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The most haunted city in America: Galveston spooks with real scare houses, ghosts & displaced graves

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Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, cemetery
Welcome to Galveston, "the most haunted city in America" Photo by Tyler Rudick
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, pumpkin, cat, witch
During renovations of the Menard House, crews uncovered some spooky children's wall art, now repurposed as a Halloween decoration. Photo by Tyler Rudick
Galveston, haunted tours, October 2012, tomb, mausoleum, tombstones, cemetery
Mausoleums at the Broadway Cemeteries were covered in several feet of infill after the 1900 storm.  Photo by Tyler Rudick
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, house
Creepy buildings, like this abandoned orphanage, dot the windswept landscape of Galveston Island, making for a spooky time even in broad daylight. Photo by Tyler Rudick
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, Hotel Galvez
The Hotel Galvez offers amazing views of the Gulf as well as opportunities to spend the night in a haunted guest suite (ask for room 501). Photo courtesy of Hotel Galvez
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, Hotel Galvez, ghost
The main foyer of the Galvez is know for regular creepy activity. Note the faint ghostly figure stading in front of the doors of this vintage image. Photo courtesy of Hotel Galvez
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, historic home
Built in 1838, the Menard House is one of the island's oldest buildings . . . and one of the most haunted. Photo by Tyler Rudick
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, cemetery
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, pumpkin, cat, witch
Galveston, haunted tours, October 2012, tomb, mausoleum, tombstones, cemetery
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, house
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, Hotel Galvez
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, Hotel Galvez, ghost
Galveston, haunted tours, Halloween, October 2012, historic home

Historians estimate that more than 6,000 Galveston residents lost their lives in the Hurricane of 1900 — the deadliest storm in United States history and a central theme to the town's claim to fame as "the most haunted city in America."

CultureMap took the short drive to Galveston to bring you first-hand knowledge on all the spooky legends, haunted history tours and a level of quirkiness only "the Island" can provide.

Here's are some highlights to get you started on a Halloween adventure.

Hotel Galvez (2024 Seawall)

We kicked off our recent weekend at the century-old Hotel Galvez for a special "Dinner with the Ghosts" package tour. Concierge and paranormal investigator Jackie Hasan led our small group through the hotel, pointing out the building's ghostly hot spots  — the main foyer, room 501 and first floor ladies restroom — while offering the latest gossip about hotel guests . . . who've never checked out.

The Galvez is perfect for anyone looking for a vintage Galveston atmosphere without the hustle and bustle of the Strand. Plus, it easily has one of the island's best views of the Gulf. Hotel staffers are happy to share stories of the hotel's eerie past whether you're on a tour or not.

Menard House (1605 33rd St.)

Built in 1838 for a prominent Galveston landholder, the Menard House is one of the oldest existing buildings on the island and purportedly one of the most haunted. John Sydney Thrasher, who lived in the home in the late 19th century, liked to conjure up the spirits at every opportunity, inviting the local public into his parlor for regular séances.

The Galveston Historical Foundation is recreating one of Thrasher's sessions at the Menard House or the first time in 130 years with the help of noted medium Sandra Logan. All attendees have the option of spending the night in one of the upstairs bedrooms following the séance. Click for info.

Broadway Cemeteries (2401 Broadway)

Galveston's Broadway Cemeteries have a layered history — literally. After the devastating 1900 storm, city engineers raised the level of the island with three to six feet of soil, all placed behind the newly-constructed seawall.

As such, cramped area graveyards like those on Broadway simply lifted (and repositioned) the old tombstones and made room for another level of coffins. Take note of the suspiciously short mausoleums, whose pre-storm foundations were covered with several feet of infill. Visit the Galveston Historical Foundation for tour information.

Haunted Mayfield Manor (2310 Harborside)

Just so that nobody ends up like the distraught elderly couple on our tour, Haunted Mayfield Manor is not a historic home tour. In fact, it's not even a home . . . It's a surprisingly terrifying "haunted attraction" led by an actor playing Dr. Horace Mayfield, a real-life historical figure tasked with maintaining an island quarantine after the 1900 storm.

Also be sure to check out the shockingly informative exhibit on Gulf Coast pirates located to the right of Haunted Mayfield.

Dash Beardsley Ghost Tours (various locations)

A Galveston legend in his own right, rocker-slash-paranormal-expert Dash Beardsley has spent the last 15 years carefully researching the island's history to create historically-accurate (and wildly entertaining) ghost tours. His team of guides concentrates on the Strand with additional forays into area cemeteries and historic buildings along Broadway.

Don't miss the company's newest tour tracing the steps of Jack the Ripper, who — no joke — is believed to have wandered the streets of Galveston in the 1890s. Beardsley claims he has evidence to back it up.

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