Coffin Hop Day 5: The Haunted Places of the World (Fact) #coffinhop

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.

The Kolmanskop 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.

By 1959, the place had a more-than-respectable population; in fact, it set a record for being one of the highest population densities ever recorded worldwide. Unfortunately, if you’re familiar with history, you know where this is going. Petroleum began to replace coal, and by the 1960s coal mines were in decline all over Japan. In 1974 Mitsubishi closed the mine; along with it came the rest of the island, which was prohibited to visitors until 2009.

2. Rolling Hills Asylum (New York, USA). Rolling Hills Asylum is one of the most infamous sources of hauntings in the United States.

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!

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  1. Good luck with Hurricane Sandy!

    Haunted places: I’m going to add Fredericksburg, Virginia to the list. In fact, the haunting I talk about in my Hop post today took place there. Ghosts abound!


  2. Certainly spooky looking places. I always find photographical proof suspicious, but I probably wouldn’t be willing to spend the night in any of these places.

  3. A great list for a ghost tour.
    The tower of London is one of my favourite haunted places.

  4. Great fun!
    I’ve stayed at Mohonk Mountain House near the Catskills in NY. If you ask the staff half say it is surely haunted and half say they have not idea what you are talking about. I can see it is old fashioned and creepy–albeit beautiful. There is one hallway and one room I do not visit alone. It is up on a lonely mountain. You should go.
    Also Paterson Castle. I visited with a friend late one night and climbed the stairs outside the house. On an outside terrace a hooded something turned the corner and started walking towards us. NOT an apparition–more like a really creepy guy in a reaper outfit. We RAN. And no we did not look around to see if there were any other Satan worshippers…

  5. Another great post! Letchworth in NY is another great one to consider. One an Institute for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic, it’s right up there on the haunted creep-o-meter. 🙂

  6. Stay safe!! I love hearing about haunted locations. It would be cool to visit any of these places. I got to tour the Villisca axe murder house in Iowa. It was pretty eerie, but nothing happened while I was there.

  7. Another great post. I love the idea of staying at the Stanley, though I know I’m too much of a coward to actually do it. Another cool place is the Winchester House. I was there just yesterday and I totally get why people is so transfixed with it!

  8. Empty amusement parks are almost (*almost*) as creepy as abandoned asylums. Love all the pictures.

  9. Great post Jonathan – you know I am a sucker for haunted places 🙂
    Stay safe!
    – Kim
    coffinhopping from Wrestling the Muse

  10. Let me echo Kim – great post, Jonathan and some great pictures. I always enjoy your entries.

  11. And I should mention – my COFFIN HOP 2012 co-blog is now live at my own blog, YOURS IN STORYTELLING.

  12. Great story, though quite a few broken images (I did try refreshing). Hoping you can take a look and fix them so I can see more. And I’m looking forward to sharing this post with my friends!

  13. Nice pics and list.


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