Al Capone’s Cell at Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia PA

In the spring of 1692, hysteria descended upon the quiet town of Salem, Massachusetts, snaking through the community like an insidious virus. Over several months, a group of young girls claiming to be possessed by the devil condemned a score of men and women to the gallows in one of history’s most infamous witch hunts.

It’s said many of these troubled spirits still roam Salem today—including Giles Corey, an 80-year-old farmer accused of witchcraft and crushed to death after publicly questioning the girls’ motives. Howard Street Cemetery, where Corey is buried, is one of many sites across the United States believed to host the paranormal.

But what draws us to the supernatural? Margee Kerr, a sociologist and the author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, tells the Washington Post that feeling terror when we know we’re safe can bring around a special kind of euphoria and confidence. And some people see ghosts and spirits as proof that the soul can survive the body’s death, psychologist Christopher French explains in The Atlantic.

Whether or not you believe in ghosts, these seven spooky destinations prove that haunting lore is often rooted in very real and traumatizing histories.

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