7 Spooky Haunted Places to Visit in Iowa

Iowa is home to abandoned hospitals, allegedly haunted roads, and odd cemeteries. (Image source: Pixabay.com)

If you are from Iowa or anywhere around it, you already know the rumors going around – “Iowa is the most haunted place of the Middle West.” But have you ever really experienced something that would make your heart race faster and your belly vibrate? Iowa is home to abandoned hospitals, allegedly haunted roads, and odd cemeteries, so if you haven’t by now, you must take a look for yourself. The stories are there – but are they real? Here are the spookiest haunted places to visit in the state. 

The Villisca Axe Murder House

Located in Villisca, the Axe Murder House was built in 1912. Visitors have reported hearing strange noises, feeling cold chills, and hearing the faded laughter of children inside this place. This house is well-known to paranormal researchers as a hot spot for peculiar happenings. Tragically, six children and two adults living in the house were murdered – bludgeoned to death with an axe – in their sleep in 1912, which could be the explanation of the odd sensations that visitors experience. The killer remains unknown, which is why the children might have never found true peace. Visits by paranormal investigators are said to have uncovered audio, video and photographic proof of paranormal activity.1

The infamous murder house can be visited during the day and night by booking a tour. (Image source)

The Banwell Terror Bridge 

The Banwell bridge in Fort Dodge is said to have been witness to a terrible act – a mother bringing her children here and throwing them under the wheels of a train passing beneath. This is the reason why this bridge has a reputation for being spooky and gruesome, as it has seen a lot. Before dying, it is said that the children were tortured incessantly for some time; locals tried stopping the act but it was too late – by the time they got there, the mother had already killed herself, and her children were all dead. Brave visitors are said to be able to still hear the voices of the children screaming under the rails. It is also claimed that the mother can be encountered at the bridge as a spectral woman in white. So, yeah, cool place to visit, right?  

The Oakland Cemetery

If you are more into the outdoors, the Oakland Cemetery is a spine-tingling location to see. This spooky place is rumored to be home to some of the wildest spirits. If you’re heading that way, you must visit the Black Angel statue within the cemetery. Make sure you go there during the night. It is said that the statue was put into place in 1912 to mourn Teresa Feldevert’s son and husband after they died. The grieving woman used to go there every day and cry. After her death in 1924, the statue is said to have mysteriously started turning blacker and blacker, starting with its eyes. Whether that’s true or not, you’ll have to check out for yourself.

The infamous Black Angel statue of Oakland Cemetery. (Image credit: Billwhittaker / Wikimedia Commons)

The Mason House Inn

The Mason House Inn is quite possible THE spookiest place on this list. This inn was built during the Civil War and it still holds on to some of the hectic history of the past. Back in the day, this place was used for underground railroad activity, while now it is more accustomed to receiving guests as a hotel. Boasting such an active history, the Mason House Inn is thought to be home to some of the spookiest paranormal activities of the century, at least in the Iowa region. Stories say that the place is inhabited by at least 100 spirits that come and go as they please, being especially active during the night. People have reported seeing a young boy on the stairs of the hotel and a lady wearing a white night gown in some of the rooms. 

Cresco Theatre and Opera House

This location was voted in the top 10 haunted places in the Middle West, so brace yourself. The Cresco Theatre first opened in the 20th century, around 1915. Here, live performances, auditions, and motion pictures were performed. Today, the theatre is still open to the public; however, over the years, visitors, musicians, and actors have reported seeing ghosts on stage, experienced abrupt turn-offs and turn-ons of lights, and underwent electrical disturbances of all kinds. More than that, there are even reports of odd sounds coming from the basement when the theatre is closed for the night.

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Cresco Theatre has a spooky reputation. (Image credit: Jon Roanhaus / Wikimedia Commons)

The Haunted Hospital

If you’re looking for a cool spot to check out for Halloween, the Eldora Rotary Haunted Hospital in Iowa is your best choice. This an abandoned hospital wing has held many ill and sick people throughout the centuries, which is why the place is so spooky looking. Far from being limited to appearance, the hospital’s atmosphere is also creepy, and it adds to the cold vibration of the scene. After the hospital got rehabilitated, Eldora Rotary invested in this once abandoned wing, turning it into a haunting house, or more specifically, haunted hospital. Today, tourists from all over the world visit Iowa and its haunted wonders, including the Rotary hospital. It’s a must see if you’re in the neighborhood.

The Mathias Ham House

This house is known as one of the most historic places in Dubuque, Iowa. As it holds so much history behind and lots of hidden meaning within its walls, the Mathias Ham House is one of the spookiest haunted places to visit here. The former owner of the house, Mathias Ham, came to the town with his wife and six children during the 19th century. Throughout the years, many family members have died in the house, with their the spirits thought to have remained in this house. The spookiest thing about this story is that Sarah, one of Mathias’s daughters, was shot and killed by an intruder. Her ghost has been seen in the house, with it being said she cannot find rest. Starting 1964, the house turned into a museum. Since then, many visitors have reported seeing strange or mysterious activities in the house, such as cold breezes, moving objects, and non-obeying light switches. 

If I haven’t convinced you by now, I don’t know what else I could do to make you explore! These haunted places, as cliché as they might sound or look like, are real. So, go ahead, dare to question, dare to look, and dare to experience the ghostly places of Iowa. And oh! If you encounter something interesting on the road, hit us up and tell your story. 


You may also enjoy these articles:

About Scott Mathews 1 Article
Scott’s first passion is hunting ghosts and dark, occult places - and writing about them!