I never saw the ethereal spirit myself.
We had heard of her, my family and I, every time we checked into Pennsylvania’s Hotel Conneaut with my grandparents and cousins for our annual summer visit to the adjacent amusement park. She was named Elizabeth. She was a bride to be. And in 1943 she met her untimely end in a hotel fire.
The playful front desk attendant always found some way to let slip the gruesome details behind her ill-fated departure from this world. A comment here, details about a sighting there.
“Elizabeth’s staying a few doors down from y’all,” she’d say with a wink and a smile as she handed the room key to my father.
Our parents would roll their eyes. My grandpa would give a boisterous laugh. And we kids … well, we would stand silent, shaking, terrified.
Ensuing stays would inevitably turn into well-choreographed attempts by us youngsters to avoid being alone in the hotel’s creepiest hallways and darkest corners. Trips to the public restrooms became three-person expeditions. No man left behind. Heaven forbid one of us might be relieving ourselves alone when Elizabeth, translucent and burned and horrifying, would stop in for a visit.
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My sister said she saw her one time. But then, my sister said she saw a lot of things … especially the types of things that would leave her two younger brothers in paralyzing states of fear and panic.
I don’t think any of us actually did lay eyes on Elizabeth. Does that make her any less real? Hardly. She was as tangible a part of those summer trips as the roller coaster and cotton candy and midway games played with my grandparents. She scared the pants off me—but that was all part of the fun.
Given my own personal experiences, I was a bit disheartened when I didn’t find Hotel Conneaut on TripAdvisor’s list of the top haunted hotels. Fortunately, the list provides a varied collection of hotels scattered throughout the country at which your own family and friends can brave the spirit world with the same gusto (or trepidation) as did the Mayock clan in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
With Halloween a few short weeks away, I thought it might be appropriate to share them here.
From least to most terrifying:
9. Crescent Hotel & Spa, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
8. Buxton Inn, Granville, Ohio
7. Rosario Resort and Spa, Orcas Island, Washington
6. Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn, St. Louis
5. Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
4. The Menger Hotel, San Antonio
3. Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, Fall River, Massachusetts
2. Express St. James Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico
1. Farnsworth House Inn, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
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