We all have our favourite Halloween locations. The special Halloween hayride or the haunted house with cleverly concealed actors hiding in the dark corners is ingrained into American culture. But what about State by State. Are there some states which by their nature and history are scarier than others? Here are my top five:
- Maine with its Great North Woods is a place to be scared, very scared. Up there people can be lost in the woods for a long time and they don’t always come home. Few people live here and there are many stories of early settlements simply vanishing. The novels of John Connolly convey this well. In particular the two books “Dark Hollow” and “Bad Men” deal with men gone bad or maybe becoming not even human.
- Massachusetts. It was here that the Salem witch trials took place in 1692 and 1693. The persecution and hysteria has entered American folklore, but could it happen again? Surely emotions as strong as these would not be confined by time. Might they arise once again at Halloween? In modern literature try reading Salem’s Lot by Stephen King as the evening light draws down on Halloween.
- Texas, the home of capital punishment. Between 1819 and August 2010 a total of 1,214 people have been legally killed in Texas. All but six of these were men and surely their ghosts will return at Halloween to tell their tales of innocence or murder. Hanging (until 1924), shooting (during the civil war), electrocution (40 years until 1964) and lethal injection have all been used. There is something about the heat of Texas combined with the vast distances which might unhinge a mind and let thoughts which no man should have rise up and greet the dawn. Was it any surprise when Stephen King, in “The Stand,” chose Texas as the State where the virus which changed the world was released?
- Pennsylvania. Vast forests once covered Germany and Eastern Europe. Under their dark canopies arose tales of vampires and Trolls. It was here that the Brothers Grimm collected their fairy tales which became a key component of being German. It was from here that the persecuted left their homes and took their traditions across the Atlantic to America, and it was in Pennsylvania that many of them settled. Here under similar forests would old traditions endure and thrive. Here within the quiet and isolated hills, people would find all the time in the world to keep alive the old faiths. And would not these ideas grow and come to fruition at the time when the veil this world and the next is at its thinnest. In Pennsylvania if you are on your own at Halloween do not answer the knock at the door.
- Alaska. The cold up here can do funny things to a man’s mind. As winter approaches, the nights get longer and longer and there is history up here, not well known and seldom spoken about. But this was where the land bridge between America and Asia once lay and across it came people and animals and maybe traditions no longer spoken about. I wouldn’t like to be alone in a cabin as the fire dies and the wind whips across the pines.
So what do you think? Where would you least like to be at Halloween?
Guest blogger Mike Holly lives in Northumberland in the UK and writes about history and the countryside.