Indiana’s nickname, “The Hoosier State,” proudly proclaims it as a predominantly rural Midwestern state. The word “Hoosier” means backwoodsman or rough countryman. Early settlers of the Indiana country would yell, “Who’sh ‘ere?” in a thick accent whenever someone came knocking at their door, and the greeting eventually evolved into the word “Hoosier.” Indiana’s winding roads, parks, and forests are home to many folktales and legends, with ghost stories prominent among them. At Mysterious Heartland, we have shifted through these stories and came up with this list of some of the most compelling. Which will prove to be the scariest of them all?
10. Sim Smith Bridge
Built in 1883, this 84-foot covered bridge spans Leatherwood Creek along 40N, south of Route 36, about six miles west of Rockville. The bridge used to lay on the path of Pikes Peak Highway, which ran from New York to Los Angeles. According to legend, in 1890 a young mother was carrying her baby home to Montezuma. She reached Sim Smith Bridge at dusk and hurried across. Unfortunately, a rider was driving a horse and buggy quickly in the opposite direction. It was too late to stop when he finally saw the woman, and both her infant and she were brutally crushed beneath horse hooves and buggy wheels. From then on, riders heard the sound of a buggy coming across the bridge, but none would emerge. Local fishermen sometimes saw a horse and buggy enter the covered bridge, but never come out the other side. Still others have seen the figure of a young woman and her baby in the shadows.
9. Laughery Creek Road
Dearborn County, Indiana
A quiet farmhouse used to sit along this road dividing Delaware and Ohio counties. Its physical remains are long gone, but the psychic scars from a gruesome crime cannot be disbursed as easily. In May 1941, a man who had twice married into the Agrue family confronted his in-laws with a shotgun. He brutally gunned down Johnson Agrue, his wife, and their two sons. Then he hid the shotgun in a hollow tree, but later confessed to the crime. Nearly 30 years later, in 1970, the farmhouse mysteriously burned to the ground. Since then, locals have whispered that Laughery Creek Road is haunted by the Agrue family, or perhaps, their killer. Even the bravest souls avoid driving down this road at night, just in case.
8. Fowler Theatre
Fowler Theatre, as well as the town of Fowler itself, is named after Moses Fowler, a prominent banker in the area. The Fowler Theatre opened March 1, 1940, and since then has been a pillar of cultural life in the community. It was designed to be a movie palace, and was one of six theaters in the country chosen to premier Gone with the Wind. Something from the past has remained. Volunteers have reported doors opening on their own, feelings of being watched, and a rocking chair that sways back and forth. Several have seen the specter of a gray-haired man wearing a tan raincoat and a fedora. He dashes through the theater and then disappears. Old photographs point to his identity as Dick Vlastos, the original owner of the theater. The sightings have occurred so regularly that volunteers assume he must be looking after his beloved building.
7. The One-Hundred Steps Cemetery
The One-Hundred Steps Cemetery is located between Terre Haute and Brazil, Indiana off N. County Road 675 W, just south of Route 40. Difficult to find because it is unmarked on many maps, this rural cemetery is home to an unusual legend. The cemetery itself holds graves dating back to the 1860s, but most visitors come to see a long set of concrete stairs. They are broken and sunken into the grass in many places, but it is said that secrets will be revealed if you make it to the top. According to legend, anyone who counts every step and reaches the top at midnight will be approached by the ghost of an undertaker. This grim figure will show you a vision of your death. If you fail to count the same number of steps on your way down, the vision will come true. If you walk up the side of the hill rather than the steps, a phantom hand will push you to the ground.
6. Edna Collins Bridge
Putnam County, Indiana
Believed to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl, Edna Collins Bridge was built in 1922 and spans Little Walnut Creek along County Road 450 N, west of Glenn Flint Lake. It is the only covered bridge in Indiana to be named after a woman, but it is not Edna Collins who haunts it. In the late 1920s, the story goes, an adolescent girl used to play around the creek near the bridge. Her family lived nearby, and they would leave her to play while they drove into town. On the way home, they stopped at the bridge and honked three times. Usually, their daughter would join them, but on that day, she did not appear. Her father found her body floating in the flooded creek. According to legend, the laughter of a young girl can sometimes be heard near the bridge. If you stop your car on the bridge and honk three times, the girl’s apparition will appear. Some visitors have even seen her ghost sitting in their backseat!
5. University of Notre Dame
South Bend, Indiana
The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842 by Father Edward Sorin, a Catholic priest, and was an all-male institution until 1972. Notre Dame is famous for its football team, the Fighting Irish. It was this athletic legacy that gave birth to the university’s most enduring legends. In 1920, George “The Gipper” Gipp was selected as Notre Dame’s first All-American football player. Unfortunately, he died of a streptococcal throat infection at the age of 25 on December 14, 1920.
Students say the ghost of Gipp still haunts his old room in Washington Hall, which is now home to the university’s drama club. Poltergeist activity has also been encountered there. In addition to props falling and music playing on its own, one janitor saw an elderly, balding man who asked him to help open a window before vanishing. According to legend, the ghosts of American Indians roam the ground around Columba Hall, which was built on land formerly owned by the Potawatomi.
4. The Story Inn
Brown County, Indiana
“One inconvenient location since 1851” is not only this country inn’s tagline, it is also an apt description. To get to the inn, visitors must make a 20 mile trek into the wilderness down State Road 135 from Nashville, Indiana. The Story Inn and its cottages is all that remains of a tiny mining town named Story, which went defunct in the early 1900s. The Inn was restored in the 1960s and now sits at the edge of Brown County State Park. For decades, owners of the Inn kept logs in each room so that guests could document their ghostly encounters. One of the most well-known ghosts haunting the Story Inn is known as the “Blue Lady.” She is believed to have been a wife of Dr. George Story and can be summoned by turning on a blue light in one of the rooms above the restaurant. Literally hundreds of encounters have been recorded, from simply sensing her presence to witnessing and interacting with the apparition. The owner is a skeptic, but continues the tradition of inviting guests to share their stories.
3. Indiana University
Indiana University in Bloomington is the flagship institution of the Indiana University system and the state’s largest university, with over 42,000 students. Built in 1822, it is a member of the Big Ten Conference and its men’s basketball team is one of the best in the nation. It became known as Indiana University in 1838. With such a long history, it is no surprise the campus is home to several ghosts. Read Hall is believed to be haunted by two different tortured spirits. One is the ghost of a raven-haired young women who was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend. She most often manifests in a yellow nightgown. The other is a ghost known as “Paula,” who committed suicide by throwing herself down the stairs. According to a popular myth, students hear her blood curdling scream on December 12, the anniversary of her death. The Indiana Memorial Union is thought to be haunted by a phantom dog, as well as the ghosts of several students who leapt to their deaths from the building’s upper floor.
2. Willard Library
Willard Library’s “Grey Lady” is the most famous ghost in Indiana. One of the oldest libraries in the Hoosier State, its imposing Victorian Gothic architecture certainly lends itself to ghost stories. This story, however, appears quite real. The Grey Lady was first spotted in 1937 by a janitor in the basement. Since then, hundreds of visitors claim to have seen her. She most often manifests as a misty, gray figure. Some have smelled her perfume or felt a phantom touch. She is believed to be the ghost of Louise Carpenter, daughter of the library’s founder, Willard Carpenter. The Willard Library’s staff have put up live feed cameras in three rooms so the public could monitor them for anomalous activity. Since then, the cameras have captured dozens of photos of a mysterious, amorphous figure.
1. Historic Hannah House
This red-brick Italianate mansion was built in 1858 by Alexander Hannah, who later went on to become a state legislator. According to legend, the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape north to Canada prior to the American Civil War. During that time, it is said, a group of slaves were sleeping in the basement when one knocked over an oil lantern and started a fire. One by one, the sleeping slaves were consumed by the flames and smoke. When Alexander Hannah discovered what happened, he buried their ashes in the basement so no one would ever find out. To this day, the ghosts of these slaves haunt the home. Moans, shadows, whispers, and cold spots have been experienced in the basement. The ghosts of Alexander Hannah and his wife have also been seen upstairs. Today, the Historic Hannah House is open for tours and events.
Sorry guys, this page is copyright MysteriousHeartland.com, 2015. You do not have permission to copy this for any reason. Please learn how to cite your work. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are either public domain, courtesy of 123rf.com, or Wikimedia Commons and licensed under Creative Commons.