Click for possible tour changes on the day of your tour here.

Boston Ghost Stories & Haunted Tales

Main Content

Lady in Black

The most famous ghost of the Harbor is the Lady in Black at Fort Warren, seven miles out to sea on George’s Island.

Legend has it that in 1862, Mrs. Melanie Lanier came to the fort from South Carolina to rescue her husband, a confederate soldier, who was being held prisoner there. She snuck and lied her way into the prison and managed to rescue her husband and the others imprisoned there. Unfortunately for Melanie Lanier they were apprehended. She fired at the nearest guard, but the archaic weapon backfired in her hand.

A piece of shrapnel from the explosion lodged itself in her husband’s head, and therefore Melanie Lanier had accidentally killed her own husband in her effort to rescue him. She was then tried and hung in a black robe as a traitor on George’s Island on February 2, 1862. It is in this black robe that she is seen to this day in various ways about Fort Warren and George’s Island as a whole.

The North End Tunnels

The North End of the city is home to many secrets and dark corners.

One such story was written best by H.P Lovecraft – describing creatures that lived beneath the streets of Boston.

“These figures were seldom completely human, but often approached humanity in varying degree… The texture of the majority was a kind of unpleasant rubberiness… they were usually feeding- I won’t say on what… on Copp’s Hill among the tombs, or in underground passages… squeezing themselves through burrows that honeycombed the ground.” 

Tunnels dating back to the 1700’s have been found in the North End – no one truly knows who built the tunnels or why.

Day of Darkness

It was on May 19, 1780 that an unexplained darkness fell over the entire state of Massachusetts.

The sun rose, as usual, but with hints of a dark cloud arriving on the western horizon. By 1:00 that afternoon, that hint of a cloud had become a mysterious, mist-like darkness that reduced visibility to a few inches in the middle of the day! But instead of daylight, Massachusetts residents had a profound darkness so terrifying they were convinced that the apocalypse was upon them. Trying to adjust, some residents hung lanterns or lit candles on their porches – only to see those lanterns emit an eerie, greenish glow instead of their usual light.

Night time arrived, though no one could tell the difference, as neither moon nor stars were visible as residents tossed in their beds. Finally, at 1 am those still restlessly awake peered out their windows to see a blood red moon emerge slowly on the horizon. Stars soon followed, and by the next morning, the sun shone brightly in the morning sky.

What brought this day of darkness? Was it an atmospheric phenomenon or something stranger still? To this day, no theory fully explains the strange events of May 19, 1780.

Woman in Scarlet

Boston Harbor’s Long Island is home to one of the most tragic Boston Ghost Stories.

At the close of the American Revolution, the British still had several ships lagging in Boston Harbor. On board one of these ships were William and Mary Burton. The newlyweds, like so many others, were fleeing the chaos of this besieged city and looking forward to spending their lives together across the Atlantic. 

As their ship attempted to sail out of Boston Harbor, a cannonball from the Long Island Battery hit Mary in back of the head.

Unbelievably, she was not killed instantly but lingered on for several days in excruciating pain before succumbing to her massive head trauma. As she lay dying, Mary pleaded with her husband not to bury her at sea. She was never fond of the sea and could not bear to have her earthly remains consigned to a watery grave. Eventually, Mary died of her injuries and William was permitted to venture to Long Island to bury his love. Once ashore, he sewed her body into a soft red blanket that Mary had brought aboard with her to keep warm on the long journey home and laid her to rest in the sandy dunes. He fashioned a headstone out of a piece of driftwood and as he carved her name into it he swore that he would return to Boston and give her a proper marker. 
He never returned.

But Mary, it seems, refuses to be forgotten. To this day, visitors to the island report seeing a woman with “muddy-gray skin” and wearing a scarlet cloak stumbling over the sandy dunes. Blood is usually seen streaming down her cloak from a gaping hole in the back of her head—the exact spot where the cannon fire had smashed her skull.