Like much of New England, Rhode Island has a haunted past that still can make your skin crawl. While Rhode Island may not have participated in the hysteria around witchcraft, it does have its fair share of historical occurrences that have left its mark on this tiny state’s haunted history.
Rhode Island was founded on the principle of religious and political freedom and was only able to keep itself from being consumed by the hysterics that took over much of Massachusetts and Connecticut until 1892.
One of Providence’s most popular hauntings is thought to be the result of a broken engagement between two very impassioned writers, Edgar Allen Poe and Sarah Helen Whitman. Poe and Whitman had a literary love full of passion and spiritualism. She was a poet and a spiritualist and he, well, was one of America’s finest writers. They spent many hours together in the Athenaeum Library in 1848, where their engagement would ultimately end, by a letter, given to Whitman stating that Poe was not holding up to his promises of sobriety. Poe died a year later and they never saw each other again. Some say Poe still roams the aisles of the Athenaeum waking up sleepy readers as he goes.
These are only a few of the many tales of haunted lore that still spook locals in Rhode Island. To get a taste of the real or fake thing check out one of the many events honoring Rhode Island’s dark history. There are excellent ghost tours in Providence and Newport led by enthusiastic, costumed guides drawing you into the history and the mystery. If you are looking for more of a scare than a historical creep there are several haunted houses in old mill buildings all over the state.