Just when I thought I really had started to get a hold on the what's what around Florida and feel like a real resident, someone or something comes along and pulls the rug out from under me and I get humbled (and intrigued) once more. Honestly, I think there are so many secrets and stories to learn about Florida's history that no one, not even people who've never stepped a toe out of the Sunshine State, will ever find out in their lifetime.
Heck, if you live in Orlando, you might not know that what is (apparently) considered one of the most haunted places in Florida is only a short drive away from Orlando. Yes, of course. There are tons of haunted sites around Orlando that are frequently talked about.
The ghost dog of Lake Eola, Ted Bundy's ghost. Travel channel's ghost adventures is stuffed with entire seasons of all the famous haunts in Orlando. I have read about them time and time again, as a simple Google search brings up multiple articles about the most haunted locations around Orlando.
But I had never heard of the town of Mount Dora. It took my friend, who is also from California but randomly knows everything there is to know about Orlando, to turn me onto this ghostly little town. We were discussing where we'd like to go camping this year like we always said we would and he brought up Mount Dora.
"It's really haunted, too. You'd like that."
Naturally, I had to search this (allegedly) haunted place up, and I was not disappointed.
The story of historic Mount Dora
A simple 33-mile drive from Orlando, the town of Mount Dora has quite the interesting history, I'm learning, and is even considered one of the most historic places in Florida. Several buildings in Mount Dora, such as the Atlantic Coastline Depot, Donnelly House, Lakeside Inn, Witherspoon Lodge, and Mount Dora's Historic District are all registered under the National Register of Historic Places.
According to a legend, Lake Dora was named after a kind woman named Dora Ann Drawdy, who died in 1885. She was said to "befriend federal surveyors with her warm hospitality," and Lake Dora came to be in 1846 in her honor. Eventually, in 1883, an entire town became Lake Dora, remembering her always.
Today, Mount Dora is home to a modest population of around 13,000, and offers a variety of activities for visitors such as a craft fair and an annual Christmas lighting ceremony. But, as usual, that's not what I'm interested in. I want to hear all about the scary things around one of the most haunted places in Florida.
Why is Mount Dora (maybe) so haunted?
If you're looking to be terrified, apparently, the Lakeside Inn as well as the Donnelly house have what you're looking for. For paranormal enthusiasts who might want to stay at what might be one of the most haunted hotels in the state, expect to potentially be visited by the ghostly figures of two young girls. And then, of course, there's the famous Donnelly house, which is said to be haunted by Annie Donnelly herself.
Fortunately, paranormal investigations are a welcome part of the culture of Mount Dora, so if you are amateur ghost hunters or simply interested in a little haunted history, ghost tours are available for (potential) ghostly encounters.
Have you been to Mount Dora? Tell me your stories in the comments.
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