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The Story of Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Updated on December 1, 2010
The trans-allegheny lunatic aslum
The trans-allegheny lunatic aslum

Deemed as one of the most haunted hospitals in America, this hospital has been referred to as "Weston State Hospital" in the past. Located in the vast country of Weston, West Virgina this building housed individuals who experienced mental illnesses of several different types of in the middle of the 1800's. In addition to being noted for the role it played in the lives of several individuals who required care and the medical community on the whole, there are a number of true ghost stories circulating about the establishment.

The original construction of the building that would serve as a home to several individuals sufferings from psychiatric conditions began in the year of 1858. By 1881, construction had been completed , however despite continuing efforts to construct the building in the year of 1864, the hospital allowed the first patients to enter. The hospital was suitable for a number of about 250 patients. As the facility gained populairty, more patients were pushed to reside there. By the 1950s the hospital became severely overcrowded, with an astonishing number of patients, reaching over two thousand. In 1994, it was established that the hospital couldn't operate any longer. The closure wreaked havoc on the economy of the comnmunity in which it resided.

When the Lunatic Asylum first opened its doors it was a direct result of the efforts of a slady by the name of Dorothy Dix. She saw the need of an era where individuals who were considered to be insane could be placed so that they were not locked away in prisons with dangerous convicts, and treated with high disregard. During the 1800's most people who suffered from diseases of the mind were treated like nothing more than wild animals. In later years, an individual by the name of Thomas Kirkbride would come to to agree with the ideas of Dorothy Dix presented and the approval of the facility would be granted.

Many unexplained events have been witnessed in the hospital. These events are the things that led individuals to develop the theory that it was a haunted hospital. Based on all the encounters that various guests and employees have experienced this has been deemed as one of the creepiest and scariest hospitals. There has been several hundred individuals who passed away in this haunted hospital. Many people who have visited the asylum believe that the majority of the souls of these people have been left behind. Conversations, noises of people moving about and other about sounds have been heard throughout this facility.

The asylum was constructed around 1858 and 1881 and is the largest hand cut stone masonry building in North America. Construction on the site, along the West Fork River, oppoosite downtown Weston, began in late 1858. Work was conducted by prison laborers which included seven convict negroes as the first arrivals to work on the project. Construction was interrupted by the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. The government demanded the return of the hospital's unused construction funds for its defense. By October 1864, the first patients were admitted to the renamed West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. A 200ft central clock tower was completed in 1871 and separate rooms for black people were completed in 1873. The hospital was self sufficient with a farm, dairy, waterworks, cemetery, which was located on the grounds. In 1913, the hospital was changed to Weston State Hospital.

The property of the Lunatic Asylum goes so far back as to the early colonists arriving in North America brought beliefs from the old country. Some enlightened, some not. Unfortunately, insanity had fallen under the latter. People exhibiting aberrant behavior were popularity considered to be possessed by demons or witches and on occasion by the devil himself. Most everyone knows of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Studies had shown describing that those majority of the executed "witches" were most likely insane. Witch hunting was not isolated to Puritan New England. It was a common practice through the colonies. Through the next century in Colonial America, the treatment of an insane person was almost invariable barbaric. Those without family or friends were placed in prisons in the company of common criminals, often chained to walls, unclothed regardless of temperature and mired in their own filth. Some families did take responsibility although they were more concerned with hiding their problematic relatives to avoid embarrassment than trying to help them. They stashed them away in attics, secreted sheds and even holes in the ground.

It wasn't until the 1770's that facilities' began to be constructed specifically to house the insane. Again these places were designed to extricate the individual from society not to help or curative methods because insanity was universally regarded as incurable. The 1800's brought much needed change to the world of the insane. Through efforts of some enlightened individuals most prominently Dorothy Dix the desperate plight of the insane was brought to the attention of the public and lawmakers were forced to commit funds for more humane care. By mid century, Thomas Kirkbride's theory of creating environment took hold and the age of the asylum of had arrived.

Television show, "Ghost Adventures" had investigated the Lunatic Asylum, with many EVP's and capturing a numerous of captivating paranormal pictures on film. It was pure enjoyment to watch the show, as it is one of my favorite shows today.  I discovered that the so called cures that had been practiced included frontal lobotomies, to electro shock therapy.  There were documented deaths there that numbered in the thousands with many buried on site thus making this one of the most haunted in the United States.  Construction started in 1858 using prison labor and eventually skilled European stonesmasons were brought in to finish up.  The Civil War had interrupted construction , for about a year, and though not completely finished til 1881, patients began to arrive in 1864.  The hospital who's grounds included 666 acres, included a dairy farm, water, gas well and a cemetery which was intended to make the asylum self sufficent.

For several decades, the hospital was extremely violent, with frequent reports of patients killing other patients, to female employers were violated and killed including a nurse that was missing nearly two months before found dead at the bottom of an unused staircase. These are the events that are said to contribute to the high level of paranormal activity at the asylum today. Some of the paranormal events that are reported by employees were sounds of gurneys being pushes up and down the hallways.  The electro shock area has had reports of screams coming from it.  Full body apparitions of patients as well as doctors have been claimed to be seen roaming the halls and rooms.  Voices that have ranged from giggling and lauging to ominous warnings to leave the building have also been reported around the facility, which included on the show, "Ghost Adventures".

It seems that the spirits from Trans-Allegheny Lunatic aslyum did not always stay there.  A woman who grew up close to the hospital and eventually went to work there as a psychiatrist had her first patient commit suicide.   This doctor claims that his ghost still haunts her to this day.  The most active spot in the asylum seems to be the fourth floor as well as the Civil War wing.  On the fourth floor there have been a lot of reports of strange sounds, banging, voices, whispering and what seems to be constant conversation going on even though no one is talking.   The Civil War wing apparently is visited by a soldier named Jacob.  Jacob as been seen wondering the area on several occasions. In 1990, the hospital was designated an historical site and in 2007 it was bought at an auction and now opens for tours.  The new owners had officially changed the name back to The Trans-Allagheny Lunatic Aslyum.

This asylum has such dark and deep history with a rich grounding to the Civil War itself. This truly has been the most haunted story I have intrigued yet today and written, and hope to approach more.


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    • profile image

      Johna328 3 years ago

      There are some interesting closing dates on this article however gefdgeagadfe

    • profile image

      guest 4 years ago

      I saw ghost adventures at the trans allegheny lunatic asylum and it fasinated me, they caught so many clear evps. So many sad stories, lily (the little girl) charlie (the man murdered as a "game" to the people he shared a room with.

    • profile image

      guest 5 years ago

      your article has details that change (how many died? hundreds or thousands?) and repeats information that doesn't need repeating (dates) but well written aside

    • profile image

      AwEsOmE SaUcE 5 years ago

      The asylum sounds totally erie, LOLZ!!!

    • profile image

      no name 5 years ago

      the stones were washed up from the bed or the Lewisburg river. p.s not to be rude some of your spelling is wrong

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 6 years ago from USA

      Hi Gypsy - Well now. That is an interesting article. If that is its photo, the building is one of very "different" design. The whole subject interested me because my first assignment in the military was as a medic to mental patients. It was most difficult.

      You did a good piece of reporting of the history of the place.

      Gus :-)))

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 6 years ago


      Good hub.