Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum



Arrival 2nd Day (9/19/2015)
This weekend our crew headed out to Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum as an impromptu #Zoinks2015 vacation. The town of Weston, nestled in the mountains and forests of West Virginia, is about as charming as any little town that harbors an enormous lunatic asylum deserves to be.

The first surprise was that the asylum wasn't off at some distance from the town. It was literally a couple of blocks from main street. The grounds are lovely, and if you didn't know that it was reported as one of the most haunted places, I'm not sure it would be your first thought. Yes, it's large and imposing, but so are a long list of public buildings you wouldn't think twice about entering.

Arrival 1st Day (9/18/2015)
Entertainingly, we have two "first impressions" of the place. On Friday we arrived 10pm at night for the Rocky Horror Show, so although there's something inherently creepy about rolling up to a haunted building in the dark, it was pretty quickly offset by having flamboyant cast members descend on us. We didn't really know anything about the building, so we had no idea that they led us through one of the "most haunted" sections for the show. For those playing the home game, take a few points off my "psychic sensitivity" score.

The next morning, we rolled back in (video above because the reception wasn't good enough to use Periscope) to do a historic tour at noon and paranormal tour at 4pm. We used the same entrance, and rather than Rocky Horror extras we were greeted by tour guides in nursing uniforms. Can't decide if that increased or decreased the creepiness factor.

Morgue inside the Medical Center
The advantages to the historic tour are that you get to see more of the complex (it's a number of buildings, not just the main building), and different parts of the main building than you see on the paranormal tour. Honestly, many of the most horrific things happened in the Medical Center, so we have to assume that it is at least as good a place to do ghost hunting as the main building. During October, at least, you can do an overnight "Medical/Forensic/Geriatrics Ghost Hunt" (scroll past the regular ghost hunt listings).
Criminally insane in the back yard

There were two buildings that would have been great to go inside
that we only got to see at a distance. One houses the Scare House for Halloween, so obviously you can get in that way. It housed tuberculosis patients in its early years. The other was a long, low building built to house the criminally insane, i.e. the "forensic" patients, which it looks like might be on the special October tour.

Disrepair in the forensic ward, and also site our guide
saw an apparition walking through the nurse's station.
Walking around the main building I had two primary impressions. (1) This building is frickin' huge, and, (2) This is so sad. The huge part is kind of self-evident, but if you like quantifying things, it's 242,000 square feet. It's the second largest hand-cut sandstone building in the world, the first being
The Kremlin. So, like, really big. As for the second thing, it's sad no matter how you come at it. Big history nerd? Sad that the building is in such disrepair. From a simple human perspective, hearing the stories you feel sad for both the patients and the staff. The hospital was almost immediately overpopulated and understaffed. And the paranormal stuff? Those are some bummed out ghosts. Murder victims, suicides, and who knows what else. Our paranormal guide had seen an apparition once that sounded like a really depressed orderly, just shuffling along and staring at the ground.

Now that we've whet our appetites with day tours, the next step is obviously one of the overnight lock-ins. A drawback to the day tours is that you can't bring your ghost hunting equipment, but for the lock-ins they encourage you to bring it. We've got EMF meters burning holes in our pockets, so we will probably be back this Autumn to try them out.

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