West Virginia’s Spine Chilling History



An abandon fair in one of the ghost towns of West Virginia

Mason Hammond, Writer

Many people in West Virginia have visited or at least heard of places like Fright Night, Fear on the Farm, and Miller’s Nightmare Haunted Farm. These places are popular “haunted” attractions, but have you heard of West Virginia’s real haunted places? Places like Lake Shawnee, Droop Mountain, and The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum have claims of haunting’s in their history.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in Mercer County was the location of a bloody skirmish between settler Mitchell Clay and the local Shawnee Indian tribe which ended in the deaths of 3 of Clay’s children and several Shawnee warriors. The homestead didn’t gain notoriety until 1926, when an entrepreneur named C.T. Snidow purchased the land and began developing an amusement park, a water slide, a dance hall, and a speakeasy. Despite the popularity of the park, the drowning deaths of two boys, one in the lake, which wasn’t used for swimming, and another in the pond sparked rumors of the park being cursed. However, in 1966 the death of a young girl on the swings led to Lake Shawnee’s permanent closure. In the 1990s, a discovery was made while digging that sparked new interest in the park. Approximately 3,000 Shawnee tribe graves were discovered alongside pottery and tools. Theorized to have been wiped out by the flu, most of the graves were children and the elderly. Today, it is considered a haunted place attracting thousands of visitors in hopes of spotting the spirit of a Shawnee warrior a year.

The history of Droop Mountain isn’t as beautiful as the view from the top. Located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, the battle of Droop Mountain was one of the last, yet most important battles to take place in West Virginia. With nearly 6,700 troops engaged in combat, the total casualties totaled 394. To many, Droop Mountain is more than just a battlefield. In 1920, a retired logger by the name of Edgar Walton was hiking home from work when he stopped within what is now Droop Mountain State Park to camp for the night. Walton then prepared a fire near the small cemetery which contained the graves of Confederate soldiers killed during the battle. He then heard rustling leaves and footsteps approaching him. The man looked up in shock, coming face to face with a headless apparition of a Confederate soldier. Over the years, others have reported ghostly reminders of the battle including screams, sounds of a battle, and seeing spirits of soldiers.

Once known as the Weston State Hospital, the now Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia opened its doors to patients in 1864. Built to house 250 people, the hospital reached its peak population in the 1950’s at 2,400 patients. It was a horrible place with severe overcrowding, inhumane conditions, and rampant violence. They shut down in 1994 due to a change in patient treatment guidelines. Unfortunately, many died while at Weston. The cemetery houses more than 2,000 graves. Today, it comes as no surprise that it is said to be extremely haunted. With the owners even offering overnight ghost tours where unexplainable sounds and actions take place frequently. Many also report seeing apparitions of former patients and employees roaming the halls or performing tasks that they would have done when they were alive.

Blennerhassett Hotel is the oldest hotel in West Virginia so of course it has a colorful history. A history of fires, floods, and multiple deaths in or near the hotel. Guests of the hotel have reported the elevator taking them to random floors or stopping for no apparent reason. Two of the more well-known ghosts that inhabit the hotel are none other than the former owners Harman and Margret Blennerhassett. Harman is said to lurk in room 409. He’s said to wear a dark fur coat and a bowler hat. Margret is said to be able to be spotted walking along the riverbank in a long flowing dress. There is also the ghost of an unknown woman said to be spotted in the elevator or walking into it. You can still stay at this hotel. The town of Parkersburg also offers ghost tours in October.

While haunted houses and trails can be fun to visit with friends, places like these are out there waiting to give you a true taste of horror.