a set of shops and later an antiques mall. The latter is when the place began to pick up its reputation, as vendors and customers would hear disembodied voices and screams in the night.
Rolling Hills has been the center of many paranormal investigations since the 90s, and fascinates me to no end – is there a secret history to this place that we have yet to discover?
1. Pripyat (Ukraine). How could this not be #1? If you’re not familiar with Pripyat, think Chernobyl.
Founded in 1970, Pripyat’s primary goal was as a “company town”, much like other ghost towns. It was a thriving, planned city that featured stores and malls, a hospital, two stadiums, and, most famously, an amusement park. Of course, all that changed on April 26th, 1986, when the engineers of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant decided to try an untested method of cooling the reactor. The world knows what happened next, as many died that night from direct exposure to massive amounts of radiation, and many more would die over the coming months and years.
That’s only part of the story, though. The other part is what’s left behind – the city was evacuated hastily, with many people leaving things unfinished and untouched, that can still be found today:
It is, of course, very difficult to visit Pripyat today, but not impossible. Those who investigate the abandoned city claim to have seen shadows and the outlines of people walking amid the radioactive clouds at night. Some day I plan to go there, if at all possible.
Your turn – anything you’d like to add to this list? Let me know! I’d love to expand on this and create a second list someday.
This year I’m participating in the Coffin Hop Blog Extravaganza, which brings together over 100 horror authors in a week deadicated (see what I did there) to terror, all leading up to Halloween, naturally. The Coffin Hop is not just about discovering new authors, it’s also about fun prizes. If you haven’t read to this point, here are the rules for entry: all I want is your comment. One comment is one entry, at a limit of one person per post. Don’t worry, I have at least five posts lined up for the next week so you’ll get at least five entries.
And the prizes…
Five eBooks from the Emissaries of the Strange. That’s package #1. I’m giving away three of these.
Package #2 is a complete collection of my works, including the Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of Room 3, due for release on November 12th. I’ll also happily replace your ARC once the book launches, but this is a chance to read something a bit early. I’m giving away five of these packages.
All entries must be in before Midnight EST on Halloween night. I’ll be drawing the winners on November 1st and announcing them right here. So be here for it all!