The fearsome reputations surrounding certain historic – and often abandoned – places mean it doesn’t need to be Halloween for ghosts and ghouls to come crawling out of the woodwork. These three venues, where the spirits of the dead reportedly run riot in a ghastly ghostly carnival, might offer the more supernaturally minded among you some ideas for where to explore – or to stay well away from…
Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky
During the 1900s, Kentucky had one of the highest tuberculosis death rates in America. To cope with the disease, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was opened in 1926 and was at the time considered the most advanced tuberculosis hospital in the land. But by today’s standards, the cure rate was low (with most patients eventually succumbing to the disease) and experimental techniques brutal. With that sort of a record it’s no wonder this creepy abandoned hospital still sends shivers down peoples’ spines even today.
While some patients did survive the disease – and the hospital’s procedures – most left via the “body chute” (above), a tunnel built specifically for the dead that led underground from the main building to the railway at the bottom of the hill. This procedure was carried out in secret to prevent patients seeing other victims of their own likely demise. More woes befell the patients during the 1960s and 1970s, with budget cuts leading to horrifying conditions and servere patient maltreatment. Waverly Hills finally closed its doors in 1982, and fell into total disrepair over the next two decades.
The hospital eventually came to the attention of the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society, which catalogued many strange and chilling events in the abandoned building. Among the many stories, ghost hunters are said to be drawn to the fifth floor, where there was once a nurses’ station and two large rooms. One of these, Room 502, has been at the centre of much reported paranormal activity, from dark shadows moving in the windows to tales of people jumping to their deaths, and claims of disembodied voices angrily ordering thrill seekers to “get out”.
One reported spectre in Room 502 is believed to be that of a nurse who plunged five stories to her death below. Nobody knows for sure why she took her own life and to this day, the event has never been explained. But eerily, it has been speculated that she didn’t jump at all – but that she was pushed. Can it then be any wonder that her restless spirit continues to scare ghost hunters away from Room 502? If that’s not enough, here’s an uncomfortable thought: what of the spirit of the person who pushed her? Ghost hunters… beware! Read More
Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans
Saint Louis Cemetery is actually three separate cemeteries built during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The most famous and oldest was contructed in 1789, with all three known for their claustrophobic above-ground tombs, supposedly built that way because of the high ground water levels in New Orleans. And with the grand designs of the tombs, the cemeteries literally resemble – and have come to be known as – “Cities of the Dead”. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of deceased residents strolling between the graves… Perhaps you have seen them?
Unnervingly, St Louis Cemetery is believed to be the burial site, if not necessarily the final “resting” place, of the legendary Grande Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Her purported tomb is the scene of myriad Voodoo tributes today. And according to legend, the legendary Voodoo Queen herself may be awakened by anyone knocking on the outside of the grave three times (an action believed sufficient to wake the dead). The tomb must then be marked with “XXX” in chalk or brick, followed by three more knocks. Finally, the awakener must make a wish, after which an offering must be left for the Voodoo Queen.
Not surprisingly, the grave is a treasure trove of offerings from those who treat the site as a form of pilgrimage. Among them is a curious trinket known as the “monkey and the cock”. It is said that if you find one of these lying at your feet as you wander through the cemetery, you must pick it up – because it is meant for you! Read More
West Virginia Penitentiary, Moundsville
Prisons frequently appear toward the top of the most haunted list. As dark places populated by generations of evil and wretched members of society, can it be any wonder that their restless and equally dark souls are often said to linger on long after the institution has closed its doors? West Virginia State Penitentiary is no exception, claiming to be one of the most haunted prisons in America – an accolade that more than a handful can attest to…
The Gothic castle-like structure was opened in 1876 and built to accomodate a comfortable 480 prisoners. But by the 1930s, 2,400 inmates were incarcerated within its walls, meaning that as many as three people were often assigned to one tiny cell. Today it seems as though the terrible living conditions, mirroring the terrible states of mind of many former inmates, has left an indelible imprint on the facility that cannot be removed.
With its violent past, deplorable conditions and two major riots, West Virginia State Penitentiary has become a popular venue for ghost hunters over the years. Some claim the prison is plagued with “residual haunting” – defined as an ongoing replay of a tragic event from the past, which may explain why many rational people report the same paranormal phenomena across generations.
To back this theory up, there are several so called “hot spots” in the prison where an unusual amount of paranormal activity reportedly occurs. Such places include: the Chapel, shower cages, the Sugar Shack (a recreational area), Death Row and the North Wagon Gate – where death row inmates were taken to be hung before the facility introduced the electric chair.
One other area known for paranormal phenomena is the circular entrance gate which was used to separate arriving inmates from the warden’s living quarters. According to reports, the circular cage has been known to turn of its own accord, leading some to believe that the ghosts of criminals continue to arrive at the prison – or perhaps they never left! Read More. (Click here to read about the creepiest houses in the world.)