Weston is a remote, historic town in West Virginia – home to America’s largest, and the world’s 2nd largest, hand-cut stone masonry building, second only to The Kremlin. Formerly known as Weston State Hospital, this building has a disturbing history dating back to the 1860’s and is now known as Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.
The drive to Weston, WV from my home in New Jersey is roughly six-hours; a drive that may seem long to some but can be quite beautiful once you get off the turnpike. It consists of long, windy, mountainous roads where an abundance of mountain peaks, trees and open road can help soothe and calm the Soul.
We decided to return to Trans Allegheny for a quick weekend jaunt because I couldn’t forget the overwhelming emotions I experienced on our first visit and since this is on my #BucketList, I had to at least be able to say I entered the building.
Check out Part 1 – Trans Allegheny to read about my first visit and some history of this historical, haunting 600 acres that represents some of the worst human suffering:
For a quick lunch along the way, we stopped at another historical location full of #haunts and #spirits (both kinds) in Bedford, PA – Jean Bonnet Tavern. While the food was good, the drinks even better, the best part of this stop was the “boo’s” for sure.
Long before pulling through the gated entrance to the Asylum, I began feeling the overwhelming emotions that crippled me in my last visit. This time I was prepared, better able to handle what was happening, and determined to enter the building and see for myself what it had to offer. It was a nice, sunny, warm day and the grounds of the Asylum appear beautiful, peaceful and inviting – unless you were aware of the disturbing history surrounding you that is. Since we were sans teenager this time, we took our time walking around the grounds, checking out the other building and preserving our trip through photo’s (which by the way, anyone else have trouble finding photo’s a year or two later? Nothing like sorting through 1,000’s of pictures to find one shot! Or is it just me? Topic for another day…). Below are a few of these pictures:
We didn’t officially investigate the building – while I love investigating locations, sometimes it is harder for me to keep Spirits at bay during an investigation because we are usually actively calling for their interaction. We opted for a 90-minute “Daytime Paranormal” guided tour of the main building – Kirkbridge Building. At the building entrance, stationed on either side of the hallway, are banks of computer screens for visitors to sign formal waivers confirming that they are entering and touring this historic, #haunted building at their own risk. Some may find this intimidating, but I find it intriguing – nothing I love more than acknowledging I may be endangering myself!
We were with a group of about 10 other people and had an animated woman for a guide. The “paranormal” part of the tour is really just the guide giving examples of personal experiences she or members of prior tours have had in different sections of the building. There is some history given, but it’s minimal. This lack of information is why I opted for this tour. I want to “see” what I pick up – see, hear, feel, encounter – with as little influence as possible. I hung back during the tour (I love to do this actually – just ask my friends on #PCINJ who always have to find me and drag me along). Hanging back is usually easier on me – being an empath as well as a physical medium, crowds of people can be hard to handle especially in a building with so much tragedy, history, and emotions trapped inside the walls. Add in the spirits too numerous to count – and my senses were on overload. I took a deep breath, grabbed a crystal in each hand, surrounded myself (and my husband) in white light, asked my guides to protect me and keep me grounded and safe, gave the necklace with my sister’s ashes a good rub, and prepared to face a nightmare.
The tour itself was a blur of physical pain, encounters, sensory overload from residual scenes of times gone-by, and emotions that could have staggered me if I let them. Although I have gotten much better at controlling how messages are shared with me, I can at times be left dazed from the physical pain that is passed along. I experienced a lot of this during our tour. I do not recall much that the tour guide said about experiences or history, but I can recall that there were a great many accounts of personal #paranormal experiences along the tour route. I understand why.
I encountered many Spirits along this tour, which was only a small portion of the building but did cover all 4 floors. The layout of the building and the state of disrepair was expected; but I did not expect the glamour of some restored sections – especially the quarters where the doctors and nurses resided.
In the annex where the nurses slept (there were several actual small bedrooms off the common area in the picture above), I did encounter a female spirit – dressed as a nurse and looking us over as if we were intruding on her. She had that oddly shaped little hat nurses used to wear as well as the usual white uniform. She had dark hair, severe looking eyebrows, a mouth permanently in a frown – complete with long embedded frown lines on her face – and was round and stocky, standing about 5 feet tall. She didn’t speak with me but she didn’t have to as her energy exuded annoyance, frustration and self-pity. She made it very clear that I was to leave her room immediately and preferably the building. I saw some disturbing residual scenes involving this nurse with patients and it became very clear to me why she was still in residence here and held to this small room. She has a penance to pay and is doing so – for how long is unknown to me.
We walked up a narrow, dark stairway that I have to admit was quite creepy. The hallways had paint chips peeling and the appearance of the patients quarters added to the overall ominous feeling of the place.
Although I encountered many Spirits during my visit, some that actively tried to engage, as well as saw and felt residual scenes – there were several that stood out to me that warrant detailing here.
As we walked down a long corridor, I began to get a severe pain in my head – through my eyes – that had me sick and stumbling. I also got very emotional and my eyes welled up with tears, my heart aching with sadness, fear and pain. As we turned a corner and entered a large, empty room, I witnessed a residual scene that truly haunts me to this day. I saw women lined up in beds (at least it seemed like all women to me) in various states of undress, some had only their hands tied to the bed, some had all limbs tied to the bed, some were weeping in pain, fear and horror. Even more disturbing were the women laying on their beds completely dazed, numb to everything and not engaged in any way with the world around them. I even witnessed one woman, who was quite obviously pregnant, staring off into space, looking a lot like she was dead except I could see her chest moving with each breath. I saw one nurse in the room – although there appeared to be dozens of beds and patients – and I witnessed one lady being forced from the room, an orderly on each arm, as she struggled and cried completely in silence. I was stunned by what I was witnessing. I was lost in this horror and nightmare until my husband grabbed my arm, grounded me and returned me to where I was. Our tour guide then asked me if I was okay – she was concerned because I got quite pale, looked faint and apparently had tears falling from my eyes. She had been telling everyone how this room housed patients, mostly woman, that were waiting for or recovering from lobotomies while giving horror stories of the way the patients were treated. My poor tour guide thought her recounting of this was too graphic for me (I honestly didn’t hear a word she said) and she apologized for not stating a disclaimer first. Apparently, a lot of visitors and investigators pick up evidence of crying, struggling and female voices in this room. While I will not go into what a lobotomy is exactly – there is what I hope is a non-graphic picture below – I will say that they were often given routinely to put patients in a state of calm – permanently – and keep them docile. Because this Asylum was extremely over crowded and understaffed, they became very routine indeed.
We continued on. Many people on our tour, my husband and myself included, witnessed shadow movement around us and felt like we were being watched. At one point, a young man jumped back and looked scared – he witnessed an arm come out of one doorway and beckon to him. There were many personal experiences including someone feeling a touch on their arm.
We climbed up another set of steps and walked down a hallway that appeared to hold seclusion “cells” the entire length. The doors to these rooms were all closed and they had these tiny little windows in them – at eye height – which likely were pulled open to deal with the poor souls that were locked inside. This hallway was especially ominous and seemed to be darker than the others. As we walked down the hallway, I could feel energies inside several of the cells and thought I actually heard someone knocking on one of the doors – from the inside. Towards the end of the hallway, I began to feel panicky, sweaty and shaky. All my warning bells were going off in my head and inside of me – telling me to turn around, turn around now and get away from whatever lied ahead.
I, of course, pushed on. I didn’t completely ignore the warning bells though. I did get very cautious and put up extra protections around me. I am still very thankful for those warning bells, preparing me for what happened next….
Turning a corner and entering into a larger room, I felt this very dark energy. I then saw, up ahead near the door that would take us out of this room, a dark figure that still haunts me. My body came to a complete stop, the only movement I could handle was grabbing my husband’s arm to pull him to a stop. I was concerned even for him at this point. This figure was tall – with what must have been its head almost reaching the ceiling – and was standing slightly hunched forward. It had arms that were long and out of proportion to it’s too thin body. This figure’s head was shaped oddly – not like a normal human head – and it had growths coming out of the top (horns come to mind here but I’ll be honest – they seemed longer, thinner and bowed outwards a bit and did not look like traditional horns). This energy felt so dark and was strong – very strong – because it “feeds” (for lack of a better word) on the pain, suffering and trauma all around it. It was amused at our group and seemed even more entertained by my reaction. It actually seemed a little gleeful. But, and I am still not completely certain why, it could not come close to us and had a limited space it could roam around the building. Once I realized that this dark energy had limitations (imposed by who or what, I would love to know), I calmed down a bit.
I cut my teeth watching horror films with my mother as a child. I am a huge fan, try to see them all, and love them. In fact, that old movie “The Exorcist” was my all time favorite – and I watched it many times. So naturally my first reaction was “oh my God, it’s a demon and I am done for now – RUN, SCREAM, RUN (and DO NOT PEE YOUR PANTS)”. Anyone that is a fan of horror movies knows this is the only option and likely won’t help anyway – am I right? Thankfully, my body froze and completely ignored my brain’s commands – isn’t that always the way when you need a little cooperation – and so I didn’t scare all those people to death, embarrass myself or mortify my husband by running away with my arms in the air (you all know there is no other way to run in a situation like this, so don’t laugh) while doing my horror movie scream and shoving everyone out of my way. But trust me, it was a close call.
In the end, I kept my distance from this thing, and asked my guides to push it to the farthest point it could go within its imposed limits so we could pass through that exit door into the next hallway safely. It actually worked (and I freely admit, I was surprised as I often am) and this energy pulled back into a little closet area as we walked by. It still seemed to be smirking though…..
Believe it or not, I continued the tour after all this (I am often a glutton for punishment) – but everyone else we encountered from there on, while being sad and tortured, was not dark.
Next, we entered a wing where children were housed. This area actually felt and looked brighter and I only encountered one Spirit in this area that wasn’t residual (I can’t say for sure there aren’t more here of course) – a little girl who seemed to be between 8 and 10 years old and had dark hair styled in pig-tales. She started off being a little shy and was peeking out of the closet in the room when I entered. I began to talk to her (I’m a mom, I got this) and was able to coax her to come out. She shared with me that she had a favorite doll – it was half her size – and that she liked to jump rope, play jacks and sing songs to herself. I tried to get her to sit at the desk but she was having no parts of it and looked at me like – really (just like my own kids…)?
A few more sections stood out to me on this tour. We entered a room that was full of bathtubs – each one completely open to the surrounding room so everyone could watch you bathe. I instantly got very cold, freezing down to my bones. When I found out what the bathtubs were routinely used for, the idea of bathing with such an audience no longer seemed important to me.
A common treatment, started in the 19th century and practiced through the 20th, was hydrotherapy. It was thought that patients could be calmed or woken from a catatonic state with baths and spray showers. At first this sounds awesome, especially in comparison to the other barbaric treatments patients were subjected to. Then I saw residual scenes that turned my blood cold – literally. These baths and showers were not calming, relaxing experiences – even if you were watched by everyone else. Patients would be subjected to ice-baths or submerged for long periods of time – hours or even days – in these tubs, often being strapped in and at times gagged. Pleas, crying, begging were often completely ignored. I have no way of knowing if this is true or not – but I was shown a woman being forgotten during a long-term hydrotherapy session. She was strapped in, blindfolded and gagged. Her water had been stained by her own waste and yet she was still left to sit in her filth as staff came in and out of the room. How had such human suffering been ignored? How had it ever been acceptable?
At this point, the tour was wrapping up and at the end we were to be shown a common area where patients were actually put together to socialize, kids allowed to play – the auditorium. As we climbed back down that creepy stairway, I encountered one last Spirit that popped in from one of the hallways as I was passing – literally scaring me half to death in the process. You can’t tell me Spirits don’t have a sense of humor.
This was a male spirit. He was grinning, obviously enjoying my discomfort. He was wearing a hospital gown and was barefoot. I kindly asked him NOT to turn around, thank you very much. I draw the line at seeing the rear ends of my departed friends. Even I have limits.
In the end, he wanted to share an experience with me. He kept pointing to the top of his head – his skull. He showed me images of a hole and an obscene looking tool or device. I was understandably confused – I mean was he trying to be funny and say he had a hole in his head? It wasn’t until we left the Asylum, this Spirit’s story stuck with me, that I was able to look up what he was trying to tell me.
The final inhumane and barbaric treatment I will discuss today was called “trephination”. This involved the surgeon creating a round hole in a patient’s skull – using tools like an auger or a saw – and removing the piece of bone. This was done either in the top of the skull or even in the forehead. I won’t pretend to understand the reasoning behind this but I do know that this was a practice being performed for a long time, possibly in prehistoric times, and is thought to be the first form of surgery.
Now I was officially done – met my limit – and was ready to cross off this #BucketListactivity and get back out into the sunshine, maybe find a drink or three somewhere. But since we had to walk right past it to leave, I did stop and look at the auditorium. Right before we got there, we passed an alcove that had large windows looking out on the grounds and providing tons of sunlight. This changed the energy of the building right away and lifted some of the gloom I was feeling surrounding me. This alcove and the ballroom are examples of light within all this darkness.
Unfortunately, the realities of what happened in this Asylum, as well as many other across our nation, are a fact and often the horror stories are the parts shared from generation to generation – the barbaric treatments, the abuse, the pain, the suffering, the violence. These emotions are so strong that they live on long after they occur, both within the walls and within the people who have to endure them. Success stories, happy times, excitement and love are often completely over-shadowed by these dark times – understandably so.
Wrapping up the tour with these examples of light within the darkness, no matter how small in comparison, was just what I needed. There are so many Spirits still residing within the Asylum, still suffering and it is hard to grasp and understand at times. However, when I walked in the auditorium, I witnessed Spirits that were not suffering, energy that was positive and upbeat. I saw residual scenes of dancing, card playing, children giggling and chasing each other. I saw people reading – escaping to a new world for a short time – and a few holding hands, obviously in love. I witnessed nurses wiping the brow of a man in a wheelchair and comforting a woman who was crying and scared.
There is always some light to be found in the darkness – always – and it brings me comfort. I hope it does for you as well.
I will be returning to the Asylum at some point, hopefully to investigate – at night. My last stop will once again be the auditorium.
Want to here all about this and other haunted adventures directly from me? Check out this podcast with Ghosts In the Night: https://youtu.be/0McLfAfxN-w