13 Spooky and Haunted Places to Visit Near Columbia, SC

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Looking for a scare? Discover haunted places in Columbia, SC for some chilling, spine-tingling tales. We went on a hunt for some of the most popular spooky spots around Columbia, along with the legends that surround them. Discover the spirits that many say still lurk as ghosts in Columbia, SC

As the beginning of October rolls around, we usher in the fall season with pumpkin spice treats, colorful foliage, and apple orchards. But wait – are those ghosts lurking around the corner?! If you’re not a fan of the paranormal, then this article may not be for you. However, if you love hearing about ghost stories, Columbia, SC is full of them, and you won’t want to miss this post!

South Carolina is known for its abundance of ghost stories, from Hilton Head to Myrtle Beach, Columbia, and Spartanburg. We’ve written about haunted places near Greenville, but this time, we’re focusing on the state’s capital, Columbia. Keep in mind that all claims are just that – claims. Your experiences may differ at any given site, so be sure to follow all local ordinances if you decide to visit.

Lunatic Asylum in Columbia, SC. Is it haunted?

Haunted Places Near Columbia, SC

South Carolina Lunatic Asylum

The South Carolina Lunatic Asylum, also known as “Bull Street,” has a long and chilling history that has made it one of Columbia’s most haunted locations. The asylum was constructed between 1822 and 1827 and was only the second mental health facility in the United States at the time.

Originally consisting of a single building, the asylum grew over time into a village-like compound with separate buildings for male and female patients, as well as one for servants and slaves. During the Civil War, the grounds were transformed into a prison camp, which marked the beginning of a steady decline for the hospital.

Lack of funding, difficulty obtaining necessary supplies, and serious overcrowding led to rumors of mistreatment and barbaric medical practices towards patients. By the 1950s, about 5,000 patients were housed in the asylum, which only worsened the situation.

Lunatic asylum, Columbia

The asylum’s population began to decline in the 1970s until deinstitutionalization was necessary. The hospital was eventually abandoned but is infamous for its use of cruel procedures such as electroshock, lobotomies, and near-starvation, which have contributed to the negative energy and eerie atmosphere of the location. 

Visitors have reported strange shadows, unexplainable sounds, feeling sudden cold spots, and disembodied cries and screams from former patients. 

The South Carolina Lunatic Asylum is also believed to be the burial site of many Civil War casualties, adding to the already haunting history of the location.

Haunted Columbia, SC

University of South Carolina

According to Columbia locals, the University of South Carolina is home to many spirits. Some of these apparitions have even been formally identified over the years. Here are some examples of the eerie happenings around campus:

  • The Longstreet Theatre: This building is rumored to be one of the most haunted on campus. During the Civil War, the theater was used as a hospital, complete with a morgue. Theater guests have reported walking into sudden chilly spots, strange noises, and apparitions. The elevators in the building also have a reputation for opening their doors unexpectedly and moving without being summoned.
  • The South Caroliniana Library: The library is said to be haunted by the ghost of former University President James Rion McKissick. He is rumored to wander around the library at night and students believe that if they see the lights on late at night, it means that McKissick is there, perusing the books. In addition, students have reported experiencing sudden cold spots, witnessing doors opening, and observing objects moving inexplicably. Interestingly, McKissick’s body is actually buried outside the library.
  • The DeSaussure College Building: This building is reportedly haunted by a group of ghostly soldiers and a female apparition with long, dark hair. It is believed that the woman is the daughter of Dr. Black, a military officer who was killed by a group of soldiers. Seeking revenge, she poisoned the soldiers responsible for her father’s death with poisoned wine. However, she accidentally drank some of the tainted beverage herself, so her spirit is also seen floating around.

With a history dating back to 1801, it’s no surprise that USC has more than one haunted location.

Olympia Mills

Beyond its function as a well-known student apartment complex, Olympia Mills is rumored to be home to ghosts of child mill workers who haunt the halls dating back to 1899.

This popular student apartment complex houses more than just the living. Ghosts of child mill workers are said to lurk the circa-1899 halls


South Carolina State Museum

The South Carolina State Museum in Columbia has garnered a reputation for being one of the most haunted locations in the area, based on accounts from both visitors and employees. The building was originally the first electric cotton textile mill in the US, constructed in 1894, and is now believed to be haunted by the ghost of a former mill worker named Bubba.

According to staff, Bubba passed away in an industrial accident when he was decapitated in an elevator shaft, and his apparition is often seen on the fourth floor next to the Old Country Store. He’s usually wearing overalls and is often spotted stepping into the elevator.

Some visitors have even claimed to have ridden in the elevator with him, but upon reaching their destination, he walks down the hall and disappears into a wall! Bubba is said to manifest as a full-body apparition that can be mistaken for a real person, or as a pair of boots and partial legs sticking to the shadows. 

SC State Museum

The Gervais Street Bridge in Columbia

Legend has it that the Gervais Street Bridge in Columbia, South Carolina is home to a ghostly hitchhiker. Many drivers have reported seeing a young girl trying to hitch a ride, and some have even claimed to have offered her one. But here’s where things get eerie – as they approach the girl’s destination, she disappears into thin air.

While it’s never safe to pick up hitchhikers, it’s especially risky on the historic Gervais Street Bridge. If you find yourself driving across it, keep an eye out for the ghostly girl in need of a ride. 

Gervais Street Bridge ghost stories

Fort Jackson

Fort Jackson is an active Army base that pays homage to former US President and General, Andrew Jackson. However, it is also known to be one of the most haunted places in Columbia, owing to the tragic story of a female soldier who ended her life while stationed here. Her ghostly apparition is often seen in the latrine where she took her own life with a bullet hole in her helmet, although some reports suggest that she had hanged herself. 

Witnesses have also reported distant female voices and humming.

But the female soldier is not the only haunting spirit in Fort Jackson. In the B Company 369th AG Barracks, there have been numerous sightings of a shadowy male figure who walks around from room to room, seemingly checking on the soldiers. 

With more than one entity rumored to be haunting this site that trains over 50% of our nation’s army, you can’t help but wonder if the soldiers are ever able to get any sleep with these paranormal beings lurking about.

Old State Road

During the Battle of Congaree Creek in 1865, General Sherman’s troops marched through South Carolina, killing over 1,500 Confederate soldiers on Old State Road. To this day, some say that you can still hear the sounds of people walking and falling into the creek, or catch a glimpse of phantom soldiers carrying lanterns in the darkness.

But that’s not all – the road is also home to another spooky character. Meet “Ole Redeye,” a ghost who’s said to be quite the athlete. Legend has it that if you drive down the road at 50 mph (which we don’t recommend because you’d be breaking the law!), you’ll see this red-eyed ghost keeping pace with your car. So keep your eyes peeled and your speed in check if you want to experience the eerie charm of Old State Road.

Mill Creek Elementary School

Mill Creek Elementary School is at the center of a number of reports of paranormal activity. Residents living behind the school have noticed some bizarre sightings at night over at the school. Some have reported feeling uneasy—as though they were being watched. In such instances, they looked up at the school gym only to see a shadowy figure at the doors… when neither students nor staff would have been in the building.

Although no one knows exactly who is behind the shadowy figure, one thing is certain – they roam the campus.

According to some residents, the shadowy figure has even entered their homes. The figure is described as dark and appearing like a silhouette with no noticeable features on its face.

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery has been a spooky destination for both tourists and locals for over 175 years. The cemetery’s 124 acres are home to over 25,000 graves, including those of 500 Confederate soldiers, notable Southern families, and a young bride who died mysteriously before her wedding. The cemetery’s classic Gothic architecture, including old mausoleums, monuments, and a wrought-iron arch over the entrance, adds to its eerie ambiance. 

In 2014, Elmwood was even named one of the “Spookiest Cemeteries in the U.S.” by Fox News. You can pick up a walking tour map and explore the famous figures resting in the cemetery and who knows, you may even catch a glimpse of something mysterious.

Adluh Flour Mill

For over a century now, Adluh Flour Mill has been a beloved establishment, known for its stone-ground grits and various other products. The mill has also been home to a former employee, Jerome Busbee, who, despite having passed on, has not left the premises.

Rumors of Busbee’s voodoo practices have circulated, and it is said that his soul is attached to his old work cart. Surprisingly, the cart has never been moved from its spot, despite numerous attempts over the years. Not even a disgruntled supervisor was able to budge it, only succeeding in tipping it over. Today, the cart still remains on its side in the warehouse, stuck in place for eternity. 

Airport High School

Airport High School is also believed to be haunted. The ghost of the school’s first principal, George Pair, who died in 1962, reportedly appears every night. Even though the floors are now carpeted, visitors can still hear the sounds of his footsteps on the tile.

Cribb’s Sandwich & Sweet Shop

In Lexington’s the Cribb’s Sandwich & Sweet Shop bathroom, many locals have reported seeing ghosts, particularly a young girl in the bathroom mirror.

Cinnamon Hill

Cinnamon Hill is a historic house that was constructed in 1892. It is said that one or two ghosts now reside on the second floor. Interestingly, when the house functioned as a restaurant, a group of diners captured an apparition in one of their photos. The ghostly figure had unexpectedly joined their dinner party.

Again, remember that if you want to check into any of these stories and locations, PLEASE follow all local laws before wandering around.

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Shannon Pruitt
About the Author
Shannon moved to the Upstate after college, and other than a brief few years in Florida, has stayed. A former teacher, she is now the mom of one beautiful girl and works from home as a writer, web designer, and brand strategist. She believes tacos don't have to be reserved for Tuesdays, shamelessly listens to crime podcasts, and fuels herself on a daily cup of coffee (or two). You can find her on Instagram @shannonroyalpruitt

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