This 160-Year-Old Insane Asylum Lies Abandoned – Now It’s Among the Most Haunted Places in Iowa

Room after room sits silent and empty, paper slowly peeling from the walls. Few footsteps ever echo along the cracked tile floors. And the brave souls that do venture here sometimes report a strange presence haunting the hallways…

Back in 1840, the town of Edinburgh in Jones County, Iowa, was the main administrative center for the area. Accordingly, President James Buchanan allocated a plot of land in the town for a courthouse to be built.

However, the fortunes of the town soon changed. In fact, when the county seat was moved to another area, the courthouse was no longer needed.

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Instead, commissioners decided to use the land to build a poor farm, where tenants could assist with agricultural work in return for food and shelter. And, for the next 60 years, the building was dedicated to this purpose.

During that time, more than 80 deaths were reported at the property. Indeed, it was the beginning of a long and sinister history that some claim continues to this day.

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The poor farm was, however, demolished when it closed down in 1910. Within the year, though, the present-day Edinburgh Manor was constructed on the site.

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Initially designed to house the incurably insane as well as the elderly and poor residents of the area, the building covers an impressive 12,000 square feet. It is located 11 miles outside of Anamosa, and it stands two stories tall and is built from brick.

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Until it closed in 2010, the manor was home to some of the county’s most troubled residents. The amount by which the death toll rose during these years in unclear, but the graves of those who lived out their last days in the building can still be seen.

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Officially, the last 36 residents of Edinburgh Manor packed up and left when Community Care, which provides residential care services in Jones County, moved them to an alternative facility in Anamosa. But some people claim that a number of the past occupants never left.

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Indeed, at several points during the building’s history, it is said that workers and residents began to report odd happenings. Strange voices were seemingly heard echoing through the hallways, for instance, and a mysterious tall figure was reportedly spotted moving from room to room.

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Nurse Sandy Ricklefs, who worked at the facility for 32 years, was interviewed about her experiences by Zak Bagans of the Travel Channel’s paranormal show Ghost Adventures. She claimed to have heard about many spooky happenings in the women’s ward, including the mysterious voice of a child calling out for its mother.

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What’s more, when the manor closed its doors, the now abandoned building took on an even creepier feel. So much so, in fact, that in 2012 the owners decided to capitalize on its eerie atmosphere and began offering tours to would-be ghost-hunters drawn by the tales of strange goings-on.

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Since then, the building has – conveniently – built up a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Iowa. Various tours are available, allowing visitors to spend time in the abandoned property – and many have apparently left convinced of the authenticity of the haunting.

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One of the most widely reported spooks said to reside in Edinburgh Manor is an entity known as “The Joker.” He is believed to lurk in the basement of the building, apparently launching attacks on those who cross his path.

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For example, Hannah Hopkins, whose family owns the building, reported feeling the sensation of a hand around her throat. When she returned to the scene of the attack during the filming of Ghost Adventures, something seemingly even more terrifying took place.

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Indeed, she claimed to have felt a strange presence and experienced the sensation of heat on her neck. Then, when the team later examined her, they said that a scratch mark had formed as they watched.

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Plus, over the years, several investigations at Edinburgh Manor have seemingly turned up interesting evidence that could point toward paranormal activity. Mysterious faces seem to have shown up in photographs, for example, while recordings have been found to feature strange voices and sounds.

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The Ghost Adventures episode, which aired in August 2015, also featured its fair share of scares. Host Aaron Goodwin, for instance, claimed to have seen a tall figure in the basement, while Bagans reported feeling a strange sensation.

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Furthermore, the episode ended dramatically, when glass appeared to be thrown at another crew member. After this, the team understandably decided that it was safest to conclude their investigation.

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For those who aren’t put off by such tales of things that go bump in the night, Edinburgh Manor currently offers places on overnight ghost-hunting adventures throughout the year. In fact, for $200 for up to five people, you too can experience a night to remember in an apparently genuine haunted house.

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