The Best Ghost Towns to Visit in Connecticut

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Connecticut may not have the stereotypical, “Old West”-style ghost towns, but there are plenty of interesting abandoned sites to explore. Whether you prefer the haunting experience of Dudleytown or the outdoors experience of Gay City State Park, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for on this list.
Whether you’re a local or making a road trip out of it, make sure your car is up for the trip with the best car insurance coverage. When you use the car insurance super app Jerry, you can visit Connecticut’s top ghost towns knowing your car is protected along the way.

Dudleytown 

Midshot hiking trail in the woods, path lined by trees and a hill, autumn leaves on the ground
Hiking Trail, Connecticut

What’s the story of Dudleytown?

Known as one of Connecticut’s creepiest places, Dudleytown is what’s left of a settlement from 1738—but the exact history and dates are disputed. Because it was settled by several members of the Dudley family, the area became known as Dudleytown in the 1740s. After the Dudleys arrived from England, they carved out farmland and built homes with hopes of getting a new start—but all did not go according to plan.
According to local legend, it all started in 1510 when Edmund Dudley was beheaded for plotting to overthrow King Henry VIII—and the family was cursed for it. In an attempt to escape the curse, they fled to America, but they only brought the curse with them
The early days of Dudleytown were allegedly filled with murder, suicide, insanity, and financial misfortune. And rumor has it that anyone who has tried to live there has suffered similar fates. There have been numerous ghost sightings. The owners in the 1970s—and famed paranormal investigators—officially declared Dudleytown “demonically possessed.”
Researchers believe the town was abandoned due to more mundane reasons, like its distance from clean water or its inability to be cultivated. Locals and genealogists have debunked the supernatural aspect of Dudleytown and its history, but visitors say their experience speaks for itself. 

What makes Dudleytown special?

  • Dudleytown’s history may be murky, but visitors still report a variety of paranormal activity in the area. 
  • The abandoned town is the site of satanic rituals and black magic ceremonies today, much to the owners’ chagrin. 
  • The alleged history of the town includes reports of suspicious deaths, demonically-influenced insanity, and even random deaths, like lightning strikes.
  • Dudleytown residents were reportedly the victims of unexplained crop failure and mysterious farm animal disappearances as well. 

How to visit Dudleytown 

Accessed by a nondescript trail in the woods, Dudleytown’s entrance is just as obscure as its history. Due to rampant vandalism and trespassing, the owners of Dudleytown’s property have closed it off the public. State police often patrol the area to watch for trespassers, and they won’t hesitate to arrest and fine violators. 
If you’d prefer not to break the law and are still desperate to visit the grounds of Dudleytown, you can request permission from the Dark Entry Forest Association—but don’t get your hopes up.
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Johnsonville Village

Aerial view of river, framed by trees, sparse clouds
East Haddam, Connecticut

What is the story of Johnsonville Village?

Once a thriving mill town, the Victorian community of Johnsonville Village sits near East Haddam. The Neptune Mill was built in 1832 and used the river as a power source to produce yarn and twine. Emory Johnson constructed a large homestead nearby in 1846, then built another mill called Triton Mill in 1862.
A town soon emerged around the mills and came to be called Johnsonville. The community included several buildings, tenements, workhouses, and an iconic Victorian chapel. The population began to dwindle, and the town and mills were sold to Raymond Schmitt, who wanted to turn the town into a tourist attraction.
Schmitt’s plans fell apart, however, when Neptune Mill was struck by lightning in 1972, burning the structure to the ground. Then ensuing zoning disagreements with East Haddam caused Johnsonville to be shut down for good in 1994.
Since then, the 64-acre town has been up for auction several times, finally being sold to a Filipino Christian organization in 2017. They aim to renovate the current buildings and turn it into a place of worship.

What makes Johnsonville Village special? 

  • When Schmitt bought the town in 1965, the picturesque Victorian chapel hosted many weddings in the 1980s.
  • The 1846 Victorian-style homestead of Emory Johnson is still standing, which includes four bedrooms, three fireplaces, pillared porches, a formal garden area, and all the original Victorian details.
  • The town of Johnsonville Village has been abandoned three different times.

How to visit Johnsonville Village 

Johnsonville Village is located on Johnsonville Road, just southwest of East Haddam. The current owners—Iglesia ni Cristo—do not allow people on the property without express permission. However, the village is on a public road, so visitors can take photos from the road.

Holy Land USA

Upward shot of old rusted ferris wheel with yellow baskets.
Old Ferris Wheel

What is the story of Holy Land USA?

In the 1950s, John Baptist Greco, a devoted Catholic, had an idea for a Jesus-themed roadside amusement park. Over the decade, he worked to build the park, which included a miniature replica of Bethlehem. 
Throughout the 60s, around 50,000 people per year visited the park. Visitors could see a rendering of the Garden of Eden, biblical-themed dioramas, a 56-foot illuminated cross, and a Hollywood-style sign reading “Holy Land USA.”
The park closed for renovations in 1984, and Greco hoped to expand the park. This plan fell apart, however, when he died in 1986. Nuns took over looking after the park, but it fell to ruin when it became a hotspot for local vandals and ill-intended teens. It was even the site of a murder in 2010.
In 2014, the site reopened for visitors with an inaugural Mass. The park is currently still being refinished and the owners hope to officially open it back up in the future.

What makes Holy Land USA special?

Depicting Christ's life from cradle to cross, Holy Land depicts a variety of scenes from the Bible. Some of the park’s features include a chapel, Stations of the Cross, catacomb replicas, and Israelite villages built from cinder blocks and bathtubs, among other recycled materials.

How to visit Holy Land USA

Situated in east Waterbury, Holy Land is right off of I-84. Since 2014, the park has been in the process of being cleaned up and revamped. It’s not yet officially open to the public, but visitors are welcome to park by the gate and walk around Holy Land during the day. Trespassing after dark is forbidden.

Gay City

Large park in Hartford at sunset, green grass in foreground, treeline on horizon, large building to the left
Hartford, Connecticut

What is the story of Gay City? 

Gay City was a village founded upon a religious feud in the eighteenth century. Named after one of the founders, John Gay, most of the inhabitants were related to Gay and bore the same name.
The Gay family moved from nearby Hartford because the population there were mostly Congregationalists, who looked down on alcohol. The Gays were Methodists who appreciated liquor—and even served whiskey at their church services. 15 years after the town was settled, the family built their own distillery. That, along with the lumber mill and textile mill, made Gay City a bustling community.
After the mill mysteriously burned down for the third time in the late 1800s, the people of Gay City packed up and left the town for good. The remaining descendant of the Gay family gave the land to the state under the conditions that the state would turn it into a state park and tear nothing down. 
Today, the remains of the town have been given over to nature. The state park has hiking trails, camping grounds, picnic areas, and a swimming area. 

What makes Gay City special?

Gay City State Park is the perfect destination for visitors who love exploring ghost towns and spending quality time in the great outdoors.
  • If you deviate from the hiking trails, you can find the stone remnants of houses and buildings of Gay City.
  • The original cemetery still stands, where hikers sometimes place small gifts on the mostly-unreadable gravestones.
  • The town was the site of several mysterious murders that took place in the 1800s, putting it on the map for ghost hunters.

How to visit Gay City 

Gay City State Park is east of Hartford in Hebron, right off of Route 85. The park has over 1500 acres to roam. The park is open from 8 am until sunset, though campers can stay overnight as long as they have permits.
The main ruins can be accessed along the walking trail, but reaching the rest of the remains requires rambling through the unmarked woods—so bring solid, waterproof hiking boots. This option isn’t exactly easy, since most of these spots are not marked with obvious signs.

Why you need good car insurance

Driving to and from ghost towns is not when you want to worry about your car—especially if you’re near Dudleytown. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have reliable car insurance coverage.
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