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4 Haunted Sites in the Hoosier State

October 31, 2018
        An old photo of Central State Hospital behind several trees.
Photo: Indiana Medical History Museum

Halloween is finally upon us, and as the nights get colder and the sun sets earlier, we start to give a second thought to those things that go bump.

Maybe that twig breaking just beyond the tree line wasn’t an animal. Maybe that creaking upstairs wasn’t just old plumbing. And if you’re in one of these spots below, maybe you have something to actually worry about.

Suspected hauntings are all over the country, and Indiana is no exception. Here are four of the most unsettling places we could find.

The old porch of the Story Inn has a bit of wear and tear. The front porch of the Story Inn in Nashville. (Photo: Brown County, Indiana)

1. The Story Inn - Nashville

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Founded in the 1850s, Story, Indiana, was once a cozy little hamlet in Brown County with a saw mill, a grain mill, a couple general stores, a one-room schoolhouse and a few other stores with some small farms nearby.

But once the Great Depression hit, the majority of the families in Story left their farms for work outside the community. And in the decades since, Story has shrunk into just one building still in operation: The Story Inn.

Proudly proclaimed “One inconvenient location since 1851,” The Story Inn offers guests chef-prepared meals and over a dozen rooms - but only one room is infamous for an extra guest.

Aptly titled “The Blue Lady Room,” it’s reported that if guests turn on the blue light on the room, a woman’s ghost will appear with piercing blue eyes. If you smell cherry tobacco, you’ll know she’s nearby. Just be sure to sign the guest book and write down your ghostly findings before you leave.

2. Central State Hospital - Indianapolis

Indianapolis’ Central State Hospital won’t be letting guests stay the night anytime soon. The hospital has been closed for over 20 years, and for good reason.

Opened in 1848 as the “Indiana Hospital for the Insane,” the hospital housed patients for depression, dementia, epilepsy and alcoholism, hoping to discover treatments.

Over its almost 150 years in operation, the hospital faced countless accusations of abusing its patients, verbally, mentally and physically. According to the Indiana Medical History Museum, Central State Hospital saw a decline in its number of patients following multiple scandals and a shift toward community care. The hospital shut its doors in 1994.

The hospital’s history of mistreating its patience has led to a reputation of hauntings and urban legends. Paranormal investigator Maggie Zoiss told RTV6 that when she and her husband took a documentary crew into the hospital in 2006, they heard several unexplained voices speaking to them.

“It was the summertime and we were trying to figure out how to open up the windows,” Zoiss told RTV6. “All of a sudden three of us heard a voice say, ‘Pull down from the top.’ ...Everybody said they didn’t know how to open the windows, they didn’t say anything.”

Those looking to see (or hear) for themselves can schedule a tour with the Indiana Medical History Museum, located on the hospital’s grounds. But the staff wants the building’s haunted status left open to interpretation.

“I get questions a lot asking if the site is haunted, but we never take [a side] one way or the other,” Gwendolen Raley of Indiana Landmarks told the Indianapolis Recorder. “We let people decide for themselves.”

An up-close look at the old, broken steps at One Hundred Steps Cemetery. A shot of the broken stairs at One Hundred Steps Cemetery. (Photo: Terror Haute)

3. One Hundred Steps Cemetery - Brazil

While the last two spots might make you uneasy, One Hundred Steps Cemetery is downright treacherous.

According to blog on local urban legends and one of the best-named websites I’ve ever heard, “Terror Haute” describes One Hundred Steps Cemetery (also named Carpenter's Cemetery) as both a leg workout and fortune telling method.

If you come to the cemetery in the dead of night, you can walk up the steps and count 100 of them. But when you walk down those same steps, you’ll only count 99. Walk up them any other time of day and the number will be closer to 60.

Do this in complete darkness - no flashlights - and the spirit of the original caretaker will appear to you to make known how you will die, without saying a word.

Trying this for yourself is highly discouraged. The steps are in a heavy state of disrepair, and as Terror Haute puts it, “Walking up or down this steep hill on these broken, uneven steps could be dangerous even in the light of day… If you are not careful while going down the steps, it wouldn’t take a ghost to tell you how you might die.”

A panorama shot of the French Lick Springs Hotel front entrance. A look at the front of the French Lick Springs Hotel today. (Photo: French Lick Resort)

4. French Lick Springs Hotel - French Lick

French Lick Springs Hotel opened way back in 1845, but it reached its heyday in the early 20th century under the ownership of Thomas Taggart, who was ending his tenure as Indianapolis’ mayor at the same time.

Taggart helped French Lick Springs grow into the sprawling luxury hotel it is today. According to the resort’s website, “Taggart’s improvements included enlarging the east wing...encouraging the Monon Railroad to lay a special spur and run daily trains between Chicago and the front entrance of the hotel, and modernizing and expanding the mineral springs for which the hotel was becoming famous.”

The hotel would change many hands over the next century, but as reports today go, it seems as if French Lick Springs Hotel’s most influential owner just couldn’t shake being a workaholic - even after he died.

A report in IndyStar says that Taggart appears around the service elevator as mists or a tobacco smell from nowhere.

“He is said to expertly operate the elevator from beyond when the place gets busy,” Chris Sims wrote. “He also is said to appear riding a horse in the ballroom or down the halls, and holds ghostly parties that the staff have heard through closed doors when no one else is in the ballroom.”

It’s not just Taggart checking in on how the hotel is running. CBS4Indy says that staff members have reported receiving strange calls from empty hotel rooms and even “heard the voices of guests from parties Taggart used to host.” That's not even counting the mysterious breezes, footsteps and laughter said to have come from the sixth floor.

You’re encouraged to enjoy an opulent stay at the French Lick Springs Hotel - just know you might not be alone.

Rachel Carter contributed to this article. Featured image of Central State Hospital via Indiana Medical History Museum.