Night shot of clouds over a dimly lit barn
1860s George Stoppel farmstead at the History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minn. is said to be haunted – one of the stops on the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour.

Updated: Oct. 1, 2021; Originally published: Oct. 9, 2020. One of the best haunted tours in Minnesota is located in Rochester, MN, about 90 miles south of the Twin Cities (I use the Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport as the reference point). For three hours, the narrated Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour makes nearly 20 stops or drive-bys at some of Rochester’s most haunted places. Additionally, this haunted trolley tour includes a brief paranormal investigation by a ghost hunter. Take the Haunted Rochester Trolley tour and it may convince you that Rochester is one of the most haunted places Minnesota.

Skeleton sitting in the front of a trolley bus
Some light humor on the Haunted Rochester Trolley in Minnesota

Now while I’m what I call a scared skeptic, I do appreciate hearing the history of cities we visit – haunted or not. And this particular haunted trolley tour in Rochester, Minn. has a great soundtrack – from the fun Monster Mash to the iconic Thriller.

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Most haunted places in Rochester, Minnesota

Red trolley parked in front of mailbox
Where do I meet the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour? Pick-up for the three-hour tour is the Centerstone Plaza Hotel.

Here are a few of the stops the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour made when my husband and I took this tour. It’s the perfect Halloween tour to learn about Rochester, Minnesota’s history, ghost stories and alleged hauntings. And gain a better understanding of why Rochester is one of Minnesota’s most haunted places.

Brom family massacre tragedy

I found this haunted drive-by very disturbing and sad. A Rochester-area teenager, David Brom, killed his parents, sister and brother with an ax in 1988. Such a tragic story. Reports include seeing ghosts inside this seemingly private residence on a cul-de-sac.  

Lost Cemetery at former state hospital – gravesite of first emancipated African-American slave

Bench in front of a tree at night
Make sure you wear weather-appropriate and comfortable clothes and shoes as you will do a little bit of walking (nothing too strenuous, but there is some uneven terrain and it is dark).

Now this stop at a former state hospital / asylum cemetery of mass graves was the most chilling of all the stops on the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour. It was only about 10 years ago that gravesite markers were erected to finally memorialize those who had died at the former state hospital from the 1880s to the 1960s.

Cemetery gravesite marker for first slave freed by President Abraham Lincoln, William Crossley
This image is a little blurry due to poor lighting (actually no lighting except for the red paranormal pod detector). This is the gravesite marker for William H. Costley / William H. Crossley buried at a former state hospital asylum. Costley is believed to have been the first male slave freed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Gravesite of the first freed African-American slave

One of the most poignant stories was learning that this former Minnesota state hospital grounds is the final resting place of William H. Costley (aka William H. Crossley) – the first African-American male slave believed to have been freed by President Abraham Lincoln. Historians spent years trying to track down his gravesite.

After serving in the Union Army in the Civil War, it’s believed that war wounds and/or severe heat stroke caused him to become hunched over and unable to speak coherently. And that’s why he was committed to the former state asylum where he died in 1888. He – along with many others – was buried on the former Minnesota state hospital grounds without even a marker until recent years.

The Lost Cemetery

This Lost Cemetery was pretty much forgotten and/or neglected for many years. In fact, our Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour guide told us he and his friends used to slide down the hill during the winter where the bodies were buried – not knowing about its history.

The Lost Cemetery at the former Minnesota state asylum in Rochester is where you’ll need your phone flashlight as this location on the haunted trolley tour is very dark (in more ways than one).

Related post: In pursuit of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world

Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn.

Our tour guide shared that a janitor at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN has heard voices at night and others have reported what appears to be a man sitting in a chair who suddenly vanishes.

Kahler Grand Hotel’s haunted elevator – one of the most haunted hotels in America

The top floor of the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester, MN was once part of the Mayo Clinic and where surgeries took place. A pool sits there now. And the basement of the Kahler was once used as a morgue so it’s no surprise there are ghost stories about this haunted hotel – repeatedly making the most haunted hotels in America lists.

The most popular ghost story is when the heiress to the Brach candy fortune went missing after staying at the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester, Minn. in 1977. People reported seeing her riding in the elevator and then vanishing right in front of them.

My husband actually went up in the Kahler Grand Hotel elevator the morning after our tour. He was disappointed that nothing happened. Read more about another time he was disappointed when we stayed in a haunted hotel in Salem, Massachusetts. Although, something odd did happen while we were waiting for an elevator at that hotel.

bookstore front
Sometimes the ghost / spirits of the Kahler Grand Hotel like to throw the books off the shelves.

Additionally, our tour guide informed us that books in this hotel’s bookstore have mysteriously flown off the shelves (and not because of customer purchases).

Would you stay at a haunted hotel? While I probably wouldn’t on purpose, our family did book a two-night reservation at the haunted and historic Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass. – by accident.

Oakwood Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery in Rochester, Minn.

I’m drawn to cemeteries as I find them calming and peaceful with beautiful artwork – and it’s a way to respectfully express appreciation and pay respects to those who have passed before us (read more about my pursuit of the most intriguing cemeteries in the world). But I don’t typically visit cemeteries at night. The Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour drives through and makes stops at Oakwood Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery (both near each other).

Oakwood Cemetery – Dr. Joseph Graham and Ruth Mayo’s gravesites

Headstone in cemetery at night
Many have reported seeing a woman in white near the headstone of Dr. Joseph Graham Mayo and Ruth Mayo at the Oakwood Cemetery in Rochester, Minn.

We stopped at the Oakwood gravesites of Dr. Joseph Graham Mayo (son of one of the Mayo Clinic founders, Dr. Charles Mayo and Edith Mayo) and his dog Floosie. Buried in the same casket, Joseph Mayo and his dog were killed in a mysterious vehicle-train accident.

We learned that the young Dr. Mayo (34 years old) went to Wisconsin to go hunting with his dog and then stopped to play cards. It was reported he won a lot of money gambling. On his way home, the official report says Mayo drove a mile down some railroad tracks and died when his vehicle was hit by a train.

It still seems to be an unsolved mystery as there are three theories about Joseph Graham Mayo’s death: accident, suicide, foul play. Some theorize Mayo was murdered because it appeared his dog had a head injury inconsistent with the car-train accident. Additionally, none of Joseph Mayo’s gambling winnings were found at the crash site.   

More Mayo mystery

Buried next to Joseph Mayo is his young wife Ruth Mayo (33 years old) – who also died in mysteriously a few years later. Her death was ruled a suicide, but some believe that Ruth Mayo’s allegedly abusive husband, Paul Meserve (ex-husband of actress Margaret Hamilton – the witch in The Wizard of Oz), shot her. Some suspected this because he skipped town soon after her death.

Many have claimed to have seen a ghostly woman in white near the Mayo gravesites at Oakland Cemetery in Rochester, MN.

See related post on the beautiful Mayowood Mansion where they lived.

Calvary Cemetery – final resting place for the real Doc Moonlight Graham

Headstone with baseballs and coins sitting on it
Visitors leave momentos at the Calvary Cemetery gravesite of Archibald Graham – aka Doc Graham and Moonlight Graham – who inspired the character in the book Shoeless Joe and the movie Field of Dreams.

For fans of the Oscar-nominated film Field of Dreams or the book it’s based on (Shoeless Joe), you may be surprised to learn there was a real Doc Moonlight Graham. I was. And he’s buried in Calvary Cemetery in Rochester, Minn.

Archibald Graham – aka Moonlight Graham during his baseball days and Doc Graham later in life – only played for one inning in one major league game (I believe the shortest MLB career ever). After several years in the minors, he became a physician in Minnesota for 50 years.

While this stop on the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour is not scary, it is a cool story for baseball and movie fans. Many fans bring coins to leave on his headstone because they’re believed to bring good luck. Here it appears someone left baseballs.

Quarry Hill Nature Center and Dead Man’s Bridge

Gate and limestone cave
While we only experienced a serene hiking adventure at Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, Minn., some say the park is haunted.

My husband and I hiked at the beautiful and serene Quarry Hill Nature Center during the day so was surprised to hear it mentioned on our haunted trolley tour in Rochester, Minn. According to a legend, a ghost has been spotted at a wooden bridge near Quarry Hill where a man committed suicide by hanging in the 1960s.

Stay hydrated with the best water bottles

Stoppel Pioneer Farmstead

stone house with blue sky and green grass
We were surprised to learn that the historic farmstead of George Stoppel is said to be haunted as it seemed pretty peaceful during the day.

Our last stop on the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour was at a place we had visited earlier that day the historic 1880s farmstead of George Stoppel at the History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minn.

As guests of the history center, we toured the historical grounds and buildings to learn what life was like in the pioneer days. While the Stoppel farmstead seemed charming and nostalgic during the daytime, it took on a creepy and eerie vibe at night.

building with clouds at night
The George Stoppel farmstead in Rochester, Minn. takes on a different vibe at night during the haunted trolley tour.

We heard a first-person account from the paranormal investigator / guide who not only saw a man on the front stoop of the Stoppel stone house, but said she was physically pushed away by a presence. Fortunately, my husband and I enjoyed a peaceful and spiritless tour of the George Stoppel farmstead.  

Whether you are a believer in the paranormal or a scared skeptic, we think you’ll appreciate your Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour as a great source of history and entertainment.

What to wear and what to bring on your haunted trolley tour in Rochester, Minn.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes when taking the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour as you will walk on uneven (and dark) terrain at a couple of stops. Make sure your phone is charged up because you’ll need the flashlight especially when you stop at the cemeteries.

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Pin it for later: Best haunted tour in Rochester, Minnesota

Related post: Review of the Haunted Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass.

hallway in a haunted hotel
Review of one of the most haunted hotels in America: The historic Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass.

Related posts: Top things to do in Rochester, Minnesota

Top things to do in Rochester Minnesota - History Center of Olmsted County - image of the Dee log cabin
Top things to do in Rochester, Minnesota: History Center of Olmsted County

mansion with yellow mums in driveway courtyard
Visit historic Mayowood Mansion in Rochester, Minn. – one of the top places to visit in Minnesota

Related post: Where to eat in Rochester, Minnesota

collage of mac and cheese and a restaurant
Best places to eat in Rochester, Minnesota near Mayo Clinic: Chester’s Kitchen & Bar features one of my favorite foods – lobster mac and cheese


Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller


  1. Very scary stuff! I haven’t really been much on getting scared or seeking out things that are scary. But, this is a great article on some very interesting places! I tend to like the history part more than the scary part. Thanks for sharing this great information!

  2. That sounds like such a fun trolley tour to see so many cool haunted places in Minnesota! I would love that! How fun that they play a fun playlist along the way! I actually heard Monster Mash this weekend at a wedding. One of my favorite Halloween songs!

  3. I shouldn’t have read this at night!! I think I’m most freaked out by the headstone and the hotel, a very creepy tour!

  4. Such an interesting tour! I love hearing about tragic stories that lead to potential ghost sightings. It’s a little scary yet can’t help but wanting to know more. I feel bad your husband has yet to see or experience any ghosts! Haha. I never realized the Mayo Clinic was named after a family. The doctors death does seem a little fishy… 😁

  5. This is so much fun. You have me pondering if I can do something similar in Dublin. The Mayos weren’t blessed with good luck were they? It’s no wonder that some of them would take to haunting. An excellent collection of stories Karen.

  6. It’s amazing how a place can seem so lovely and benign during the day, but then at night can take on a more creepy ambiance. I too find graveyards peaceful during the day. WOn’t find me at one at night though!

  7. Looks like a fun and informative tour! I’d love it. The ghost tours are a great way to learn more history. And I’d want to check out the Kahler Grand Hotel! It looks fascinating.

  8. Ok so this is an entirely serious question – why is Rochester so haunted?!? All of the stories were so different from one another. At first I thought there’d be a tour because the sites are all mildly related. NOPE!

    Glad to have read about it though. Considering I’m too scared to actually go on the tour 🙂

    1. That’s a really good question. I’m a scared skeptic so not sure about all the stories (although some things can’t be explained). The area was settled by Europeans and native tribes were forced out. Additionally, Rochester is home to the renowned Mayo Clinic – the top hospital and healthcare facility in the world. They treat more than 1 million patients annually, not all survive so perhaps the volume contributes to the alleged sightings.

  9. I love a good haunted places tour like this…but I have to say, in some ways this is just so sad. You got to learn about so many sad stories behind the hauntings.

    1. So many sad stores behind the haunted ones. But we did enjoy learning more about the history of Rochester, MN during our haunted trolley tour.

  10. I too would not normally seek out scary places. But a haunted trolley tour does sound like a fun thing to do in Rochester MN. Interesting to learn more about the history of a city through the scary stories.

    1. We did enjoy learning more about the history of Rochester, MN on our haunted trolley tour. It’s one of the best things to do at Halloween.

  11. I love that vintage trolley you get to go on! This looks like such a fun tour to go on, especially during October when you have all of the fall colours and Halloween decorations around.

  12. While I’m not into super scary things, I do like a good haunted location. And even more than that I get really into learning the history behind these haunted places. It’s always really interesting to see how the stories came about. What a great post, and perfect early Halloween reading

  13. This is so interesting. I can imagine that the story about the mental hospital with the mass grave was truly disturbing! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you! It was so disturbing and sad. But was interesting to learn about the lost cemetery on our Rochester Haunted Trolley ride.

  14. This guide is brilliant! I love visiting Haunted places! They all sound so interesting! Kahler Grand Hotel’s haunted elevator sounds especially creepy! Thanks for the great guide!

    1. Thank you so much and my pleasure! I was surprised to learn about so many haunted places in Rochester, Minn. I agree the Kahler Grand Hotel haunted elevator sounds really creepy.

  15. This is right up my alley! Definitely something I would be interested in doing! Although, it may be a little much for my kids!

    1. If you like scary stories and Halloween, then this tour of the most haunted places in Rochester, Minn. is for you. I probably wouldn’t recommend it for kids.

  16. I’m so easily scared so I wouldn’t visit these personally but that’s probably a testament to their scariness!

    1. Then this probably isn’t the experience for you. Although some stories were eerie, I did learn a lot about the area’s history on our haunted trolley ride in Rochester, Minn.

  17. I love haunted places and learning about the story behind buildings and places. Thanks for sharing your experience it was an interesting read.

  18. This is a great list of the most haunted placed in Rochester, Minnesota. The elevator sounds pretty spooky!

    I’m fascinated by hauntings and have done ghost tours before in New Orleans and Jerome, AZ. The hotel we stayed at in the French Quarter was actually haunted and I didn’t know it until we checked in and a local ghost tour was taking place in the lobby, eeekkk!

    1. Thanks so much. That elevator was too spooky for me so my husband went alone. We’ve been to Jerome, AZ. Loved The Haunted Hamburger…they had some interesting stories to share – and great food! That’s too funny about the haunted hotel in the French Quarter. We did love learning about the history of Rochester, MN on our haunted tour.

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