The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, located just off I-79 in Weston, W.Va., has been nationally recognized for the historic value and paranormal activity found there.
The Weston State Hospital was a mental treatment center that led the way in the humane treatment for mentally ill patients from 1864 to 1991, said Ryan Patton, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum employee. Standard treatment for mentally ill patients in the 19th century was to chain them up in jail with no rehabilitation or treatment.
Originally built to house 250 people, the hospital was constructed from handmade masonry. It is supposedly the second-largest hand-cut stone building in the world, Patton said.
The Weston State Hospital was the first of its kind, with an open-airy feeling that allowed patients to get fresh air and sunlight, Patton said.
“The asylum later helped the community economically through two wars and the Great Depression,” said Bobbie Jo Wheatley, marketing director for Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.
There was also a fire in 1935 that destroyed four wards in the asylum, Patton said.
“The historical reflection and the paranormal activity of the building is what brings tourists back,” Wheatley said.
The architecture, the scary stories and the historical prevalence make for great heritage and paranormal tours, Wheatley said.
The heritage tours for the asylum bring tourists through most wards of the hospital and through doctors and nurses’ quarters, Wheatley said. It gives a brief history of the treatment of mentally ill patients, shares unique facts about the hospital, tells of medical procedures used in the time of the hospital and tells the socio-economic influence the hospital had on the community.
“The ghost tours at the asylum have been the favorite among visitors,” Wheatley said. “Hundreds of patients have died in the hospital, and tourists at least have one to two paranormal experiences each tour, sometimes more.”
Visitors may experience the ghost tour during the day or at night. Tourists may also make arrangements for the public ghost hunt, the private ghost hunt or the paranormal tour, Patton said.
Tourists are encouraged to bring their own paranormal hunting equipment and plenty of warm clothes, Wheatley said.
Kelly Crouch can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.