(Cherokee State Hospital)

1251 W Cedar Loop

(712) 225-2594

Status: Operational Psychiatric Hospital

Limited Public Entry


By Unknown author - <a rel="nofollow" class="external autonumber" href="">[1]</a>, Public Domain, Link


The need for a fourth insane asylum in Iowa was identified as early as 1890 and the search was begun for a suitable location in the northern part of the state. Many towns put forward their proposals but Cherokee was chosen and the new asylum was opened in 1902 and called the Cherokee Lunatic Asylum.

The early years of the asylum were very unpleasant for both the patients and the staff. The hospital was greatly understaffed with staff poorly paid and only one 1/2 day off per week. Until 1940 the staff were lodged with the patients which included everyone from alcoholics to the criminally insane.

This institution reached its maximum population in 1945 with 1,729 patients with every room and hallway filled to its maximum with beds.

Like most other psychiatric facilities, the 1960′s lead to a massive decrease in population with the invention of anti-psychotics and other drugs allowing those afflicted with mental illness to live in the general population. Today this hospital admits an average of 44 patients a day with an average stay of 25 days.

The south wing has been converted into a prison and the criminally insane patients are now housed there.

The facility is owned by the Iowa Department of Human Services. A museum dedicated to the history of the hospital is in the basement of the main building and open to the public by special appointment.


Paranormal Activity

Apparitions of former patients and staff both inside the buildings and on the grounds. Disembodied voices and phantom footsteps have been heard as well as unexplained bangs and other noises.

Doors have opened and closed on their own. Electrical disturbances have been reported including lights going on and off.

Reports of being watched, unease and of not being wanted and touches and tugs by invisible presences.



(Pottawattamie County Jail)

226 Pearl Street

(712) 323-2509

Status: Former Jail, Museum

Book an Investigation


Paranormal Investigations can be Booked

All Photos courtesy of Carla B


This former jail was opened in 1885.

It was one of a few rotary jails – also called Squirrel Cage jails - opened in the Midwestern USA; only 18 were built – only 3 remain.

This design for maximum security prisons was designed to minimize contact between the guards and inmates. Cells were wedges in a circle that rotated allowing only one cell to be open at a time. However, this design did result in a number of prisoners losing limbs.

The front part of the jail contained offices, the kitchen and cells for women.

The jail was closed in 1969 and transferred over to the city parks board in 1971. In 1977 ownership was moved over to the Cook Country Historical Society who turned the former jail into a museum.


Paranormal Activity

There are 4 confirmed deaths on the property: 1) a prisoner by heart attack, 2) a prisoner who hung himself, 3) a prisoner who trying to carve his name into the jail ceiling and fell 3 stories, and 4) a guard who was killed when a gun misfired in riot training.

The history of the paranormal activity dates back to when the jail was still open. One jailer in the 1950’s moved from the 4th floor apartment to the 2nd floor because of phantom footsteps that were keeping him awake.

Visitors and investigators today still report those same footsteps.

The apparition of Otto Gufath – a former jailer – has been seen on the 4th floor. The apparition of little girl – described as looking mournful – in a grey dress. Apparitions of 2 ghost cats.

Other reported activity today includes: shadow figures; electrical disturbances; disembodied voices and captured EVP’s; unexplained sounds; objects moving on their own including doors opening and closing; light anomalies; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen entities; empathic feelings of intense sadness and feelings of being watched and not being alone.



2241 Lincoln Avenue

(563) 557-9545

Status: Former Residence; Historic Site; Living Museum; Open Seasonally



By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">Dirk</a> - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href=""></a>, CC BY 2.0Link


This house was built for Mathias Ham – one of Dubuque’s first entrepreneurs – between 1839 and 1857. The house was designed by the same person who designed the State Capitol’s in Springfield, Illinois and Iowa City, Iowa.

Ham made his fortune by mining lead as well as forestry, agriculture and shipping.

He originally settled here in a very small stone cabin but as his wealth increased so did the house; hence the number of years it took to fully build the house.

In 1837 he married Zerelda Marklin who had 6 children with him. Unfortunately, Zerelda would pass away in 1856 shortly before the house was completed. Ham was now left with a 23 room mansion and no wife.

He remarried – apparently, very quickly – to Margaret Mclean who bore him 2 more kids.

Ham even built an observation tower on the house so he could watch his shipping pass by on the river. This tower allowed him to see the actions of pirates on the river which led to their arrest and a swearing of revenge against the family.

Margaret passed away in 1874 and then Hall himself in 1899.

Two of his daughters took over the house after Hall passed; May and Sarah.

After Sarah died May became; some would say paranoid, about the pirates returning for revenge. Of course, all of the ones who were arrested were much too dead to be going after anyone.

One night when someone did enter the house May shot them through her bedroom door. The intruder was found quite dead on the beach the next day and was an actual pirate.

May sold the house to the city in 1912 who first used as a house and office for the Superintendent of the Parks Department. In 1964 the house was converted into a museum.

The area is now owned by the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and has been restored back to the Antebellum – between the War of 1812 and the Civil War – Period and functions as a living museum.

There a one room schoolhouse – that was moved onto the site – and a replica mine shaft on site as well.


Paranormal Activity

This location is often referred to as a “textbook haunting”. But what does that mean?

Well, for one, it means the house is very active.

Strangely no one has ever seen an apparition or a shadow figure in this house.

Blasts of unexplained freezing air rush through the house. There are also cold spots throughout the house especially in the tower where Hall sat and watched the river and in Sarah’s old bedroom.

A phantom light is often seen at night in the house moving from window to window. Many believe this is the pirate May killed.

There are numerous electrical disturbances in the house. Many of the lights flicker despite numerous checks by electricians. Other lights refuse to be turned off and literally employees have to unscrew an old school fuse to get them to go out.

Objects have been seen moving on their own with no living person near them. Things also frequently disappear only to be found in another room.

An upstairs window that always locked when everyone leaves for the night is sometimes found unlocked and wide open in the morning.

There is an organ in the house that no one has been able to make work since the house turned into a museum until one day it just started up when an employee tried to turn off the porch light; which is one of those lights and refuses to obey it’s switch. People have also heard organ music coming out of the electrical sockets.

Phantom footsteps are common as is the sound of a chair scraping as its pushed back from the table.

Many people have heard the sound of woman whispering in the house.



3 John Bennett Drive

(319) 372-5432

Status: Former Maximum Security State Prison; Heritage Property



By <a href="//" title="User:TheCatalyst31">TheCatalyst31</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC0Link


This prison was opened in 1839 only one year after Iowa became a territory and 7 years before it became a State.

It was the only place in Iowa where executions took place; until capital punishment was abolished in the State. Victor Feguer – a federal prisoner who murdered a doctor – was the last person executed here. He was hung in 1963.

Feguer was also the last Federal prisoner to be executed in the United States until 2001 when Timothy McVeigh was executed – in Indiana - for the Oklahoma City bombing.

Charles Brown and Charles Kelley – who went on a 5 day 3 State killing spree in 1961 – were the last inmates executed by the State of Iowa.

40 inmates in total were executed in the prison’s gas chamber.

In 2010 ground was broken to construct a new modern prison scheduled to be opened in 2014. It didn’t open until 2015 and was over budget but afterwards the original prison was closed.

It was slated to be turned into a museum to boost tourism in the city but remains the property of the Iowa Department of Corrections as the city wants a full environmental study done – due to mold issues - before taking over.

It was only opened once for a tour since the prisoners were transferred out.


Paranormal Activity

Due to the mold issues no paranormal investigation has been done at this location so far. The same issues have put the plans to turn it into a tourist attraction on hold for now but plans do include a paranormal tour at some future point.

The activity below is based on reports of those who have gained access to the site or once worked or were imprisoned there.

Reported Activity: apparitions of former inmates and guards; shadow figures; time slips; disembodied voices, screams and cries; phantom footsteps and other unexplained noises as if the empty buildings were still occupied; phantom sounds of keys jangling and cell doors slamming; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen entities; electrical disturbances; cold and warm spots; unexplained mists and breezes; light anomalies; objects moving on their own and feelings of not being wanted, being watched and not being alone.



(Independence Mental Health Institute)

2277 Iowa Avenue

(319) 334-2583 Number is for the Historical Society to Book a Tour

Status: Former Insane Asylum; Historical Building; Operational Psychiatric Hospital; Limited Public Entry


By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">kc7fys</a> from Saint Paul, USA - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">Indepenence Mental Health Institute</a>, CC BY-SA 2.0Link


This asylum was built in 1873 to relieve overcrowding at the Mount Pleasant State Hospital. Its original purpose was to house the alcoholics, geriatrics, drug addicts and criminally insane.

Many of the archaic and – by today’s standards – inhuman treatments such as hydrotherapy and lobotomies were used in the past.

Portions of the hospital are open today as a nurse’s school and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic. Unlike many of its contemporaries this hospital has been kept up and even has had renovations done.


Paranormal Activity

Shadow figures, disembodied whispers, laughter and screams, cold spots, light anomalies and feelings of being watched and not alone.



(Farrar Elementary School)

11125 Northeast 134th Avenue

(515) 577-4213

Status: Former Elementary School; Formerly Abandoned; Haunted Attraction; For Sale



Paranormal Investigations can be Booked


6 acres of land was donated in 1919 by a local farmer to create a new school unifying all the rural one room schoolhouses in the area. The cornerstone was laid in 1921 and the school was dedicated on April 1, 1922.

For its time it was a modern state of the art school with a boiler for heating, indoor washrooms and electric lighting. The price tag of $100,000 (1.7 million dollars in 2022) did not make everyone happy in the area to say the least. Proving that no matter what the time period there’s always going to be those who think the education of young minds is not a priority.

The school operated – albeit with falling enrollment – until the end of the school year in 2002.

It was left abandoned until 2006 when it was bought by Jim and Nancy Oliver who, after discovering they were far from alone in the building, began running it as a haunted attraction.

The building is currently up for sale again (2022).


Paranormal Activity

Reports of a haunting date back to when the school was open although the reason for the activity is unknown. The 150 year old cemetery across the road is generally put forward as the reason.

An unseen entity helped Nancy when she became unbalanced on a staircase. The haunting is generally considered friendly with no reports of the ghosts ever acting violently.

Other Activity: disembodied voices; shadow figures in the hallways known for disappearing suddenly; the apparition of a small boy on the stairway; phantom footsteps; doors slamming on their own; objects moving on their own; light anomalies; phantom knocks; unexplained noises including rings, laughter, tapping, yells and cries and feelings of being watched.



13241 E23 County Home Road

(319) 558-7753

Status: Former Asylum; Former Retirement Home



Open for Paranormal Investigations by Appointment Only


Originally the town of Edinburgh was the County Seat for Jones County. In June 1840 a section of land was granted to the County by President Buchanan for the purposes of building a Courthouse. Shortly thereafter the County Seat was moved to Anamosa but Jones County kept the land and build a Poor Farm.

Poor Farms were created to help the less fortunate of society who were expected to work on the farm for food and shelter. Most of them ended up with a population of the severely mentally ill and elderly people who were discarded by families. After the Social Security Act of 1935 most Poor Farms were no longer needed and closed down.

Most of the Poor Farms either became so-called Insane Asylums or had many of their residents transferred to asylums. The Poor Farm in Jones County was torn down in 1910 and replaced with the building now known as The Edinburgh Manor.

The Manor housed the mentally ill and unwanted for nearly 100 years until 2009. At that time, it was closed due to reports indicating terrible living conditions for the patients.

There were very few details of what was happening inside the walls of Edinburgh Manor. However, the facility the patients were transferred too was closely monitored. Quickly there were reports of physical and sexual assault as well as Medicaid fraud. Within 5 years the new facility was closed.

Edinburgh Manor probably had the same issues combined with other problems that contemporary institutions such overcrowding, understaffed and terrible treatments such as lobotomies and insulin shock.

In 2014 the building was sold to a Land Trust in hopes of converting it to a bed and breakfast. This plan failed but the renovations brought the building up to the fire code.

The current owners bought the building to save it for its historical value but quickly began to experience paranormal events. They now offer paranormal investigators a chance to do investigations since 2012.


Paranormal Activity

 This location is considered to be the most haunted building in the Midwest; some would say in the entire USA.

The activity can be catalogued by Floor.


One of the more well known ghosts of the Manor has been named the Joker and he haunts the basement. He spends most of his time in both the Boiler Room and a former padded room in which he was imprisoned and committed suicide in. He is also known for throwing dishes in the basement dining room and is considered a malevolent presence. Joker is also thought to be responsible with decreasing the temperature – especially in the Boiler Room.

People have felt an inexplicable heavy weight on the chests making breathing difficult.

An apparition in a cowboy hat and long duster coat has been seen in the kitchen area. He shows up in the early afternoon between Noon and 2pm.

The doors on the stairway open and close on their own and attraction the attention of the owner’s dog.

1st Floor

The first floor hallway and Room 106 are the playground of Susie. Susie is a little girl who was dropped off at the Manor. She had been heard playing a laughing.

In Room 105 it is said that a violent rape took place resulting in powerful empathic surge of negative energy. People have also heard disembodied voices and witnessed poltergeist activity here.

A man who is said to have hung himself haunts Room 121 and is thought to travel the halls between there and Room 108.

2nd Floor

The apparition of q woman in white has been seen at the top of the stairs to the second floor. White mist has also been seen drifting in the same area.

This floor seems to have the most reports of unseen presences touching the living. This includes holding people’s arms to their sides – which has also has happened in the basement – as well as cold and warm touches to the back of people’s neck.

Other activity: other apparitions, shadow figures, disembodied voices and laughter, objects moving on their own, light anomalies, phantom footsteps and feelings of heaviness, not being alone, not being wanted and being watched.



503 East 2nd Street

(712) 621-1530

Status: Murder Location; Open for Tours

Book an Overnight


Open for Overnight Investigations

By <a href="//" title="User:Mclarenj">Jason McLaren</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link


This house was originally constructed in 1868.

In 1903 Josiah Moore and his family moved into the house. They would live there until they were murdered in 1912.

On the night of June 9, 1912 all 6 members of the Moore family plus two guests who staying over were bludgeoned to death. All eight victims – including 6 children – met their end by horrific wounds to the head caused by an axe.

The murder remains unsolved to this day.

The house is now owned by Darwin and Martha Linn who have restored it to how it was during the time of the murders. There are day time historical tours and the property can be booked for an overnight stay and paranormal investigation.


Paranormal Activity

Paranormal activity takes place both in the overnight bookings and the day time tours.

Phantom voices of children have been heard. Almost any type of poltergeist activity – including flying objects – have been witnesses here. Psychics have reported contact with numerous spirits on site.

Other activity: feelings of being watched and not being alone, light anomalies, electrical disturbances and touches by unseen presences.