Oh Halloween, that magical time of year when Americans get to trade their everyday identities for something a little more exciting. Jack-o-lanterns adorn the front stoop of every suburban household, waiting all their lives for that one glorious night after which they will either find their brains splattered in the street or they will be left outside to rot in the cold. Children, who some argue are ghouls and goblins to begin with, run rampant in costume and terrorize their neighborhoods demanding goodies on penalty of the terrifying threat of “trick.”
This year, for the holiday that is literally the nightmare before Christmas (or is that Black Friday?), we’re going to bring you something truly “spirited”. As the resident expert on the paranormal, or ghostbuster if you will, I’m here to serve up 20 of Connecticut’s scariest haunted places and local legends. Brace yourselves – things are about to get spooky.
Remington Arms Factory: Bridgeport
Bridgeport’s East End hides a 75-acre dark monument to the city’s past. Once one of the largest munitions factories in the country, all that remains now is a decaying eyesore, haunting the surrounding city with the memory of its past industrial success. Actually, even less remains of it now, thanks to a large fire in 2010 and the partial demolition involved. In its glory days, the factory was bustling with activity. If what they say is true, it still is.
Every factory has its share of accidents and the Remington Arms Factory was no different. Most notably, there was a large explosion in the 1940’s that took the lives of seven men and injured 80 others. Death and dismemberment – a definite catalyst for stirring the paranormal pot. Visitors have reported dark shadows creeping around the property, ghost orbs, voices, cold spots, feelings of discomfort, strange noises and disturbing screams piercing the silence of the abandoned plant.
Dan Aykroyd calls Dudleytown “one of the most haunted places on the Earth”. Take it from one of the original Ghostbusters – this place is terrifying. To the untrained eye, this site consists of a handful of stone foundations in the woods, all that remains of an abandoned village founded in the early 1700’s. Walking among these foundations, one quickly realizes there is something still lurking in Dudleytown. Most visitors report an eerie silence devoid of standard wildlife sounds, electronic malfunction, cold spots and ghost orbs or colored mist. More unfortunate visitors report horrible inhuman screams, strange voices caught on tape, evidence of animal sacrifice, nosebleeds, spontaneous skin rashes or burns, dread zones and unidentifiable bipedal creatures with green eyes and goat legs (yes, you read that correctly). The entire region is deemed a pillar of negative energy, with reports/rumors of a vortex that draws the things that do more than just go bump in the night. Not for the faint of heart.
Union Cemetery: Easton
This 17th century graveyard is quite possibly the most famous paranormal site in Connecticut. Its most well-known resident is the White Lady, seen and documented by dozens of witnesses. Ed Warren (of the famous paranormal experts, the Warrens) caught her on video and used to show it every year for a Halloween dinner event. A translucent apparition, she glides about the cemetery grounds. Reports claim she has manifested in a more solid state, just in time to be hit by passing cars. Her origin and identity are debatable – some say she was murdered and dumped on the church grounds, others say she is searching for a lost child. She is kept company by several other recurring spirits. One is referred to as the “Hitchhiker”, aptly named after reported appearances in the backseat of cars driving down Route 59 past the graveyard. The other is “Red Eyes”, which is possibly the ghost of a man who died across the street in the 1930’s after being set on fire.
Visitors report cold spots, strange shadows, heated headstones and the feeling of being watched. Photos of ghost orbs are extremely common from this active paranormal site.
Bara-Hack Settlement: Pomfret
Nestled deep in the forest of Eastern Connecticut, this paranormal gem has been reporting activity since the 1700’s when it was founded. It certainly isn’t called the “Village of Voices” for nothing. Visitors have reported hearing a wide variety of spectral sounds, ranging from children laughing to horse-drawn wagons. This abandoned village has even been rumored as an influence for The Blair Witch Project. The site consists of a main “downtown” area – basically a congregation of foundations. A path branches off here, leading to an old cemetery. Here lies the most commonly reported ghost of Pomfret, which witnesses can only describe as a baby sitting in the elm tree that towers over the small graveyard. Strangely enough, this baby has been consistently seen since the settlement was founded. An explanation has been offered up as the cause to Bara-Hack’s haunting, although it has nothing to do with ghosts. Some say the walls of time are thin here, making these woods an actual window to the past.
Visitors have experienced a paranormal cornucopia, from freaky sounds to baby ghosts. If you venture out into the woods, bring a partner. Ghosts can be scary, but mountain lions are downright terrifying.
Norwich State Hospital: Norwich
Here we have hundreds of acres of property littered with buildings erected on top of a Native American village (“they’re heeeere”). Ship in a few thousand criminally or just generally insane patients and you have yourself the perfect paranormal blend. As you can guess, these patients were supposedly tortured and abused, which adds to the generally negative energy that surrounds these places. This takes us from bad to worse, leaving a giant tomb brimming with malevolent spirits.
You name it – visitors have reported it. Witnesses have seen ghost orbs, thick mists, shadow figures, feelings of terror or being threatened, strange sounds, disembodied voices, screams, crying and full-on apparitions.
Hookman’s Cemetery: Seymour
There are several explanations as to why Great Hill Cemetery was nicknamed Hookman’s Cemetery. One involves a murderous caretaker who had a fondness for killing trespassers with a large hook. Another reports of a man named Hookman who was wrongfully executed and angrily seeks retribution. Let’s not forget the classic story of the boyfriend who gets murdered checking on a strange noise while his girlfriend sits inside the car, trying to peer out foggy windows. This 18th century graveyard is reported to be full of demonic activity. There are even tales of a house that once stood in the field behind the grounds in which a young man murdered his family, reminiscent of the famous Amityville story.
Visitors report ghost orbs, strange mist, overwhelming negative emotions, cold spots and frightening noises coming from the surrounding forest.
Fairfield Hills: Newtown
This abandoned mental institution was once home to thousands of patients. As was the case with most of these types of hospitals, many patients were mistreated and subjected to cruel methods of therapy. It is speculated that the spirits of these abused patients continue to roam the institute halls and the catacomb of underground passages that link the hospital buildings. MTV recruited WCSU students to film the St. Agnes episode of Fear here. The movie Sleepers was also filmed here.
Visitors report odd noises, screams, moans, being followed by disembodied footsteps and voices, seeing dark, crouching figures and also finding generally creepy décor in patient rooms.
Downs Road: Hamden
This run-down stretch of closed road is reportedly a stomping ground for some manner of strange creatures. Some describe them as demonic children while others view them as the Melon Heads common to Fairfield County legend. Whether they are cannibalistic asylum escapees, inbred deformities or something far worse (if you can imagine anything worse), local legend maintains they are out there lurking and waiting for new friends.
Visitors report high levels of anxiety, strange noises, unidentified creatures (some of which give chase) and also damage to their cars, including long claw or scratch marks down the sides.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, coming up next week.