- - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

They say you will know it when you have walked through a ghost. Your hair will stand on end, your skin will register a sudden chill and you might even start talking to a lady who is simply not there. It will happen so suddenly and imperceptibly you may not even know what has just transpired.

But at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, you will know. The lumbering Civil War-era structure is a veritable warehouse of ghost stories and ghost activities that vary with each floor and each wing and the histories these spaces hold.

The behemoth Victorian structure that stands four stories high and nearly a quarter-mile long has always been a hospital for the insane, the ill or just misunderstood, treating – and mistreating – its isolated residents from 1864 to 1994. Today, it is an attraction of sorts – a repository of a sordid history of a time when aberrant relatives were “sent away” and forbidden to maintain contact with family members as a matter of treatment; of a time when lobotomies and electric-shock therapy were de rigueur; and a time when overcrowding (the facility was designed to house 250 patients but had more than 2,400 patients at its peak) was an accepted practice.

For those who want to slip through a paranormal door and enter the world of this unseen past, the asylum runs eight-hour ghost tours — and encounters are all but guaranteed.

“There was a little girl who died here – there are no records, specifically, but she likes to make herself known,” says Bethany Cutright, a former ghost guide who still works at the asylum. “She approached one of our staff once and said she lost her mother but then disappeared. When we try to contact her we get responses.”

Sometimes it’s crying or knocking or the inexplicable movement of an object. Doors open, footsteps approach, talking and answers to questions bellow from nowhere or show up in voice recordings. Quiet groups get stronger activity than noisy groups. The 4th floor seems to be the most active spot as it contained patient housing for many years. Some spirits are what Ms. Cutright calls “intelligent.” They seem to be aware of the present and even answer questions posed by the ghost hunters. Other spirits seem to be stuck in time, residual presences caught in a strange eternal eddy of energy.

“The gut is the best tool,” Ms. Cutright adds. “You have this overwhelming feeling that someone is behind you or that you are being watched and you want to get out of there fast.”

Ghost-hunting visitors have eight hours to wander the halls that contain old living quarters, operating theaters, staff quarters, administration offices, isolation units, even a morgue … and they can wander alone if they choose or with groups that never exceed 10 people. But best to stick with the guides, Ms. Cutright adds. “They know the hot spots and they know the triggers.”

Two rules apply: Do not aggressively provoke the spirits, and leave the Ouija Board at home.

Inside tips: Stay quiet and patient and you will see much more than you think. Bring a K-II EMF detector to determine tell-tale spikes in electromagnetic energy (or borrow one for free at the asylum – first-come, first-served). Bring a flashlight. This is not only useful for navigating dark hallways in the middle of the night, it is also something spirits like to play with and often turn off and on at will or in answer to questions. “They are curious about these gadgets as they come from a previous time,” she says. Also, bring a sensitive voice recorder for sounds and voices not audible to the ear. An Ovilus or Spirit Box is also useful.
Finally, do not be alarmed if a spirit follows you home. This is common but does not last long. Use sage to clear the room before you leave the hospital and ask the spirits not to follow. Hint: Ghosts love electronics, especially TV, so do not be surprised if your set turns on – and off – at odd hours.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum: Paranormal Pricing
October Paranormal Tours run Wednesday nights for two hours starting at 10:30 p.m. for $40 per person. October Ghost Tours are six-hour tours starting at midnight — reservations required. Cost is $100.00 per person. Private ghost tours run $150 per person (10-person minimum) and span eight hours.
Location: 71 Asylum Drive, Weston, WV 26452
Driving: One hour outside of Morgantown, WV; 4.25 hours from Washington, D.C.
Reservations required: (304) 269-5070
Website: Trans-Alleghenylunaticasylum.com

Lark Gould reports on travel and the travel industry from Los Angeles, covering travel trends and destinations on Travel-Intel.com and eTravel.news.

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