Ultimate Guide to the Most Haunted Insane Asylums in America

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There was a time when those who suffered with a mental illness were not treated well. Over the last one hundred years, the number of abuse reports regarding mentally ill patients is staggering. Years ago, many of the procedures that were used to try to cure these diseases were actually forms of torture, to a slightly lesser degree. For that reason, it should come as no surprise that many American asylums are said to be quite haunted.

Below are some of the most haunted mental institutions in the US, along with a bit of the demented history associated with each.

Danvers Insane Asylum

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This location resembles a castle more than a hospital. Danvers was home to criminals who were mentally ill, include those who had a tendency towards violence. There were many reports of inmates murdering each other, as well as staff members. Danvers would go on to become so understaffed that dead patients could be left to rot for days before being removed. The spirit activity here is reported in the hallways and in the back area, where there is a cemetery.

Rolling Hills Asylum

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Rolling Hills initially started as a farm in 1827. The East Bethany, New York property went on to be used as a home for the poor, struggling, and mentally ill. In the 90s, Rolling Hills began being used for other purposes, such as antique shops. Even so, reports of the sights and sounds of the ghosts of former patients are still coming in to this day.

Willard Asylum for the Chronically Insane

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Most who enter the doors of the Willard Asylum never returned to society. Sadly, many of the patients who died there still remain in the hospital. Willard was constructed in 1869 and was known for many ghastly treatments, including hanging patients by their thumbs when they refused to calm down. Of the more interesting ghosts in this haunted location is that of a female doctor who worked at the hospital before she herself went insane.

Richardson Olmsted Complex

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Constructed in 1870 in New York, the Richardson Olmsted hospital was reportedly often understaffed. This led to many problems, including patients having to sleep in their own excrement. This hospital was used for many experiments, most of which involved essentially pulverizing the brains of patients, causing them to die. These experiments certainly may provide an explanation for the reports of the otherworldly screams that are often heard by visitors.

Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital

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Folk singer Woodie Guthrie referred to Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital as “Gravestone” after he spent time there during the 1950s. This was because such a large number of patients died while Guthrie was there. Constructed in 1876, Greystone Park was closed in 2003, amid reports of sexual abuse that was taking place. Ghost hunters and visitors who are brave enough to enter Greystone say that they encounter the shadows of the former patients.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

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Interesting fact about the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum – it is the second largest hand-cut stone building in the entire world (the Kremlin is first). This West Virginia asylum was constructed during the Civil War and served as home to some of the more notorious lunatics of our time, including Charles Manson. Ghosts of Civil War soldiers are often seen in this former asylum, as is a ghost by the name of Ruth, who is said to actively be haunting the location, even causing physical harm to some visitors.

Pennhurst Asylum

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Pennhurst Asylum is located in East Vincent, Pennsylvania. Pennhurst opened in 1908 and never really had a clean reputation, being widely known for abusing patients and other scandals. At this hospital, patients were reported to have been chained to walls, while young patients were forced to basically live in their cribs for years on end. Many murders took place, by both patients and staff. The spirits that haunt Pennhurt have been known to scream at visitors, with some warning visitors to get out, presumably while they still can.

Hudson River State Hospital

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Hudson River opened in Fairview, New York, in 1871. Hudson River functioned as both a mental institution and a tuberculosis hospital. Many report hearing ghostly voices in its halls. Perhaps the ghosts are telling visitors of the abuses that took place there many years ago.

While we no longer have these types of institutions in the US, we still have not worked out the best means for caring for those with mental issues. It is quite possible that the psychiatric institutions that are in operation today could very well be the haunted locations that we are telling stories about tomorrow.

 

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Ridgeway Chronicles Chapter 1: The Haunting Begins with a Bang

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THE RIDGEWAY CHRONICLES

The home on Ridgeway Road was familiar to me long before I ever lived in it. Originally, it was purchased by my parents, after which, it was rented to my cousin and her husband. The first entry in what will be a long series of true ghost stories about this home, took place when my parents owned the house. My husband at the time was working for an ambulance company and would work 24-48 hour shifts, leaving me home alone (and pregnant) for extended periods of time. Sometimes, I would spend time with my siblings when I grew tired of being alone.

Before proceeding, I should give a bit of history about the home. The house was one of the oldest in town, and was not a standard home. In fact, it was a log cabin. The fact that it was a log cabin is what appealed to my mother, who was positive that she was Laura Ingalls Wilder in another life. I personally saw no appeal in the cabin aspect, and my husband and I would later cover the logs with siding, much to my mothers dismay. After the haunting started, I did speak with an elderly, local librarian, who was not much help, but did confirm that at least one person had died in the home. According to public records, the home was originally constructed in 1940.

Below are photos of the before and after. I’m still trying to find a photo of the full original front of the home, and will make sure to post it in a future post. For now, here are a few that show the old logs (along with a project car and my children at Halloween).

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On this particular night, my parents were not at home, and I was hanging out with my sister and one of my brothers, both younger siblings. We were in the den, towards the end of the one-story home, when we heard a loud crash and the distinct sound of glass breaking. The basement was directly below us and in that basement was a massive glass book shelf. My family, all avid readers, had hundreds of books on those shelves. My guess was that the weight of the books were too much for the glass shelves, and that one or more had given way and come crashing down onto the concrete floor.

There was another possibility in my mind, and that was that someone had broken into the basement. A thought which was quite scary. As the oldest sibling, I knew it was my duty to investigate. I cannot recall whether I chose a baseball bat or a knife as my weapon, but I do remember being armed as I slowly descended the steps to the basement. In that home, you only needed to step down a few stairs before being able to see most of the basement. As soon as I was able to view the room, I could see that the glass shelves were perfectly fine. No cracks, no shatters, nothing.

After seeing the that the shelves were undamaged and everything else in the basement seemed to be in place, I retreated to the den to discuss the matter with my siblings. At this point, I did begin to at least wonder about a cause that would have been paranormal. My sister had told me a few weeks earlier that she as awaking at 3:15 am each night, for no apparent reason. She also said that she was hearing walking around the home in the middle of the night, and was certain that it was the large family dog, Buster. She was able to keep that assumption intact until she got out of bed one night after hearing steps, only to find Buster sound asleep.

This paranormal occurrence would be the first of many to take place in the home on Ridgeway Road over the next sixteen years. I invite you to read each of these accounts and follow the haunted history of the home from start to finish. I’ll do my best to provide as many details as possible, but if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them. Just post below or reach out to me using the contact form or on social media.

 

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Guide to Conducting a Successful Ghost Hunt

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Believers in the paranormal often want to capture proof of the existence of ghosts. The best way to go this is by conducting a ghost hunt in homes or areas known for their high levels of paranormal activity. While learning how to conduct a ghost hunt, keep in mind that you should never visit a location with permission. This includes cemeteries, homes, and abandoned buildings.

paranormal-investigation-4-1Before setting out on a ghost hunt, be sure you have all of the equipment needed to capture proof. A camera is a must, if you hope to catch a visual image. There has been much debate as to whether a digital camera or standard camera is the best choice. If you cannot decide, take both. A video camera is another great choice, as still images do not always tell the story in a way that video can.

If you hope to capture EVP’s (electronic voice phenomena) you will need a tape recorder. You should also have a thermometer, to detect temperature fluctuations, and a EMF (electromagnetic field detector). There are other ghost detecting devices on the market, but these are the basics.

Once you arrive at your location, use the EMF detector to get a baseline reading. This will allow you to know if the electromagnetic levels around you rise. You should take readings periodically throughout your ghost hunt. If the levels rise, this potentially means that a ghost is near. You should immediately begin to film and take pictures.

You should also obtain a baseline temperature reading, and watch for changes throughout your ghost hunt. Ghosts are said to draw energy from the atmosphere in order to manifest, thereby dropping the temperature in a given area. This is why many people report a cold chill just before witnessing a ghost. If the temperature drops suddenly and drastically, take as many photos as possible, as this is likely an excellent time to capture a ghost on film.

rosslyn chapel - 00.08 am to 00.54 am (57)At some point during your ghost hunt, you may want to take the time to capture EVP’s. During an EVP session, everyone should be sitting down, and be as still as possible, as not to create any excess noise that could be picked up by the recorder. Once you are settled, begin to ask the ghost questions. Pause long enough in between each question to allow time for the recorder to pick up any response. Some professional ghost hunters claim that you should only speak in a friendly tone, while others use a method of provoking. Whichever you choose is up to you.

You will not capture ghostly images or voices on every ghost hunt. However, if you are persistent, as well as professional in your efforts, it is likely that you will eventually capture some amazing evidence.