New England is worth visiting all year around, but the region really thrives in autumn with its picturesque fall foliage, seasonal activities like apple picking, and of course, its haunted history.
There are plenty of spooky sites throughout New England, and authors Summer Paradis and Sandra Vivian Graul have detailed some of the darkest attractions in their new book.
“Notorious New England: A Travel Guide to Tragedy and Treachery” features more than 55 locations to get you in the Halloween spirit (though they’re also worth visiting any time of the year you want to get a little spooked).
It’s a hybrid of a local history lesson and a true user-friendly travel book, the authors said, detailing not just what makes these spots sinister, but directions, nearby eateries and restrooms and information on how suitable the locations are for different ages or those with mobility needs.
That local-history-lesson aspect means this book goes beyond simple ghost stories. The majority of the locations covered in “Notorious New England” are connected to “actual documented happenings,” said Graul.
But why would people want to visit such spooky sites? Well, besides the fact that some people just like being scared, these places — home to tragic or mysterious circumstances — tap into something “raw” about human nature, according to Paradis.
“That morbid curiosity is innate in us all from a psychological standpoint and sites like the ones we highlight allow you to explore those dark corners of your mind you don’t always feel comfortable discussing in polite company,” she said. “Many of these locations not only engage you in discussing tragedy openly, but encourage you to immerse yourself in it. For example, thousands of people a year, myself included, recreate with glee the crime scene photos of the Borden murders.”
It took the two a year of research, traveling and writing to complete the collection, during which they got a bit freaked out, as well.
For Graul, her most unnerving incidents in creating this book happened in Massachusetts areas. One was at Rutland Prison Camp, where she and Paradis were recording with their paranormal investigation equipment in the cellar when they said they felt a “presence” and heard a voice telling them to “leave now!” They ran to their car and sped away.
“Later, when we reviewed the camera still shots, we discovered that we captured a particularly large and bright orb,” Graul said. “When we zoomed in to study it, it clearly showed an angry male face with almost a screaming expression on it. My heart stopped when I saw at picture. In that moment, I realized that that must have been the spirit we felt and heard, and I was chilled to the bone.”
Massachusetts boasts the most eerie locales out of New England, Paradis said. So many, in fact, that they had to skip some interesting Bay State spots to make the book more balanced across the region.
Salem is mentioned in “Notorious New England,” of course (and for good reason, the authors say) but if you’ve already checked it off your Halloween-to-visit list, don’t worry. “Notorious New England lays out plenty of other suggestions for spooky spots worth visiting.
Notorious New England authors’ favorite spooky sites
Out of all the eerie entries, Paradis said that Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts is her favorite spooky spot.
“It is alive with history that spans all the way back to our earliest days as a nation,” she said. To her, the place “buzzes” with paranormal activity, and yet she always manages to get “an excellent night’s sleep there,” she added, “despite feeling positively surrounded by the ghosts.”
For Graul, the top spot goes to Wilson Castle in Proctor, Vermont, which was built in 1867.
“The castle holds beautiful and fascinating items from around the world, including a tea set gifted to the owners by Mary Queen of Scots, and is located in a peaceful, beautiful valley of the Green Mountain National Forest,” she said. “The Spirit presence of both the original matron of the home, Lady Johnson, and the current owner’s ancestors is very strong there.”