DSGI Visits Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Those of you who know me should already know that I’m not afraid of ghosts or paranormal activity. Seeing spirits and feeling their energy is nothing new to me. From a very young age, I knew that women in my family had a sixth sense of sorts, we discussed it around the dinner table. Sometimes when strangers find out that I am a paranormal investigator, or my daughter freely tells them that I talk to ghosts haha, they look at me like I’m crazy. I’ve got news for you, there’s a whole lot of crazy in the world, and believing in the paranormal should be at the bottom of that list.
A couple of weeks ago, the Diamond State Ghost Investigators (DSGI) traveled to Weston, West Virginia for a private overnight paranormal investigation. I had let some friends know that I would write about the experience, but it has taken me some time to collect my thoughts. So here goes nothing.
History of Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) was constructed between 1858 and 1881, but didn’t begin operating as a hospital until 1864. While that seems like a date from a long time ago, it’s unnerving when you learn that the hospital didn’t close until 1994. Some of the patients who stayed at TALA were moved from that location to other locations and are still alive today.
Before the team packed up with our gear for the investigation some of us decided to tour the location during the day. The history of TALA is one that turns my stomach, to know that people with brain health issues were basically experimented on with methods that doctors hope would “fix them” is upsetting. However, there were also hundreds of people who were committed into the hospital for reasons that make no sense at all. A husband could commit his wife for reasons such as reading too many seductive novels or for having extreme PMS. *note my eye roll* Men and women, boys and girls of all ages stayed within those walls. Some of the children were born and died there.
When the hospital first opened it was supposed to be a place where patients with mental health issues would be treated with respect. They had dining rooms for patients to eat off fancy China plates. Patients were able to move about freely and even go outside to exercise. Unfortunately, as more and more people were admitted and the hospital surpassed maximum capacity, things went downhill. A place built for hope quickly became a place filled with despair.
At its peak in the 1950s, the hospital was holding 2,600 patients, more than ten times the number it was intended to house. Patients who nurses felt were unable to be helped or controlled were locked in cages in open spaces, with the idea of opening beds for patients who might have been considered easier to help. The asylum had also become a training ground for experimental lobotomies courtesy of Dr. Walter Freeman. His “ice pick” method, involved slipping an ice pick into the patient’s eye socket and using a hammer to force it to sever the connective tissue in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.
An onslaught of activity
The amount of activity we encountered in only about 10 hours of time was something I probably should have expected, but I didn’t. The energy was that of confusion, you could feel eyes on you at times, with wonderment almost. Like patients wondering who you are, why are you there? We voiced that we wanted to hear their stories, we weren’t there to hurt them and we just wanted to talk. At times the investigators with their headphones on listening for EVPs were hearing so many voices at once that it was impossible to make out what the voices were trying to say. Other times we heard what I consider to be residual energy imprints. The same things happened over and over again, repetitively overtime at the hospital and we hear those imprints. We heard the sound of heels coming down the hall, for example, which makes sense if there were nurses walking from room to room. For the most part, I felt anxious, I didn’t feel scared, I felt overwhelmed and maybe a little confused or lost.
And then we investigated the 4th Floor. I realize we were there to make contact, we did, on every floor, but the entities on the 4th floor didn’t want us to leave once we got there. I was at the back of the line when we were heading out and that’s when I was scratched. It felt hot, it stung, my mid to lower back and I lifted my shirt to show the team and they saw a fresh scratch. I’ve been touched before during investigations, my hair has been played with, but I have never been hurt. I was upset, shaken when we returned to the break room to regroup with the full team. It wasn’t until after the fact did I really think about what happened. I’d like to believe that the patient who reached out in the hall just didn’t want us to leave, maybe it had taken all of his or her energy just to get up to where we were sitting and then we got up and left.
Later during the investigation, a different group went up to the 4th floor, the same ward where I was scratched. On our way turning into the hallway something ran up behind us quickly and pushed us forward. At the time we thought it was another teammate playing a prank, but when we looked there was no one there. Maybe the same person who didn’t want me to leave saw that we were coming back and pushed us forward? I don’t know, but I’d like to think that had been the thought process. I want to believe the patients we encountered while investigating TALA were not malicious or evil.
Saying hello to Lilly
Much like how I grew up, I share my views of the paranormal with my kids. My two oldest boys are skeptical, I appreciate that they should absolutely be skeptical. It doesn’t stop them from wanting to hear about all the investigations. My daughter, the youngest, is a wide-open book and wants to experience anything and everything. I’m going to need to be sure to simmer her down a bit before she ever goes out on an investigation because she needs to protect herself. However, before leaving for TALA she asked me to say hello to Lilly. When we came across Lilly’s room we sat in there for a little bit, we didn’t get too much activity, but it was the only time that the music box played music. I know it was Lilly and I’d like to think she heard me say that a little girl in Delaware cares about her and says hello.
The lobotomy recovery room
Several members of the team experienced activity in the lobotomy recovery room. From a team member hearing a disembodied voice growling very close to her ear, to two other members seeing tall shadow figures. We had REM pods set up in the room and when we asked if anyone was with us the lights turned on in response. Sometimes the lights moved in succession as if an entity were moving closer to us and then backing away. I can imagine patients waking up in this recovery room and not know what happened or where they are. It’s possible the growling voice was from someone desperate to communicate but who no longer could due to the surgery that has been performed.
DSGI has not yet posted evidence from TALA to our digital vault, but we do have evidence from other places posted you can access it in our DSGI Evidence Vault.
Tis the season for spookiness. The month of October is a busy one for paranormal investigators, although spirits are with us year-round. Each Friday and Saturday DSGI leads paranormal tours at Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island. This is one of the most haunted places in Delaware and on the East Coast. Our team investigates this location more fully on our own, but when we are with the public we give small glimpses of what they can experience on the island.
Our tours are usually sold out, it’s a great experience working with the public. It’s also amazing to be part of the restoration of Fort Delaware by raising money through these tours. 100% of the proceeds go back to the Fort. For those of you interested, a new video was put together over the summer to showcase experiences we have had inside the Fort.