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Haunted America New Releases from Arcadia Publishing

Haunted America New Releases from Arcadia Publishing.

Arcadia Publishing continues their Haunted America series with two new releases for your consideration. Both books are Florida based and should be of interest to readers interested in ghosts, haunted history, and Florida history.

After you enjoy this post about two new releases in the Haunted America series, read more of my posts related to Arcadia Publishing titles,  using   THIS LINK.

Arcadia Publishing has generously supplied complimentary review copies of two new releases in their Haunted America series of books. I will be providing book reviews for these books in the near future. Both books are now available for pre-release purchase through your local bookstore or online outlets.

Haunted America New Releases from Arcadia Publishing.


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Haunted Florida Ghost Towns

Haunted Florida Ghost Towns Haunted America New Releases Arcadia Publishing

Leigh, Heather. Haunted Florida Ghost Towns. Charleston: History Press, 2024. 128 pages, ISBN 9781467156479, $21.99.

The term “ghost towns” brings to mind communities from the Old West where there were once bustling Boom Towns but today are abandoned and lonely pieces to the puzzles of the past. With this image ingrained into a person’s mind, it is challenging to visualize ghost towns with sandy beaches and palm trees swaying in the wind. A little-known fact about Florida is it is home to more than 250 ghost towns, many of which remain the home for the spirits of former inhabitants, civil war deserters, pirates, and more. Haunted Florida Ghost Towns covers the many abandoned locations in the Sunshine State where paranormal entities are known to roam. Take a journey into the world of the supernatural and learn the history behind why Florida has so many ghost towns and the energy that remains to fuel paranormal activity.


Haunted America New Releases from Arcadia Publishing.Take a ghost bus tour in beautiful York, England.
Enjoy 75 spooky minutes of sightseeing in York, England on board the Ghost Bus! Your creepy conductor will show you the city’s top sights and give you bone-chilling and humorous insights into some of the more gruesome events in York, England’s past. Click the image or THIS LINK for information and to book your ghost bus tour.


Haunted Indian River County

Haunted Indian River County Haunted America New Releases from Arcadia PublishingLawson, Lawrence. Haunted Indian River County. Charleston, History Press, 2024. 139 pages, ISBN 978467155748, $21.99

Indian River County is an idyllic vacation spot on Florida’s east coast, not far south of Cape Canaveral. Known as part of the state’s famed “Treasure Coast,” many are unaware of the deep and fascinating history this area played in the development of the Sunshine State. Also lost among its visitors and residents are the chilling stories of the hauntings that accompany this rich history. It is here that a man named Waldo still looks after his family and properties, six decades after his death. Or a retired preacher is seen digging up his hidden treasure, days after he died .



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The Legend of Spook Hill in Lake Wales, FL

An old black and white image, complete with a mischievously smiling ghost,
announces Spook Hill to drivers with the following improbable legend.

Courtesy Florida Memory

Many years ago an Indian village on Lake Wales was plagued by raids of a huge gator. The chief, a great warrior, killed the gator in a battle that created a small lake. This chief was buried on the north side. Pioneer mail riders first discovered their horses laboring down the hill, thus naming it “Spook Hill.” When the road was paved, cars coasted up hill. Is this the gator seeking revenge, or is the chief still trying to protect his land??? Stop on white line, take your car out of gear, and let it roll back.



Lake Wales

Located in Lake Wales, Florida, a town of around 17,000 in Polk County, Spook
Hill has been confusing, astounding, and frightening visitors since at least the

Lake Wales itself is unique in that it is built upon what is now called the Lake
Wales Ridge. This 150-mile long ridge contains some of the highest geological
spots in Florida. During the period when Florida was submerged underneath the
Atlantic Ocean, this ridge often rose above the waters as a series of islands.

In the early years of settlement, the area remained largely uninhabited. This was
due to the difficulties in reaching the area. The elevation, along with a lack of
roads and railroads, allowed the area to remain immune to the development
occurring along the coastlines. The area was prime for human habitation however.
Wide-open lands were perfect for agriculture and cattle while abundant forests
provided timber and turpentine.

In 1879, a surveyor by the name of Sidney Irving Wailes, named a small lake in
the area Lake Wailes. By 1911, the economic potential of the land was better
understood and the Lake Wales Land Company was founded by a group of four

Changing the name from Wailes to Wales, these men set out to establish a lakeside
community that would develop from exploiting the lands. By 1912, the turpentine
industry was rapidly growing and the developers worked to create infrastructure
around the fledgling operation. A school and the Hotel Wales were soon
constructed helping attract visitors and permanent residents.

In less than a decade, the Lake Wales area was unrecognizable to those who might
have seen the area at the turn of the century. The citrus industry exploded,
providing jobs for many and wealth to a few. Attractions such as Bok Tower
Gardens helped attract tourists.

Bok Tower
Courtesy Florida Memory

Bok Tower Gardens is named for Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward William
Bok. Bok was editor of Ladies Home Journal and was a leader in promoting social
causes while also championing the Arts and Crafts style of architecture. Opened to
much fanfare in 1929 by Calvin Coolidge, Bok Gardens proved popular with the
Tin Can Tourists of the day.

Today, the property located at the highest elevation in Florida, encompasses more
than 130 acres. The primary attractions are the Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
designed gardens and the singing tower, designed by architect Milton B. Medary.
Admission to the park is less than $20 for those ages 5+. Admission to El Retiro, a
twenty room home, 1930s Mediterranean style mansion that was acquired by the
Bok Tower Foundation in 1970 requires a separate admission fee. The Gardens
were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and El Retiro was
added in 1985.


Want to learn more about the beautiful area of Lake Wales? Take a look at this book from the Arcadia Publishing, Images of American series.  

Pirate Legend of Spook Hill

Barney’s Tavern, the creator of a Spook Hill legend. Courtesy Florida Memory

As might be expected, there are numerous legends regarding Spook Hill in addition to the gator fighting Indian chief. Many years ago, the local restaurant Barney’s Tavern published a leaflet claiming to tell the “real” story of Spook Hill. Barney’s claimed that pirate with the clever name of Captain Gimme Sarsparilla retired to Lake Wales. Pirate Teniente Vanilla joined the Captain upon his retirement.

The legend continues that when Vanilla died he was buried at the foot of Spook Hill and Sarsparilla ended up at the bottom of Lake Wales. Centuries later, a man parked his car at the bottom of Spook Hill so that he could go fishing. He just happened to park on the unmarked grave of Vanilla. The eternal slumber of Vanilla now disturbed, he called out to Sarsparillia for help who rose from his underwater grave and pushed the car off Vanilla’s resting spot. If you stop at the bottom of Spook Hill, the same will happen to your car.

The real reason behind Spook Hill

The Legend of Spook Hill
Image courtesy Florida Memory

The true explanation is much less fanciful and quite a bit more boring. According to the National Register of Historic Places application for Spook Hill, this is what is known as a gravity hill optical illusion. Here, the southern end of the site is at the start of a shallow upwards incline along North Wales Drive. The incline becomes steeper moving toward Burns Avenue. The transition point from shallow to steep is marked as the starting point. Here, while facing north on the one-way street, a driver is to put their car into neutral, and slowly roll backwards downhill while they feel as if they are being pulled uphill. The illusion is caused by the geography of the area. The view of the horizon is blocked by the higher hill.



Is Spook Hill Unique?

Lake Wales is not unique in having a Spook Hill. Other similar locations have been
documented such as Confusion Hill in Pennsylvania; Gravity Hill in Maryland; and
Mystery Spot in Michigan.

If you have ever visited Spook Hill, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought.

Want a Spook Hill postcard of your own? Check out these options on ebay!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may
receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views
and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors
providing products.