Across the country, national parks are crucial to preserving nature and connecting people to the environment.
Yellowstone National Park was the first national park established in 1872. In the 150 years since then, a lot has happened. The trees, rocks, and waters within national parks all hold the secrets of the nation’s history. But it’s the lingering ghosts and spirits that tell the stories.
Here are six of the U.S.’s most haunted national parks:
Headless Bride of Room 127 at Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful Inn
A gruesome honeymoon at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn left a young bride beheaded in the bathtub of Room 127, or so the story goes. After a volcanic fight one night, her husband and her head were nowhere to be found. The smell of rotting flesh led to the discovery of her severed head at the hotel’s highest point, known as the Crow’s Nest. Ever since, guests of the Old Faithful Inn have reported apparitions of a headless woman in a white bridal gown, carrying her severed head underneath her arm, wandering down the stairs from the Crow’s Nest.
The Ghost of Jennie Wade in Gettysburg National Military Park
The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. On July 3, 1863, while Jennie Wade was baking bread for Union soldiers, she was struck by a single errant bullet that killed her instantly. She was the only direct civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg, confirmed by the American Battlefield Trust, and she was laid to rest alongside soldiers in Evergreen Cemetery. Visitors of this cemetery have reported sightings of her apparition walking through her family’s home, now the Jennie Wade House, and strolling through the cemetery.
Waxy Corpse Found in Olympic National Park’s Crescent Lake
In 1940, two fishermen were stunned to discover the floating body of an adult woman weighing only 50 pounds. When they retrieved it, the fishermen noticed the body was perfectly preserved, flesh hard and waxy with no signs of decay but with visible strangulation marks. Examiners concluded that the mineral-rich deep waters of the lake had converted the body’s fatty acids into soaps through a process known as saponification. Later, in 1941, officials identified the body as Hallie Latham Illingworth, who had disappeared nearly four years earlier in 1937. Her husband, Monty Illingworth, was found guilty of her murder in the second degree in 1942. This story definitely makes you question Madame Tussauds.
More Than 150 Reports of Paranormal Activity from Mammoth Cave National Park
Before it was a national park, Mammoth Cave belonged to Dr. John Croghan, who purchased it in 1839 and used it as a hospital and treatment center for people with consumption, or what we now know as tuberculosis. Croghan believed the cave’s constant temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit could cure this illness, so he had 11 huts built inside for 15 patients in his “consumptive colony” experiment. Two patients died within the first year, with the rest of the patients’ illnesses worsening. Croghan himself would later die of tuberculosis. Some of the 150 paranormal reports from Mammoth Cave include the sound of footsteps when no one was moving, the feeling of being playfully shoved or grabbed, and the sounds of distant coughs.
The Evil Wind Spirit of Yosemite National Park’s Bridalveil Fall
The Ahwahneechee people believed there was an evil spirit of the mist from pohono, also known as Yosemite’s Bridalveil Fall. Legend has it that one day, as the Ahwahneechee women were foraging for materials to weave baskets, a woman stepped upon a mossy rock, set there as a lure by Po-ho-no, the Evil One who inhabits the mist. In a flash, the falls seemingly snatched her in. Her body was never found. The evil spirit of pohono is thought to trap its victims in the water until it can lure another victim into the water, and only then will its earlier victim be released. Perhaps then it’s no coincidence that Bridalveil Fall is prone to accidents and deaths.
Ghosts of Civil War Soldiers in Antietam National Battlefield
On September 17, 1862, nearly 23,000 soldiers were killed in the Battle of Antietam. Confederate soldiers hid along a sunken road as they encroached on the northern territory, a road that became known as Bloody Lane, where an estimated 5,500 soldiers would be wounded or killed in only three hours of combat. Visitors to this National Park Service-protected battlefield have reported hearing gunshots, smelling gunpowder, and seeing Confederate soldiers roaming the fields. Several students reported hearing either a chant or a Christmas song in an area where the Irish Brigade rushed Confederates with a Gaelic battle cry, which has a tune similar to a Christmas carol.