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Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Paranormal and Historic Tours
This October I went along with 4 other friends to visit the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum to attend the haunted house and take flashlight tours of the historic mental institution. Though I have lived in West Virginia since I was a small child, I had never been there before. The mental hospital located in Weston, West Virginia is a historic landmark, though not remembered for the reasons you would expect. Despite being the largest hand-cut masonry stone building in America, the asylum is better known for the horrid deaths, and experiments that took place within the walls.
My group and I took two 'flashlight tours', as well as attending the haunted house appropriately titled 'Malice'. Although a massive building the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was only ever meant to house 250 patients, though it was documented to have 2,400 hospital patients. All with a very diverse mix of mental disorders ranging from the criminally insane, to simple cases of mania or depression. If you are a fan of the paranormal you may have seen Ghost Hunters and other similar shows confirming the presence of the paranormal within the hospital walls.
Available Asylum Tours
The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum offers many tours, all very different. All with a different price as well. The available tours are at times limited to the season, as the building has no heat or air conditioning the dates of operation run from late March, to early November. When it comes to touring the mental facility you have several diverse touring options:
- Flashlight Tours
- Photography Tours
- Historic Tours
- Cemetery and Farm Tours
- Criminally Insane Tour
- October Ghost Hunts
- Private Ghost Hunts
- Paranormal Tours
The tours are on a first come, first serve basis and many require reservations. Some include a discount when booking a large group as well. Tickets can be purchased online for many of the tours I mentioned, and others may require you calling the office to make arrangements.
During special events at the mental institution flashlight tours are available. Since I was there during the Fall Festival I was able to take a few of these tours.There were three available flashlight tours the evening we attended:
- Child's Play
- The Departed
- Trial and Error
The ticket price for each tour was $10 before tax. My group and I opted for taking both the 'Trial and Error', and 'The Departed' flashlight tours. These tours are a fabulous way to enrich yourself in the history of the lunatic asylum. The tour guide is very well educated and provides a wealth of factual information about the patients housed in that area as well as the horrific treatment many received. The flashlight tours are half paranormal, and half historical. The tours start at dark so we did wait in line for a bit. As soon as it got dark the lines started moving rather swiftly. As we made our way into the main lobby the interior was amazing, the craftsmanship in the ceilings and exquisite moulding was breathtaking.
Our first tour was Trial and Error, and it lead to the upper floors of the hospital. To say the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is a massive structure is an understatement. Our tour guide was extremely informative as we went through the dormitory areas for the criminally insane. I must admit the mental institution reminds me a bit of the Stephen King movie 'Rose Red', simply because it is so massive, and I do imagine I would get easily lost at night if on my own. I stayed in the back of the tour group so I could take it all in and observe while limiting any interference in my photographs. Though my camera did randomly take photos on it's own a few times throughout the tours. I also had a few instances where despite great lighting, my camera took a completely black photograph with zero details.
There were times that I would look back to the long stretch of hall behind us that we just walked through and swear that it looked totally different than when we first walked in. The best part about the first tour was the entire group was respectful, and listened intently allowing us all to soak in all the amazing historical information and paranormal facts. The mental institution echoes like no building I have ever encountered before. So when a group is busy talking among themselves it becomes a roar, and you are unable to hear your guide.
The Departed tour took us outside of the main facility to the cafeteria, kitchen and morgue. With the tour guide providing historical information around the civil war and the asylum. As we exited the backside of Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum we were standing on what was once another part of the facility, now nothing but green grass. I really wish the facility was still completely intact so we could have had a chance to go through the tunnels that connected to the main facility from the annex buildings. I must admit that I was expecting a morgue like what you would find today, or what you see on television. A wall of small drawers with slide outs for bodies to be stored.
This morgue simply had a small two drawer refrigeration box, to house any patients that passed while in the facility. The room was very small, and was placed directly beside what was the facilities employee break room. The breakroom being directly beside the morgue was no accident. The facility directors intentionally put the break room nextdoor in order to maximize employee productivity and limit those taking extra long breaks.
Photography tours are a much higher price, and will run you $100 plus tax. Photography tours are semi guided with no historical information provided. Taking this tour will give you access to:
- The Medical Center
- Kirkbride Interior
- The Grounds
- Building Exteriors
- Geriatric Building
Photography tours are available during both the morning and afternoon. If you choose to take both tours you get $50 off the cost of the tours. If you do not want to take both tours you have two time slot options:
- The Morning Tour 8am - 12pm
- Afternoon Tour 12pm - 5pm
You must check in a half an hour in advance for the photography tours. These tours are semi guided, so you will have time to explore and take photographs. Though you will not have any of the historical facts given to you by the guide.
If you want to soak in all the history you can about the mental facility there are many historic tour options to choose from. You can choose from two available heritage tours to soak in the facilities rich historical facts and information:
- First Floor
The first floor tour costs $10.00 and lasts around 45 minutes. You will tour two patient wards while learning about those who were instrumental in pioneering the humane treatment for the mentally ill. Then a visit to the Civil War section to learn about a Gold Robbery that helped West Virginia become a state. As well as how being a border state influenced the area.
- 4 Floors and First Floor of the Medical Center
Taking this tour will set you back $30.00 and lasts about 90 minutes. It includes all the rich historical information and touring of the first floor. You will then go on to learn about the 1935 fire that destroyed 4 of the hospital wards. It will also take you to the doctor's apartments, and the nurse quarters. A visit to Ward F will show you where the most deviant of patients were housed during their stay at the asylum. Touring the first floor of the medical center will provide you with an abundance of information about the treatments that went on in the hospital. The historic fasts will also shed some light on how the Asylum was instrumental in helping the local community make it through two wars, and the depression.
Both tours cover some very unique information:
- The treatment of the mentally ill prior to humane treatment regulations.
- How the Kirkbride theory is a nationwide influence.
- How the Civil War effected the construction of the oldest parts of the Asylum.
- Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylums socio economic influence throughout history.
- Fascinating facts that are unique to the facility and their history.
- Medical treatments throughout the years.
If you are someone who is more interested in history than the paranormal these tours would be a great choice for you.
Ghost Hunts and Paranormal Tours
If learning about the paranormal history of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is your thing, you have some great options for touring! These tours vary, and there are several that are available during October, that you may not find during the other months.
October Ghost Hunts:
- Main Building
- Medical Center, Geriatrics, Forensics
These tours cost $100.00 per person and will run from 11:30pm - 6:00am. You will be required to check in no later than 11:30, where you will be paired with a guide for the ultimate paranormal experience.
During other months you have the same options to take the Ghost Hunts, though the times change. The off season tours run from 9pm - 5am.
- Paranormal Tours
If hitting the paranormal hotspots is what you want, then these tours are for you. The paranormal tours will set you back $40.00 per person and reservations are required. This tour will take you to 4 of the mental facilities paranormal hotspots. Remember bring your EMF meters, recorders and photography equipment for the 2 hour expedition! This tour runs from 10:30pm - 12:30 am.
- Daytime Paranormal Tours
The daytime paranormal tours will differ from the night time tours. Still photography is allowed but it must not interfere with the tour. Keep in mind if you are more interested in capturing something tangibly paranormal you should probably opt for the night time tour. This tour runs for 90 minutes, available everyday except Monday. Tickets are $35.00 available onsite only. The tickets go fast and are first come first served, so it is best to call and book your group ahead.
Cemetery and Farm Tour
This is a very unique tour that will have you sitting as you ride in a truck through 269 acres of the Asylum grounds. Discovering 130 years of the institutions agricultural history, and visit three on site cemeteries. The tour is offered every Sunday through August. The times available are:
This tour takes you on a 4.5 mile ride that lasts around an hour. The cost is $15.00. What I have seen of the grounds around the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum it is breathtaking, and well worth the cost to sit and ride through more of the beautiful landscape surrounding the hospital.
Special Events and Attractions
The Asylum has many special events in the month of October.
- Fall Festival
- Costume Ball
- Haunted House
The annual events attract people from all over West Virginia, as well as those traveling from other states. Having attended many other haunted houses, I can tell you that they are kid stuff compared with Malice, the asylums annual haunted house. I attended during the fall festival, and just like other festivals, there was some great family fun activities. They have costume contest, vendors, crafts, karaoke and talent competitions.
The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum annual haunted house Malice is a terrifying thrill ride of evil through another building on the hospital property. Tickets for the haunted house are $25, and worth every single penny! They also have VIP tickets available for anyone who does not want to wait in line, though those were almost double the basic ticket price. We all had to sign a waiver before we could purchase tickets to enter, and experience the evil within. Large warnings are posted for those with health conditions to avoid entering the horrid haunted house. Those with heart conditions, panic attacks, breathing issues and a long list of other health issues should avoid the haunted house alltogether.
This is not your average haunted house, and is much longer than I expected. The haunted house is a self guided experience and each group has a leader that stays at the front of the group as you navigate through hallways, stairwells and large rooms. Navigating the haunted house takes about 30 minutes. The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum began preparations for Malice months in advance of the debut, and the experience proved that practice does indeed make perfect.
Malice is a haunted house that you will experience with all your senses. The scenes, actors, lights and displays are all designed to thrill and chill you to the bone. Unfortunately there were no photographs or recording equipment allowed, so I can not offer any visuals for the experience. Imagine if you will, some of the deepest darkest scenes of horror movies like Hellraiser, Saw, and Silent Hill, this experience tops them all. The actors do not touch you, but they do get up close and personal, All while staying in character! Perhaps one of the creepiest elements were the small children that were dressed as patients running around.
I am amazed at the amount of talent that all these local West Virginians posses. There were some award worthy performances by many of the actors. The mad Doctor that wanted my brain for experiments did an impeccable job of giving me the creeps while admiring my brain. I'll never do the experience justice with my words. It truly is something that anyone who loves horror films or Halloween should make a point to go experience before the end of the season. If you ever wanted to be in a horror film, this is for you! It is truly like your running from your deepest fears as you navigate the evil corridors of Malice. Even if you skip taking a tour or two make a point to experience Malice.
The Asylum's annual Costume Ball is always a huge hit, and many of my friends attend every year. You must be 18 to enter as drinks are served. Costumes are not required for entry, though cash prizes are awarded throughout the night, so dress up enjoy the ball and maybe win a little cash! This event also provides live music throughout the event.
These are just a few of the fantastic special events hosted at the Asylum, I follow their facebook page so I can stay informed of all the upcoming events.
Zombie Paintball Ride
Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum also has Zombie Paintball Rides in October starting at 11:30 pm, it looked like a fantastic experience as well. I cannot say how fun it is as I did not buy a ticket for it. If you have been preparing for the zombie apocalypse, a visit to West Virginia's most famous haunted house is a great chance to test your survival skills.
The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum webpage will give you more detailed information on securing tickets, and booking large groups to attend tours.
© 2016 Cynthia Hoover