Thursday, May 21, 2020

HGB Ep. 337 - French Lick and West Baden Springs Resorts

Moment in Oddity - Fake Hero Dog
Suggested by: Darren Koch

Dogs are great aren't they? They are loyal companions and smart too! Maybe too smart sometimes. Back in the early 1900s in Paris, there was a really clever Newfoundland. These are really big dogs, so it's not hard to believe that a Newfoundland could pluck a child from a river to save him or her from drowning. And that's just what happened on a particular day in 1908. This dog heard the cries of a child who had fallen into the Seine and was drowning. He jumped a hedge and plunged into the water and pulled the child to the shore. The child's grateful parents rewarded the dog with a nice juicy beefsteak. Two days after this amazing rescue, another child had fallen into the river and was drowning. The Newfoundland was off to the rescue once again and was rewarded with another beefsteak. A few days later, another child had fallen into the river and thankfully, the brave dog conducted another rescue. The people of the town were concerned at this point. This was not normal to have so many children falling into the river this close together. They assumed that a criminal was pushing the children, so they set up a sting to catch the culprit and they were shocked when they caught him. It was the dog! He figured out after the first rescue that a drowning child pulled from the river equaled a beefsteak. When he saw a child near the river, he would push the child in and then promptly rescue him or her. A hero dog that turns out to be a fake because he is causing the emergency, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - American Airlines Flight 191 Crashes

In the month of May, on the 25th, in 1979, the worst domestic air crash in U.S. history occurred. This was American Airlines Flight 191 that had taken off from Chicago-O’Hare International airport heading for its destination in Los Angeles. The plane was a DC-10 with 271 souls aboard. Flight 191 took off in its usual way and was banking into its takeoff rotation when the left engine separated from the left wing. This separation sliced into hydraulic fluid lines and as the engine flew over the top of the wing and back down to the runway, it damaged the left wing. This caused the plane to be unbalanced and it inverted with the wings past the vertical position and the nose dipped below the horizon. The plane crashed down into a field about a half-mile from the runway. This killed on 271 people on board the plane and also two people in a nearby trailer park. An investigation revealed that the engine had undergone some recent maintenance and the use of forklift to hold the engine and then return it back to its position on the wing had caused damage that resulted in the engine breaking away during takeoff. It took 32 years before a permanent memorial was made and a sixth grade class from Decatur Classical School in Chicago raised the money in 2009. The memorial was dedicated in 2011 and features the names of the victims on interlocking bricks on a 2-foot high concave wall. Last year, 2019, a special remembrance ceremony was held because it was the 40th anniversary of this tragic crash.

French Lick and West Baden Springs Resorts (Suggested by: Danielle Daniels)

When it comes to gorgeous hotels, the French Lick Springs Resort is at the top of the list and is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Indiana. Just a mile away is an even more impressive resort, the West Baden Springs Resort. This hotel was once considered one of the eighth wonders of the world. Both of these resorts shared mineral springs that were believed to have healing qualities and they both are considered two of the most haunted locations in Indiana. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the French Lick and West Baden Springs Resorts!

French Lick is a town in southern Indiana that became well known for its mineral springs. The town was originally called Salt Spring and it started as a French trading post. The name eventually changed to French Lick most likely because this had started out as a French property and there were mineral licks nearby. Apparently, back at that time, French Lick didn't have the same giggle-inducing effect. *Fun Fact: This is Larry Bird's home town* Just as was the case for Manitou Springs that was the topic of our last episode, a doctor came through the area and realized the benefits of the mineral springs there. His name was Dr. William Bowles and in 1845, he built the French Lick Springs Hotel. This original hotel was made from wood and stood three stories. He attracted hundreds of people to come from all around to partake of the healing waters of the nearby springs. In 1897, everything almost went bust when the springs dried up in a drought. Then a fire burned down the Hotel Windsor on the property.

The French Lick Hotel that stands today was built by Mayor Tom Taggart. He bought the property with a small group of investors in 1901. He put yellow French Lick brick over the wood frame. There are several architectural styles represented here with the main hotel being the Free Classic subtype of Queen Anne Victorian. There are also 19th and 20th century Revival Italian Renaissance stylings and the golf shop is a Craftsman bungalow. Architect W. Homer Floyd designed the hotel. The foundation is limestone with brick, wood, asphalt, terra cotta and metal for the walls and roof. The main building is built in a T-shape with 471 rooms. One step inside the two-story lobby and you are mesmerized. The word "gorgeous" barely does it justice. There were originally Victorian influences, but these were exchanged for the Italian Renaissance and the floors are Italian marble mosaic. There are several structural pillars and pilasters that are painted either white or painted to look like marble. There are ceiling beams embellished with dentils and modillions. Much of this dates back to a renovation done in 1911.

There is so much to the property with the main hotel building and other outbuildings and gardens, that it took 95 pages for the National Park Service to describe everything. The hotel also has a golf course that was originally designed by Donald Ross. There was a wood framed casino and bowling alley that have been demolished. Taggart was able to bring more people to the resort after convincing the Monon Railroad to build a track that made daily runs from Chicago right to the hotel. There was also a trolley line added and Taggart is responsible for bringing electricity to French Lick. He also started his own mineral springs water bottling company he called Pluto Spring and began distributing the French Lick spring water nationally. They were shipping 450 car loads on the rail lines every year. One of the taglines of the Pluto water as "When Nature Won't...Pluto Will" describing its laxative affect. There are several springs in the area and each seems to have its own mix of elements reflected in its name. For example, the Lithia Spring contains lithium oxide. *Fun Fact: Chef Louis Perrin created the first tomato juice drink in 1917 when the resort ran out of oranges and couldn't serve orange juice.*

Diane has never golfed, but Kelly used to go with her dad many times. One of the things that French Lick became well-known for is golf. Taggart hired golf course architect Tom Bendelow to design the resort's first championship golf course. They named it Springs Valley Golf Links Course and it was completed in 1910. Seven years later, golf architect Donald Ross built the second course here and it was called French Lick Springs Golf Course. This is most commonly referred to as The Hill Course. In 1924, the PGA Championship was held at this course.

We like to talk about the Roaring Twenties, at least until Covid -19 hit, and the hotel had it's own roaring feel during that decade with guests like the Rockefellers, the Studebakers sports legends, the Vanderbilts, movie stars like Lana Turner and gangsters all staying at the hotel. Before there was a Las Vegas, illegal gambling was going on in the Springs area. Taggart didn't like gambling, but he enjoyed the benefits he received from it and he protected it. Taggart died in 1929 and his son Thomas D. Taggart, Jr. took over and kept things going. The French Lick Springs Hotel rose to prominence in the 1930s when Taggart Jr. became the Democratic National Chairman and in 1931, the hotel hosted the Democratic Governor’s Conference. It would be here that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would drum up support for the party’s presidential nomination and he was elected in 1932. Taggart Jr. also hosted President Truman and his wife at the hotel.

The French Lick Hotel was sold on Nov. 29, 1946 to a syndicate out of New York City. Not long after this, the police raided the hotel and shut down the illegal gambling. This was called the Derby Weekend Raid on illegal gambling. The derby part referred to the Kentucky Derby and guests arrived back to the hotel after the festivities to find the hotel chained and padlocked. The Sheraton Corporation bought French Lick in 1955 and they remodeled, so they could target convention business. The changes they made were ugly to say the least as they covered the beautiful mosaic floors with black and white linoleum square tiles and carpet. The ornate plaster cornices were covered up too. Sheraton sold the property in 1979 to the Cox Hotel Corporation of New York. And this would be the case for years with the hotel changing ownership over and over. There would be a time in the 1980s when villas were added as part of timeshare packages.

Thankfully, Luther James had the winning bid at an auction of French Lick in 1991. He launched a restoration shortly thereafter to return the hotel to its glory days and updated all the guest rooms. When he was nearly done, he sold it to the Boykin Lodging Group in 1997 and they finished the refurbishment. The next ownership would begin in 2005, but we'll wait to tell you about that because this same person bought the West Baden Springs Resort at the same time and we haven't told you about that hotel yet. This hotel was built in 1850 by Dr. John Lane and is about a mile away from the French Lick Resort. The West Baden was originally called the Mile Lick Inn and it served the same purpose of bringing people to come bathe in and drink the healing mineral water of the springs. The name was later changed to West Baden Springs after the famous mineral springs in Wiesbaden, Germany. Dr. Lane sold the property to Lee W. Sinclair in 1888. Sinclair made several additions including a couple of golf courses, ball field, a church, opera house and double-decker horse and bicycle track. On the inner part of the track, Sinclair added a baseball field and tennis courts.

The grand hotel that stands today with the world's largest free-span dome was not the original hotel. That burned to the ground in 1901, so Sinclair built this better one and modeled it after spas found in Europe with the help of architect Harrison Albright of West Virginia. Because of that spectacular dome, this has been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Incredibly, the hotel and dome were built in less than a year using techniques that were used to build suspension bridges. That dome wasn't the only big thing about the West Baden. The fireplace in the lobby could burn 14-foot logs inside and there was a 220-foot diameter atrium. *Fun Fact: That atrium was large enough to host the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus one year.* (1918 train fire in Hammond, Indiana.) The hotel opened for business in 1902. Major league baseball teams would train here and the Chicago Cubs did that on their two runs to winning the World Series in 1907 and 1908. And my, how long it took to get back to that. Perhaps they should've trained there all along.

Lee Sinclair died in 1916 and the business passed on to his daughter, Lillian, and her husband . The hotel was leased to the military as a hospital during World War I. Lillian and her husband did some renovations after this that cost more than they expected and in 1923 they sold the hotel to Ed Ballard. And while the French Lick Resort was maneuvered deftly by Taggart Jr. through the Great Depression, the same would not happen for the West Baden. When the Stock Market crashed in 1929, the hotel emptied out almost overnight. Ballard was draining money fast and wanted to unload the property, which is just what he did. He sold the grand hotel to the Jesuits, the Society for Jesus, for...$1. The turned the hotel into a seminary and removed many of the elegant embellishments, including the four Moorish towers. They called the seminary the West Baden College and it would stay that way until 1962 when the Jesuits abandoned the property and it sat empty until 1966 when a Michigan couple bought the property and donated it to the Northwood Institute, a private college. They operated until 1985 and sold to a real estate developer who shortly thereafter declared bankruptcy and this left the property in limbo for years with litigation.

Even though the West Baden Resort managed to get listed on the National Historic Landmark register, there was no one taking care of it and the elements hit it hard. Things became so unsafe that the public was banned from entering starting in 1989 and by 1991, a portion of the exterior wall had collapsed. There was a real danger of demolition, but Indiana Landmarks stepped in to save the property and they managed to stabilize it enough to attract buyers. Minnesota Investment Partners would be that next buyer in 1994 and they optioned it to Grand Casinos Inc. But it wouldn't be until 2005, that the French Lick and West Baden would come together under joint ownership and both be developed back into the gorgeous properties that they are today. Bill and Gayle Cook and their son Carl under their partnership Cook Group, Inc. bought both properties and they invested multi-millions of dollars to renovate. This endeavor had actually started earlier when Indiana Landmarks initially started the stabilization. The Cooks funded that with $2 million.

Gambling was legal at this point and the French Lick got the last casino license in the state of Indiana. The French Lick reopened in 2006 with the addition of the French Lick Casino. The Hill Course was also refurbished and reopened and in 2007, the restoration of the West Baden Resort was completed. In 2014, trolley service was brought back and runs between the two hotels. After $600 million, the hotels are back to their former glory and it would seem that several of the spirits from that glorious past are still hanging around the property. Both of these resorts are reputedly haunted.

Before we get into that though, you know we like to talk about legends and there is one connected to the West Baden that is a bit of a mystery. The story goes that the giant medallion that is at the center of the dome when you look up, is not just a pretty embellishment. This was actually a bandstand that could go up and down. At least, that is according to some older folks who claimed to have witnessed the medallion going up and down with the help of cables and that indeed, there would be a band that was playing on that bandstand. The Springs Valley Herald looked into the claims of this descending bandstand in 1981 and they concluded that there was no way that this medallion could function that way. So what's the truth to this mystery? Did the medallion at the center of the world's eighth wonder have the ability to go up and down? There is no photographic evidence. Carl Cook investigated the claims during renovations and he found a lot of steel that was very solidily attached. There are mirrors that go all around the inner part of the medallion that are part of a light show that dates back to 1917. Before renovations, those mirrors had turned black and so it's possible that people thought they were chairs for a bandstand. But what about the eyewitnesses. Diane listened to their stories and they seemed pretty certain of what they had seen. So I guess we'll just have to leave that mystery up to you guys to decide. One thing we know for sure though is that there are angels painted up above the medallion and they watch over the atrium even though nobody can actually see them. We think they are pretty creepy. We have several pictures of them up on Instagram.

Now for the ghosts! We'll start at the French Lick Hotel. Hellanormal Investigations did an investigation at the French Lick Resort about three months ago. They had an EMF detector like ours and a spirit box that did have a few words and phrases, but it's so hard to tell if this is legit or just words and songs coming over the radio. They also had something that looked similar to a REM pod that would light green for yes, red for no and pulse blue while it waited for EMF flares. Twice when they asked if Thomas Taggart was with them, it lit up red. While we're not sure we would say they captured evidence, their chance of interacting with Taggart is a possibility according to many witnesses. He loved this hotel and that seems to be something that holds spirits to a location. It also seems to either be love of a location or tragedy at a location.

Taggart seems to like hanging out at the service elevator. The scent of tobacco is smelled near the elevator, which is attributed to him, and Taggart runs the elevator sometimes. He'll stop it on floors that haven't been called and sometimes buttons will light up on their own. People claim to see a mist near the elevator too. Strangely, witnesses have claimed to see Taggart riding a horse in the ballroom or down hallways. The ballroom has the residual sound of parties heard. A former African-American bellhop appears as a full-bodied apparition near his former work station. When guests see him and then ask about him, they will point to him in old hotel photos. Employees claim that they get phone calls from the sixth floor with no one on the other end. It is this floor that is said to be the most haunted. There are cold spots here, shadow figures and disembodied laughter. A woman killed herself on her wedding night in a room on the sixth floor and in that room is a red stain that appears in the bathtub and the cleaning staff has a hard time removing it, only to have it reappear later. Room 521 has a spirit that scatters clothing around and turns on the shower.

Ed wrote on the Ghosts of America website, "My wife and I stayed one night on the 4th floor around four years ago in May 2014. We were unfamiliar with the hotel and its reputation. A friend gave us the trip as a getaway golf outing. That night I awoke in the middle of the night (around 1 or 2 am) and heard sobbing coming from the bathroom. I figured it was Elaine, but I couldn't guess why. After a few minutes of this she reached up to the toilet stool handle and began jiggling it. Metal on porcelain makes a very distinctive sound. The room was semi-dark, the bathroom darker, and the water-closet pitch dark. I got up and went to the bathroom to ask what was wrong. I looked around the corner to the water-closet and spoke ''Elaine?'' There was no response. The sobs and noise had stopped when I got out of bed. I went back to bed and slowly reached across the mattress and found that my wife was still sleeping on the bed. I didn't get back up. I decided that I am a Christian and that if something was to happen, I was confident that all would be okay. Then I went back to sleep until morning."

The West Baden Resort is full of haunts. The crash of the Stock Market caused some people to commit suicide at the resort. There are those who claim to see residual scenes of people jumping from the higher floors. Connected to this is some evidence that has been captured over the years. There is an EVP that was captured of a female voice saying, "He's gone, it's gone." Another EVP captured a man saying, "I've lost everything." There is a female apparition that is seen in the atrium wearing a period dress that is quite elaborate. The second and third floors are said to have the most activity. There are green orbs of light that have been seen and there is an apparition of a man wearing a bowler hat that has been seen. His clothing is said to date from the early 1900s. Disembodied footsteps are heard in the hallways and guests claim to have something knock on their doors, but when they open the door, there is no one and nothing there. Shadow figures have been seen in the basement at night. And most troubling, some guests claim that they have been pushed.

Brenda wrote of her stay at the West Baden Resort on Ghosts of America website, "My husband and I just stayed a couple of nights at the West Baden Resort. The hotel is absolutely beautiful, and we really enjoyed our stay. There is an elevator right off the atrium lobby just down from where you check in. This appears to be an original elevator of the hotel. It has glass windows that overlook the dome. On several occasions when we reached the 6th floor the door would open, and there would be an overwhelming smell of roses that hit you as soon as you stepped off. There was no denying the smell, but as soon as you turned to go down the hallway towards the room the smell would disappear. I didn't think much of it at first, but this happened every time we would go to or get off this particular elevator. This only occurred in the evening hours. Never during the day. We never had this happen on any of the other elevators. We finally asked one of the staff if they had anyone else notice this, and she herself had. She indicated that one of the former owners wife had passed away, and she would always bathe in the evening and always had rose petals in her bath water. We never felt threatened or scared at the hotel, but we definitely believe there are spirits roaming the halls of this, which I will call 'the 8th wonder of the world.'"

Don wrote on the same website, "My nephew and I were walking on the lawn by the swimming pool last autumn about 10:30 pm and I had the strangest feeling and turned about and saw the shadow of a very old gentleman standing by one of the trees when we approached him he vanished. A very moving experience that neither frightened myself or my nephew but one we continue to ponder."

Apparently, there are spirits of some of the Jesuits still here too. Judith wrote, "I saw my first ghost at the West Baden Hotel when it was still Northwood Institute of Indiana. I had awakened from a deep sleep to see a figure that looked like a monk in a long robe with the hood up. The next day my roommate and I asked our security guard, Will, who was a local resident, if he had ever heard a story of one of the Jesuits having died of anything other than natural causes. The Jesuits had a college there before NI, and some are buried on the property in the little cemetery on the hill. He said there was a story of one of the Jesuits falling down the steps and breaking his neck. Our room was right by the stairs. Other than that I was never afraid my two years living there. In fact I never wanted to leave. I continued to come back and stay at the French Lick Resort and go on over fifty tours of WBS at its worst and now at its best. When the renovations on the hotel were still going on I took my daughter and two friends on a 'ghost hunting tour' on Halloween in 2002. I made the reservation for the last tour, so we would be there at midnight. While on the tour I was asked by my daughter to tell my college story. After I finished the story, one of the 'ghost hunters' said, 'ahhh, the monk.' I was really surprised because I had never heard of anyone else saying they had seen the monk. After the tour we stopped to use the restroom before leaving. We entered to see a young boy in the women's restroom, a few young people were asking questions. As they did, the lights overhead went on and off in response to the questions. They thought they were talking to Lillian Sinclair. I went on another tour in 2005 in the daytime. As we were leaving, we stopped by the restroom. As I told the story to my friend, Michele, she opened the door confidently, but as she stepped in some of the lights went out, and she hightailed it out of there, almost knocking me down. At the French Lick Springs Hotel when they were doing their renovations in 2005, my daughter's boyfriend got off on the wrong floor, and it was one that was closed off for construction. He said he saw a little boy by himself. He tried to talk to the boy, but he turned and ran away."

A hotel worker claimed to have a weird experience, "I work at the West Baden Hotel as a cleaner. After being there for a few weeks, I was cleaning the library up wiping tables when I noticed out of the corner of my eyes something moving. Out of the middle window a rocking chair was rocking on its own. Among all the other ones that were dead still across the porch; it just kept going. Wind was barely even blowing, and no one was on the porch recently. I wanted a better look, so I walked around the other side of the room losing my line of sight with it passing the first window. Then in my head thinking 'is it just gonna stop?' I looked out the 2nd window, and it has stopped. Dead stopped. Freaked me out. I made my way to exit out of one of the doors again and looked back to see if it would move again. All the sudden, one of the wall lamps started flickering faintly next to that window, and I felt my body shudder from the waist up accompanied with goose bumps. Oh god. It drove me out of there walking very fast toward the safety of the atrium. This was around 12 noon fall of this year."

Ed wrote, "I visited the hotel about 2 years ago along with my wife and daughter. My wife and I were admiring the prints of the angels (smaller copies of the paintings found inside the dome) in the main hallway. Suddenly my wife says ''stop it! ''. I turned to see her circling around with a confused look. She told me that someone had strongly tugged on her ponytail. At the time of the tugging I was standing at the other end of the row of pictures and our daughter was at least 10 feet away in a lounge chair--both of us well out of reach!"

The elevator here seems to be haunted too. Anonymous wrote, "My husband and I stayed at the West Baden Springs hotel... It's absolutely gorgeous and the service is fantastic. I told my husband that I thought the hotel was haunted. After he did the historic tour he came back and said that ghost trackers visit the hotel every year - confirming my suspicion. When we left yesterday the elevator stopped on the first floor but the door would not open. We were pressing various buttons and nothing happened... All the sudden the elevator went to the second floor - the door never opened and than by itself went back down to the first floor."

Tabitha wrote, "Two years ago my mother, myself, my daughter, and a friend of ours were staying at west Baden hotel. My daughter was 8 years old at the time and she reports seeing a full body apparition leaning over our friend it was about 5:30 am. My daughter was trying to figure out at first who was in the room. The ghost that she saw was a woman dressed in ''old time'' clothes just leaning over and looking at our friend my daughter didn't realize what she was seeing until the woman disappeared. My mother was the only other person awake and was around the corner when she came from around the corner the ''lady'' disappeared. My mom and daughter left the room and my daughter then told my mom what she had seen. I would like to add that they left me sleeping in the room!! Actually my daughter wasn't ever really afraid and after two years still tells the same story not changing anything. She now watches ghost hunters and would like taps to investigate."

There are many ghost stories connected to both of these resorts. They are gorgeous properties. Are the French Lick and West Baden Resorts haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

HGB Ep. 336 - Haunted Manitou Springs

Moment in Oddity - Fernand Arbelot Gravesite
Suggested by: Mike Streibel

In Episode 256 featuring Haunted Cemeteries 9, we covered the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. We completely missed one very interesting burial and unfortunately, there is not much known about the man who is buried there. His name was Fernand Arbelot and he was said to be an artist, architect and musician. Belgian sculptor Adolphe Wansart made this sculpture and it features Arbelot lying down on his back with his arms raised holding a replica of his wife's face and head. Legend claims that it was his desire to always be able to see her face. Due to environmental impact, her face is now streaked with what looks like tears. The monument is really kinda creepy. The memorial also features the following lines, "They were filled with wonder at the beautiful voyage, Which carried them until the end of life." Arbelot never got to see the monument as he died four years before it was completed in 1946. He had been in Paris while it was under Nazi occupation at the time and was in his early sixties and no one knows what took his life. The idea that a man so loved his wife that he wanted to gaze into her face for all eternity is touching, but to actually have that sculpted atop your burial, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Adolf Eichmann Captured

In the month of May, on the 23rd in 1960, Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was captured. Eichmann joined the Nazi's elite SS in 1932 and he rose through the ranks quickly and once Germany annexed Austria in 1938, he was assigned the duty of ridding Vienna of all its Jews. He facilitated this through a deportation center and after he was successful there, he moved onto Prague. By 1942, Hermann Goring was masterminding the "final solution of the Jewish question" and Eichmann was put in charge of coordinating the effort. He was in charge of identifying and transporting millions of Jews to Nazi death camps. After the war, Eichmann was brought in by U.S. troops, but he escaped from the prison camp and made his way to Argentina. Agents of Mossad were tipped off about his location and they kidnapped him and took him to Israel, knowing that Argentina would not extradite him. His trial would be the first to ever be televised. He was found guilty, sentenced to die and he was hanged on May 31, 1962.

Manitou Springs (Suggested by: Stacy Skelton)

Manitou Springs is a touristy town found south of Denver in Colorado that became popular in the 1890s as a health resort, with its clean mountain air and mineral springs. This was a sacred area to the Native American tribes there. Many of them believed this was a gateway to the other side. There are so many interesting legends and ghost stories connected to this town that it's hard not to believe that they might have been right. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of Manitou Springs, Colorado!

The name Manitou Springs itself just screams supernatural. Manitou means "spirit" in Native American. Aashaa monetoo means good spirit, while otshee monetoo means bad spirit. The Algonquian used Gitchie Manitou for the "Great Spirit." So it is reasonable to assume that the natural mineral springs found here must have meant something spiritual to the Native Americans who bathed in the healing waters. There are legends that the Native Americans believed that there was a vortex here. Manitou Springs is located south of Denver, just outside of Colorado Springs. Dr. Edwin James is the person credited with bringing attention to the mineral springs, outside of the Native American community, and eventually the very people who named these springs and treated them as sacred were run off. The first white man to write about the springs though was explorer Stephen Harriman Long in 1820. In 1868, men like General William J. Palmer and Dr. William A. Bell were visiting and making plans to build a resort. People from various backgrounds were flocking to the area in the 1890s. These included doctors, nurses, celebrities, tourists and tubercular patients. They built there homes in the valley here and many of them are still around today. There is so much history in this one area that it is one of the country's largest registered historic districts. 

Our listener Stacy had suggested Manitou Springs back in 2018. She wrote, "I live in Longmont, CO and grew up in (technically) Colo Springs on the far west side of the Garden of the Gods and 1 block from Manitou Springs. I LOVE the local history and would suggest a possible broadcast about Manitou Springs. It was sure creepy back in the 70’s when I was hanging out there and has certainly maintained that aura. My brother and I believe that our family home was haunted- or something otherworldly was going on there. My parents built it on a beautiful hilltop among the red rocks and overlooking Manitou. Over the years we guessed it was an ancient Native American sacred site due to the amazing views and occasional springs that would temporarily burst forth around the property.  No doubt we were probably offending someone or something...!  I remember lots of ghost stories about various Manitou Springs locations circulating while I was in high school. Manitou Springs was a Native American meeting/trading center as well as a western mecca for wealthy eastern vacationers to 'take the waters.' I’m sure the intersection of those cultural opposites would make for some colorful tales!" Stacy is right! This town is full of haunts and fun stories. The first one we want to start with would have made a great Moment in Oddity, but when we found a ghost attached to it, we decided it needed to be part of this episode.

Emma Crawford and the Coffin Races

Emma Crawford was a musical prodigy who could play multiple instruments and started practicing almost from the moment she could walk. But that is not why Emma Crawford is a well known person around Manitou Springs. Emma is famously known as the Ghost of Red Mountain and every year, the town hosts coffin races in her honor. Emma was born on March 24, 1863, in Massachusetts to a music teacher who started her daughter early on the piano. It has been said of Emma that she "liked no play thing better than to sit on the piano cover and to listen to her mother practicing Beethoven’s sonatas." By her teens, she was playing every piece of music composed by the great masters and not only played the piano, but also the mandolin, cello, viola and violin. We hear about these musical prodigies often, but Emma's story was the first in which we heard her talent credited to something supernatural. Upon Emma's death, the local paper, the Colorado City Iris wrote that Emma "is said to have acquired her remarkable masterly control of the piano from spirit instruction and is said to have never taken a lesson at mortal hands in her life." Was that true? Well, the Crawfords were Spiritualists.

While Emma seemed to be supernaturally talented with the music, she was not gifted in the area of health. She had been a sick child and that is how she ended up in Manitou Springs. Her mother had heard of the curative mineral springs there and the crisp mountain air was said to be good for the lungs. And Emma needed that air because she had tuberculosis. So Emma and her mother arrived in 1889 and rented a small frame house with a gable roof and bay windows. Emma lived on into adulthood and became engaged to William Hildebrand, an engineer from New York who was helping to build the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad. While he worked, she would go hiking on Red Mountain to build her lung strength. She loved that mountain and nicknamed it "Red Chief," in honor of American Indians and she told her fiance that she wanted to be buried there beneath a pinion pine tree on the mountain when she died. Legend claims that she tied a scarf to that tree and that she had met her Native American spirit guide up there. Emma died shortly thereafter on December 4, 1891. Her funeral was held four days later led by Reverend A.R. Kieffer, the rector of Grace Episcopal Church, who followed the desires of the Society of Progressive Spiritualists of Colorado Springs. Emma’s mother played some melodies on the piano that were described as "sweet" and "weird."

Emma's gray casket with silver handles was taken by hearse to the base of Red Mountain and twelve pallbearers carried her casket to the top of the mountain. She was buried under a tree there and her grave was covered with rocks. The burial was not deep and that would prove to be a problem. A bad rainstorm caused the mountain to break away and Emma's coffin went sliding down the mountain. Her burial was moved to Crystal Valley Cemetery and she remains there today. At least in body. Her spirit is said to have remained on Red Mountain and she continues to haunt there. And Manitou Springs honors her in a very unique way. Every year they host the Emma Crawford Wake and Coffin Races. A bunch of teams compete against each other in these races. There are five members on each team, they build a coffin, decorate it, dress in costumes with one of them impersonating Emma and four team members push the coffin in the race.

The Craftwood Inn

The Craftwood Inn was built in 1912 by Roland Bautwell in the English Country Tudor style. Bautwell was a jack of all trades working as a photographer, a coppersmith, an architect and builder. This was not a hotel when Bautwell owned it. He used it as his coppermith shop and called it Craftwood Shops. Some cool carryovers can still be found in the hotel. These are the fireplace hood and a couple of lamps. The Craftwood transformed into a restaurant in 1940 that was a real hotspot and boasted patrons like Lawrence Welk, Cary Grant, Bing Crosby and Liberace. The Craftwood was then renovated to become a hotel in 1988. During this renovation a door that had been sealed shut was opened and some really interesting stuff was found. There were old photographic plates, a mirror, metal works and engravings. It was almost as if the opening of that door set free an old pioneer spirit. This presence has been experienced by guests who feel it roaming the halls.

A former waitress at the Craftwood named Karen Deeds said, "There's definitely, absolutely, positively something there. I don't see it, but I feel it and most of the people who have worked here over the years have had some sort of experience with it. Our chef, who's 300 pounds, is totally afraid of this ghost. Everyone who feels it says it's friendly but if I need to go up by the attic alone, I run. There's two flights of stairs and I come down without touching a stair. I get goose bumps from the tips of by toes to the top of my head and I can't stop it. My heart rate goes up. It's intense. One night, everyone was feeling it. We have five phone lines and they were all lit up but there was no one there. We're all trying to shut them off and they wouldn't go off. Everyone was looking over their shoulders all night."

Onaledge Bed and Breakfast

Roland Bautwell built this beautiful Arts & Crafts style estate also in 1912 as well. This is where he lived. Frank Yount became the next owner of the property. He was a millionaire who made his money in oil and a greenstone quarry. He used the house as a guesthouse for his other house, The Rockledge Estate. Eventually the Onaledge became a Bed and Breakfast and from my searching, it seems to be permanently closed at this time. The main sitting area has a fireplace with several exposed wood ceiling beams running along the ceiling. The dining room was gorgeous with a full wooden ceiling and fireplace that looks like it belongs in a mountain lodge. 

Brett Maddox had been an Executive Director of the property, he told the Huffpost, "The Onaledge House is the one that has the greatest amount of activity and the most interest. We have anywhere from five to I’ve heard as many as a dozen entities down there. The common threads are a little boy in a little blue suit, the lady in a pastel Victorian dress and there’s the older gentlemen, as someone described to me as ‘wearing a jacket and a puffy tie,’ and I get the visual of a smoking jacket and an ascot tie, and from time to time you will smell pipe tobacco in there."

A former housekeeper shared her experiences with Odd Inns, "I was working as a housekeeper. One of my jobs was cleaning the Onaledge Bed and Breakfast in Manitou Springs. I was told by several Manitou Springs residents about the 'Ghost of Stu,' who resided at the Onaledge. Stu was a happy ghost. I was skeptical of Stu's existence. That is, until one day when Stu made himself known to me in a most peculier way. He whistled a tune, but I can't recall what it was, only that it didn't scare me. It just sort of startled me and I stopped dead in my tracks. The following week when I returned to Onaledge I had my second, and what would turn out to be my last, meeting with Stu. As I was mopping the kitchen floor, all of the sudden my bucket of mop water was kicked over and the contents were spread across the floor. It didn't take me long to realize it was Stu and I high-tailed it out of their. I jumped in my car as quickly as I could and never returned. I don't know if Stu finished mopping the kitchen or not. To this day I am believer in Stu. From what I understand, Stu died in the house in the 1930s from tuberculosis. The owners of Onaledge claim to have had several experiences with Stu as well. Stu appeared on their daughter's wedding photo. They also claim that Stu liked to whistle when they were in the house. I have been told that Stu is one of many ghosts in Manitou Springs. But not all of them are as carefree as Stu."

The Avenue Hotel 

The Avenue Hotel, which is located at 711 Manitou Avenue is a Queen Ann style Victorian B&B that started off as a hotel built in 1886. The hotel started as two stories and eventually became three stories and features a beautiful fireplace made from the unique green sandstone from the area. This location later became a boarding house, apartment building, a lodge and then a private residence. Grays Avenue Hotels bought the property in 1984 and renovated it into the Bed and Breakfast and it was the first in Manitou Springs. The B&B is currently owned by Innkeepers Gwenn David and Randy Hodges. Former Innkeeper, Kevin Abney claims that the place is haunted and he has heard several unusual stories from guests. He said, "This old house has lots of odd noises. Several guests have expressed different events. The most noted was a long term guest that said every time his girlfriend came over the tapestry in his room would fall off the wall. We also had a local ghost hunter come and do his thing here for a book he is writing. He said we have one lady ghost that spends most of her time in the kitchen but travels all over the B&B. He said she was a friendly ghost and that she wants people to be comfortable. He felt because of her strong desire to comfort that she may have been a previous innkeeper. This was built as a railroad hotel in 1886 so who knows. Manitou has a big reputation on its ghostly reputation and it is just an over all wonderful place to visit." Other investigators claim to have found that a young boy and girl spirit are here as well as a former coachman who had worked at the hotel.

Briarhurst Manor

The name really matches the look of this place. Briarhurst Manor seems like it would be right at home in a country glen, perhaps in the UK. This is a beautiful Tudor manor house built from the red rocks that are found here. The location was perfectly chosen as it offers views of the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. This original home here was built by Dr. William Bell for himself and his wife Cara and construction was completed in 1876. The doctor was from London and he decided to move to the West after visiting to conduct lectures. He initially worked for the railroad as a photographer and that is where he met General William Palmer. As you heard earlier in the episode, these two men would found Manitou Springs and turn it into a health resort town. They also established the Denver to Rio Grande Railroad. Dr. Bell and Cara had four children and they were becoming very wealthy as they invested in more businesses. But tragedy struck for the Bells in 1886 when their house burned to the ground. They decided to move back to England, but eventually returned and rebuilt their home and that is what stands on the site today. They went bigger and more decorative with this one and it is fun to wander around the manor to find all the unique elements that include gargoyle rain drains outside and a bubbling brook inside. The interior was constructed from carved wood - the staircase is gorgeous with carved inlays and banisters - and featured a schoolroom, library and conservatory.

The Bells lived here until 1920 when they returned to England for good and a son named Archibald was left in charge and he eventually sold it. The manor then had a bit of a sordid period where it served as a bar and brothel. Vida and Robert Ellison bought the house next and filled it with their collection of Southwest Indian artifacts that included Native American mummies that were stored in the basement. You know, the cellar were the fruit and other dried goods were kept. An RV park wanted to demolish the house later, but it was saved by a restaurateur. This house was a social center in its heyday and today it continues to be a place that hosts social events like weddings and parties. The restaurant that is located here features the finest in Colorado Cuisine with wonderful views, surrounded by gardens.

The manor also features ghosts. There are many stories from both employees and guests and they have been telling them for years. The most amazing one came out of a presentation that had 100 in attendance. Nearly everyone in the room watched as a vase flew off of a table across the room and breaking apart. There was no one near the vase, so it was not thrown or hit by a living human. When the second floor underwent a complete remodel, it was also wired with a security system. One evening, the system went off and the police showed up to search the manor. They found no sign that anyone had broken inside and no one was inside, but the motion sensors definitely revealed that something had been traveling through the rooms. The strangest stories claim that there is a female skeleton that floats through the garden. There are no reports of malevolent activity, more mischievous. Silverware spins on plates and one night when a manager was locking up, she had a weird experience with the lights. She turned them off as she made her way to the front parlor. When she got to the parlor, all the lights turned back on by themselves. What makes this really weird is that the lights are on different circuits and it would take ten different people working in unison to make that happen.

The Bell children had a playroom in the attic and people still hear children up there playing. There is laughter and the sound of running. When Ghost Hunter's investigated, they captured an EVP of a child's voice. A red-haired girl's apparition has been seen playing on the front lawn with a ball and she is wearing period clothing with a bonnet on her head. Another interaction with a child-sized ghost happened during a renovation in 1973. A contractor came in the early morning hours and found dusty white footprints the size of a child's shoe with high heel and pointed toe similar to something worn in the Victorian era. It was as though a child had walked through the plaster dust and left the footprints, but the house was locked up tight, so it was not a living child.

A TV station joined a paranormal investigation group named PURE around eight years ago to investigate the manor. The video features an EMF detector going off, a flashlight turning on by itself and the sound of a glass breaking. When the group went to see what caused the crash, they found broken glass on the bar next to the wine glasses, but no broken glass. As the reporter tells the story, he says that a team member thought he saw a hand near the bar at the time that the sound of the broken glass was heard. The reporter's camera that had a fully charged battery went dead at the same time as they heard the breaking glass. Erik Wright, a local historian, claims that in 2008 he had a weird experience. He said, "I had something come up next to me when I was in the office. It kind of grabbed a hold of me and pulled me down the hallway." People claim that the spirits seen here belong to Cara Bell and her daughter Hyacinth.

Miramont Castle

The land where Miramont Castle is located was owned by a company run by Manitou Springs founder General William Palmer. The company owned it from 1871 to 1882 and sold it to the city of Manitou. But even before that, the property reputedly belonged to an infamous character named Colonel John Chivington. You may recognize that name if you know the history of the Sand Creek Massacre. This guy was an ordained Methodist pastor who lead his U.S. Army troops against what he described as a revolt by Indian foes. Congress' Joint Committee on the Conduct of War described it as such, "As to Colonel Chivington, your committee can hardly find fitting terms to describe his conduct. Wearing the uniform of the United States, which should be the emblem of justice and humanity; holding the important position of commander of a military district, and therefore having the honor of the government to that extent in his keeping, he deliberately planned and executed a foul and dastardly massacre which would have disgraced the veriest savage among those who were the victims of his cruelty. Having full knowledge of their friendly character, having himself been instrumental to some extent in placing them in their position of fancied security, he took advantage of their inapprehension and defenseless condition to gratify the worst passions that ever cursed the heart of man. It is thought by some that desire for political preferment prompted him to this cowardly act; that he supposed that by pandering to the inflamed passions of an excited population he could recommend himself to their regard and consideration." Chivington apparently owned this plot of land from 1862 to 1867. The massacre took place in 1864.

The land was eventually purchased by Father Jean Baptist Francolon and he decided to build a grand home for himself and his mother here. And this place is certainly grand stretching out over 14,000 square feet and four stories. This castle is really unique in that it features nine different styles of architecture. These include Byzantine, English Tudor Revival, shingle-style Queen Anne, domestic Elizabethan, Flemish stepped gables, Venetian Ogree, Moorish, half-timber Chateau and Romanesque. Construction was started in 1895 and completed in 1896 and was designed by the Father himself. He loved architecture and that is why so many elements were incorporated. He contracted the Gillis Brothers, Archie and Angus, to build it along with William Frizzell who quarried the native green sandstone from which the castle was built. This is the only place where you can find that and it looks much like red stone, but it has green incorporated in it, which is sometimes hard to see.

The east section of the castle was added in 1897. The castle had indoor plumbing and electricity, which was very unique at the time, and the walls were two feet thick. The interior doors feature archways and there is rich wood trim throughout. The name Miramont means "look at the mountain." Eventually the Sisters of Mercy joined Father Francolon in starting a tuberculosis sanitarium here called Montcalm Sanitarium where they offered good food, fresh clean air and relaxation. TB huts were used throughout the property and they still have one there on display. When TB was eradicated, the Sisters of Mercy used Miramont Castle as a high-end boarding house. This ran from 1928 to 1946. The castle is today owned by the Manitou Springs Historical Society and they offer historical tours of the museum and special teas in their tea room. There are many different artifacts here including antique firefighting equipment, Victorian furniture, an exhibit on the Nuremburg Trials and other military memorabilia.

Miramont Castle hosts a re-enactment wake for Emma Crawford and it is an opportunity to share Victorian grieving customs. That's very appealing to us, but even more appealing is that this castle is reputedly haunted by up to ten spirits. Two of those ghosts are said to belong to a couple dressed in Victorian era garb who have been seen coming down the main staircase. There is a little girl spirit who hangs out in the gift shop near the porcelain dolls and one day a cashier saw her holding one of the dolls and when she told the little girl to put down the doll and go get her mother, she simply disappeared. Another spirit is said to belong to a nun who is rumored to have hung herself in the castle. She tied a noose to a radiator and threw herself out the window. Interestingly, her spirit usually shows up missing the head.

There is a creepy antique doll room up on the fourth floor and the disembodied voice of a little girl has been heard in this area. Jennifer Walters, an employee at the castle, told Fox 21 News in 2014 about an experience she had in a guest room that has, get this, sixteen walls. She was flipping off lights in the hallway and she noticed a figure standing outside of a door to this room that has a window in it. At first she thought it was a board member or even her husband and she looked again and noticed that it was a gentlemen with dark hair and a red and white checkered work shirt that she did not recognize. The reporter she was telling the story to asked what she did then and she said she just kept on walking down the hallway. She said she has never gotten a bad vibe from anything there.

Employees tell stories of mopping floors and when they turn around, they find items sitting in the middle of the floor that they had just cleaned. Made beds are rumpled by something not seen. Two spirits belonging to nuns who had worked here are said to wander the halls and there are also claims that a Native American spirit has been seen on the property.

Manitou Springs seems to have an innate spiritual essence to it and clearly the Native Americans in the area believed that. Are these locations in Manitou Springs haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

HGB Ep. 335 - St. Albans Sanatorium

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Moment in Oddity - Oran Asa Pruitt Falls Out of Plane Into Cemetery
Suggested by: Mike Streibel

We've all had that nightmare where you are falling through the sky, but imagine if it was not a nightmare. This is what happened to Oran Asa Pruitt in 1956. He and his wife Blandene Smith were newlyweds who had met while working at a hotel together in North Carolina. They arrived at the Charlotte Airport on June 13, 1956 with plans to leave on their honeymoon, but they had not prepared properly and they arrived late. They could not board their flight, but were given another one leaving at 5:44pm for Asheville. They got the last two seats aboard a Piedmont N45V, a DC3, known as the "Tidewater Pacemaker." The airplane was piloted by Captain Baxter Slaughter and experienced a tragedy in the skies over Shelby, N.C. as it cruised at 6,500 feet. Blandene was not feeling well and so Oran got up to get her some water. He found the lavatory door at the rear of the plane locked, so he tried the other door back there, which happened to be a cabin door. The Purser felt the change in pressure and went to the cockpit to get the co-pilot to help him with closing the door. They found a terrified woman trapped in the lavatory because she needed to walk past the open door to return to her seat. The two men locked arms to form a chain and pulled the woman to safety, but they couldn't close the door. The plane continued on to Asheville. When it landed and people started investigating, they found heel marks on the side of the plane indicating that Mr. Pruitt had hung on for a while. Witnesses in the area where he eventually landed, reported hearing his screaming. He was more than likely alive for most of the fall. The place where Pruitt's fall ended was ironically Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Cleveland County. To memorialize the fall, a small monument was placed in the spot where Pruitt landed. He was buried at another cemetery. He was the first Piedmont passenger to die in their eight years of prior service. No one knows why Pruitt opened that door. Was it an accident, was he drunk or had a fight he was having with his wife caused him to act in a drastic way? Whatever the case may be, a man falling out of a plane and landing in a cemetery, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Penny Black Stamp is Issued

In the month of May, on the 6th, in 1840, the Penny Black was issued. The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp to be used by a public postal system. The name came from the fact that the background of the stamp was black and it cost a penny, thus the Penny Black. The face of the stamp featured a profile of Queen Victoria, which was engraved by Charles Heath and his son Frederick. They based their design on a sketch done by Henry Corbould inspired by an 1834 cameo-like head made of Queen Victoria by William Wyon. The stamp was embellished in the corners with Maltese crosses with solar discs radiating out in the center. The Penny Black made it possible to mail things at a flat rate rather than the usual where the recipient paid upon delivery. The stamp was only used for a year because it was hard to see the red cancellation stamp over the black and people were able to re-use the stamps. In February 1841, the Penny Black became the Penny Red and black ink was used to cancel them, which was harder to remove and thus the stamps weren't re-used.

St. Albans Sanatorium (Suggested by: Whitney Zahar)

St. Albans Sanatorium, in Virginia, started out as a Lutheran Boys School before becoming a psychiatric infirmary. As was the case with so many hospitals for the mentally ill, this one started out with promising expectations that unraveled into crowded conditions and abusive treatments. There were deaths and suicides. There is so much paranormal activity at this location, that many refer to this as one of the most haunted places on the East Coast. Join us, and our listener Whitney Zahar, as we delve into the history and haunts of the St. Albans Sanatorium!

Radford, Virginia is located in the Shenandoah Valley and was named for Dr. John B. Radford, but that name wasn't the original. This town had been Lovely Mount and started with a few settlers and stayed a small village until the railroad was built and the town grew. Once the depot was established, the name was changed in 1891. Radford was a railroad town and then it became a hotbed for manufacturing with creameries, preserve plants, piping plants and an ice company. This is where the St. Albans Sanatorium would be built. But before that, the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain would take place in Dublin, Virginia, which was just a few miles away. The ridge that St. Albans would call home proved to be the perfect spot from which the Union could fire off artillery on the Confederate forces of Brigadier General Albert G. Jenkins. This battle finally went to hand-to-hand combat and was fiercely fought for about an hour, ending with the Confederates retreating. Jenkins died later from a wound he received during the battle. The Union had 688 casualties while the Confederate's had 538, some of whom were killed by a fire that broke out on the battlefield.

St. Albans Sanatorium was originally meant to be a Lutheran Boys School and was built in 1892. George W. Miles was the Headmaster and his goal was to help the students to grow to be "future southern gentlemen." The high standards caused a lot of hazing and this inevitably ended up with suicides and even some homicides. The school eventually closed in 1905. Dr. John C. King bought the building for $500 of his own money, plus $16,000 in borrowed funds. He renovated the buildings to become a sanatorium and opened it on January 15, 1916. There were 56 acres and like many other sanatoriums and asylums, this was its own community with a farm, dairy herd, chickens and much more.

Patient numbers increased and by 1945, the hospital had treated 6509 patients. St. Albans eventually became a fully recognized hospital in 1960 and in the 1980s it became a private, full service psychiatric hospital. The hospital eventually relocated to new buildings and the property went to the Radford University Foundation in 2004. The oldest building was slated for demolition in 2007, but was saved by a group of concerned citizens. The next owner of the property was Tim Gregory and he transformed the place into the Research and Enlightenment Center. St. Albans was then opened for tours and that is what it does today, also hosting overnight paranormal investigations.

There is a lot of paranormal activity reported here and Whitney Zahar shared some cool experiences. Is St. Albans Sanatorium haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

HGB Ep. 334 - The Murder and Haunting of Helene Knabe

Moment in Oddity - Aliens Turn Soviet Soldiers to Stone

When the Soviet Union crumbled, many of its KGB documents found their way into public spaces. One such document that I found at from their reading room shares an event reported by the KGB that is unbelievable if true. The KGB materials claim that a low flying spaceship in the shape of a saucer appeared above a Soviet military unit that was out doing maneuvers in Siberia. The group fired a missile at the UFO and brought it down. Five humanoid looking creatures that were short with large black eyes and bulbous heads, exited out of the downed UFO. This is already really weird, but it gets even more bizarre. These men were attacked by the aliens and all were killed, but two. These two claimed that the five aliens merged into a single object that was spherical shaped and then began to buzz and hiss and glowed a bright white. That light seemed to flare and explode and the soldiers that were exposed to it were pertrified. Twenty-three men were turned to stone that proved to be the same composition as limestone! The busted UFO and petrified men were taken away to a secret lab in Moscow. This CIA document also claimed that there are photographs to go with the report and one CIA agent said that this was "a horrific picture of revenge on the part of extraterrestrial creatures, a picture that makes one's blood freeze." The report doesn't say what happened to the aliens, but clearly they had no ship to take them away. Aliens morphing into a weapon that turns humans to stone is not only terrifying, it certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The 1974 Super Outbreak

In the month of April, on the 3rd and 4th, in 1974, 148 tornadoes ripped through much of America, earning the name "The 1974 Super Outbreak." Spring is the time of year when these storms rip through the Midwest. An outbreak is typically categorized as 6 to 10 twisters and there can't be a break of more than 6 hours between reported tornadoes. This would be the second-largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period. It was actually the largest until 2011. It has always been the most violent. Thirteen states were effected: Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, and New York. Ontario in Canada was also hit. Thirty of the twisters hit the upper categories of E4 and E5 and caused roughly $843 million in damages, which would be $4.6 billion today. This was dwarfed in 2011 when that super outbreak had 362 tornadoes. That also occurred in April.

The Murder and Haunting of Helene Knabe (Suggested by Michelle Rooney)

Helene Knabe was ahead of her time. She became a doctor in the early 1900s and her specialty was in treating sexually transmitted diseases. She lived in the Delaware Flats in Indianapolis, Indiana and this is where she would breathe her last. Helene was murdered and to this day, the identity of her killer is a mystery. And that may be why her spirit is at unrest. Join us as we share about the history of the Delaware Flats, the life of this amazing woman and her tragic murder. 

Indianapolis had a street car system that helped get people living in the outer edges of town into town for work. The Delaware Flats apartments were located with a block of similar apartments in the 400 and 500 blocks of North Delaware Street. These apartments were designed by architect Charles A. Wallingford and completed in 1902. The Delaware Flats is three stories tall with a basement and low-pitched roof and was done in the Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical architecture style. There were eighteen, five bedroom flats. In 1911, contractor Lynn Millikan purchased the Delaware Flats for $46,250. That same year, Dr. Helene Knabe would be murdered in the Delaware Flats.

Dr. Helene Knabe was born in Ruegenwaelder-Munde, Germany, Prussia, which is now part of Poland in 1875. This was a time of struggle for power in Prussia with the monarchy receiving a lot of push back. This was also a time of not much freedom for women and when Helene decided that she wanted to become a doctor, she knew she was going to have to go somewhere else because Prussia would not allow it at the time. Here early life had been a very tough one. Her father had left her mother when she was still a baby and then her mother passed away and so she was raised by her uncle. So in 1896, she moved to Indiana because she had heard that women could go to medical school there, but she needed to make some money and learn English. So she spent four years as a seamstress and doing household things for the upper class and in turn they taught her English. She entered Butler University to prepare for medical school in 1900 and later that year she attended the Medical College of Indiana. The courses were tough, but she maintained above a 75% grade and dissected every body part presented to her even as she continued to work to pay for her education.

The professors were so impressed with her that one of them placed her as curator of the pathology museum and eventually she was instructing some underclassmen. Obviously, since this was the early 1900s, it was unheard of for a woman to be teaching men and many did not like this, so we think that says something about her. Not only was she so successful that her professors pushed back against this resistance, but she also was that good at being a doctor. She graduated as one of only two women in 1904. People described her as a vanguard and this was only one of the reasons. Dr. Knabe was a bit of an artist and she started providing illustrations to medical books and she continued to work as curator of the museum. And even though she wasn't paid to do this, she worked as a professor at the school. In 1905, she became the first woman to be appointed as a deputy state health officer in Indiana.

She was a pioneer in Indiana when it came to rabies too. This newspaper article from the Palladium in July of 1906 highlights this part of her career:

Dr. Knabe became the Superintendent for the State Board of Health in 1908 and she left the board shortly after that to start her own community practice where she offered services many times for bartered goods. The doctor worked with a variety of epidemics and pushed for better sanitation. And although she was expected to do more, she was never paid what she was worth. But she loved this and her passion had her traveling all of Indiana recommending sanitation practices and educating. Part of that education was in sex education, which was very taboo at the time. There were many who were outraged that she was teaching about sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent them. She focused much of her efforts in communities with People of Color. There were some other things that she was outspoken about that probably put her in the crosshairs. When she left the State Board of Health she said that they "expected an employee in the laboratory to have a man’s brain, but be paid a woman’s salary."

A brilliant career came to a tragic and gruesome end on October 25, 1911. Dr. Helene Knabe was found murdered in the Delaware Flats by a colleague named Katherine McPherson. Dr. Knabe had a slit to her throat that was clearly dealt by not only a strong person, but this killer had skill with a knife. The killer had started on one side of her throat, taking care not to cut her carotid artery, and continued to the other side of her throat, pressing deeply and hitting her spine. The doctor then choked to death on her own blood. She had a bruise on her thigh that suggested a struggle. The coroner ruled that she had been murdered, but the police initially dismissed this and went forward with this as a suicide. They actually believe that she had slit her own throat in this way. Nothing had been stolen from the flat, except for a silk kimono that the doctor had been wearing, and the murder weapon was missing. Which clearly means we had no suicide here.

The police didn't have much to go on when they finally decided to pursue this as a murder. To complicate matters, McPherson had waited almost an hour before calling police and the crime scene had been contaminated by several people. The first person they treated as a suspect was a witness who was a black janitor who lived below her. His name was Jefferson Haynes and he lived in the basement with his daughter and a housekeeper. He told the police that he heard footsteps above him and three screams, but that he was too afraid to investigate. They decided to arrest him and hold him, but they could find no motive other than their own bias. So they released him.

Another theory was presented that perhaps a man having an extramartial affair had killed the doctor to silence her. This theory was put out in an article by the Brazil Daily Times on October 27, 1911:

In April of 1912, a sailor came forward claiming that he had slit the throat of Dr. Knabe. His name was Seth Nichols and he claimed that he had been paid to kill her for $1,500. Whoever this person was, he had joined Nichols at the Delaware Flats and watched as Nichols killed the doctor. The police listened for a while and the sailor did have a sister in Indianapolis, but they eventually decided he was lying. Although, Nichols wife did die in a similar way. A favorite spot for Dr. Knabe to visit in the few hours when she wasn't working was the German Cultural Center called Das Deutsche Haus. This is today the Athanaeum and the Rathskeller and one of the places said to be haunted by the doctor's spirit. She had gotten into a heated debate with a man at the center and some people thought this carried over into the murder. Had he killed her because of the fight? The police eventually tossed out this lead as well.

The case was growing cold at this point and a group of female doctor friends of Dr. Knabe, hired a private investigator. This was Detective Harry Webster and based on his research the police had another suspect. The police arrested Dr. William B. Craig. This was a local man with a successful veterinarian practice. He also had being Dr. Knabe's fiance. Their romance was not a well-known fact, which seems weird. Those that did know about it claimed it was volatile. The story goes that the engagement was called off a few days before the murder and that Dr. Craig planned to marry another woman.  Nobody really knew about the engagement, but Dr. Knabe had ordered a dress. When the police talked to his maid, she told them that Craig had left the morning after the murder with a bundle of stuff that the police thought was evidence. And she had also heard Dr. Knabe and Dr. Craig arguing. An undertaker named Alonso Ragsdale was found to have the bloody silk kimono that Dr. Knabe had worn while she was murdered and he claimed that Dr. Craig had paid him to remove the kimono from the scene. Both men were charged and the prosecutor claimed that the neck wound pointed to a veterinarian as the murderer because it was similar to a "sheep nick" or "sheep cut."

There was not much evidence, not even circumstantial. A bloody fingerprint in Dr. Knabe's apartment was never taken for evidence. Obviously, fingerprinting was pretty new at this time, but it still was something being used. Witnesses left town and disappeared and the housekeeper refused to testify. Did they not subpoena people back at this time? Due to lack of any real evidence, both Alfonso and Dr. Craig were acquitted. The main thing that became very clear through the investigation and prosecution is that Dr. Knabe was treated more like someone who deserved what she got than a victim. Was this just a random act of violence or was she targeted for being a strong-willed woman who demanded to be treated as an equal and believed in teaching people how they could safely keep themselves healthy in their environment and when having sex? Or was she targeted for being a lesbian? There are those who believe that she preferred the love of women and she was considered masculine. No one was ever convicted and the case remains unsolved to this day. Dr. Knabe was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis in an unmarked grave. Her case file was destroyed in a flood in 1977. In 2016, Nici Kobrowski published the book, "She Sleeps Well: the Extraordinary Life and Murder of Dr. Helene Elise Hermine Knabe." In it, she concludes that Dr. Craig was indeed the killer. The author also paid for a headstone for Dr. Knabe. That's awesome!

After the murder, Lynn B. Millikan decided to rebrand the Delware Flats as a hotel. This would be Hotel Barton with a main lobby, kitchen and dining room on the first floor. Renovations included fireplaces, decorative mirrors and egg-and-dart molding to the lobby and some guest rooms and adding decorative mirrors and fire places. Since the basement could not be used for rooms, Millikan turned it into a commercial space. The hotel changed its name to Barton House Hotel in the early 1960s, but the hotel was on its way out and by 1966, it was a nursing home. The Salvation Army eventually turned it into low-income housing. And through all of this, there were stories of unexplained things happening. The first floor here is incredibly haunted. Dr. Knabe's spirit has been seen here, particularly in the area where her apartment had been located. But in other areas, residents complain of lights turning on and off by themselves and disembodied footsteps are heard nearly everywhere.

As we mentioned before, Dr. Knabe enjoyed hanging out at the Das Deutsche Haus, which is today the Athanaeum. This place reminds us of the Cuban Club inside. The doctor loved dancing and eating here, but this was also a location where medical classes were conducted as well as autopsies. The autopsies and dissections were stopped overtime when there was a grave robbing scandal that was revealed. In 1902 alone, 315 bodies were stolen in three months and two dozen people were arrested. It was such an issue in Indianapolis that when John Dillinger was buried there in 1934, his family had several tons of concrete poured on top of his burial to keep grave robbers out. The Athanaeum is located at 401 E. Michigan Street and was built from 1893 to 1898 in the Romanesque style. It's a gorgeous red brick building with flattened columns on the front of the building, pillars and arches. There was a gymnasium, bowling alley, ballroom, restaurant and, of course, beer hall. A fireplace inside features Dante's Inferno. Today, the restaurant is now The Rathskeller and a YMCA occupies the gymnasium and there is the Basile Theater. The new version of the Ghost Hunters visited this location in October of 2019.

The president of the Athenaeum Foundation is Craig Mince and he said, "Since my first day on the job, all I've heard about from the staff and tenants of the Athenaeum are stories of all the spirits that call the building home,” Mince said in a statement. “Me being a bit intrigued, and a tad scared, I felt like I wanted to know more about the spirits and their stories. Having heard that A&E was resurrecting 'Ghost Hunters,' I felt like there was no better team of folks to help us get to the bottom of this mystery." Shannon Poole who works in the building described to the Ghost Hunters her experience of seeing a shadowy ghost from the neck and shoulders up. Craig told Greg and the crew that people feel very uncomfortable in the attic where costumes used to be stored. There was no explainable EMF in this area. A spirit in there did use the EMF to communicate with the crew.

There are ghost tours that go inside the building too and have even hosted overnights in October. One of these tours is hosted by Unseen Press, which is co-owned by Michael and Nici Kobrowski. They claim that people have seen shadow figures in the theater and heard disembodied whispers. A dancing couple has been seen on the stage in the theater and the woman is always wearing a blue dress. Paperwork goes missing and tables that were set and ready for service the night before are found unset the next day. One of the spirits here is believed to belong to a man named Jolly Werner who had been drinking too much and fell into the fireplace and died. He is generally seen in the restaurant. And, of course, the restless spirit of Dr. Knabe has been seen here as a full-bodied apparition in the east section on the first and second floors. She was seen in the building as soon as two weeks after her death. Back to that EMF communicating in the attic, the crew asked if it was a female and it confirmed twice that it was female. The spirit also confirmed that it taught about health and that it was a teacher and a doctor.

What happened to Dr. Helene Knabe was horrible. She was in the prime of her life, only 35, and she had been incredibly successful in her career when someone robbed her of that life. No one was brought to justice. This would definitely cause a spirit to be restless. Is Dr. Knabe's ghost haunting these two locations? That is for you to decide.

Show Notes:
Great article on Dr. Knabe:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

HGB Ep. 333 - Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

This episode sponsored by Kobo Audiobooks, check out and use code HISTORY40 for 40% off and also by the History or His Story Podcast at

Moment in Oddity - The Mystery of Skeleton Lake

In 1942, a British troop in Roopkund, India made an alarming discovery that came to be known as the Mystery of Skeleton Lake. And that is just what they found. A lake full of skeletons, only this lake was frozen. This lake was 16,000 feet above sea level and set at the bottom of a small valley. The troop waited for the summer thaw to investigate it properly and they were left with two big questions: what year were they from and what killed some 200 people? Since the war was on, many suspected that these were Japanese soldiers who were sneaking through the air and died of exposure. Archaloegists studied the bones and found they they were much older, so the skeletons could not belong to Japanese soldiers. The dry, cold air had preserved the bones and scientists found that they dated to around 850 AD. Now they needed to figure out what had killed these people. Was it some kind of exposure? Had there been an epidemic? Was there a natural disaster? Was this some kind of weird death ritual? Modern DNA tests helped scientists to figure out that these were two different ethnic groups and based on clothing and items found nearby, that this was probably a traveling group of people who were being lead by a hired group of local guides. Studying the skulls revealed little deep cracks and the only other wounds found were on the shoulders, leading experts to believe that the blows came from above. But it didn't seem that weapons had made the wounds. This was probably a weather event and based on stories we hear about baseball-sized hail stones, it's easy to believe that being out in an open valley during one of these storms, could lead to massive head trauma. That is what scientists concluded. And an old Himalayan folk song lends some credence to that theory because its lyrics describe a goddess raining death down on those who defile her mountain with hailstones that were as "hard as iron." Finding a large group of skeletons frozen in a lake some 1,800 years after a hailstorm killed them all, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Hank Aaron Beats Babe Ruth's Home Run Record

In the month of April, on the 8th, in 1974, Hank Aaron hits his 715th career home run. Aaron was born in 1934 in Mobile, Alabama to a poor family. He practiced by hitting bottle caps with a stick and made balls and bats out of anything he could find laying around. Aaron dreamed of being like his hero Jackie Robinson and just like Robinson, when he finally made it into the Negro American League in 1951, he experienced some overt racism. For three months, he played for the Indianapolis Clowns and then he got two offers from the MLB, one from the Boston Braves and the other from the New York Giants. He went with the Braves because they offered hom $50 more a month. His teammates called him "Pork Chops" because he ate them for almost every meal. 1955 was a banner year for him in which he hit with a .314 batting average with 27 home runs and 106 RBIs. Each year he did even better. In 1969, Aaron passed Mickey Mantle's total home runs and moved into third place on the career home run list, behind Willie Mays and Babe Ruth. When Aaron closed in on Babe Ruth's record, he started receiving death threats. He actually feared that he wouldn't live long enough to surpass that record. Aaron broke the record on that April day in 1974 in front of a record breaking Braves' crowd. Aaron ended his career with 755 home runs and he retired in 1976.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Suggested by listener Astrid)

Creepy. That's the one word we hear from everyone who has ever visited the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. This was a place of immense sadness that was for many years home to the mentally ill and other unfortunate souls. The name would change later to Weston State Hospital. The hospital closed in 1994, but the building reopened as a historic site offering tours. And as is the case with so many of these places, one can investigate the paranormal here and there are so many stories of unexplained experiences coming out of this place, that it is hard not to believe that this is one of the most haunted places in the world. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

West Virginia is a gorgeous state and one full of mystique. We've shared before about the legends of this state that is completely engulfed in the Appalachian Mountains. This is a state of coal mines, rolling hills and trees. There are many well known haunted locations here as well with this being the home of the Mothman, Flatwoods Monster, Moundsville Penitentiary and Lake Shawnee and Harper's Ferry, both of which are on our suggestions list. The settlers who founded Weston, West Virginia seemed to have a tough time choosing a name for their town. The town was founded as Preston in 1818 and changed to Fleshersville right after that and then finally they chose Weston in 1819 and that was the one that would stick. Weston incorporated in 1846. The Museum of American Glass is here with over 20,000 pieces on display including historic glass and art pieces. This would also be the place chosen to build the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

The former asylum is located at 71 Asylum Drive and is the largest hand cut stone building in America and the second largest in the world, falling just behind Moscow's haunted Kremlin. Stone masons came from Germany and Ireland to cut the stones. As was the case with many of the asylums we've covered, Trans-Allegheny was designed following the Kirkbride plan. Thomas Kirkbride thought of mental illness in a different way then many people of his time. He believed that the mentally ill could be treated and cured. This could be facilitated with moral care, which is just basically good food, lots of rest, exercise, light and getting out in nature. And he came up with a design that would work better for asylums and wrote about it in his book "On the Construction, Organization, and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane With Some Remarks on Insanity and Its Treatment." This design was in a flattened V shape, branching out like stair steps on each side. This would allow for ventilation and sunshine for every room. One side of the V was for men and the other for women and the outer reaches of the wings were reserved for the toughest cases.

Architect Richard Andrews designed Trans-Allegheny according to the Kirkbride plan. Construction was begun in 1858, using prison labor, and would not be completed until 1881. One reason for the delay was the Civil War. During the War in 1861, the Union 7th Ohio Infantry took over the asylum and called it Camp Tyler. This was an important military post. Despite not being completed, the first patients were welcomed in 1864. The asylum was meant for a total of 250 patients, but far more would end up being housed here. Studying the architecture of the asylum, it is easy to see the Gothic and Tudor Revival style influences. There are Tudor arches, drip moulds above the windows and the very distinctive Curvilinear gables, which is what is seen at the top front of The Alamo. There is a central clock tower that was completed in 1871 that looks a bit out of place and is painted white. Segregated rooms for people of color were added in 1873. When construction was finished, the asylum was like its own little community like all those that came before and after it. There was a vegetable garden, a dairy, a waterworks, a gasworks and three cemeteries. The apothecary in the old Civil War Wing offered an assortment of medicinal items from thorazine to heroin to bourbon!

Things started out good with positive intentions, but this would unravel over time. By 1880, there were nearly 500 more patients being cared for than the hospitals maximum of 250. These numbers just rose until there was a peak of 2,600 patients in the 1950s. Clearly, this caused overcrowding and poor sanitation. Obviously, not just the mentally ill were housed here. People could be sent here for a number of reasons including epilepsy and addiction and even very trivial matters like a husband who just didn't like his strong-willed wife talking back to him. Women could get committed by their husbands for reasons like "disappointed affection," "imaginary female trouble," "medicine to prevent conception" and "time of life." Unruly patients were often locked in cages. In 1913, Trans-Allegheny became Weston State Hospital, but the name change did nothing for conditions. In the 1980s, the population was lowered. The hospital was closed in 1994 when another hospital was built. For many years, the buildings on the campus were left abandoned and many areas were damaged by vandals and the elements. The Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, was formed in 2000 to help preserve the buildings. Joe Jordan bought the property for $1.5 million in 2007 and they have put together a museum and offered historical and ghost tours ever since. His daughter Rebecca Gleason is now the operations manager.

Many forms of therapy were used on the patients and doctors liked to experiment. There were cold baths, electro-shock therapy, insulin-shock therapy, bloodletting and confinement cribs. One of the darkest stains on the history for Trans-Allegheny was its West Virginia Lobotomy Project headed up by Walter Freeman. This project started in the early 1950s and was authorized by the West Virginia Board of Control. There was a control group of 228 patients who were subjected to transorbital lobotomy. The procedure led to four fatalities, two of them due to hemorrhage and two to dehydration. After a year, eighty-five of the subjects were released from the hospital. The main goal of this project and for even doing the lobotomies was to help empty out the hospitals. Egas Moniz, a Portuguese neurologist, pioneered the method and Freeman adopted it in 1936. He was the one who named it "lobotomy" and he was the one that developed what we consider to be the barbaric transorbital version of the lobotomy. This was basically using an ice pick through the eye, beating it with a mallet to get into the skull and severing the frontal lobe from the rest of the brain by moving that ice pick around. Most patients did not consent to the procedure. The project ended in 1955 and there seemed to be no positive outcome. Violent patients were docile, but they also were basically catatonic. (STAT Podcast did a series featuring Freeman back in 2017 that was excellent.)

 Some of the things listed as reasons for being committed:

    Bad whiskey
    Doubt about his mother’s ancestors
    Loss of arm
    Change of life
    Menstrual derangement
    Disappointed love
    Death of sons in war
    Overstudy of Religion
    Domestic trouble
    Snuff Eating for 2 Years
    Reading too many novels
    Desertion of husband

Thirteen buildings still stand on the property. The total acreage of the property is an ominous 666 acres. There are countless ghost stories connected to the place. They all seemed to start after the hospital was abandoned, but that doesn't mean that there were not experiences while the asylum still had patients. Many ghost programs have featured this location from Ghost Hunters to Ghost Adventures to Portals to Hell to Paranormal Lockdown. Several areas that can be toured and investigated include the operating room, apartments and morgue. Trans-Allegheny could be straight out of a horror movie with dim and dingy hallways full of peeling paint, crumbling floors and broken windows. And even though it has been undergoing extensive renovations for years, it still looks as though it were abandoned. The experiences that people have run the gamut of everything we have heard about from every other reputedly haunted location: cold spots, strange sounds, disembodied voices, apparitions of doctors and nurses and patients.

Jim James was a former patient who liked cigarettes. Investigators are usually able to coax him into communicating by offering him one. Marisa Kashino visited the asylum in 2018 and wrote an article for the Washingtonian sharing her experiences during an investigation. Jim was one of the spirits she believed she interacted with and she wrote, "We placed a Maglite on the floor and asked Jim to turn it on. The light was Julia’s, but I inspected it and it seemed totally ordinary. A few beats passed—then it came on. By itself. I offered Jim a cigarette to turn it back off. It went dark."

The Apothecary in the Civil War Wing reputedly hosts black or dark figures or masses. This is said to be a very haunted area of the main building. Guides claim to hear disembodied voices and doors slamming. One night, a guide witnessed a door slamming against the wall over and over and there was no one near the door. Another guide had the most traumatic event he had ever experienced in the pharmacy one night. His name is Mike Heath and he was assaulted by a spirit. He came through the door and felt four fingers press against his back and push him forward in a violent way. It was the first time that anything in the building had touched him.

Eddie is a former patient who liked to play poker. He seems to like to communicate with flashlights and was documented doing so during a visit that the New York Times paid to the location in 2013. The author of the article was John Searles and he found himself wondering if his guide had some way of controlling the flashlight. Diane had often wondered the same thing until our own investigations with our own flashlight started going on and off without us being anywhere near it. Searles writes, "As soon as we set up our cots, a strange noise — like something heavy being dragged across a floor — started coming from a distant part of the asylum. Thomas sat up and asked if I had heard it. At first, I told him that it was coming from that ghost-free waiting area, which was not far away. But then we heard the sound again, this time unmistakably coming from the space near that rusted cage door that led to the lobotomy area. When we heard the sound a third time, louder than before, Thomas bolted. He returned with Copperhead. The three of us walked quietly with our flashlights through a series of rooms, some with old hospital equipment still in them and bars on the windows, until we entered a room that had what looked to be roofing material on the floor. Copperhead stepped on it with his boot, and we heard that distinctive dragging sound. We were in the off-limits part of the asylum, where no one else was supposed to be, so that meant the noise we had heard had to be otherworldly. I couldn’t help but feel as if we were in a 'Scooby-Doo' episode, and at any moment we would figure out who had been trying to scare us away."

The Women's Auxiliary Building is the second oldest building on the property and no one is allowed access in this building. The building is in real sad shape, so it is not surprising. The show Paranormal Lockdown did get to go inside on episode 1 of their first season. Nick and Katrina caught a very clear EVP answering "Yes" when they asked if they had seen a figure standing in a room here. They then got a "No" when they asked if the spirit knew it was dead. They also felt an electrical charge and the owner, Rebecca, who was giving them the tour, had goosebumps on her arms. It was hard to tell the gender of the voice on the EVP. Nick and Katrina returned to this building the next night with their Geobox, which is an upgraded spirit box or something, and they picked up two voices. The first said, "Hello" in a female voice and the second was male and said, "Don't say a word."

Up on the fourth floor, Paranormal Lockdown caught the creepiest thing I've seen if it was the real deal. This is a floor that Nick was afraid of because he had seen a shadow figure up here during a previous visit. He spent the first night up there in the complete dark with a camera on him that had night vision and there was a sound that he didn't make and is hard to describe, kind of like a banging. When the crew was up there earlier, the camera man and Nick both heard something say, "Shhh." On the final night of their 72 hours, the camera man is taping Nick and Katrina and then he hears something and sees something behind them slithering in the dark along the floor. They played it over and over, Kelly and I watched it, and it is strange. If it wasn't some extra person on the property crawling slowly across the ground, then I don't know what the hell it was. Both Nick and Katrina seemed shocked to see it when the camera man replayed it for them, so I lean towards legit and it gives you chills.

A little girl named Lilly is said to have been born at the asylum and now haunts the hallways and plays with toys left for her. She lived to be nine-years-old and then died. Another version of the story claims that she was dropped off by her parents and abandoned. Her spirit is seen as a full-bodied apparition wearing a white dress. Her disembodied giggling is sweet, but also very unnerving. Lily's Room, which is full of scattered toys, is located on the first floor of Ward Four in the eastern corner. A music box in this room plays on its own and Lily interacts with guides. Usually this manifests with balls rolling across the floor by themselves. She also will turn off and on flashlights when asked.

One story claims a patient named Jane Harvey killed herself in the asylum and is said to haunt it now. On the first floor is the spirit of a patient named Ruth who apparently hated men. It is said that she still hates men and tends to throw things at them during investigations. A Civil War ghost named Jacob hangs out on the 4th floor of the main building. A murderer named Slewfoot was murdered himself and is now apparently haunting the place, particularly in the shower area where he was killed.

Ward F housed the most aggressive male patients and Ward C housed the most dangerous female patients. A patient named Joe was one of those who was violent and he decided to take his fury out on a lobotomized patient named Charlie. A former employee claimed that Joe had been a serial killer before coming to the asylum. The Portals of Hell show referred to the victim as Dean, so we're not sure what his name really was, but what happened to him was horrible. A nurse recalled that Joe got some other patients to help him string Charlie up to an overhead pipe in an attempt to hang him. They lowered Charlie to the floor picked up a metal-framed bed and put the leg against his forehead and then jumped up and down on the bed, driving the bedpost into Charlie's skull. Charlie's spirit is believed to have remained here because of this tragic event. Another employee claimed that two men had been murdered in the same way, but we have only heard that this one time, so not sure about the accuracy of that claim.

knight 1431 on TripAdvisor in March 2020: "I got touched down my face while walking on the first floor heading to the Civil War area of the wing, stopped me dead in my tracks. filmed activity in Lilly's room and got activity on my Mel-Meter while talking to"The Sarge" in the Civil War section of the Asylum. I also picked up anomalies on the fourth floor in the Addiction section of the Wing with my SLS CAmera."

There are so many tales of experiences at the asylum. It would seem most everyone who enters either feels something, sees something or experiences something. Is the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum haunted? That is for you to decide!