Wednesday, May 20, 2015

HGB Road Trip 2015 Day 2 - Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is the largest city in the state of Kentucky. Many famous figures from history have their roots in the Louisville area including President Zachary Taylor and Lewis and Clark. Louisville is famous for being the home of the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Louisville Slugger and the making of Bourbon. The reasons for Louisville being home to greatness in horses and bourbon were answered on our tour at Louisville's Mega Cavern where we learned that the limestone and magnesium and other minerals in the soil and rock of Louisville contribute to two things that make this city perfect for horses and bourbon. Horses grow strong from eating the grass enriched with these minerals and the limestone water gives bourbon its pleasing texture and smooth taste.

Louisville is named for King Louis XVI of France and was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark. In 1780, the Virginia General Assembly approved the charter for the city of Louisville. Forts became the first homes in Louisville because of a fear of raids by Native Americans. Louisville's location near the water helped it to grow because goods had to be unloaded here and moved from this location, so it was a hot spot when it came to being a shipping port. Runaway slaves found safe haven in Louisville during the Civil War and the city became a stronghold for Union forces.

The first Kentucky Derby was held in 1875. Churchill Downs was the location and has been to this day, although in 1875 it was named the Louisville Jockey Club. Major set backs for the city occurred when Mother Nature hit hard. First, there was the terrible tornado in 1890 that killed nearly 120 people. Several decades later, the Great Flood of '37 hit. Flood walls were built after this.

The city today is a blend of old and new with many neighborhoods featuring Victorian homes. Some of the old in this city has to do with things that go bump in the night. Louisville has its share of hauntings. Louisville is one of the most haunted cities in America, filled with its share of haunted hospitals, theaters and mansions.

One of those mansions is the Brennan House. This home is a three story Victorian home built in 1868. In 1884, the Brennans moved to Louisville and paid $12,000 for the property. Mr. and Mrs. Brennan had eight children. The home stayed in the family for many years because several of the children lived in it their entire lives. And apparently, some of them still live there in the afterlife. Apparitions have been seen or felt in several rooms of the house. These rooms include the main hallway, the first floor parlor and the medical office of Dr. John. The children had a play room on the third floor where supernatural things happen as well.

The Landmark Building dates back to 1855 and the ghosts that hang around this building are said to have good nature and mostly perform poltergeist type of activity. The Belle of Louisville is a haunted steamship. Captain Winters captained this ship when it was known as the Idelwild and he requested it be renamed after his death. That did not stop him from tracking down his beloved ship in the afterlife. The Captain still apparently hangs out on the Belle of Louisville. A Native American girl haunts the Mega Cavern and was once captured as a full body apparition on film.

One of the more famous haunted locations in Louisville is Waverley Hills Sanatorium. Denise and I made the drive up to the location. We were too late to take a day tour and the driveway was already chained off with "No trespassing" signs posted. The building sits back up a hill off the road and the trees are thick, so we merely caught a glimpse of the place. We were disappointed that we couldn't at least get some pictures, but we will return in the future. The stories of hauntings here are numerous. The property was first home to a school and later the Sanatorium was opened to care for those sick with Tuberculosis. Like every other Sanatorium we have discussed in past podcasts, Waverley Hills had its own zip code and was self-contained. It was built in the Gothic style and cared for patients until 1961. It then became a home for geriatric paients and was finally closed by the state in 1981.

Hauntings at Waverley Hills include a ghost named Timmy that likes to roll balls. Timmy was a six or seven-year-old boy who died at Waverley Hills but has yet to move on. Visitors often bring toy balls to the hospital and invite the ghostly child to play. The balls sometimes move without any seen help. There are shadow people and disembodied screams. Room 502 is haunted by a woman. She was a pregnant nurse who committed suicide in that room. There are underground tunnels here as well that are nicknamed the Death Tunnels. Supplies were run through them, but so were dead bodies. Unexplained noises, shadows, disembodied footsteps and creepy EVPs are reported in the tunnels.

So is Louisville haunted? Check it out and see because that is for you to decide!

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