10 Spine-Chilling Ghostly Tales From Vermont
The wind is howling outside, the lights flicker, and the floorboards creak in the next room. If you’ve ever stayed in an old house in Vermont, you know this feeling all too well. And even when the weather is calm, when you’re all alone, be prepared for the unexplained patter of unseen feet in the corner of the room. There’s just something about these old New England sites that attracts the paranormal and unknown.
10 Hayden House
The town of Albany, Vermont may have been the site of a terrible family destroying curse. The story begins in 1806 when a man named William Hayden moved with his wife, Silence, and mother-in-law, Mercie Dale, to the town. The mother-in-law was widowed and very well off financially, and she lent the couple money that jump-started their lives. After failing to pay Mercie back, William asked for a second sizeable loan. The financial stress pushed her to move out and caused her to become terribly ill. She believed William had poisoned her and she cursed the Hayden family, saying that the name would die out in three generations and end in economic ruin.
William lost everything. He fled to Canada to hide from his creditors, and he died in poverty in New York years later. William and Silence had five sons, and all but one died young. The son that survived was named Will, he lived in Albany as well and had one son and four daughters. It was this Will that built Hayden House, a beautiful red brick mansion.
His wife and he were at odds and their son Henry was growing increasingly unstable. Will lost his eyesight and much of his fortune. Henry didn’t get along with his mother, who cut him out of her will. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage, leaving his only child as heir, a daughter named Mamie. She never married and didn’t inherit anything of value, and she died alone and in debt in Maine in 1927.
The story doesn’t end there. Locals and visitors claim to see creepy lights on the property. They may be ghosts of the family, but some say they’re the illegal immigrants the younger Will smuggled into the country to work in slave conditions on the land.
9 Emily’s Bridge
The town’s spookiest claim to fame is the covered Gold Brook Bridge, but everyone knows it as Emily’s Bridge. A broken-hearted woman is said to haunt the bridge. The exact circumstances surrounding her death are unclear. All the legends involve her being jilted by a lover she was going to marry. One ends with driving a fast moving carriage off the rocky bank and dying in the brook below. The other story says Emily hanged herself by the rafters of the bridge. Little historical evidence supports either story, but an oral history of bizarre occurrences on the bridge has circulated for decades.
Some of the paranormal activity visitors have experienced include scratch marks on cars and feelings of being scratched or grabbed. Sounds resembling footsteps, ropes, and screams have been reported. Apparently, the more hostile manifestations have been aimed at males who cross the bridge. Full body apparitions have also been reported, with most of the activity occurring in the hours immediately after midnight. Whether or not the story of Emily is the real cause of the bizarre activity at the Gold Brook Bridge, paranormal investigators believe something supernatural occurs there.
8 Lake Bomoseen
West Castleton, on Lake Bomoseen, has long been abandoned. After the Civil War the town was full of quarries and mills. Immigrants from places such as Italy, Ireland, and Eastern Europe worked and lived in the bustling village. But in the 1930s, West Castleton was completely abandoned. Today it is a ghost town, and not just because no living people reside there.
A popular tavern used to sit on the far side of Lake Bomoseen, and workers would row across the waters to reach it. Stories say that a group of three friends set out one night to pass the time at their favorite pub. They never made it back to West Castleton, and in the morning their empty boat was discovered floating in the lake. Fast forward to modern day and it is said that a ghostly rowboat can be seen moving across the lake, but the shadowy oars make no ripples in the tranquil water.
7 Brattleboro Retreat Tower
Previously known as the Vermont Asylum for the Insane, today the Brattleboro Retreat is still a treatment center for mental health patients. It was founded in 1834 and today there are 58 buildings on a sprawling 1000 acres. Only 20 of the buildings are modern, while the remainder were built between 1838 and 1938.
One abandoned and closed-off building, the Retreat Tower, was built between 1887 and 1892 by patients. During that period, doctors believed that physical labor could improve patients’ mental health. Legend says that the tower was closed shortly after being built because too many patients jumped to their death. One of the most common sightings today in the tower is a ghostly figure jumping but never hitting the ground.
6 American Flatbread
American Flatbread is a popular restaurant in Burlington, Vermont. Their wood fired thin crust pizzas are made from organic and locally farmed ingredients, they brew their own beer—it’s a hotspot for locals and visitors alike. But before it became American Flatbread in 2004, the place was Carbur’s Restaurant. The current manager of says that the restaurant’s first two years were a frenzy of creepy experiences.
Doors without locks locked mysteriously. Late one night, a wreath above the fireplace flew across the room. Previously, the workers at Carbur’s Restaurant reported similar happenings, including a server who mysteriously got locked in a cooler. The establishment has a sordid history; a young cook killed himself late at night decades earlier. Before that, from 1790 to 1820, a man named Gideon King ran the trade on Lake Champlain, and during an embargo he built a series of tunnels to illegally transport goods under the building. Legend says that later, during the prohibition era, the tunnels were part of the booze trade.
Whatever the source of the hauntings, many visitors have reported violent reactions to the negative energy in the building. The basement, mostly. No one should venture down there alone.
5 Haunted Stagecoach Stops
In the Okemo Valley, a popular bed and breakfast is known for more than its locally sourced meals and historic architecture. The Golden Stage Inn in its original form was constructed in 1788. Originally it was a stagecoach stop in Southeast Vermont. It may have also been an important part of the Underground Railroad. At one point, it was repurposed as a private home for nearly 100 years. It opened as an inn in the 1960s.
The building has gone through numerous renovations over time. Although it has changed hands over the centuries and now guests come and go, some residents are there to stay. A newer section of the inn may be home to a kind hearted and handsome ghostly spirit. He reportedly looks like Robert Redford and wanders the halls in an old-fashioned coat. Other people have heard unexplained footsteps and electronics turning on and off on their own.
Another former stagecoach stop and inn in Vermont is the Averill Stand Historic Site in Wilmington, between Bennington and Brattleboro. The place was founded in 1797 by the Averill family—Lavina Field Averill may have died in the house while giving birth. Another woman named Mrs. Brown died in the house years later. It is believed that their ghosts haunt the now historic site.
Objects mysteriously appear and disappear in the kitchen. A young woman in period dress has been seen in several of the rooms. Dogs behave strangely at night, as if reacting to someone in the yard. Late at night, in the dead of winter, the doorbell will ring mysteriously and there will be no footprints in the snow.
4 Green Mountain Inn
Emily’s Bridge isn’t the only haunt in Stowe. The Green Mountain Inn is a historic hotel and haunted building.
In 1840, “Boots” Berry was worn in a the inn’s servants’ quarters, now room 302. His mother was a housekeeper, and his father took care of the horses. As Botos grew up, he took after his father, becoming a stablehand at the inn. He also became a much-loved member of the community, once stopping an out of control stagecoach and saving all onboard.
Boots fell into alcoholism later in life and was fired from his job. After traveling around the country and learning to dance while in jail (hence the nickname “Boots”) he came back to Stowe and visited the Inn. The year was 1902 and a young child had sneaked onto the roof and was stuck there during a snowstorm. Boots saved the child but wasn’t so lucky himself. He slipped after the rescue and fell to his death. Visitors and employees claim to hear the sound of dancing feet coming from the roof.
3 Shelburne Museum
The Shelburne Museum, in northern Vermont, is a meandering garden and building complex. Covering 45 acres, the museum comprises 39 historical buildings, 25 of which were relocated there. Yet the museum is more than just a display of local history. From an old farmhouse to odd family collections, it is a unique historical and artistic escape that is only open from the middle of May to the end of October. In addition to the rare works of art and hundreds of antique dolls, folks say ghostly spirits can be found wandering the grounds.
The Dutton House, originally built in 1782, was moved to the Shelburne Museum from the small town of Cavendish in 1950. Museum employees have experienced odd occurrences in the old-fashioned colonial home. Tour guides have reported seeing apparitions of an old man, and others have heard a young child crying in the shadows. In the off-season, the house emits unexplained noises, and no one but terrified maintenance workers is there to hear them..
2 Hartford Railroad Disaster
The date was February 5, 1887 and it was a biting -15 degrees Fahrenheit. The Boston-Montreal Express service left White River Junction at 2:10 AM and soon began crossing the White River on the West Hartford Bridge. The train started to sway, and the back carriage swung off the bridge. As the train fell off the tracks and tumbled to the river below, it caught fire and brought the bridge down with itself. Only the front of the train survived. The disaster killed 37 people and injured 50.
After the crash, a nearby barn became a makeshift trauma unit where some of the injured survivors died. The barn still stands, and passersby have heard crying coming from there. The area where the bridge stood has been known to emit the smell of burning wood. Some see a ghostly manifestation of Conductor Sturtevant, believed to be patrolling the bridge to prevent another accident. Others see the ghost of a young child in 19th century clothing, hovering above the river, staring at where the crash occurred.
1 The University of Vermont
Burlington is the biggest city in Vermont and home to its largest higher education institution, the University of Vermont, better known as UVM. It was established in 1791, only the fifth university to be founded in New England. Thousands of students enter and graduate every year. It seems some of them never leave.
UVM has bought many former homes in the city and turned them into campus buildings. The Counseling Center is one such buildings, and people have reported seeing there the ghost of Captain John Nabb, the house’s former owner. Nabb causes havoc by knocking over buckets and slamming doors and windows. The nearby Public Relations building was once owned by one John E. Booth, and some think that he makes banging sounds around the building and speaks when no one else is around.
The Bittersweet House is one of the most haunted buildings on campus. Multiple people have reported seeing full body apparitions there. The ghost is believed to be Margaret Smith, who lived a solitary life in the house after becoming widowed at a young age until her death there in 1961. Some have seen, in detail, a woman with neat hair and a long dress. Other people have claimed to see a more blurry version of the woman.
Perhaps one of the most tragic stories on campus is the residence hall Converse. In 1920, a young medical student named Henry committed suicide there. Students have experienced lost items, and unexplained movement of doors and windows. Apparently, the University of Vermont has more haunted buildings than anywhere else in the state.
Kristance grew up in a haunted house in Vermont. When she isn’t compulsively traveling the globe, she’s looking up weird facts and making awkward YouTube videos. An avid culture geek, she’s a trained anthropologist and archaeologist. Follow her on Twitter or read about her adventures at diggingtoroam.com.