Haunted Journeys

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

71 Asylum Drive
Weston, West Virginia
26452 USA

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Weston, WV is home to one of the most haunted places the state, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Come explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.

The History

Originally called the Weston State Hospital, it was constructed started in 1858, opening in 1864. This breathtaking Gothic and Tudor Revival designed property is considered the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and reportedly the second largest in the world, second to the Kremlin. The design was strategically drawn to allow its long rambling wings to be arranged in a staggered formation. This assured that each of the connecting structures would receive an abundance of therapeutic sunlight and fresh air.

Originally, when the asylum was being built, the first completed southern section served in the Civil War's effort. It became Camp Tyler, establishing the city of Weston as an important military post. This property became vital to the control of the well-traveled roads in the area. The wing of the asylum provided barracks and the main foundation served as a stable. Control of the area would change hands several times during the war, with Confederate raids in 1862 and 1863 temporarily dislodged the Union troops. Later in 1864, raiders stripped all the Asylum of its food and clothing that was secured for its first group of patients. At the end of the war, the completion of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was prioritized for the purpose of caring for Union soldiers that suffered greatly from the effects of fighting in the Civil War, providing a peaceful, restorative setting to heal the psychological wounds from battle.

Later this therapeutic plan was expanded to the general public, with plans to serve a capacity of 250 in solitude. Strangely, the asylum offered money to anyone who dropped off a patient … many of whom showed no signs of mental illness when they were first committed. The hospital held 717 patients by 1880; 1,661 in 1938; over 1,800 in 1949; at its peak, 2,600 in the 1950s in overcrowded conditions. A 1938 report by a North American medical organization found that the hospital housed "epileptics, alcoholics, drug addicts, and non-educable mental defectives" among its population. Later, in 1949, a series of reports by The Charleston Gazette found "poor sanitation and insufficient furniture, lighting, and heating in much of the complex."

This overcrowding at the Weston State Hospital led to disastrous poor conditions, unable to handle the burden. Patients began to starve, literally freeze to death in the winter, and battle each other for food and resources. Many patients were locked in cages in response to their limited resources in handling their behavior. Sadistic, experimental medical procedures were often performed on patients. To enable these patterns, anyone who complained or acted out was subjected to solitary confinement where they would be chained to the walls of an empty room for months on end.

As a relief effort, the institution found itself to be the home for the West Virginia Lobotomy Project in the early 1950s. Due to this severe overcrowding, this was an effort of West Virginia and the WSH's medical directors to use lobotomy in order to reduce the number of patients in asylums. Their graveyard had been expanded to 666 acres to accommodate the dying patients.

Due to changes in medical protocols and treatments, and the physical deterioration of the building, the asylum was closed in 1994. This inflicted a devastating effect on the local economy, form which it has yet to recover from. As Weston Hospital Main Building, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990. The hospital was bought by Joe Jordan in 2007 and is opened for tours and other events to raise money for its restoration. This has shifted some monies back to the community through its destination tourism.

The Hauntings

Due to its abundant reports of supernatural activity trapped within its thick and soundproofed walls, many would consider the Trans-Allegheny Asylum to be the most haunted in West Virginia, if not the world!

There have been many sightings of apparitions, unexplainable voices and sounds. The staff has reported seeing ghosts walking through walls or hearing the squeaky wheels rolling along the tiled hallway. Both visitors and staff have seen a ball of light moving rapidly down the hallways. Doors have been observed and heard closing on their own. Others have heard loud bangs coming from the pipes, unsolicited by the living. Objects will often move by themselves.

In Ward 2 on the second floor, a secret recording device captured an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) of an eerie voice saying "Get Out!". This is said to be where two patients had committed suicide and another patient had been stabbed to death. Expect to hear hysterical and disturbing laughter coming from empty rooms. One unusual story was reported by a doctor, who was followed by a spirit and it still is present in her home.

Many phantoms have been identified by name, all having specific preferred locations and styles of activity. Among these includes the ghost sighting of Ruth, found on the first floor. Apparently she hated men while alive and has not changed her tone. Ruth is alleged of throwing items to men today. Big Jim's phantom is said to haunt the third floor, accompanied by a nurse named Elizabeth. A bizarre ghost known as the "creeper" has been seen crawling on the floor. The ghost of a soldier named Jacob is said to haunt the fourth floor. The ghost of a murderer named Slewfoot, who had been slashed to death in a bathroom, is said to haunt the asylum as well.

The most common apparition is that of Lily who is a lonely little girl appearing in a white dress. She appears to be about nine years old. It is believed that Lily was a girl whose mother gave birth to her while at the asylum and that Lily died at age nine after spending every day of her life confined beneath its oppressive stone walls. Lily's sweet phantom is said to talk to visitors, roll balls along the floor when engaged in playtime, and switch on flashlights. She also likes to play a music box, and giggles often in a way that observers describe as simultaneously sweet and horrifying.

The Asylum represents a living testimony of the tortuous history that many poor souls endured while institutionalized in these antiquated mental facilities that served with limited knowledge, planning, and resources, although, at some point, they meant well. 

This impressively haunted property has been featured on stellar supernaturally-themed shows, such as SyFy's Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Lockdown, Portals to Hell, Ghost Hunters Academy, the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Challenge. 

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More reads about Haunted West Virginia...


The Haunted History of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Paperback – September 28, 2014 by Sherri Brake  (Author)      Real West Virginia Hauntings: Volume 1 Paperback – May 10, 2019 by Dave Spinks (Author), Rosemary Ellen Guiley (Foreword)     Paranormal Files West Virginia Paperback – October 11, 2019 by David Weatherly  (Author), Ross Allison  (Author), Dave Spinks (Author)


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Understand This:

This property, as part of our network, has been added for they may have history, validation, or folk tales of having spirited activities. Please take caution in approaching and visiting these locations, since courtesy, respect, and caution should be a top priority in every Haunted Investigator's style. Also do realize, some of these places may have permanently closed, changed ownership and/or names, or just are not available for your visits. Please respect this.

We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information provided on this listing, but offer it as a first step in finding your next haunted travel destination. Please do confirm with the property before making any plans to visit.

If you visit, tour, or investigate this property (or any of our properties), we are not responsible or held liable for any outcomes, lack of evidence, or injuries associated with your travels. This is only for entertainment purposes, and information provided is only as found in public domains (or as offered by the associated contributor (as a claimed property).

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Date added: Jan/24/2017 | Last time updated: Oct/20/2021

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