The Haunting of Mystic Country Last Updated: October 2021
Eastern Connecticut has more than its fair share of spooky spots, in fact, there are tales of haunted houses, ghost sightings, and general creepiness in nearly every town in the region. If you want to experience the frights for yourself this Halloween season, consider this your roadmap for Halloween Haunts!
- In Salem, Gardiner Lake is a beautiful spot to catch a sunset or do some fishing on a summer day. But did you know at the bottom of the lake lies an abandoned house? Legend has it that in 1895 a family wanted to move their home from one side of the lake to the other. They thought they had the perfect plan; they would wait until the lake froze over and then “slide” the home across it to its new location. Unfortunately, mother nature had other plans and the lake began to thaw before they could finish moving it. The family gathered what possessions they could but had to leave behind the larger items, including a piano. Eventually, the house sank to the bottom of the lake and scuba divers claim to have seen parts of the home still intact down below. Now for the spooky part: many people who have fished Gardiner Lake have claimed to hear a melodious piano sound coming from the bottom of the lake. Could it be the ghost of the piano’s previous owners playing a tune from beyond? We will let you decide!
- In New London, you will find the famed New London Ledge Lighthouse. Sure, it’s an iconic New England symbol, but this particular one is allegedly haunted by a ghost named “Ernie,” a former lighthouse keeper. The backstory is that in the 1920s or 1930s, a lighthouse keeper jumped from the top to his death, after learning that his wife had left him for a local ferry captain. Since then, lighthouse keepers that followed as well as U.S. Coast Guard members in later years have reported strange occurrences in the structure, including doors opening and closing, unexplained knockings, bedsheets flying off beds, cups moving around, boats unmooring themselves, televisions and radios turning on and off, the foghorn spontaneously sounding on its own and other unexplained happenings. Oh, and from time to time, the ghost of a tall, bearded man in a slicker and rainhat has been seen. Spooked yet? If not, then go pay the historic site a visit and see for yourself.
- Head over to the Quiet Corner to find the abandoned village of Bara-Hack. Located in the town of Pomfret, this once-thriving community was founded by Rhode Islanders of Welsh descent in the 1790s and named “breaking bread” in Welsh. The prosperity of this new settlement did not last long, however, and by the Civil War, the village was mostly abandoned. Even during its peak, legends grew within the town, including tales told by the family slaves of a ghost baby who could often be seen reclining in a nearby tree. As the years went on, there were increasing reports of ghost baby sightings, as well as a bearded face in the cemetery, streaking lights, and orbs. Otherworldly noises have also been reported, including the sounds of farm animals, horse-drawn buggies, and long-gone voices. The area became so popular among paranormal enthusiasts that it is now closed to the public, but those curious enough sometimes still enter, at their own risk of course.
- In Windham, the Old Windham Inn is a notable landmark in Windham Center. Known as the Windham House prior to 1890, the building was constructed in 1783 and was originally three stories. It began to buckle around 1850 and was then reduced to two stories. The Inn was converted into apartments in the mid-20th century and is believed to be haunted by the ghost of Elizabeth (Betsy) Shaw. When unmarried Betsy turned up pregnant in 1744, the townspeople scorned and taunted her, even speculating that her own father could be the father of her baby. The child vanished after it was born and was later found dead near a cliff. Betsy’s father turned her in, some say to keep himself from being blamed. She was found guilty by an all-male jury and was hanged. Many say they have spotted her ghost walking along the road nearby and at the former site of the Old Windham Inn.
- The Captain Daniel Packer Inne in Mystic. Has been a popular destination has a long and rich history and it is even rumored that George Washington may have visited during a trip through the region. Purchased by the seafaring Daniel Packer in 1754, the inn served as a home for his wife and seven children and was run by multiple generations of the Packer family up until the late 20th century. In 1979 the inn was purchased and the new owners, who sought to restore it to its former glory. This is one explanation for why many report seeing his ghost still hanging around the old stomping grounds. Over the years, guests and staff members tell of seeing a ghostly sea captain in various rooms of the inn. Others have described spooky experiences such as mugs and glasses moving on their own, doors randomly opening and closing, and the sound of boots walking across empty rooms. Some of this paranormal activity is attributed to Ada Byron Clift, a 7-year-old relative of the Packer family who lived at the inn during the 19th century. In 1874, Ada tragically died of scarlet fever in her bedroom on the second floor, and some believe her spirit has become bound to the property.