You've heard of the hauntings and reported ghost sightings that landed Milwaukee its reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. Now, a national tour and entertainment company is selling the opportunity for locals and visitors to experience the city's "dreaded past and the dark chronology" for themselves.
Massachusetts-based U.S. Ghost Adventures recently launched its new Brew City Ghosts tour, as part of its expansion into 12 new markets across the country. The one-mile, hour-long, nighttime walking tour throughout downtown Milwaukee features several historic destinations that are said to be haunted, including City Hall, The Pabst Theater and The Pfister Hotel, which has been rankedamong the top 25 most haunted historic hotels in the U.S. Tours run two to three times a week, and tickets are priced at $25 for adults and $16 for children under 16.
Brew City Ghosts officially launched last weekend, with its first tour drawing 20 people. That's considered a good crowd for an opening weekend in a new city, especially in the winter, said Lance Zaal, president and founder of U.S. Ghost Adventures.
The company operates tours and experiences in more than 50 cities across the country, including Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Annapolis, Maryland; Providence, Rhode Island; and Sacramento, California. It also owns and operates the infamous, historic Lizzie Borden House in its headquarters city Fall River, Massachusetts.
U.S. Ghost Adventures initially launched on the East Coast, operating tours and experiences in 20 cities. When the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the entire tourism industry in its tracks, Zaal shifted gears and developed virtual guided ghost tours that have been popular for both corporate and private events. Today, customers can book in-person and virtual tours of America’s most haunted cities.
Stories told during U.S. Ghost tours are derived from historic research and interviews with people who have witnessed the unexplained first hand, the company says.
U.S. Ghost Adventures is not the first company to attract visitors to downtown Milwaukee by showcasing the spooky side of the city's history. Local entrepreneur and author Anna Lardinois built her business, Gothic Milwaukee, on its haunted, historical walking tours. She used original source material from the Milwaukee County Historical Society to tell legends and folktales from Milwaukee’s history as part of the tour. Last year, Gothic Milwaukee wound down its popular public tour offerings after 10 seasons, shifting operations to private tours and speaking engagements only. Milwaukee's folklore lives on in Lardinois' published works, "The Ghostly Tales of Milwaukee" and "Milwaukee Ghosts and Legends." She's also documented the haunted histories of other cities including Baraboo and Madison in Wisconsin; Flint, Michigan; and Prescott, Arizona.