Horror State – Florida Part 1

 

 

Melanie and I were thinking about how each state is a little different when it comes to horror stories and ghost stories.  In an effort to not only put more content our for our readers, but to also expand a little beyond just book reviews, we are going to look at each state, highlighting a handful of spooky places to visit when traveling. If you missed the last Horror State post, it was based on Oregon, which is where Andi lives and you can find Part 1 HERE.

 

Melanie has lived in Florida since 2006, minus a random year. Florida is spooky, it is old, it is southern, and people go there to die, what? don’t act like you don’t know that.  It stands to reason that Florida is spooky and full of supernatural goings on. Some say it’s “God’s waiting room.” (Melanie is who says that. Probably just Melanie)

 

Key West, Florida – Although sunny and beachy, Key West is home to some of the oldest and scariest ghost stories in the region.  Melanie and her husband used to go there every year for their anniversary. Due to its location there is a long history of buccaneers, rum running, and general piracy activities which sounds awesome.  There is a bar there that is said to have been the former morgue and so obviously that bar is haunted.  Don’t trust us?  Go there yourself, Captain Tony’s Saloon.  I am sure you’ll be fine.  If bars aren’t your thing, then a trip to Ernest Hemingway’s house turned museum should be your first stop.  Even though some have claimed that Hemingway is still there, plinking on his typewriter or walking to grounds, this is a piece of history that shouldn’t scare you away.

 

The last bit of creepy treasure you should check out in Key West is Robert the Doll.  Located in the Art and Historical Museum, it is said to be possessed.  In fact, Chuckie from Child’s play is based off this doll.  Look at it, I mean if I didn’t know the story behind it, it would still freak me out.  Is that a sailor outfit? People have reported having technical malfunctions with their cameras, phones, and computers after taking his picture. It’s said that you have to ask his permission because he doesn’t like for just anyone to take his picture. Melanie asked permission to take this photo, we assume he said yes since it actually came out with no problems. I think I would be more concerned if he actually said yes!

 

I4 Dead Zone – If you have driven in Central Florida just west (Mel says it’s north, but since I 4 goes east to west, it counts as west) of Sanford you have likely driven on I4.  Within 15-20 minutes of where Melanie actually lives is a specific stretch of road has been known to be dead, as in ghosts standing by the side of the road, voices coming over the radio, and even CBs and Cell Phones going dead beginning at the southern side of the bridge as it crosses over the St. Johns River. Not only that but this specific stretch of road between 1995 and 1997 had 44 vehicle accidents that injured 65 individuals.  Why is this a dead space? The region around Sanford used to be inhabited by Mayaca, a native American tribe who were decimated by the Europeans, war, and disease.  When Florida became an official US state Swedish indentured servants were brought in.  As they were indentured, most of the hard labor was done by them.  In the late 1800s, these Swedes formed Saint Joseph’s Colony which was lead by Father Felix Prosper Swembergh.

Swedish Colony of Saint Joseph’s

 

During a trip to Tampa, Father Swembergh contracted the Yellow Fever, and dying in Tampa.  It wasn’t long before the fever traveled to the colony, but without Father Swembergh to read last rites, bodies of the recently deceased were just buried. Following the death of all of the colonists, a local farmer purchased the land and during cultivation, one day found four small rotting crosses and being religious, felt that those crosses brought honor to the dead.  He, until his death in 1939 would not work that partial of land, instead leaving it to the remains. in 1950, a super highway was proposed that would cut through not only the farmer’s property, but across the graves.  While the surveyors found the graves, they felt they were so old and not “Native American” so instead of disinterring and burying at another location, they covered them with dirt and built I4 over them.  It was the next day when Hurricane Donna rampaged through Central Florida, not only disrupting road construction, but causing millions of dollars worth of damage, and countless deaths.

 

Cassadaga –  Cassadaga isn’t just a haunted town as much as it is also a very unique location that has been in a couple of shows and movies.  I remember learning about it on The Glades because they had a crime that required them to go there.   They even titled the episode Cassadaga so it wasn’t like they were trying to allude to it, they were front and center.

Old sign welcoming people to Cassadaga

 

Founded in 1875 by George Colby, an individual who titled himself a spiritualist, he created it as a retreat for his followers, but it has turned into something much different.  Now with a population of about 100, the majority who believe they can contact the dead via readings, seances, and other means.  These aren’t individuals who threw out a sign and welcome tourists.  Those who live here spend up to 10 years honing their skills in order to provide the best communications they can.  Most don’t believe that this is a genetic ability, but something that is a mix of Christianity, philosophy, and science.  They even use the local Christian church for larger ceremonies. One thing that I personally find really cool is that their street names are all about the paranormal.  Like this one.

 

Corner of Seance and Metaphysical

 

Because roughly half the population can commune with the dead in a small location, it is no wonder that many believe that Cassadaga is one of the most haunted locations in Florida.  Rather you believe they can actually speak with the dead or not, there is something to be said for the general vibe that you get while visiting.  With most of the buildings being built around the turn of the century, with the newest over 80 years old, the hotel is the place to be if you are coming for a ceremony, to book a palm reader, or just to stay the night is what they title as a haunted hotel.  I guess if you are going to cater to a select group of individuals, you may as well go all out, right? Melanie says they do a lot of really cool stuff at Halloween and has one of the best haunted trails in the area. This place is also within about 10 minutes of her house. Are you noticing a trend here yet?

 

 

Entrance to Cassadaga Hotel

Another thing Cassadaga is known for is known as “The Devil’s Chair”. Located in the Lake Helen-Cassadaga cemetery, it’s actually a cemetery bench that just happens to look more like one of those outside brick barbecue things. Supposedly if you leave a can of beer on it, the beer will be gone by morning. Sometimes the beer is open and empty, other times the beer is just gone.

Some say if you are brave enough to sit in the Devil’s chair at midnight, he will talk to you. Well, Melanie’s daughter is a brat and has actually done this. So far so good as Melanie and the rest of her family are still alive and well and Natalie isn’t hearing voices (supposedly).  Natalie was supposed to provide pics but went out of town before this post was finished…brat. This pic came from the book Weird Florida:

 

 

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