Minnesota’s Top 10 Most Haunted Places

Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” was predominantly settled by Germans and Scandinavians looking for a home in North America that appeared similar to the one they had left behind. Minnesota’s vast lakes, pine forests, and long, harsh winters have given rise to a rich tradition of folklore. As we at Mysterious Heartland have found, Minnesotans love a good ghost story as well, and many places are said to be haunted. Which will prove to be the scariest of them all?

10. Lake Julia Sanitarium

Puposky, Minnesota

Lake Julia Sanitarium opened in July 1916 as a tuberculosis hospital, and operated until 1953. It was built using concrete, and despite being abandoned for many decades, it is in surprisingly good shape. Urban explorers have taken over the building. They come to explore the former hospital and find relics from the past, but sometimes they get more than they bargained for. Visitors have witnessed balls of light floating up the elevator shaft, while others have heard moaning or have seen shadowy figures. The ghost of a young girl has also been seen peering out a second floor window.

9. Dead Man’s Trail

Thief River Falls, Minnesota

Haunted_Midwest_Roads_9Before Europeans settled this area of Northwestern Minnesota, it was home to the Chippewa tribe. Today, no one is quite sure how the town of Thief River Falls got its name, but the stories center on a trail running along the Thief River. Some locals refer to this trail as “Dead Man’s Trail,” and they say an Indian warrior used a cave along the river as a hideout while he was wanted for murder. According to another legend, a young Chippewa woman was chased by unknown pursuers. She hid her newborn near the river so she could move faster, with the intention of coming back for him. When she returned, however, the river had swept the child away. She cursed it as “Thief River” for having stolen her baby. Today, people report seeing the ghost of an Indian maiden desperately searching for her child along the trail.

8. Janesville Doll House

Janesville, Minnesota

Haunted_Midwest_Houses_10The porcelain face of an adolescent boy gazes quietly out the attic window of this non-descript home in Janesville, Minnesota. Passersby have reportedly seen the doll since the 1960s. Over the years, many stories have cropped up explaining how it came to be there. Stories range from a memorial to a daughter who hung herself in the attic, to a shape shifting demon that disguises itself as a doll. Others claim that the doll moves, changes clothes, or follows passersby with his black eyes. According to Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk, the home is owned by an elderly man named Ward Wendt, who claims the story behind the doll is buried in a time capsule.

7. Lake View Cemetery

Buhl, Minnesota

Haunted_Midwest_Cemeteries_9This secluded, rural cemetery sits along Morse Road just south of Route 169, outside the small town of Buhl. It is surrounded on all sides by forest. It is a popular destination for people looking to see ghosts, so much so that a local psychic told the newspaper that all the attention has upset the spirits there. That seems just fine for these amateur ghost hunters, many of whom have recorded otherworldly voices at Lake View Cemetery. One voice mentioned a flag, and sometimes only one flag appears to be moving, while the others are still. At least one visitor has seen an old man wearing old fashioned clothing hanging around the cemetery. He appeared to close the gate, then he turned, walked away, and disappeared. On closer inspection, the visitor found that the gate was broken and could not be closed.

6. Mantorville Opera House

Mantorville, Minnesota

Haunted_Midwest_Theaters_6This handsome brick theater was built in 1918 after a fire destroyed the old business district. Members of the Mantorville Theatre Company, which owns the building and performs there, insist it is haunted by several entities. Actors and actresses have bumped into strangers wearing the same costumes as them, only to see those strangers disappear as mysteriously as they arrived. A ghost named “Ellen” is regularly encountered. Theater company members report feeling unseen hands touch their hair, the feeling of being watched, and of not being alone. Stranger still, a single light will remain on even after they have all been turned off for the night. A volunteer will turn off that light again, but as soon as they leave, they will see it on again. Local police have seen lights on in the theater in the early morning hours as well. No rational explanation has been found for this activity.

5. Washington Street Bridge

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Built in the late 1960s, this double-decker bridge spans the Mississippi River and connects the east and west bank campuses of the University of Minnesota. The bottom deck is open to vehicle traffic and the top is used for pedestrians and bikes. The top deck was enclosed during the 1970s. This bridge is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of all the people who have committed suicide there. In 1972, a University of Minnesota professor named John Berryman jumped to his death, and after being released from the University Hospital, a psychiatric patient also died in a similar manner. Those are just two of the most well-known suicides. Today, some students have reported being followed by ghostly footsteps at night, as well as feeling like they are being watched from the shadows.

4. Concordia College

Moorhead, Minnesota

Concordia_CollegeFounded by Norwegian settlers on Halloween in 1891, this Evangelical Lutheran college was bound to attract a strange tale or two. In fact, several ghosts are believed to wander the campus of Concordia College. The heartbroken spirit of a rejected young woman is said to haunt the fourth floor of Old Main. She became obsessed with one of her professors and vowed that if she could not have him, she would die. Now her soul is trapped at Concordia for all eternity. Fjelstad Hall, a beautiful Tudor-style dorm, is home to another distraught phantom. Her name is Dolly, and she hanged herself after succumbing to the pressures of college life. Today, she performs random mischief like locking doors, setting alarms, and switching roommates’ clothing. Built in 1965, Hoyum Hall is a newer residence hall, but it too has a ghost. This shadowy specter is said to appear at the foot of girls’ beds at night and cry out their names. It has also been known to turn on faucets and electronic devices. Finally, an odd tradition has grown up around the name “Al Gersbach” at Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre. At one performance in early 1980s, Al’s handwritten name mysteriously appeared on copies of the program. No one knew who he was, but ever since, his name has been added to the playbill. If not, the production is believed to have a string of bad luck.

3. Forepaugh Mansion

Paul, Minnesota

Haunted_Midwest_Houses_7Currently a restaurant, this beautiful Victorian mansion was built by Joseph Forepaugh in 1870. There were at least two documented deaths in the home. In 1892, Joseph shot himself in the head, and a housemaid named Molly hung herself on the third floor. According to legend, Joseph was having an affair with Molly and sunk into a deep depression when his wife forbade him from seeing her. Some say Molly was carrying his child when she hung herself, though there is no evidence for this. Both are now said to haunt the home. Employees have seen their spirits, felt cold spots, and experienced strange disturbances.

2. St. Olaf College

Northfield, Minnesota

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsNamed after the Patron Saint of Norway, King Olaf II, St. Olaf College was founded in 1874 by Lutheran Norwegian immigrants. Its scenic campus is home to two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places: Old Main and Steensland Library. The college is also known for its scholarship on Danish existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Throughout its history, St. Olaf College has embraced its otherworldly residents. In 1887, the college newspaper, The Manitou Messenger, even reported that two ghosts were seen gliding through the upper floor of Ladies Hall. Most of the ghostly activity at St. Olaf centers on Ytterboe Hall. Originally called the Boys Dormitory, it was built in 1900 on what was reputed to be sacred Indian land. Professor Halvor Ytterboe died attempting to disinfect the hall with formaldehyde during a scarlet fever outbreak. The hall was later named in his honor, and his ghost is said to dwell there. In Thorson Hall, a young woman awoke one night to hear a child screaming. After checking with the other residents, she learned she was the only one who heard the strange cries.

1. Griggs Mansion

St. Paul, Minnesota

Chauncey W. Griggs, a wholesale grocery tycoon, built this mansion in 1883, but did not live there long before heading west. Ghosts have been reported here for nearly a century and the mansion is often referred to as the most haunted house in St. Paul. It is inhabited by as many as seven different spirits. According to legend, in 1915 a young maid hanged herself near the fourth-floor landing after a failed love affair. Since her death, her presence has often been encountered in the form of a white mist or feelings of dread. The ghost of Charles Wade, the former gardener and caretaker of the house, has also been seen in the library of the mansion. Visitors have also seen an old, white-haired man wearing a black suit and top hat. Reportedly, in 1969 a group of journalists fled the mansion in terror after trying to spend the night. The Griggs Mansion has frequently changed ownership in recent years, and was still up for sale as of 2012.

Sorry guys, this page is copyright, 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, or Wikimedia Commons and licensed under Creative Commons.



  1. palmer house!


    • Agreed! Voted Minnesota’s #1 Most Haunted and The USA Today’s most haunted! How can it not be in the list?


  2. How is the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center not on here? Having grown up in Fergus and later working at the RTC, it should at least be in the top 10


  3. Went to Dead Mans Trail today. Nothing strange happened. We left a peace offering and spoke some words at the entrance of the woods for the spirits of the tribe. I would like to add that the virtual maps link that someone attached is incorrect. We had to ask a local how to get there… it is off the main road kind of near the cemetery. When you walk in there are two paths (a paved path *NOT the correct one) and a more natural looking path (*correct one*). Please be aware there are animals in the woods, including dear, which might look like someone running or create the sense of something following or watching you. I think there are WAY creepier places in this town. We stopped by the historical museum (they were closed) and we looked in the window -where a carriage was moving on its own. There was also a little restaurant near that “Evergreen Eating Emporium” which gave us the eebeejeebies. Def going back to check out that locked up museum when it is open again.


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