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Trip Advisor lists Ellicott City among spookiest U.S. destinations

Claims that Ellicott City is haunted are old hat. The historic mill town dates to the 1700s, is the subject of a new paranormal book and offers ghost tours. It has survived hurricanes, devastating floods, fires and hooligans - making it an ideal setting for ominous, history-infused tales.

So ideal that Trip Advisor has just named Ellicott City to its list of 10 spooky American getaways to celebrate Halloween. The travel guide website includes it among such infamous U.S. haunts as Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., Roswell N.M. and Salem, Mass.

It's perfect timing for those who want to learn about the town's haunted history. Howard County Tourism offers a variety of ghost tours that are especially popular at this time of year. Visitors can choose the Ye Haunted History of Olde Ellicott City Tour or the Dare to Taste The Spirits of Ellicott City or Ghost Walks in Historic Savage Mill.

If taking a walking tour is just too scary, you can read about the town's past in "The Ghosts of Ellicott City," by paranormal researcher Russ Noratel, who lives in Elkridge. In the book, Noratel talks about hauntings with residents and the owners and employees of businesses along Ellicott City's historic Main Street.

The town has been marked by tragedy linked to Tropical Storm Agnes, the flood of 1868, Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, public hangings and much, much more.

Trip Advisor describes Ellicott City as "full of fright." It goes on to detail some spooky highlights: "Paranormal activity has been reported at the Lilburn mansion as tragedy struck the families who lived there. Also nearby is the former Patapsco Female Institute on Church Road, reportedly occupied by the ghost of a young girl who died of pneumonia. The partially rebuilt institution is now a historical site that offers community events including a Halloween tour for travelers."

Other destinations on the list include: Anoka, Minn. ("The Halloween Capital of the World"); Tombstone, Ariz. ("The Town Too Tough to Die"); Alton, Illinois ("Most Haunted City in America"); Monticello, Fla. (site of the "Old hanging Tree"); Jefferson, Texas (spirit of Diamond Bessie known to steal jewels); and Adams, Tenn. (home to the Bell Witch, who attacked people in their sleep.)

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