Haunted Road Trip: The Harden House — Or Is It Hardin House? — Of Clermont, Florida

Previously: The Hollywood Sign.

The haunting of Harden House in Clermont, Fla. begins, as so many of these tales do, with a tragic history — with a crime, and with a victim. And whether what’s haunting the property is a literal ghost or a metaphorical one, there’s no denying how much a place’s past can affect how we feel about it in the present.

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Haunted Road Trip: Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign

hollywood-2

Previously: The Sallie House.

It’s a fixture of the landscape: 45 feet high and 350 long, stark white against the surrounding brush of Mount Lee, yet harmonious with the blue of the sky above it. It imparts one message, but also many — so much conveyed in just one word: “Hollywood.”

Of course, the Hollywood sign wasn’t always the Hollywood sign; it’s fairly common knowledge by now that originally, it was the Hollywoodland sign. It also wasn’t necessarily meant to stand the time in quite the way it has: It was, after all, originally just an advertisement for a real estate development. But it has become iconic — if there’s one thing people think of when they think of L.A., it’s the Hollywood sign — and, as is often the case with iconic places and things, it’s also gotten a reputation for being haunted. Given Hollywood’s long, storied, and often seedy history, it’s not surprising that its most notable landmark might have this sort of reputation — but if you had to pinpoint where it all began, it always comes back to one person: Peg Entwistle.

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Haunted Road Trip: Emily’s Bridge, Stowe, Vermont

Emily's Bridge

Previously: The Los Feliz Murder House.

New England is full of covered bridges. Though they’re mostly known for their picturesque aesthetics these days, they did once serve a purpose; weather can be hell on uncovered wooden bridges, so for areas that experience the dramatic highs and lows of all four seasons, covers were absolutely essential in the eras before most construction was completed with metal and concrete. In Stowe, Vermont, however, there’s one covered bridge that is more than its image, and more than the sum of its parts. It’s called Emily’s Bridge, and it bears that name for a very specific reason.

49 feet long, the bridge in Stowe is of the type known as a Howe Truss bridge — an uncommon kind of truss patented in 1840 by William Howe. This particular Howe Truss, which was built in 1844 and is the only one of its kind in the entire state of Vermont, carries Covered Bridge Road over Stowe Hollow’s Gold Brook. This, in turn, has given it its official name: Gold Brook Covered Bridge.

Most, though, refer to it by its other name.

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Haunted Road Trip: The Los Feliz Murder House, Los Angeles, California

Los Feliz

Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California.

Previously: Boy Scout Lane.

All houses rumored to be haunted have one thing in common: A dark, tragic history. Sometimes, this “history” is nothing more than a fiction dreamed up after the fact to explain the house’s dilapidated appearance or unusual architecture — something that works from the outside in: It looks like this; therefore this must have happened. Sometimes, though, it works from the inside out: This happened; therefore it looks like this. And in these cases, the history actually is history — it’s absolutely, frighteningly true. It’s also how places earn names like “The Los Feliz Murder House.”

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Haunted Road Trip: Boy Scout Lane, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Boy Scouts

Previously: The Morgan-Monroe State Forest.

In Stevens Point, Wisconsin, there’s a stretch of road that runs through the woods. It is unpaved, with little around it to recommend itself. But many will still often wander down it, curious to see whether the stories connected to it are true. It’s called Boy Scout Lane, and it is on this small, otherwise unremarkable stretch of road that a group of Boy Scouts some 20 years ago are believed to have lost their lives — and, it’s said, remain stuck, unable to “cross over” due to the unfortunate circumstances of their demise.

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Haunted Road Trip: The Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Stepp Cemetery, And The Lady in Black Of Bloomington, Indiana

Stepp cemetery

Previously: Mount Misery Road and Sweet Hollow Road.

In the Morgan-Monroe State Forest just north of Bloomington, Indiana, there lies a small cemetery. It’s not uncommon to find old burial grounds deep in the woods, or even in state forests; the Jennings State Forest in Florida, for example, has not one, not two, but four cemeteries within its nearly 24,000-acre grounds. But although cemeteries are often found in the forest, and although many cemeteries have at least one spooky story associated with them — I suspect it has something to do with our fundamental need to explain death to ourselves — you’d likely pass right by Stepp Cemetery if you didn’t know about it. Like the Jennings State Forest, Morgan-Monroe covers 24,000 acres, but Stepp Cemetery itself houses a mere 32 graves. Those 32 graves, though? They’re not quiet. In fact, according to the legends, they’re downright chatty.

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