I’ve talked about finding haunted places by checking with friends, long-time local residents, and Halloween issues of regional newspapers. Those are just a few of many great ways to find places for ghost hunting.
Newspapers and editors
Newspapers like to feature a “new” haunted location each year. So, you may find different local haunts listed in past Halloween issues. Sometimes, those past issues are online, or they’re available at the newspaper’s main office.
If you visit the newspaper office, their Entertainment editor probably knows several haunted locations that they’re keeping ‘in reserve’ for future Halloween issues.
Many editors and journalists are happy to share information in exchange for your help on current or future newspaper articles. For years, I worked closely with a Nashua Telegraph (NH) editor. She shared haunted locations she never wrote about in the paper, and asked me not to reveal them online, either. In return for some great site information, I helped her with insights for annual Halloween articles.
If the newspaper office doesn’t have copies of past Halloween issues, most local public libraries keep them in stacks or on microfilm. They may have even more ghost information in their files, sometimes referred to as “vertical files.” If the library has an historical collection, ask to see it. You may find dusty old volumes of ghost stories, especially from the 19th century when Spiritualism was trending.
While you’re at the library, ask the Reference librarian if he or she knows any local ghost stories. Generally, it’s smart to call this “folklore” or “legends.”
Also, check modern folklore and history books and videos at the library. I’ve found some great, accurate stories there. For example, when I was researching a New Hampshire house that had been demolished years ago, I found a 19th century history that mentioned “the haunted house.” I assumed it was the same house… but it wasn’t. In fact, that opened up an entirely new line of research, and provided a fork to another ghost story I was working on.
Most libraries have enough resources to require several visits. Try the town’s public library as well as any county historical libraries, genealogical libraries (family history), and historical society reference rooms. If a college or university is anywhere nearby, check their holdings, too.
Police officers can be a great source of information.
The police know locations that generate frequent calls, where nothing explains what’s reported.
For example, they’re called when a security alarm goes off, but there’s no reason for it. (At some sites, ghosts love to set off alarms.) It annoys the police, and — after awhile — they realize it’s something unexplained. The police don’t mind sharing that information with serious researchers, in case we can debunk the “ghost” and give the police a better answer to the problem.
One New Hampshire police chief happily listed every “cold spot” he’d ever encountered during his 20+ years on the force. He was delighted to be able to “talk shop” with someone who’d take him seriously. He even describe an unusual “hot spot” he’d found in a nearby woods.
In Texas, a few months later, a police officer found us in a rural cemetery after hours. (We’d entered through a gate that didn’t post the cemetery hours. We had no idea we were breaking the law.)
Once he realized that we were researchers, not thrill seekers, he gave us a personal tour of two haunted cemeteries, and pointed out the most haunted graves. He had a wealth of ghost stories, and stayed with us long after his shift had concluded.
So, as long as other “ghost hunters” haven’t antagonized the police, they can be among your best resources.
Thanks to the popularity of ghost hunting, there are many new books about haunted places. Some are awful, but some of them are very good. (Always fact-check any “ghost story” you find, even if the book is from a major, mainstream publisher. Some, including Sterling and Publications International, do extensive fact-checking before publishing their books. Others aren’t so careful.)
Researching my book, The Ghosts of Austin, Texas, I found a pattern of hauntings in Texas’ state capital. In my book, I explain that many buildings constructed by Abner Cook are haunted, and I explain why. There’s a chilling reason why Abner Cook’s brick buildings are often haunted.
However, Cook’s buildings aren’t the only Austin pattern I describe in my book. At least half a dozen locations — related to early “Jack the Ripper” stories in this country, shortly before he struck in London — also report ghosts.
When working on a book about Salem, Massachusetts, I found several eerie patterns to “Witch City” hauntings. They follow “ley lines” (aka, “energy lines”) One of them was documented in my article, Salem Ghosts – The Judges’ Line. Others will be in the 2013 update to my book, “Ley Lines for Ghost Hunters.”
Also, look for well-researched books that cover new ground, so to speak. One of my favorites is Haunted Hikes of NH. It includes off-the-beaten-path haunted sites in the Granite State, especially along hiking trails. (When those trails are in or near campgrounds, you’ll have ample opportunity for legal, late night ghost investigations.)