Rooms with a boo
When booking a hotel stay, most of us are just hoping for comfy beds, clean sheets and delicious breakfasts. But these hotels offer something more than most visitors will have bargained for. Said to be haunted by both former guests and employees, these hotels are for the thrill-seekers looking to hunt ghosts on their vacations. If you’re planning a spooky escape, be sure to check state travel advisories before you go.
Alabama: Malaga Inn, Mobile
Finished in 1862, this charming 39-room boutique inn was built by two brothers-in-law who intended it to be a pair of townhouses – a wedding gift for the two sisters in the family. And it’s said the sisters never left. Guests claim to have seen a lady figure in white pacing the balcony of room 007, as well as chandeliers swinging randomly, lights turning on and off themselves and even furniture that eerily moves on its own.
Alaska: The Alaskan Hotel, Juneau
Opened in 1913, Juneau’s Alaskan Hotel has a serious reputation for ghosts and ghouls. So much so that staff report regular encounters with the paranormal and it was also featured on Travel Channel’s series Portals to Hell. The most haunted spot (Room 315, which some guests specifically request) is said to be the room of a gold miner’s wife who lived here waiting for her husband to come back. When at first he didn’t, she became a working girl to support herself – and when her husband did eventually return, he wasn’t best pleased with his wife’s new career. Legend has it he killed her and she never left.
Arizona: Jerome Grand Hotel, Jerome
Looming over a former copper mining town, the Jerome Grand Hotel is renowned for its supernatural residents. No doubt this has something to do with the building’s previous incarnation as a hospital and Jerome’s past reputation as the wickedest town in the West. Guests fill the visitor books with tales of unexplained sights, sounds and smells, especially emanating from the third floor – site of the old operating theater.
Arkansas: 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, Eureka Springs
Often cited as the most haunted hotel in America, the 1886 Crescent in the Ozark Mountains has a grisly history. The building was originally opened as a hotel but was transformed into Baker’s Cancer Curing Hospital in 1937. Norman Baker, a former magician with zero medical training, claimed to be able to treat cancer patients here. Unfortunately, many perished under Baker’s pseudo-care and now reportedly wander around the hotel. An intriguing archive is kept on the fourth floor and typically the hotel runs regular ghost tours – check here for current availability.
California: The Hollywood Roosevelt, Los Angeles
An A-list retreat for both the living and the dead, this luxurious hotel has hosted pretty much everyone who’s been anyone. Among the most notable high-profile ghosts of the hotel are actors Montgomery Clift, who stayed here during the filming of From Here to Eternity, and Marilyn Monroe, who holed up at the hotel for two years at the start of her career. Clift can purportedly be seen in his old room 928 or heard practising his lines, while it’s said that Marilyn often appears in a mirror that used to hang in her favorite poolside cabana.
Colorado: The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park
A night at The Stanley Hotel was all it took to inspire Stephen King to pen his classic horror novel The Shining. But the spooky reputation pre-dates both the book and the spine-chilling film as the hotel’s original owner and his wife Flora are reportedly often seen drifting through the lobby. Room 217, where King and his wife stayed, is said to be haunted by a housekeeper who perished on the hotel grounds. The hotel now runs ghost tours and typically attracts film buffs and spirit hunters from all over – the spooky Night Tour is currently restricted to 10 people with masks required.
Connecticut: Captain Grant’s Bed and Breakfast, Poquetanuck
Just one look at this charming clapboard home is a giveaway – it’s clearly a bed and breakfast with history. Built in 1754, today there are just seven gorgeous rooms (or you can book out the whole house) with features including antique furniture, gas or wood-burning fireplaces, jetted bathtubs and cable TV. But it’s not just human guests that get a warm welcome here, the hotel is also home to 12 friendly spirits. There’s even a book, The Ghosts of Captain Grant’s Inn that has been written about the apparitions by owner Carol Matsumoto. We just hope those ghosts aren’t helping themselves to the complimentary crème sherry in every room…
Delaware: Addy Sea, Bethany Beach
It’s said to be one of the most haunted places in Delaware, but at least the ghosts are friendly – or so the current employees claim. The 119-year-old-house began life as the Addy’s seaside estate, but when the family was hit by the Great Depression, they began renting out rooms to travelers until eventually the home became an inn. Three of the 13 rooms are said to be haunted by previous employees and guests who never wanted to leave the charming hotel, even in the afterlife. In Room 1 the bathtub is known to start shaking for no apparent reason, while in Room 11 phones turn on and off without an explanation.
Florida: The Biltmore Miami, Coral Gables
Coral Gables, a suburb of Miami, has long attracted the rich and famous and The Biltmore, opened in 1926, is no exception, having hosted Judy Garland and the Roosevelts. The five-star hotel had to close its doors during the Second World War so it could be used as a military hospital until 1968. When it reopened as a hotel once more in the late 1980s, guests started to speak of ghosts of the soldiers who died within its walls. These sightings are also accompanied by other apparitions, including that of Fatty Walsh – a New York mobster who was shot here in 1929.
Georgia: Jekyll Island Club Resort, Jekyll Island
Founded by members of an incorporated hunting and recreational club who bought the island in 1886, the Jekyll Island Club flourished during the early 20th century with the Morgans, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts among the club’s members. A popular story says that the hotel is haunted by a bellman: apparently, the ghost is very particular about delivering freshly pressed suits to guests and is mostly seen on the second floor. There’s an annual ghost-hunt weekend for true believers too.
Hawaii: Moana Surfrider, Honolulu
When the co-founder of Stanford University, Jane Stanford, met her untimely end on 28 February 1905, it made huge headlines in the US. She was vacationing in Hawaii following an attempted strychnine poisoning and had checked in at the Moana Surfrider in Honolulu. She died in her room at the Moana and both guests and staff have repeatedly said she can be spotted wandering around the hotel at night trying to find her room.
Idaho: Idaho Hotel, Silver City
Chances are if you’ve booked a hotel in the middle of a ghost town founded in the 1860s, you’ll be expecting to see some serious spooks. And you won’t be disappointed at the Idaho Hotel, which makes regular appearances on lists of America’s most haunted places. Even if you don’t have a paranormal experience then a stay here is a glorious step back in time – there hasn’t been electricity here since the 1940s when the town’s mines shuttered and today the hotel is reliant on solar power and propane heaters. Sadly, you won’t be able to stay for Halloween itself as the hotel is only open for the summer season.
Illinois: Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago
Another grande dame of the hotel scene, The Congress, as it’s known, has an illustrious history closely tied in with the development of the Windy City. It was opened to help meet demand from visitors arriving for the Chicago World Fair, and it’s said that, during the construction of the Gold Room, a worker was trapped behind a wall and suffocated beneath a layer of plaster. Today, his hand appears to reach through the wall to surprise guests collecting their coats from the cloakroom. Some say that the crime king Al Capone, who had a suite on the eighth floor, is another ghostly resident.
Indiana: French Lick Springs Hotel, French Lick
Opened by Dr William Bowles as a wellness retreat (thanks to its proximity to the therapeutic water of Pluto Mineral Springs), the French Lick Springs Hotel was a popular destination for the wealthy during the 1920s. It’s also believed to be one of the most haunted places in all of Indiana, with guests and employees reporting sightings of former owner Thomas Taggart, mysterious apparitions of a late bellhop and unexplained phone calls from empty rooms. According to a legend, the smell of Taggart’s tobacco smoke still lingers near the service elevator and in the main ballroom.
Iowa: Mason House Inn, Keosauqua
Now the Mason House Inn, the 1846 building in southeast Iowa was also used as a hospital and a station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, so it’s no surprise that there’s something more lingering here than just history. The hotel is often said to be one of the most haunted places in Iowa with up to 100 different spirits thought to inhabit this quaint hotel. Fortunately, the spirits are very friendly to the guests and the inn itself usually plays host to ghost hunting courses and retreats throughout the year – check here for up-to-date availability. Note that the inn is currently only open for guests on Friday and Saturday nights.
Kansas: Midland Railroad Hotel, Wilson
Built around the turn of the 20th century, the original Midland Railroad Hotel burned down in a fire in 1902. It is strongly believed that several guests perished in the blaze and haunt the hotel to this day. Guests staying on the third floor often report smelling smoke or even seeing flames from the side of their eyes that vanish without leaving a trace. Many say they’ve seen ghostly figures in old-fashioned clothing wandering the entryways and the stairs. Whatever the explanation, a night at this historic hotel definitely comes with complimentary paranormal activity.
Kentucky: The Seelbach Hilton, Louisville
A grand hotel named after the German brothers who built it, The Seelbach has entertained many prominent guests since it opened in 1905, including writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who featured a fictional version of it in The Great Gatsby. However, the hotel’s most famous guest never got to check out. The Lady in Blue is said to be a ghost of Patricia Wilson who was staying at the hotel in 1936 when her husband died in a car crash. The distraught Mrs Wilson threw herself down the lift shaft and has haunted the hotel ever since, recognized by her distinctive blue dress.
Louisiana: Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans
A French Quarter icon, the deluxe Hotel Monteleone has been run by five generations of the same family since it opened in 1886. That’s plenty of time to build up loyal customers and acquire a few lingering former guests. Frequent reports of paranormal activity led to a visit by the International Society of Paranormal Research, who discovered all sorts of ghostly goings-on, particularly on the 14th floor where Maurice, a former maid, is said to have never left her housekeeping duties.
See where else to stay and what to do in our guide to New Orleans here
Maine: Captain Fairfield Inn, Kennebunkport
Built by sea captain James Fairfield, the Captain Fairfield Inn is exactly the kind of cozy New England stay that looks perfect for a relaxing weekend break. However, it’s likely that your peaceful sojourn will be disturbed by the captain himself who died several years after building his Federal-style mansion, but loved it so much he chose to never leave. Guests have reported feeling his presence throughout the house but reportedly the best place to come eye to eye with the captain is in the basement.
Maryland: Admiral Fell Inn, Baltimore
On a cobbled street corner in Fell’s Point, once a major shipbuilding area and Baltimore’s oldest waterfront community, the Admiral Fell Inn is made up of seven adjoining buildings. One of these buildings used to be a boarding house for sailors, some of whom still seem to be hanging around. A famous anecdote tells that the hotel had to be evacuated once, however a raucous party could still be heard inside the empty building. One of the most haunted hotels in the US, the inn plays along by running regular ghost tours.
Massachusetts: Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, Fall River
If you’ve ever heard the children’s rhyme: “Lizzie Borden took an axe / Gave her mother 40 whacks / When she saw what she had done / She gave her father 41,” then you’re probably familiar with the gruesome 1892 double homicide. The Borden’s home has been furnished and decorated to look exactly like it did the morning before the murders. Overnight guests can take photos where Mr Borden was killed, spend the night in the bedroom where the body of Lizzie’s stepmother Abigail was found and visit the basement.
Michigan: Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is one of the state’s top vacation destinations but it’s also one of the most haunted with a tumultuous history. Once home to the Odawa people, the island’s population was forced out as Europeans arrived and it was later the scene of many bloody battles. It’s said that the construction workers uncovered human remains when digging the hotel’s foundations and an amorphous black mass with blazing red eyes lurks around the hotel.
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Minnesota: Palmer House Hotel, Sauk Centre
Palmer House, built in 1901, is known as one of the most haunted places in Minnesota due to the large number of reports of paranormal activity and it has even turned more than a few guests into believers. The hotel has been subject to many investigations over the years and the most common reports include hearing voices from empty rooms, experiencing cold breezes in the middle of summer and doors slamming shut on their own.
Mississippi: Monmouth Historic Inn, Natchez
Dating from 1818 and one of the South’s most haunted hotels, Monmouth Plantation used to be home of General John A. Quitman, who’s believed to have been poisoned and killed by abolitionists. Now a stunning inn, many say that the general never really left the house. Guests have reported spotting a man in a uniform strolling through the garden and a few have even said they’ve been woken up by him in their rooms.
Missouri: The Elms Hotel & Spa, Excelsior Springs
Operating since 1888, Missouri’s most historic hotel is also its most haunted. The Elms Hotel burned down twice, first in 1898, then again in 1910. Even though nobody is believed to have died in the fires, guests have frequently reported seeing the spirit of a distressed woman looking for her child, pulling at people’s hair or throwing objects across the room. SyFy channel’s Ghost Hunters also visited the hotel in 2013 to investigate the mysterious goings-on.
Montana: The Fairweather Inn, Virginia City
High in the Rocky Mountains, Virginia City was once a booming gold mining center but now is home to only a couple of hundred people and is a well-preserved example of a typical mining camp of the American West. The Fairweather Inn was named after one of the men who discovered gold in the area, Bill Fairweather, however, it’s children rather than miners, bandits or vigilantes who choose to haunt this small hotel. They seem especially drawn to guests with their own kids and torment with whispers, hurried footsteps and doors opening and closing.
Nebraska: Argo Hotel, Crofton
There are several contenders for the title of Nebraska’s most haunted hotel, however, none of them have such a chilling backstory as the Argo Hotel in northeastern Nebraska. Built in 1912, it used to be major stopover for guests traveling on the many trains that rolled into town but eventually it was closed and turned into a doctor’s office and a medical clinic for many years. When the building was renovated once more in the 1990s to be turned into a hotel, the owner reportedly found a baby skeleton in a burlap sack buried within the walls. It’s said that both the baby and the mother still haunt the hotel.
Nevada: The Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah
The Mizpah Hotel certainly has a reputation for its paranormal goings-on both within the state and beyond. A psychic visited the hotel once and said she communicated with several spirits, while TV’s Ghost Hunters team managed to capture a decommissioned elevator randomly opening and closing its doors on camera. Mizpah’s current owners don’t shy away from the hotel’s bizarre fame and say that guests are welcome to interact with the friendly ghosts.
New Hampshire: Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods
The monumental New England retreat is a favorite for getting away from it all, but you could find yourself having to share a room with an unexpected guest. It’s rumored that Carolyn Stickney, wife of the resort’s original owner, has taken up long-term residence. Look out for an elegant figure in Victorian dress and listen out for light knocks at the door. Carolyn has a habit of slipping into guests’ rooms, helping herself to their belongings and then placing them back exactly where she found them.
New Jersey: The Southern Mansion, Cape May
Built in 1863, this stunning coastal villa was the country estate of the Allen family until 1946, when the last of original owner’s relatives, Ester Mercur, passed away. Her husband sold the estate with all its furnishings and it seems like Ester never really left either. Said to haunt the resort to this day, guests have reported hearing laughter and rustling petticoats as well as smelling a strong perfume waft in the corridors and feeling a ghostly presence.
New Mexico: La Posada de Santa Fe, Santa Fe
Once home to German merchant Abraham Staab and his wife Julia, La Posada de Santa Fe was at the center of New Mexico’s high society. Built in 1882, the pousada was Abraham’s dedication to his beloved wife and the legend has it that Julia was so in love with the house, she never left it. Guests report seeing weird apparitions and hearing strange whispers in suite 100 – Julia’s former bedroom. The hotel doesn’t shy away from its ghostly inhabitant and offers a special Julia Staab American Ghost Package for the bravest guests.
New York: Red Coach Inn, Niagara Falls
A Tudor-style boutique bed and breakfast, Red Coach Inn has long been the destination of choice for those after a romantic couple’s getaway. However, not all romances have ended well here. The hotel is rumored to be haunted by a bride and groom who took their own lives following their wedding. The spooky occurrences include music playing in the night, jewelry going missing from dressers and then reappearing as well as hearing footsteps walking and dancing above despite being on the top floor.
North Carolina: Green Park Inn, Blowing Rock
Sitting pretty astride the Eastern Continental Divide, there are almost certainly strange forces at work at the historic Green Park Inn, from electronic interferences to apparitions. Many think that Laura Green, the daughter of the hotel’s founder, haunts room 318 and wanders around the third floor. Apparently, she was jilted at the altar and subsequently took her own life. Her would-be groom is said to be around too.
North Dakota: Rough Riders Hotel, Medora
North Dakota’s oldest hotel, the Rough Riders Hotel, has been going since 1884 and has remained largely unchanged since Theodore Roosevelt stayed here. While the fascinating history makes it a very interesting place to visit, the many ghost stories can’t be ignored. According to reports, the hotel is haunted by a little boy who likes to cause havoc on the top floor. Guests have heard tapping on the walls, toilets flushing themselves and even a faint child-like laughter.
Ohio: Lafayette Hotel, Marietta
Although many hotels in Ohio claim to be the most haunted in the state, Lafayette Hotel will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The hauntings on the third floor are said to be so severe some of the employees even refuse to go up there. Located in Marietta, known as the first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory, the hotel dates back to 1918 and is said to be haunted by its former owner. Apparently, he likes to play tricks on guests by relocating items in the room, turning suitcases upside down and emptying shampoo bottles.
Oklahoma: Skirvin Hilton Hotel, Oklahoma City
Not many hotels have been blamed for losing a basketball game, but both the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls famously did just that, citing separate hauntings as the reason they weren’t match-fit. A famous legend claims that the original owner W. B. Skirvin used the hotel’s 10th floor to satisfy his various vices. After a night with Skirvin, one of the maids got pregnant so in an attempt to save his reputation, Skirvin locked her and the baby in a room on the 10th floor until she jumped to her death. Guests often report objects moving, doors slamming shut and hearing strange sounds in the room and the entryways.
Oregon: Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa, Hood River
Nearly a century old, the Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa undoubtedly benefits from a stunning location and has hosted a fair share of superstar guests, including Burt Reynolds and Shirley Temple as well as US presidents Calvin Coolidge and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It’s also haunted – guests have reported seeing a woman in white who is believed to have taken her own life by jumping off a hotel balcony although no proof has been found to suggest this is true. Others say they’ve witnessed a child either playing or sitting on the ground near the site of a former swimming pool.
Pennsylvania: Farnsworth House Inn, Gettysburg
Stay at this bed and breakfast and chances are you’ll encounter the spooky sights of gentlemen dressed in old-fashioned suits and ladies in Victorian finery. Is it spirits, or the leaders of the town’s ghost tours? Who can say… Either way there’s no denying this hotel’s place in history: built in 1810 it housed Confederate troops during the Civil War and you’ll still find 100 bullet holes pock-marking the walls. Due to COVID-19 masks are required to take part in a tour of the haunted cellar, where you can learn about the hotel’s connection to the death of Jennie Wade, the only civilian to die in the three-day Battle of Gettysburg.
Rhode Island: Graduate Providence, Providence
Better known to ghost hunters as the Providence Biltmore, the stunning 1922 landmark hotel has a very dark history. The inspiration behind the fictional hotels featured in the works by both Stephen King and Robert Bloch, it was financed by a well-known Satanist and later also used as a popular speak-easy among mobsters during the Prohibition. A meeting place for many illicit encounters throughout history, there’s not much the hotel hasn’t seen and guests today report regularly coming face-to-face with spirits from another world.
South Carolina: Battery Carriage House Inn, Charleston
The old-world charm in Charleston is exemplified in the romantic Battery Carriage House Inn, however, it’s not just charming, it’s also haunted. In a city that conjures up a bygone era it’s really no surprise that past and present collide. Characters glimpsed at this hotel include a threatening headless torso in room 8, a benign gentleman ghost in room 10 and a glowing entity in room 3.
South Dakota: Historic Bullock Hotel, Deadwood
Founded by sheriff Seth Bullock in 1896 during Deadwood’s heyday as a gold mining town, the Bullock Hotel is the town’s oldest hotel. One legend says that Bullock died at the hotel in room 211 however, contrary to that popular story, he passed away at his home. That hasn’t kept guests and employees from claiming his ghost still walks around the hotel ensuring everything is in perfect shape. Ghost tours are held regularly and many thrill-seekers and ghost hunting groups have spent the night here – the hotel was also featured on a Halloween Ghost Adventures special.
Tennessee: Union Station Hotel, Nashville
The focus of many ghost stories and legends through time, the Union Station Hotel’s connection to the supernatural was originally inspired by a horrific accident that took place in Nashville. Known as the Great Train Wreck of 1918, a train departing the then Union State collided head-on with another train costing at least 101 lives. It’s said that those poor souls have returned to the station, now a hotel, seeking solace. Another story relates to room 711 where a girl named Abigail likes to disturb guests.
Texas: Emily Morgan Hotel, San Antonio
A member of the DoubleTree by Hilton family and part of the Alamo Plaza Historic District, the Emily Morgan (pictured left) has only been operating as a hotel since 1984 but the building’s history stretches further back. The first skyscraper west of the Mississippi, the Emily Morgan housed a hospital, doctors’ offices and a psychiatric ward as well as a morgue and a crematorium. Today’s guests report strange sights and sounds, and even poltergeist activity, especially on the top floor – the former site of the crematorium.
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Utah: Holiday Inn Express, Salt Lake City
It’s probably the last thing you’d expect from a Holiday Inn Express but the one in Utah’s Salt Lake City has long had the reputation of being haunted. The building was formerly home to the Shilo Inn and in the 1970s a mother staying at the inn decided to take her own life by jumping off a balcony after she’d thrown over all her children. The restless spirits are said to roam around the hotel and a maintenance man reportedly said that on the 13th floor his tools moved and lightbulbs were unscrewed all on their own.
Vermont: Brass Lantern Inn, Stowe
Built in 1819, the former farmhouse is now a quaint nine-room bed and breakfast in the heart of one of New England’s most famous towns, Stowe. If you’re hoping for a peaceful sleep though, you might be in for a surprise afterparty. The inn is reportedly haunted by a rowdy group of ghosts who like to keep other guests up at night with their chatting and laughing. When previous guests have inquired about the noise, the loud rooms have been found unoccupied.
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Virginia: Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs
One of America’s oldest resorts, it’s no surprise that the 253-year-old Homestead Resort has its fair share of spooky sightings, specifically a bride that haunts the 14th floor. The story begins in the 1900s when a young woman was set to be married at the resort, however, on the day of the wedding the husband-to-be had second thoughts and left the hotel never to be seen again. Overcome with distress, the bride took her own life and her spirit keeps asking guests the time, waiting for her groom to return.
Washington: Hotel Sorrento, Seattle
If you’re after a celebrity ghost encounter in particular, the Hotel Sorrento in Seattle is a pretty safe bet. Here you’ll find Alice B. Toklas, partner of writer Gertrude Stein, roaming the halls of the fourth floor. For a particularly spooky experience, ask for room 408, said to be the most haunted or head to the Dunbar Room where Alice likes to move the glassware around.
West Virginia: The Blennerhassett Hotel, Parkersburg
Expect both a warm welcome and the chills during a stay at The Blennerhassett Hotel. Opened in 1889, the hotel quickly became a showpiece of what later would be known as the Gaslight Era when the area’s oil and gas companies boomed. Although no horrific or tragic events have taken place here, guests and staff have apparently reported sightings of restless souls that include children playing on the second floor and the suited and boot ghost of William Chancellor, the businessman who built the hotel.
Wisconsin: The Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee
The Pfister has a reputation for not letting MLB players enjoying a restorative night’s sleep. Many sports stars over the years have confirmed stories of hearing knocks and footsteps in the room, seeing apparitions and TV channels flickering. Carlos Gomez, a legendary outfielder, said: “I’m scared to go there. They should change the hotel. Everybody doesn’t like the hotel. Everything’s scary.” It’s said that among other ghosts, the hotel is haunted by Guido Pfister’s son Charles, who oversaw the hotel’s completion after his father’s death, still making sure the guests are comfortable.
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Wyoming: The Historic Occidental Hotel, Buffalo
A typical Old West hotel (note the real bullet holes in the ceiling of the bar), the Occidental has played host to many notable figures from that era, including Butch Cassidy, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill, however, its most famous guest still lingers. Referred to by the staff as Emily, it’s a mischievous spirit who is said to have been the daughter of a working girl operating out of the Bordello suite in the hotel. Emily passed away of cholera in the early 1900s and now taunts the guests by tapping on their shoulders or pulling the bottoms of their shirts.
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