Tour Guides From Hell: All Hail the Yeti Vocalist Connor Garritty’s Ten Favorite Spooky/Eerie Historic Sites to Visit
All Hail the Yeti will release new album Screams From A Black Wilderness on April 8th (pre-orders available now via Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes). To celebrate the momentous occasion, we asked Connor Garritty, vocalist of the Los Angeles metal band, to compile a list of his favorite scary, eerie, or otherwise just plain badass historic sites to visit while traveling. The background info provided is taken from Wikipedia, then Garritty himself (no relation to Buddy and Lyla, we’re assuming) provides the commentary.
Deadwood, South Dakota
Deadwood was established in 1876 during the Black Hills gold rush. In 1875, a miner named John B. Pearson found gold in a narrow canyon in the Northern Black Hills. This canyon became known as “Deadwood Gulch,” because of the many dead trees that lined the canyon walls at the time.
Most of us know of this place because of the HBO series, but it’s really cool to visit, too. We had a day off so we thought this would be a great spot to check out. Unfortunately it’s a bit overrun with cheesy tourist biker bars; Sturgis being here kind of puts a damper on the visual aesthetic but it is still awesome. Lots of the original buildings are still standing. Get a bit of a history lesson and check out the original building in what would have been the red light district during that time! This is a must see for any Old West buff!
Alcatraz (San Francisco, CA)
Alcatraz Island is located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.25 miles (2.01 km) offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. The small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of aboriginal people from San Francisco who were part of a wave of Native activism across the nation with public protests through the 1970s. In 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
After many years, I finally had the chance to visit Alcatraz. I’ve always been intrigued by old prisons so this was extra awesome for me. Along with the stories of how haunted the entire island is, I also love the history. There’s a great audio tour you can opt to take that really accents the visit and educates you about the historical background of the prison. Such an uncomfortable place. If you’re in the Bay Area, make the effort!
The Site of Jefferey Dahmer’s Apartment (Milwaukee, WI)
On July 22, 1991, two police officers walked into the flat of Jeffrey Dahmer, only to discover one of the most horrific crime scenes in history. Dahmer had used his flat, Apartment 213, 924 North 25th Street, Milwaukee to commit crimes so disturbing he will go down in history as one of the world’s most disgusting, depraved serial killers that has ever lived.
There isn’t much to see at this site, but it is right around the corner from The Rave/Eagles Ballroom, so it’s just a quick walk to check it out. The building next to his apartment building is still standing, but where his place was is now just a fenced-in grass lot. Apparently the city deemed it inappropriate to build another apartment building in place of the old one, but just the thought of what went on here is crazy enough to make it worthwhile for a quick visit and photo. I can only imagine the horror this neighborhood experienced during that time. Also, it’s not the safest of places now, so I recommend only visiting during daytime hours.
The Birdcage Theater (Tombstone, AZ)
Tombstone is a historic western city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879. It was one of the last wide-open frontier boomtowns in the American Old West. The town prospered from about 1877 to 1890, during which time the town’s mines produced $40 to $85 million in silver bullion, its population grew from 100 to around 14,000 in less than seven years. It is best known as the site of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
The Bird Cage Theatre opened on December 26, 1881, originally intended to present respectable family shows. After the Theatre opened, they hosted a Ladies Night for the respectable women of Tombstone, who could attend for free. But the economics of Tombstone didn’t support their aspirations. They soon canceled the Ladies Night and began offering baser entertainment that appealed to the rough mining crowd. Once inside, customers could buy a drink at the long bar. There were fourteen cages or boxes on two balconies on either side of the main hall. These boxes, also known as cribs, featured drapes that patrons could draw while entertained by prostitutes.
The Birdcage Theater is one of the coolest places I have ever been. As you walk through the doors it immediately feels like trip back in time. Your senses really take you on a time warp. Everything is exactly as it was in 1881, almost as if they just stood up and left in the middle of a bustling night. Hands of cards still lay on the table, drink glasses still sit on the bar, poker chips are strewn everywhere. I took a paranormal tour here the night I visited, and whether you believe in ghosts or not, The Birdcage Theater – in my opinion – is one of the most haunted places I have ever been. I experienced random smells of cigars. I heard the sound of a woman humming coming from down under the stage. Numerous cold spots. I highly recommend Tombstone and The Birdcage Theater to anyone in the area. It is a bit out of the way from other tourist spots but if you have a day off in the Phoenix area, make the trip down!
Lolo Creek Campground and Jack’s Saloon (Lolo, MT)
This one isn’t scary, but I can’t leave this great place out! We had a day off in Missoula, Montana and we always try to find the best places where no one’s around… to party! We drove about 25 miles outside Missoula and found Lolo Creek Campground. One of the best campsites I have ever been too. Not far off the road and right beside the creek and deep enough into the woods that it’s terrifying when the sun goes down. After everything was set up and we cooked some burgers and had a few drinks, a couple of us needed to find a telephone to let our significant others know that we were safe and didn’t have cell service. We saw a sign earlier that day about a place called Jack’s Saloon that was about a mile up the road from the campground and figured they’d have a phone, so Junior and I hopped in the van and we were on our way! A short drive up the highway and five minutes up a dirt road, we rolled up to what could possibly be one of the top five coolest bars I have ever been too. Set back in the woods with little cabins along the river was Jack’s Saloon, a log cabin style building that screamed All Hail The Yeti. We walked in and my jaw hit the floor. Huge wooden beams crossed the ceiling, every type of animal head hanging on the wall. Pinball, pool, foosball. The perfect set of tunes on the jukebox, and Jack and Cokes were 3 bucks all night! Needless to say, after we made our phone calls we immediately drove back and picked up the other guys. We returned and Liz the bartender fed us and got us hammered all night! If you ever have a day off in Missoula, Montana, I cannot stress enough — go to Jack’s Saloon!
Ed Gein’s Gravesite, Plainfield Cemetery (Plainfield, WI)
Edward Theodore “Ed” Gein (August 27, 1906-July 26, 1984) was an American killer and body snatcher. His crimes, committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Gein confessed to killing two women – tavern owner Mary Hogan on December 8, 1954, and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, on November 16, 1957. Initially found unfit for trial, after confinement in a mental health facility, in 1968 Gein was found guilty but legally insane for the murder of Worden and was confined in psychiatric institutions. He died at Mendota Mental Health Institute of cancer-induced liver and respiratory failure on July 26, 1984. He is buried in the Plainfield Cemetery, in a now-unmarked grave.
This gravesite was a bit difficult to find in a pretty large cemetery. With the right digging and internet searching, we found the correct spot pretty quickly though. On a chilly November day, out of respect, we parked the van and trailer on the outside of the grounds of the Plainefield Cemetery. It took us about 15 minutes to find the unmarked grave. He sits with his entire family, between his brother and mother. We stood around for a while, snapped some pictures and talked a bit about the disgusting things this man did – he became the inspiration for so many stories and movies of our generation. Leatherface of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Buffalo Bill from Silence Of The Lambs and most importantly, Norman Bates of the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho. Eventually we started to feel a bit like we were overstaying our welcome in this place, so we said our goodbyes and I gave ol’ Ed a send-off by spitting on his grave! I think he deserves more but that worked at the time.
The Site of the Waco Siege (Mount Carmel Center, outside of Waco, TX)
The Waco Siege was a siege of a compound belonging to the religious group Branch Davidians by American federal and Texas state law enforcement and US military between February 28 and April 19, 1993. The Branch Davidians, a sect that separated in 1955 from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was led by David Koresh and lived at Mount Carmel Center Ranch in the community of Elk, Texas, nine miles (14 kilometers) east-northeast of Waco. The group was suspected of weapons violations, causing a search and arrest warrant to be obtained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF’s failure to raid the compound, a siege was initiated by theFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the standoff lasting 51 days. Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. 76 people died, including David Koresh. Much dispute remains as to the actual events of the siege. A particular controversy ensued over the origin of the fire; a government investigation concluded in 2000 that sect members themselves had started the fire. The events near Waco, and the siege at Ruby Ridge less than 12 months earlier were both cited as the primary motivations behind the Oklahoma City bombing that took place exactly two years later.
On a very cold day in December, we found ourselves pulling the van and trailer directly into the huge property where the compound used to be. There is a big memorial plaque as you enter listing the names of everyone who perished there that day. A tree was planted for each member of the Branch Davidians that lost their lives. As we pulled farther into the fenced off property, we quickly became very familiar with the place that we had just arrived in. We walked the grounds for close to an hour. The original foundation is still there. The underground tunnels and bunkers were more than visible. There is a brand new church that was built in the early 2000s. Some other houses are off in the distance as well.
A very strange feeling comes over you when you stand somewhere like this. To think of the amount of innocent lives that were lost over a very short period of time. After more photos and talks of the events of that day, we decided again that it was time to move on. As you drive out of the front gates, you can see the spot where Timothy McVeigh parked his car and watched the events unfold, planning his attack on Oklahoma City.
Virginia City, NV
Virginia City sprang up as a boomtown with the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver deposit discovery in the United States, and numerous mines were opened. At the city’s peak of population in the mid-1870s, it had an estimated 25,000 residents. Like many cities and towns in Nevada, Virginia City was a mining boomtown; it developed virtually overnight as a result of miners rushing to the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859. But, Virginia City far surpassed all others for its peak of population, technological advancements developed there, and for providing the population base upon which Nevada qualified for statehood. The riches of the Comstock Lode inspired men to hunt for silver mines throughout Nevada and other parts of the American West.
Personal visit description: Virginia City is like a time warp! We make a stop here every time we are in the Reno area! It’s almost as if it hasn’t changed at all since the Old West. There is so much to do and see here. Our first stop is always the Bucket Of Blood Saloon for some whiskey, live music and popcorn. The Bucket Of Blood has not changed since those days. Same floors, same bar, same decor. If you’re a fan of the Old West, this is a must see!
If you walk a little farther up the main drag there is a place called The Old Washoe Club. It is rumored to be one of the most haunted buildings in the southwest, so of course we had to check it out! The Washoe Club was a popular place for the wealthy men to hang out while they were visiting Virginia City. The things that have gone on in this building over the years are unbelievable. After a few drinks we took a tour of the building. They explain the history and the endless list of deaths that have occurred there. We plan to do an overnight stay in the Washoe during our next visit, and hopefully get the shit scared out of us!
The Ostrich Inn (London, England)
The foundations of The Ostrich were laid in 1106, when Henry I was on the throne by Milo Crispen. It stands opposite the 17 mile stone from London. As with most historic buildings, The Ostrich has seen its fair share of murders and they say that over 60 were committed here. Most famous of all were those committed in the 17th century by the landlord of the time, Jarman, who with his wife made a very profitable sideline by murdering their guests after they had retired for the night. They had a trap door built into the floor of one of their bedrooms and when a suitably rich candidate arrived Jarman would inform his wife that a fat pig was available if she wanted one! She would reply by asking her husband to put him in the sty for till the morrow. The bedstead was hinged and they would tip the sleeping victim into a vat of boiling liquid immediately below, thus killing him.
The Ostrich Inn was literally the first place we visited after we got off the plane in London. Jet lag had officially set in, but we really wanted to visit this place. As you pull up to the parking lot you can sense the history before even walking inside. Once through the main entrance, an overwhelming sense of grief hit me like a ton of bricks. When you’re in a building that is as old as this it’s hard not to think of all the death and negative things that have gone on. We had a good look around for a bit, peeking our heads in all the nooks that we could find.
Oddly enough, they have a really good pub and restaurant there as well! The bartender was very kind and loved telling us some of the history. After we ate, she offered to take us upstairs to what used to be called the “blue room.” Now it’s just a storage area for the bar, but this is the room where the trap door was built into the floor. They say 50-60 people were killed in this room alone! Pretty great start to an awesome tour!
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (New Orleans, LA)
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous in the city. It was opened in 1789, replacing the city’s older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire in 1788. Its eight blocks from the Mississippi River, on the north side of Basin Street, one block beyond the inland border of the French Quarter. It borders the Iberville housing project. It has been in continuous use since its foundation.
Anyone who has ever been to New Orleans, specifically the French Quarter, can tell you that it is an amazing place! The culture, the food, the night life and especially the haunted history. We were fortunate enough to have a day and a half in NOLA, so we made the short walk from our hotel to the St. Louis No. 1. A pretty humid and hungover morning found us wandering around the oldest of the three St. Louis cemeteries. The amount of people who have been laid to rest here is unbelievable considering the small size of the property – thousands of bodies piled in vaults above ground. After about 40 minutes of hunting, we finally found the crypt of the voodoo princess Marie Laveau. We each left her an offering of some sort – guitar picks, a necklace, some whiskey and a couple cigarettes for good luck! This is a place I highly recommend to visit when you are in New Orleans. So much history in such a small place!