The South is known for its food, its music, and its culture. Something else it is known for is its history. Because the South includes some of the earliest settled states in our country, some of the facts we cover go back to the late 1700s.
A lot of our country’s history has been preserved or turned into museums, but sometimes these things get swept under the rug and are left abandoned for many, many years.
We couldn’t include every single abandoned place in the South on this list, so we tried to choose one from almost every southern state that really freaked us out.
Let’s take a look at the 13 freakiest abandoned places in The South below. As for why we chose exactly 13 locations, well, we’ll let you figure that one out on you’re own. 😏
1. Cahawba, Alabama
Sometimes spelled Cahaba, this city were the first permanent state capital of Alabama for five years beginning in 1820, as well as the county seat of Dallas County. Unfortunately, the town suffered a major flood in 1865 and the county seat was moved to Selma, which is a little northeast of Cahawba.
It is prone to seasonal flooding due to its location near the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba rivers. Because its proximity to the rivers, Cahawba became a major distribution point for cotton shipping. A railroad was added in 1859 and many people began building in the up and coming town. The night before the Civil War, Cahawba recorded more than 3,000 residents.
Following the state legislature moving the county seat to Selma, most business and families followed suit and within ten years, many of the houses and business were uninhabited. Today, Cahawba is a state historic site and visitors can still visit the abandoned streets, cemeteries and ruins. It is also the setting for lots of ghost stories.
2. Dogpatch USA in Marble Falls, Arkansas
Opened in 1968, Dogpatch USA was a theme park based on the comic strip Li’l Abner, which was created by cartoonist Al Capp and set in a fictional town called Dogpatch.
Dogpatch USA was a huge success when it first opened. So much so, that investors opened a sister park, called Marble Falls, which was going to be a ski resort with a convention center. That venture did not go as planned and forced Dogpatch to close in 1993. Afterwards the park fell into disrepair.
Throughout the years, the theme park went through several different ownership groups and in 2014, the owner at the time re-opened it as an ecotourism village. In December 2017, it was purchased by David Hare of Heritage USA who plans on turning into Heritage USA Dogpatch Resort in 2018.
There are still a few existing rides to explore at Dogpatch USA, and they’re as creepy as that slide.
3. Central State Mental Hospital in Millegeville, Georgia.
Georgia’s state mental asylum, now known as the Central State Mental Hospital, accepted its first patient in December 1842. It was founded as the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum, and also known as the Georgia State Sanitarium and Milledgeville State Hospital throughout the years.
It grew to become the largest mental hospital in the world by the 1960s, with nearly 12,000 patients in their care. The next decade, however, due to the addition of other psychiatric hospitals in the state, and an increase in community mental health programs, as well as many other factors, the population began to rapidly decrease.
The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities revealed that the hospital would be closed in 2010, after almost 170 years in business.
Not only is the building completely abandoned and really creepy, there are also over 25,000 iron markers in representing patients buried at the Cedar Lane Cemetery on the campus.
4. Old Taylor Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky
Old Taylor Distillery was built in Frankfort, Kentucky in 1887 by E.H. Taylor. It was known for being the first to produce a million cases of straight bourbon whiskey. Old Taylor Distillery was built to have a Medieval look with stone bridges, castle-like buildings, and beautiful gardens.
Many important officials from the state capitol would frequent the distillery and by the early 19th century, it was “as much a tourist attraction as the capital building,” according to Abandoned Online.
Taylor passed away in 1922 and his distillery was bought by National Distilleries in 1935 and operated it until 1972, when it was purchased by Jim Beam. Like Dogpatch USA, Old Taylor Distillery went through several ownership groups before landing in the hands of Peristyle, who re-opened it under the brand name Castle & Key.
It was abandoned – and freaky – for many years before Castle & Key’s opening.
5. Six Flags in New Orleans, Louisiana
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and changed the city forever. Hundreds of businesses and homes were destroyed, including Six Flags New Orleans, which was also known as Jazzland. During the hurricane, the 140-acre theme park stood under seven feet of water.
Batman: The Ride was the only salvageable ride and it was later moved and reassembled at San Antonio’s Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Everything else was left abandoned and it is now overgrown with bushes and weeds.
It has served as the set for a few movies, but still to this day, it remains abandoned.
6. Rodney, Mississippi
Like Cahawba, Alabama, Rodney was once a thriving river port town, but due to rising water levels, people moved out of the city, which was once considered for the state’s capital. In fact, the city, which was founded in 1828, was only three votes away from becoming the capital of the Mississippi Territory.
The population rapidly declined to almost zero after the Mississippi River changed its course. Even though it has a very small number of inhabitants today, it is considered a ghost town.
7. Texola, Oklahoma
Yet another place now considered a ghost town, Texola, Oklahoma
With a history dating back to the early 1900s, Texola was once called Texokla and Texoma. Because it’s so close to the 100th Meridian, the town was surveyed eight different times, which means some residents lived in Oklahoma and Texas at one point, without ever moving.
The population saw a 95% increase in 1930, but then began rapidly decreasing throughout the years. According to the 2010 census, the population of Texola was 36.
8. Morris Island Lighthouse in South Carolina
One of the more beautiful abandoned locations on this list is the Morris Island Lighthouse in Charleston, South Carolina. Morris Island is an uninhabited island that is only accessible by boat, which made it a strategic location during the Civil War.
Built in 1876, the lighthouse has lived through several natural disasters including a cyclone in 1885, an earthquake in 1886, erosion, and a hurricane in 1989, which destroyed the remaining building around the lighthouse, leaving only the actual tower standing.
In the early 2000s, a coalition called The Morris Lighthouse Project began to preserve and restore the lighthouse.
9. Elkmont, Tennessee
Built over 100 years ago, this region of Tennessee located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Sevier County is now a “ghost town” located next to the Elkmont campground near Little River Trail.
Elkmont was a logging town, filled with many vacation cottages and a clubhouse for the hunting and fishing enthusiasts who would come to the area. In 1912, the Wonderland Park Hotel was built nearby.
Elkmont became the home of one of the earliest national parks and when most of the leases for the cottages and the Wonderland Hotel expired in 1992, the National Park Service took over ownership. In 1982, the park wanted all structures to be removed so the land could return to its natural state, but many of the cottages were placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which protected them from being destroyed.
Today, several houses and buildings remain hidden, and abandoned, in the woods.
10. Tennessee State Prison in Nashville, Tennessee
Along with the Central State Mental Hospital in Georgia, this is definitely one of the freakiest abandoned locations on this list. Having been closed since 1992, the prison has been abandoned and off limits to the public for over 25 years
It does open its doors to serve as the set for many films including Nashville, Ernest Goes To Jail, The Green Mile, as well as the music videos for Eric Church’s songs “Lightning” and “Homeboy.”
The prison opened in 1898 and contained 800 small cells, each able to hold a single inmate. The prison was also plagued with problems. In 1902, 17 prisoners blew up one wing of the prison, killing one inmate and allowing two to escape and to never be recaptured. In 1938, inmates planned a mass escape, igniting several serious fires including one that destroyed the main dining room.
A new maximum security prison was opened in Nashville in 1989, with the old prison officially closing its doors in 1992.
11. Paramount Theater in Marshall, Texas
The long-awaited Paramount Theater in Marshall, Texas opened its doors on March 31, 1930. In 1970, it closed as a movie theater and was turned into a western-themed dinner theater. The main level seats were removed and turned into a dance floor.
The themed dinner theater closed in 1986 when it was purchased by Sky Spencer, who wanted to turn it into a recording studio. Not being able to afford the renovations, the recording studio never opened and he unsuccessfully tried to sell it on eBay in 2007.
To see what the abandoned theater looks like now, click here to see Matthew Lambros’ photos, which was included in his book After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theater.
12. Land of Oz in Beech Mountain, North Carolina
This Wizard of Oz-themed park opened in 1970 and only ran for ten years even though it was a top attraction during its first few years. Park-goers were treated to everything Dorothy experienced in the film Wizard of Oz – a tornado, meeting the characters on the yellow brick road, with every visit finishing in Emerald City, where Dorothy met the wizard.
On December 28, 1975 the park’s Emerald City burned down and destroyed many artifacts including the actual dress worn by Judy Garland in the film. Land of Oz officially closed in 1980 and after that, fell into disrepair. Props were either stolen or vandalized or left exposed to the varying weather elements.
Some of the park was saved and it is now opened once a year, the first weekend in October, for an event called “Autumn at Oz.”
13. Old Sheldon Church Ruins in Yemassee, South Carolina
What is now known as Old Sheldon Church Ruins, the original church was built between the years 1745 and 1753. It was burned by the British in 1779 during the Revolutionary War, rebuilt in 1826, and burned again during the Civil War in 1865.
Now, the ruins are among beautiful oaks and scattered graves, and inside lies the remains of Colonel William Bull. It was a popular spot for photographers and wedding ceremonies, but as of October 2015, the location was not available for weddings anymore. An annual service the second Sunday after Easter is held every year.
Well, there you have it! 13 of the most freaky and creepy abandoned places in the South…Let us know which cities, buildings, or other locations we missed, or which place you would like to visit most!