Do spirits walk among us in Columbia SC? With goosebumps on our arms and chills going down our spines from countless tales over the years, we’re going to go ahead and say that signs point to yes. Whether or not you’re a believer, check out our list of places where you’re most likely to have a supernatural sighting.
While The Horseshoe is no doubt one of the most charming spots on USC’s campus, it’s also one of the most haunted. As the site of the university’s original campus dating back to 1805, the spot is ripe with history (and ghosts!).
Rumor has it that if you see the lights on overnight at South Caroliniana Library (the oldest freestanding academic library in the country), then former University President James Rion McKissick is wandering the building and perusing the books. Students have also reported feeling sudden cold spots, as well as seen doors opening and things inexplicably moving around. President McKissick’s body is actually buried right outside the library, so this account definitely checks out.
Not convinced? Then maybe you should pop over to DeSaussure College where you may just happen upon a female apparition with long, dark hair. Believed to be the daughter of a Dr. Black, she avenged her father’s murder by poisoning the group of soldiers who killed him. After accidentally drinking some of the tainted wine herself, her spirit and those of the soldiers now reside in the building.
Moving away from The Horseshoe, there are also plenty of eerie accounts of strange happenings over at Longstreet Theatre. In fact, the theatre used to be a hospital, complete with a morgue, during the Civil War. Whilst inside Longstreet, it’s not uncommon to walk into a sudden cold spot, feel an inexplicable sense of unease, witness the appearance of a spirit or hear odd noises, such as doors slamming or floorboards creaking. The elevators in the building also tend to open of their own accord when no one is there to have summoned one. We may be able to chalk one or two of these up to mere coincidence, but when you put all of these spooky goings-on together, we’re calling it – Longstreet Theatre is capital H Haunted.
While a cemetery may seem like an obvious locale to be featured in this list, that doesn’t make the stories and history of Elmwood Cemetery any less fascinating. Founded in 1845 and once considered the most prestigious and fashionable place to be laid to rest in Columbia, the grounds hold more than 25,000 people buried throughout less than 125 acres. Among those buried, there are about 500 Confederate soldiers, prominent Southern families and a young bride who mysteriously died the night before her wedding. Adding to the creepiness factor is the cemetery’s classic gothic elements such as old mausoleums, monuments and a wrought-iron arch over the entrance. In 2014, Fox News named Elmwood one of the “Spookiest Cemeteries in the U.S.” (with good reason) and Historic Columbia often offers tours of the grounds. You never know what you might catch a glimpse of in the beam of your flashlight.
Gervais Street Bridge
While you should ALWAYS be wary of hitchhikers, this is especially true along the historic Gervais Street Bridge. Your headlights just may shine upon the specter of a young girl in need of a ride. Many have pulled over to offer her aid, just to find a short while later that she has vanished from the car. So why did the ghostly girl cross the bridge? Perhaps to get to The Other Side…
The four floors of the South Carolina State Museum are filled with art, history, science and…. Bubba, an overall-clad phantom. The museum is housed inside the first electric cotton mill in the country and was built in 1894. Bubba is a former textile mill worker who is presumed to have died during an industrial accident. Nowadays, he can be found up on the fourth floor, often stepping onto the elevator. Patrons have seen Bubba either so fully-formed that he appears to be a real person (before walking down the hall and disappearing through a solid wall) or as just a pair of metaphysical legs and boots sticking to the shadows.
South Carolina Lunatic Asylum
One of the first public mental health hospitals in the country, the Babcock Building was built on Bull Street in 1822. The standalone building was soon joined by others until the development became a city-within-a-city of sorts. Additionally, the grounds of the hospital were also used as a Civil War prison camp. Many left-behind artifacts have been found over the years, as well as left-behind spirits. After the war, many soldiers were treated here for their PTSD. Due to years of being uninhabited, the Babcock Building is neither safe nor sturdy enough for visitors to enter, but passersby claim to have seen strange shadows moving about inside the buildings, as well as heard hospital sounds and voices of former patients.
More than one entity is said to haunt the site that trains over 50% of our army’s bravest. Many have seen a female soldier, identifiable by the distinctive hole in her helmet (and the hard-to-ignore detail that she’s a ghost), who occasionally appears in the latrine where she passed away. Others have reported hearing disembodied female voices accompanied by humming. Additionally, in the B Company 369th AG Barracks, numerous soldiers have spotted a shadowy male figure who moves about from room to room as they sleep. Like anyone can get any sleep with a paranormal being looming above them.
Old State Road
In 1865, General Sherman marched his troops through South Carolina. He killed about 1500 Confederate soldiers on Old State Road during the Battle of Congaree Creek. These days, if you listen closely, you may be able to hear the sounds of people walking and falling into the creek. Or nab of peek of phantom soldiers and their lanterns swinging in the darkness.
Old State Road is also home to another ghostly character who goes by the name “Ole Redeye.” Legend has it, if you’re driving down the road at 50 mph (not that we condone speeding, mind you), you’ll see Ole Redeye keeping up with your car. You’ll know it’s him because, ya know, the red eyes and everything.
Standing tall since around 1900, Adluh Flour Mill is still churning out stone-ground grits and other popular products. It’s also still inhabited by Jerome Busbee, a former longtime employee who has long-since passed, but did not pass on. Rumored to have practiced voodoo, it is believed that Busbee’s soul is pinned to his old work cart which, to this day, has proved impossible to move. Many workers have tried to move said cart over the years, including a disgruntled supervisor who only managed to tip it over. Even now, the cart remains on its side in the warehouse, glued to the same spot forevermore.