Exploring Iowa’s Most Haunted Places: A Guide To The Weird And Unexplained

By Bob •  Updated: 01/17/23 •  11 min read

Have you ever heard a strange sound in the night?

Or felt an icy chill run down your spine when no one else is around? If so, Iowa has plenty of places for you to explore.

From abandoned cemeteries to eerie old homes, the Hawkeye State is full of mysterious and unexplained phenomena.

Whether you’re looking for a thrill or simply curious about what lies beyond our understanding, join us as we journey through some of Iowa’s most haunted places!

Haunted Places 
in iowa

1. Villisca Ax Murder House – Villisca, IA

The Villisca Ax Murder House is a historic home in Villisca, Iowa that was the site of one of America’s most gruesome unsolved murder mysteries. On the night of June 10th, 1912 eight people were found dead in the house, bludgeoned to death by an ax-wielding perpetrator who has never been identified. The victims included Josiah Moore, his wife Sarah and their four children as well as two overnight guests: Lena Stillinger and Ina Mae Stillinger who had stayed at the Moores’ house while they attended a church service nearby.

Since then, visitors have reported eerie experiences such as disembodied voices, apparitions and strange noises throughout the house during tours or even just walking through it late at night. It is believed that this could be due to an energy created from all those present on that fateful evening still lingering within its walls more than 100 years later.

Today you can visit this infamous location for an unforgettable experience with public guided tours offered year round! For more information please visit villiscaiowaaxmurdersite.com or call 712-621-2625

2. The Des Moines Social Club – Des Moines, IA

The Des Moines Social Club was once home to the Iowa State Reformatory, a maximum-security prison. It is said that many of the inmates died in horrible conditions and their spirits still linger around the building today. Visitors have reported feeling an eerie presence while exploring the grounds, as well as hearing mysterious voices and footsteps in vacant areas of the building. People have also seen strange shadows moving along walls and furniture being moved by unseen hands.

The venue can now be rented out for events such as weddings or parties, but guests should be aware that they may experience some paranormal activity during their stay! The club also offers ghost tours which take visitors through different parts of the old prison, giving them a glimpse into its haunted past. For more information about visiting or renting this historic site, you can check out their website at www.desmoinessocialclub.org/.

3. The Red Oak Cemetery – Red Oak, IA

The Red Oak Cemetery in Red Oak, Iowa is known to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the state. The cemetery dates back to 1851 and has been home to many generations of families from the area over its long history. There are stories of ghostly apparitions appearing throughout the cemetery, as well as strange noises and feelings that can’t be explained.

One particular story involves a man who went out for an evening stroll in 1995 only to come across two spectral figures walking through the graveyard. He described them as having “glowing eyes” and wearing clothing he couldn’t identify — they seemed like they were straight out of another century! Other visitors have reported hearing voices whispering their name or feeling something cold touch their arm while passing by certain gravesites.

If you’re interested in learning more about this spooky location, feel free to visit www.redoakiahistory.org/cemetery for additional information on its haunted history!

4. Iowa State University Library- Ames, IA

Iowa State University Library, located in Ames, Iowa is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former student. According to legend, the spirit is that of Alice Robertson, a young woman who attended ISU and worked as an assistant librarian. It’s believed she died tragically on campus during her time at the university.

Since then, students and staff have reported sightings of Alice in various areas around the library building such as empty hallways and stairwells late at night. Some even claim they’ve heard her whispering voice echoing through the halls or seen mysterious shadows moving near where books are shelved. Others say they’ve felt cold spots or experienced strange sensations while walking around certain sections of the library.

The library has since become one of Ames’ most popular destinations for those looking to experience some paranormal activity first-hand! If you’re interested in learning more about this spooky stories surrounding Iowa State’s Library, visit their website www.lib.iastateedu/about/history for more information about its history and possible hauntings!

5. Old Capitol Building- Iowa City, IA

The Old Capitol Building in Iowa City, IA has a dark and haunted history that dates back to its early days as the first capitol building of the state. Built between 1840-1842, it housed all three branches of government for nearly 20 years before being replaced by a larger building down the street.

Many visitors, employees and even some former governors claim to have seen spooky phenomena within its walls – from shadows lurking in hallways to mysterious footsteps echoing throughout the old stone chambers. An infamous story is that of Mary Titus, who was allegedly murdered inside the State House during her time as housekeeper in 1858. Her ghost is said to haunt the building’s halls late at night and can often be heard humming or singing while moving furniture around.

Today, guests can take guided tours through this historic site where they may encounter strange occurrences such as objects mysteriously moving on their own or doors opening without assistance! The museum also offers numerous programs throughout year discussing paranormal activity associated with this location including special Halloween events featuring graveyard tours and ghost stories told around a bonfire outside on October evenings.

For more information about visiting hours or upcoming events visit The Old Capitol Museum website: https://www.uiowaoldcapitolmuseumexperiencecenteriowa/

6. Huxley Public Library – Huxley, IA

The Huxley Public Library in Huxley, Iowa has a long and spooky history. The original building was constructed in 1883 by businessman W.J. Hoxie, but it quickly became known as the most haunted place in town after several strange sightings were reported within its walls. One of the most famous stories involves an unseen figure that would appear to visitors at night and move books around on their own accord. Other accounts involve unexplained noises, cold spots, and even full-bodied apparitions roaming through the library’s halls.

Today, visitors can still feel a chill when they walk through the library’s doors due to both its rich history and rumored hauntings alike. Those who are brave enough may even catch glimpses of ghostly figures lingering among the stacks or hear mysterious whispers coming from unknown corners of this century-old building.

If you’re interested in learning more about this historic site or finding out if any paranormal activity is still occurring at present day then contact them directly via their website: https://www2hsdnet/hplibrary/.

7. Maquoketa Caves State Park- Maquoketa,IA

Located in the rolling hills of Iowa, Maquoketa Caves State Park is home to a series of limestone caves that are said to be haunted. Legend has it that a Native American woman named “Big Nose Kate” haunts the park; she was supposedly killed here and her spirit still wanders the grounds. Visitors have reported hearing disembodied voices, feeling an icy chill, and even seeing ghostly figures near some of the caves.

The park also hosts several spooky events throughout the year including ghost walks, candlelit hikes, and campfire stories about local hauntings. If you’re looking for a truly spine-tingling experience this Halloween season then head on over to Maquoketa Caves State Park!

For more information on events or directions visit their official website at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks/Iowa-State-Parks/MaquoketaCaves

8. Hotel Winterset- Winterset,IA

The Hotel Winterset in Winterset, Iowa has an extensive and eerie haunted history. The hotel was originally built in 1875 by John Smedley and served as a place for travelers to rest their heads. However, the hotel also contains multiple tales of strange occurrences over the years, leading many to believe that it may be inhabited by spirits from beyond this world.

One such story is about a ghostly figure known as “Old Man Smedley” who supposedly paces up and down the hallways late at night. Witnesses say they have seen him wearing clothes from another era and carrying a lantern while searching for something or someone who never seems to appear. Other guests claim they have heard strange noises coming from inside empty rooms or felt sudden cold spots throughout certain areas of the building.

In addition to its phantom inhabitants, people have reported seeing furniture moving around on its own accord, full-bodied apparitions roaming through hallways after dark and even voices speaking out of thin air! Many paranormal investigators consider Hotel Winterset one of Iowa’s most haunted sites due to these numerous reports over time. If you’re interested in learning more about this spooky location or visiting it yourself you can find more information on their website: http://hotelwintersetia.com/.

9. Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum- Oskaloosa ,IA 10 . Union Pacific Railroad Depot and Hotels – Council Bluffs ,IA

Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum in Oskaloosa, Iowa is a living history museum that has been home to some of the most haunted tales of supernatural happenings. Reports range from strange voices being heard in the barns and fields to apparitions seen walking around the property. Sightings have included an old man who appears on warm summer evenings, as well as a ghostly horse-drawn carriage that has been spotted more than once. There are also tales of mysterious lights appearing at night near the cemetery located onsite.

The Union Pacific Railroad Depot and Hotels in Council Bluffs, Iowa have gained quite a reputation for paranormal activity over time. Guests have reported seeing shadows moving about late at night throughout both buildings and hearing disembodied whispers echoing through empty hallways. Some guests even claim to have experienced cold spots or temperature drops when entering certain areas of the building, which some attribute to ghosts lingering nearby. The spirit with whom many people associate this location is reportedly named Charlotte; however her identity remains unknown by modern day researchers.

For more information about Nelson Pioneer Farm & Museum visit: https://www.npsdmaa2iowaheritageareasassociationincorporated1852-1972lm/nelsonpioneerfarmandmuseum/ For information regarding Union Pacific Railroad Depot & Hotels contact: unionpacificrailroad@gmailcom

10. Union Pacific Railroad Depot and Hotels – Council Bluffs ,IA

The Union Pacific Railroad Depot and Hotels in Council Bluffs, Iowa is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the state. The depot was built in 1868 and served as a hotel for travelers on the Union Pacific train line. It has seen its fair share of tragic events over the years, such as suicides, murders, and even a few accidental deaths. Many visitors have reported encountering strange phenomena here including ghostly figures that appear out of nowhere, disembodied voices whispering in their ears, cold spots throughout certain areas within the building, and more.

The spirit of an elderly woman is said to haunt Room 13 at the hotel portion of this location; she’s rumored to sit at a window seat watching guests walk by with an expressionless stare. In addition to her presence are two male apparitions who are believed to be former employees that died while working there; they often linger near doorways and staircases leading up into unknown parts of the building.

There are also reports from staff members who claim they hear disembodied voices while walking through various hallways late at night or early morning hours when no one else is around – some say these voices call out names or offer advice but disappear just as quickly as they appeared! Visitors have also felt sudden chills down their spine or noticed objects moving about mysteriously without explanation – all signs that something supernatural may indeed inhabit this old railroad depot & hotels building!

If you would like more information about this haunted destination you can visit their website: www.unionpacificraildepotandhotelscouncilbluffsia .com