Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Facts and Fiction
Right in the heart of Weston, WV sits an enormous structure known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Currently a historical landmark, it is the largest hand-cut masonry stone building in North America. The front of the structure measures at least a quarter of a mile long. The walls were one and a half feet thick. The structure sits on 666 acres of land. It was built in 1858 as a need to serve those in need west of the Alleghenies. Other locations for the State Hospital were considered, such as Fayetteville and a location near the West Fork River. However, Weston was thought to be a healthy town at the time. In building the facility,prisoners were brought in to quarry the stone. The stone was transported from Mount Clare, some 20 miles away by ox drawn carts. Construction of the hospital began in 1858 and continued on thorough the Civil War. Construction was delayed due to the war. In 1864 the hospital opened its doors to nine patients.
As the hospital grew it become more and more self sufficient. The patients were able to make their own mattresses and clothing. They grew their own food and stocked their own animals. It has even been said that the hospital had it's own ice plant, water reservoir and a cemetery. It was referred as a city within itself. By 1877 they housed up to 417 patients. After a few years time it grew to 717 patients. It was only meant to house 250. In the 1950s the hospital housed more than 2500 patients. The staff lived in the hospital on the fourth floor. Even though the staff may have been off shift they were required to be back on the grounds by 10:00 PM.The practice of having staff live in the hospital was discontinued in 1965.
Patient care back in those days was not anything like it is now. Literature provided by the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum indicated horrible conditions for the patients. Isolation for friends and family of the patient was encouraged. This may be why the facility was totally self sufficient. Clothing was sometimes not even encouraged for patients. Treatment such as lobotomy's (ice pick therapy) were common. Shock treatment was also common.
As times changed so did the treatment of the patients. This facility was open until 1994. It was forced to close due to deterioration of the building. People I know who have worked in the building told me about pigeons flying through the hallways due to broken windows.
Reasons for admission from 1864 to 1889
Laziness, Egotism, Disappointed Love, Women, Female Disease, Mental Excitement, Cold, Snuff, Greediness, Imaginary Female trouble, Gathering in the head, Exposure and Quackery, Jealousy and Religion, Asthma and Bad Habits and policital excitement just to name a few.
Apparently back in the day a patient could be admitted for nearly any reason. The capsule adjacent to this one lists some documented reason why people were admitted in the hospital. Unfortunately the practice of giving frontal lobotomies was common practice. The operation was preformed right on site.
In the News
The Hospital was recognized as a Historical Landmark in 1990. In 2007 the entire facility was purchased along with its now 300 acres of land. The intent of the owner is to restore the building. The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) created a buzz around town with it's name. Residents were upset at the name, stating it was unfair to the patients. The name was chosen because it was the name it had when it opened. It seems a few of the locals were concerned about using the name "Lunatic" stating it was not sensitive to the patients at the current state hospital. The word Lunatic is indeed not sensitive to those with mental challenges, but it is a part of history. Instead of wasting your breath on what's in a name you should be more concerned about funding for programs for this population in the community. (Ok I'm off my soap box now.)
Currently the hospital is being used for historical tours and Ghost tours.
The Asylum, as it is named for Halloween purposes is really trying to capitalize on the Ghost Theme. The website now boast that there will be a haunted house (The Asylum) in the basement of the facility. Last year was the first year for the haunted house and it was a hit! There will even be a Witches Ball on the front lawn this year. ( for a small fee of 15 dollars) For more family oriented fun and younger children, the facility offers a Fall Festival held on it's front lawn. All money raised is to go to the preservation of the historic building.
The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is open year round for tours. Many paranormal researchers and curious folk have come through exploring. The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum also offers overnight stays inside the facility. See the link below for more details!
Haunted Asylum Schedule
The times for the Haunted Asylum are
Weeknights Dark until 10:00 PM
Normal Weekend hours are Dark until Midnight!
Getting National Attention
The TAPS crew from the sci-fi show Ghost Hunters did come and do a live show from the hospital in 2008. They have declared the hospital to be officially haunted.
Last year the Travel Channel had its show, Ghost Adventurers do a live show on Halloween. They advertised Lose Your Mind on their website to promote the event
Interview of ghost at asylum
Looking for some more up to date information on what is going on at the Asylum? Look at the Facebook Page to find out!
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- Halloween Haunt at Kings Island
If you are looking for a scary destination I would recommend the Halloween Haunt at King's Island. I went and can tell you a little about the attractions there.