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America’s Top Five Haunted Universities

This post was written by Anna
on October 2, 2012 | Comments (2)

Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Matt Swayne, author of America’s Haunted Universities.

How do students pick the university they’ll attend?

Usually, it’s a matter of reputation.

Some students seek schools with solid academic reputations; other students want to be part of a university with great athletics. Another group—probably a group that’s larger than we want to believe—wants to attend a school that knows how to party.

If you want to go to a school with a great academic tradition, you can find dozens of lists that rank schools according to their academic reputations. For athletics, just visit the latest national champions in the sport of your choice. The Princeton Review of Party Schools issues an annual list the best party schools.

But, what if you want to attend a university that’s haunted? Really haunted.

The following list, based on my unofficial haunted census, details the top five American universities for ghosts, spectres, poltergeists, entities, and other members of the spirit body.


5. Iowa State University

The midwest is fertile soil…for ghost stories. And Iowa State University, located in Ames, Iowa, is living proof. Although that might not be the right phrase.

The campus has several ghosts who have sought permanent tenure in the school’s classrooms and dorms. A security guard said he saw a figure staring out a window of Freeman Hall during a holiday break. The figure turned and disappeared from sight. Since the dorm was supposed to be vacant, the officer investigated. He found that the room—and the entire dormitory—were empty.

Health pioneer Clara Barton is said to haunt her namesake dorm, Barton Hall. Cyclone students have said they have seen or felt the presence of the spirit of a good-hearted lady during their stays in the residence hall.

Those are just some of the fine crop of ghost stories at Iowa State.


4. Notre Dame

Most know that the University of Notre Dame, founded by Father Edward Sorin in 1842, has a spiritual legacy. But, the university’s vast supernatural legacy might not as be as well known.

Father Sorin is just one of the spirits that haunts the school. People have seen him at the Main Building on campus.

Other ghosts that visit the campus include the spirits of Native Americans—and their horses—whose burial ground, word has it, is reportedly situated near the campus.

One of the Fighting Irish’s most famous football legends is still making campus visits, according to several accounts. George “the Gipper” Gipp, famous for his “Win one for the Gipper” death bed speech to rally his team, haunts Washington Hall, where he once roomed as a student.

More tales of disembodied voices and spooky sensations have filtered in over the years. The activity doesn’t seem to be centered in any one building. Skeptics say it’s just the over-active imagination of the young men and women who attend Notre Dame. Believers say that the whole university is supercharged with spirit activity.


3. Penn State

Penn State, which started out almost exclusively as a place to educate the young farmers and workers who lived in central Pennsylvania, quickly became a leading research university and nationally-recognized educator. If the ghosts are any indication, the school has not shed its agricultural roots.

One of the many ghosts that haunt Penn State’s University Park campus is the spirit of a mule. Ole Coaly performed a lot of duties at the university; he carried stones and equipment for workers who were building the initial buildings at the university and was its first unofficial mascot. Once Ole Coaly died, his bones were preserved. Over the decades, those bones were displayed several places on campus, including its present location in the HUB-Robeson student union.

Students and staff noticed that every time Ole Coaly’s bones were relocated, people would complain of strange noises and activities. Some witnesses heard the clip-clop of hooves plodding down empty halls. Others said they heard the distinct hee-haw braying of a mule.

Besides Ole Coaly, ghosts of founders and thespians reportedly fill out the attendance list of spectral spirits who appear to the Nittany Lion faithful. A poltergeist outbreak in a dorm on campus even made the national news.


2. University of Alabama

Crimson tide, indeed.

The University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has a few supernatural strikes against it—or a few supernatural strikes for it, depending on whether you mind running into the ghost of a Civil War soldier on campus.

The campus has had its share of violence and tragedy—usually the one-two punch for paranormal problems.

A Union soldier reportedly haunts a site on campus called the Little Round House; the legend indicates that he was murdered as Union troops moved into occupy the city.

Another tale that has passed from class to class is that a female student committed suicide on a floor in Tutwiler Hall. Since then, students complain that at times they feel like they’re being watched. At other times, a shadowy figure has been seen flitting around the halls. Strange noises echo through the halls of the dorm, too.

You might not just find the ghost of a person in Smith Hall. There are stories that a ghost horse is trotting through the halls. On some nights, if you’re unlucky enough to be in Smith Hall, the building that houses the Museum of Natural History, you might hear a ghost horse trotting around. It’s supposed to be the horse that’s pulling the carriage of Dr. Eugene Smith, who taught at the school and was a state geologist. Note: he was the state geologist, not the state poltergeist.


1. Ohio University

There are colleges and universities who try—often in vain—to hush up stories about ghosts in libraries and spirits in dorms.

Not at the Ohio University. They love their spooks.

Many attribute the university’s penchant for ghostly activity to the campus’s unique geography. People say that if you connect the graveyards that border the school, it forms a pentagram.

Whatever the reason, there are several haunted buildings. The Ridges is the most notorious. Once an institution for the insane, Ohio University bought the building with plans to turn it into a multi-functional space that included classrooms and a museum.

OU students found it first and began to document strange activity, including a stain that looked like the outline of a woman’s body that couldn’t seem to go away. A group of students claimed to have seen an apparition while filming at the site, too.

Other buildings with a paranormal reputation on the Athens, Ohio-based campus include the paranormally-active Wilson Hall, which was referred to on a television program as one of the “scariest places on earth.”

But, most students say, proudly, that the whole campus is the scariest place on earth, not just Wilson Hall.

Our thanks to Matt for his guest post! For more from Matt Swayne, read his article “Higher Learning or Haunted Learning?: Natural and Supernatural Reasons Why Ghosts Haunt Our Campuses.”

Reader Comments

Written By Kyle
on October 3rd, 2012 @ 9:33 am

Don’t forget Columbia University’s library stacks. They are dark, dank, narrow, and spooky. They even filmed Ghostbusters there! 🙂


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