13 Southern Roadway Revenants

Since I started my blog, I have been hesitant to use random encounters from online. Of course, while many of these stories are hard, nay impossible, to prove, some of them do ring with a sense of truth. For a writer like me, one of the most difficult tasks in my research is finding good, firsthand accounts of ghostly encounters, especially for areas where there is a general lack of documented stories (i.e. books, newspaper articles, etc.).

Recently, I have become fascinated with the Ghosts of America website. This website collects stories from people throughout the country. While many of these accounts talk about ghosts in private homes, some discuss specific locations. While wading through this vast collection, I’m looking for specific accounts that not only mention specific locations but have a sense of authenticity as well.

Please note, I cannot guarantee that any of these places are truly haunted or that these accounts are totally truthful.

Since my last article on haunted roads and bridges in Alabama, I decided to look at encounters in every state that I cover. These are the results.

Brown Street
Altoona, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama was named for the English city of Birmingham—one of the earliest industrial cities in the Western world. Altoona, Alabama, which was founded around the turn of the 20th century as a coal-mining town, was named for the great Pennsylvania coal-mining town of Altoona. Likely, the town supplied coal for the burgeoning steel industry centered in nearby Birmingham.

There’s not much to the community of Altoona; Main Street is Alabama Highway 132 as it heads southwest to Oneonta in neighboring Blount County, traveling east you’ll connect with US 278. A post office and several stores form the center of the town with small homes radiating outward.

Brown Street branches off Main Street and winds through rural woods with sporadic houses lining its side before it terminates south of town. An anonymous poster to Ghosts of America documented an interesting encounter on this street. A woman was driving this street at night when her car broke down within 500 yards of 11th Avenue. She pulled off the road and called her husband to come get her.

As she waited on the side of the road, she noted that she felt comfortable as she was familiar with the area. An old Dodge drove past her and she watched as it turned around to check on her. As the vehicle passed her again, she saw an elderly man driving. Slowing down, the mysterious driver smiled at her and nodded, “as if to let me know I would be fine.” Reaching for her phone, the woman looked to see if her husband was nearby. As she looked up again, the vehicle was nowhere in sight, and the witness realized the old Dodge had made no sound at all.

Sources

New York Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC
 

New York Avenue begins auspiciously at the White House heading northwest towards Maryland. As one of the original avenues laid out by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, this thoroughfare originally began at the Potomac River southwest of the White House, but over time those sections of the avenue have been consumed by development, so now only a block remains south of the White House. According to L’Enfant’s plan, the avenue terminated at Boundary Street (now Florida Avenue), though support was garnered around the turn of the 20th century to extend the road into Maryland. This was finally accomplished in 1931.

As New York Avenue stretches northeast away from the hubbub of downtown Washington, its monumental nature falls away and it begins to take on a more plebeian flair as it sidles up to the Amtrak Railyards. Upscale businesses are replaced with light industrial and pedestrian commercial development. Efforts to redevelop the corridor were discussed in 1980 and up through the early 2000s, though much of that work has not come to fruition. A 2005 study of the most crash-prone intersections in the city concluded that five were located on New York Avenue, with the top one being the intersection with Bladensburg Road.

New York Avenue Washington DC
The intersection of New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, 2016. Photo by Famartin, courtesy of Wikipedia.

An encounter posted to Ghosts of America makes note of the avenue’s dicey reputation, especially after dark. “Larry” however, decided to use it as a shortcut around 3 AM one morning. As he waited at a stoplight, a disheveled man approached his car and stopped in front. The light turned green and the man continued to stand in front of his car. Larry honked, though the strange man continued standing there. As he backed his car up to go around, Larry realized that the man did not have legs and was seemingly floating in mid-air. Terrified, he sped away from the scene.

Sources

Melrose Landing Boulevard
Hawthorne, Florida
 

Melrose Landing Boulevard is a sparsely inhabited road through rural Putnam County, Florida, near the towns of Hawthorne and Melrose. According to a poster named Sarah on Ghosts of America, it was along this road that her father and brother came upon a woman standing in the road “in a dress that looked to be out of the 1700’s.” She appeared suddenly, and the truck didn’t have time to stop before passing through her.

Around 3 AM on November 1, 2009, All Saints’ Day, the day after Halloween, Sarah turned onto the road at the same place where her father and brother had their earlier incident. As she drove down the road she passed a woman walking “with her long dress all gathered up in her arms.” Realizing that she might need to check on the woman, she turned around and discovered no one around. Sarah also noted that she was returning home from working at a seasonal haunted attraction and was driving a hearse. She considered that the oddity of someone encountering such a vehicle on such a day might have frightened the mysterious woman and that she may have fled into the woods, though Sarah doubted it.

Sources

Bemiss Road (GA 125)
Valdosta, Georgia

Connecting Valdosta with Moody Air Force Base and Fitzgerald, GA 125 is named Bemiss Road in Valdosta as it heads towards the small community of Bemiss. A poster on Ghosts of America named Arturias revealed that he drove this road frequently at night over the course of fifteen years. During that time, he witnessed people walking along the road, though on three occasions he “noticed coming up on them that they didn’t have legs under the streetlights. Looked faded out.”

After these experiences, he heard the road referred to as the “Highway of Death.” I can find nothing online to prove or disprove whether this is actually the case and why.

Sources

Baker Road
Fort Knox, Kentucky

Branching off of US 31W, Baker Road serves as a truck entrance to Fort Knox. A post on Ghosts of America from someone going by the handle, Redfraggle, was apparently written by one of those truck drivers who frequently drives Baker Road late at night. While headed towards the Brandenburg Gate, this driver had to swerve “to avoid hitting a dark-haired woman crossing the road.” Dressed in a muumuu, the woman appeared solid and the driver stopped to check on her. The woman only looked at him with a “broken hearted” expression and vanished.

Fort Knox Kentucky entrance sign
A sign at one of the entrances to Fort Knox. Photo 1999, by 48states, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The driver reports that he has seen the woman many times but doesn’t stop for her. In addition, this apparition has appeared along this stretch of road to his fellow drivers.

Please note that this road is on a military base and off limits to the public.

Sources

Fort Knox, Kentucky Ghost Sightings. GhostsofAmerica.com. Accessed 30 July 2020.

Albany Lights
Elbert Stewart Road
Albany/Independence, Louisiana Area

About five miles north of Albany and five miles west of Independence is Elbert Stewart Road, home to the locally known Albany Lights. I can find no other reference to these lights online or in any of my research.

A submission from Larry on Ghosts of America, describes his experiences with the lights throughout his life. According to the post, Elbert Stewart Road was once called Dummy Line Road. The term “dummy line” refers to railroads that were constructed to serve the timber as it cut huge swathes of land throughout the South the end of 19th and into the early 20th centuries. Presumably, these lines were called “dummy” because they did not connect to the transportation rail lines.

The story of the lights involves a brakeman who was killed when he failed to pin the coupling between two cars and was crushed. The lights are supposed to be the brakeman’s signal “that the pinning was made.”

Larry explains that some years ago the road was named for his grandfather and that at 49 years of age, he recalls the lights appearing all his life. Interestingly, he points out that if you have photographic equipment on you, the lights will not appear (what about cellphones?). Otherwise, viewers have an 80% chance of seeing the hazy, bluish colored light.

Interestingly, he notes that the phenomenon has been investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Geographic Society. None of these investigations were successful as they all had photographic equipment on them.

A comment on the post from a nearby resident states that they have encountered the lights here “plus much more.”

Sources

Church Road Cemetery
Church Road
Broomes Island, Maryland

Occupying a small peninsula extending into the Patuxent River, the community of Broomes Island plays host to a haunted cemetery. Not only do spirits haunt the cemetery, but they apparently have spilled out onto surrounding streets. This location is documented in Ghosthunting Maryland by the father and son duo of Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. The Varholas describe a ritual where someone circles the cemetery three times at night, after which a fog rolls in the laughter of young girls can be heard.

A post on Ghosts of America mentions that the cemetery has numerous spirits which have spilled out into the nearby streets where they “scream and laugh.” A comment on this post is from a newspaper delivery man who has encountered the spirit of a young boy who told him and his mother to leave. Afterwhich, they saw it run past the car windows.

Sources

MS 33 Bridge over the Homochitto River
Rosetta, Mississippi

Less than a mile north of the unincorporated community of Rosetta in the Homochitto National Forest, Mississippi State Route 33 crosses the Homochitto River on a fairly new bridge. This bridge has seen multiple iterations as the shallow river erodes the stream banks. For nearly two centuries a ferry crossed here which was eventually replaced by a bridge. That bridge was replaced in 1941. The new bridge was damaged during a flood, and it was repaired and extended in 1956.

By 1974, the bridge was again needing work and it was extended again. Just two months after completion, the bridge was washed out during a flood. This washout claimed the lives of two men who were reportedly standing on the bridge. The current bridge was completed by the MDOT in 1978, though it too, has been extended around 2014.

Homochitto River bridge Rosetta Mississippi 1974 flood
This shows the damage done to the bridge during the April 1974 flood. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A brief post on Ghosts of America states that phantom headlights have been seen on this bridge heading southbound but disappearing before they cross the full length of the bridge.

Sources

South Queen Street Bridge over the Neuse River
Kinston, North Carolina

A couple from out of town was staying at “the hotel that sits right next to the Queen Street Neuse River Bridge,” presumably the Red Carpet Inn and Suites. After dark they walked across the road to get dinner from Hardee’s. As they made their way back to their hotel, they began to hear the sounds of “men screaming, ‘stop the fire’ and the sounds of water splashing” coming from the direction of the bridge. The sounds continued with the noise of a battle. At the same time, they both smelled the odor of cigar smoke. They ran back to their room.

The following day, they mentioned the incident to the hotel manager and were told that a battle was fought there during the Civil War, and that guests routinely report hearing and seeing things around the bridge. The couple reported their experiences on Ghosts of America.

In fact, this was the site of the Kinston Bridge which came under attack by Union troops on December 14, 1862. After defending a defensive line south of the bridge, Confederate troops retreated towards the bridge and crossed into town. Thinking that all his men had crossed, General Nathan Evans ordered his men to set the bridge aflame. However, a number of Confederate troops still remained on the opposite side and were now taking the brunt of artillery fire from both Union troops and their own men on the other side of the bridge.

As these men began to run for the bridge they realized that it was in flames and many were captured by Union forces. General John G. Foster sent his men to douse the flames and continue across the partially destroyed bridge into Kinston. As Evans retreated away from town, Union soldiers looted and destroyed parts of the city.

Sources

US 1
Between Bethune and Cassatt, South Carolina

Stretching between Key West., Florida and Fort Kent, Maine, US 1 is the longest north-south road in the country. While this highway passes through many busy urban areas, it also passes through quiet, rural areas such as this area of Kershaw County. Michael posted on Ghosts of America about his experience on this lonely stretch of road around 12:30 at night.

As he passes through an undeveloped area, Michael passed a woman walking on the side of the road. He noticed that she had an “old mottled blanket wrapped around her. The entire figure was so very pale. Her hair was blonde, and the blanket appeared to have dark dots on it.” As he passed her, he wondered why someone would be out on a chilly night on this lonely stretch of road. Looking in his rearview mirror, he could only see darkness. The following night he was on the lookout for the woman, but she did not appear. After arriving at work, he told some of his co-workers about the experience only to have someone come in from the next room saying that they had seen the woman as well. Their description matched his, all the way down to the blanket.

Sources

Dolly Parton Parkway
Sevierville, Tennessee
 

An employee for an industrial laundry posted on Ghosts of America that two of his drivers had strange experiences on Dolly Parton Parkway. The first encounter involved a driver as he drove into work around 2:30 AM along Dolly Parton Parkway. He encountered a thick fog, and “came upon 4 men in old tattered clothes pushing a cannon across the road.” Slamming on the brakes, he sat and watched as the men rolled the cannon across the road without noticing him or his car. Going into work, the shaken driver told his supervisor of his experience.

The second encounter also involved a man driving the same stretch of road in the very early morning also driving through a thick patch of fog. “His entire windshield froze completely over with frost to the point where he had to pull over and scrape it with his license.” Interestingly, the temperatures that morning were quite warm.

The poster, Leslie, Googled the area and discovered that a battle was fought near the roadway during the Civil War. Though a small battle, the Battle of Fair Garden was furious, and led to roughly 250 casualties. Most curious is a detail on the recently installed marker near the battlefield: the battle was fought on a cold January morning in a heavy fog.

Sources

East Virginia Avenue (US 460)
Crewe, Virginia

A resident East Virginia Avenue named Larry reported seeing a man walking the street with a lantern in this small Virginia town. He notes that he and his family have lived on the street as long as he can remember and that he has seen this apparition the entire time. While he knows of no other neighbors who have witnessed it, several of his relatives have seen it. One relative visiting from out of town went out to smoke in the front yard around midnight and watched an orange light glide down the street. As the light came closer, it vanished.

The town of Crewe was created in 1888 by the Norfolk & Western Railroad—later Norfolk Southern—as a site for locomotive repair shops. The necessity of the repair shops decreased towards the middle of the 20th century.

Sources

West Virginia State Route 2
New Cumberland, West Virginia

Hancock County is the northernmost county in West Virginia, and the South. It pushes up between Ohio and Pennsylvania, and one side of the county is defined by the Ohio River. New Cumberland is one of the towns located on the river. WV 2 runs through the heart of the town.

A post on Ghosts of America from John describes an incident that happened to him as he was driving southbound on WV 2 in New Cumberland in the spring of 1974. As he and his passenger neared railroad tracks and a bridge, “a ‘man’ stepped out in front of my vehicle. He turned and looked directly at me as the hood of my car went through him.” Then he suddenly disappeared. He continues, “I actually saw the upper part of his body in the middle of my hood. The lower part was inside the front of the car.” Reportedly, the man had white hair and beard, and “wore a ‘brimmed’ hat.”

downtown building New Cumberland West Virginia
This building sits at the intersection where WV 2 makes a dog leg in downtown New Cumberland. Photo 2015 by Carol Highsmith, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In tracing the route of WV 2 through New Cumberland, I could only locate one place where a bridge and railroad tracks are close together: at the bridge over Hardin Run. Going southbound, the railroad crossing is about 200 feet after the bridge. Is this where the mysterious apparition appeared to a frightened driver in 1974?

Sources

Specters on Stage—Guide to Haunted Southern Theatres

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.

—Williams Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene 5

The world of the theatre is filled with mysticism, superstition, and spirits. As a theatre person, nearly every theatre I have worked in has this mysterious side, especially in the connection to the spirit world. In his Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans, author Jeff Dwyer contends that one can be almost certain that a theatre will be haunted.

There are few certainties in ghost hunting. But when it comes to haunted places, ships and theaters offer ghost hunters the greatest opportunities for encounters with the spirit world. Theaters often harbor the ghosts of actors, writers, musicians and directors because something about their creative natures ties them to the place where they experienced their greatest successes or failures. Stagehands and other production staff may haunt backstage areas where they worked and, perhaps suffered a fatal accident. They may also be tied to room where props are stored. The ghosts of patrons remain long after death because they love the theater or, more likely, they loved an actor who performed regularly at that location.

Much of the mysticism in theatre revolves around actors, especially in how they take on a character. Even the language of an actor bears parallels with the language of ghosts and spirits. Some actors will describe an experience akin to possession when they are inhabiting another’s body and lose themselves. Certainly, within the ritual of preparing for a show, there may be a ritual in applying makeup, getting into costume, and warming up. I’ve watched as some actors will walk the set, absorbing the energy of the world of the play, all of which resembles summoning. If the play utilizes masks, actors may put on the mask in a nearly religious manner. Onstage, the actors are in tune with the energy that surrounds them, including that from other actors, the set, the audience, the crew, and the audience. Once the actor has finished his hour of strutting and fretting upon the stage, these spirits are banished to the world of fiction. But, are they really? Perhaps some of these spirits linger in the theatre?

As for the directors, writers, musicians, technical crew members, and the backstage functionaries, many imbue their work with their own passion, thus leaving a little bit of themselves behind in their work. Even once these people pass on, they may return to the theatres to feed their passion in the afterlife.

The practice of leaving a ghost light onstage when the theatre is dark is wrapped up in superstition and practicality. Some will argue that the light assures the theatre’s spirits that the theatre is not abandoned and provides light for their own performances. In a way, this could be a sacrifice to the genius loci, or the spirit of a location. As for practicality, non-superstitious thespians will contend that a ghost light provides illumination to prevent injuries if someone enters the darkened space.

Theatres are often inherently dangerous places where actors, crew, and even some patrons can, and do, get injured. Indeed, there have been numerous accidents throughout history where deaths have occurred on or just off stage sometimes leaving spirits in limbo within the space. The haunting of the Wells Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia comes to mind. One of the spirits in this 1913 theatre may be that of a careless stagehand who became entangled in the hemp rope-operated fly system (a system that is still in use) and accidentally hung himself. Other deaths may be blamed on medical conditions that have claimed have claimed lives while people are at work.

As for lingering spirits of theatre patrons, a love for theatre or a particular space may be reason enough to return in the afterlife. Though it seems that most of the hauntings by members of the audience are residual in nature with phantom laughter and applause sometimes being heard.

Contributing to theatres’ haunted natures, some theatres occupy spaces that were not intended to be performance spaces. These repurposed buildings may already be haunted, and the spirits adapt to the new use of the location. Among the numerous examples of these types of theatres are the Baltimore Theatre Project in Maryland in an old building originally constructed for a men’s fraternal organization and the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, Florida, formerly a post office and courthouse.

Over the decade I have worked on this blog, I have covered a number of theatres and theatre spaces. In addition to places that have formerly served as theatres, I have added movie houses, larger structures that include a theatre, structures that are associated with theatres, and the Maryland home of the Booth family, which included some of America’s most famous and infamous actors in the 19th century.

Alabama

Lyric Theatre Birmingham Alabama
Balconies of the Lyric Theatre. Photo by Andre Natta, 2006, courtesy of Flickr.

District of Columbia

Tivoli Theatre Washington DC
Tivoli Theatre, 2005, by D Monack. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Florida 

Floirda Theatre Jacksonville Florida
Florida Theatre, 1927. Photo courtesy of the Jacksonville Historical Society.

Georgia 

Wink Theatre Dalton Georgia
Wink Theater, 2018. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Kentucky 

Louisville Palace Theatre Kentucky
The house and stage of the Louisville Palace. The theater is designed to ensconce the audience in a Spanish Baroque courtyard. The ceiling is an atmospheric ceiling with clouds. In the 1960s, this balcony was enclosed as a second theater, but this alternation was removed in the 1990s restoration. It’s not hard to imagine spirits spending their afterlife in such a magnificent edifice. A handful of spirits have been reported here including a man in 1930s clothing that has been seen in this balcony. When approached by ushers, the man disappears. Photo taken in 1928, courtesy of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Louisiana

Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium Louisiana
The elaborate facade of the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium. Photo by Michael Barera, 2015, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Maryland 

Maryland Theatre Hagerstown
The modern entrance to the Maryland Theatre, 2014. Photo by Acroterion, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Mississippi

Temple Theatre Meridian Mississippi
Temple Theatre, 2008. Photo by Dudemanfellabra, courtesy of Wikipedia.

North Carolina 

Carolina Theatre Greensboro North Carolina
Greensboro’s Carolina Theatre in 2008. Photo by Charles Brummitt, courtesy of Wikipedia.

South Carolina

Riviera Theatre Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Riviera Theatre, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Tennessee

The proscenium arch of the Orpheum Theatre, 2010, by Orpheummemphis. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Virginia

Hanover Tavern Virginia
Hanover Tavern, 2007 by BrandlandUSA. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

West Virginia 

Apollo Theatre Martinsburg West Virginia
Apollo Theatre, 2009, by Acroterion. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A Conjuring—Kentucky

Kentucky Historical Society
100 West Broadway Street
Frankfort, Kentucky

While I’m not a fan of Zak Bagans and his programs like Ghost Adventures, I have recently been charmed by the first season of his show, Deadly Possessions, which highlights haunted objects in his haunted museum in Las Vegas and throughout the country. The second episode examined something called the “Conjured Chest,” a piece of furniture owned by the Kentucky Historical Society. The story is fascinating, and I found that a descendent of the family that donated the piece has written a book about it.

The piece doesn’t look like a typical haunted object. It’s an Empire-styled mahogany chest of drawers with four drawers and crystal knobs with no hint of creepiness. This piece has brought death or serious injury to sixteen, possibly seventeen, people, though no one would presume something from such a staid antique.

Lobby Kentucky Historical Society Frankfort
Lobby of the Kentucky Historical Society where the chest is now on display. Photo 2008 by Chris Light. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The legend of the piece can be traced to the 1830s when the piece was created. A wealthy member of the young state’s aristocracy had a slave construct this chest for his newborn son. The slave, named Remus in the family’s recounting of the legend, was beaten to death when his master, Jeremiah Graham, was displeased by the piece. The master’s other slaves, angered by his callousness, devised a Hoodoo conjure in retribution. After sprinkling owl blood within the drawers, a curse was placed ensuring that anyone whose clothes were placed within the drawers would die.

The first to die from the effects of the conjure was the newborn son of Jeremiah Graham. The second was the son of Jeremiah’s brother, who was stabbed around his 21st birthday. The piece was passed through the family with a succession of members dying after putting clothes into the chest. A few of the victims did not die but were gravely injured or suffered severe illnesses. One victim was not a family member, but rather a neighbor who tempted fate by putting his hunting clothes within one of the fateful drawers. He was killed in a gun accident just a year after the end of World War II.

The seventeenth victim possibly gave her life in order to lift the conjure. Sallie, an African-American maid who worked for the Mayne family was asked to lift the conjure and going through with a ritual she announced that someone would have to give their life to lift the curse. In 1946, she passed away unexpectedly. Since no one has put their clothes in the chest since that time, it is unknown if the curse has lifted. In 1976, Virginia Mayne donated the piece to the Kentucky Historical Society, carefully including notes about the lifting of the conjure with the owl wings used in the ritual in the top drawer.

Cover of Conjured Chest
Cover of Beverly Mayne Kienzle’s 2017 book, The Conjured Chest, with a photograph of the infamous chest.

Virginia Mayne’s daughter, Beverly Mayne Kienzle, was called by producers for Zak Bagans’ show, the retired Harvard professor began to research the story, so she could comfortably talk about the piece. Her research revealed that the facts of the legend are mostly true, though there are some questions about the details of the chest’s origins. With her research, Mrs. Kienzle put together a short book on her findings, which may also dispute some of the stories floating about on the internet.

For now, the conjured chest, as it is known, remains on display in the Kentucky Historical Society, its drawers remaining empty so as to not tempt fate.

Sources

  • Kienzle, Beverly Mayne and Virginia Cary Hudson. The Conjured Chest: A Cursed Family in Old Kentucky. Beverly Mayne Kienzle, 2017.
  • MY Entertainment. “Episode 2: The Conjure Chest and St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Wall.” Originally aired: 9 April 2016.

Moaning and crying—Ashland, Kentucky

This is the twelfth and final entry in my Twelve Days of Southern Spirits Series celebrating traditional ghost story telling over Christmas. 

Ashland Cemetery
1518 Belmont Street
Ashland, Kentucky

In his 2011 book, Ghost Stories of Eastern Kentucky: A Pocketful of Poltergeists, Bill Carpenter collects accounts of paranormal experiences from a variety of people. This same format was utilized by Kentucky’s most famous ghost storyteller, Williams Lynwood Montell in his groundbreaking books, starting with his 1987 volume, Ghosts Along the Cumberland. While this format—collecting personal experiences and publishing them raw and unedited—is especially useful in collecting folklore, for researchers like myself that often look at hauntings from the standpoint of location, it can be maddening. Searching through stories that take place in unidentified private residences can be tedious, however, there can be rewards.

Bill Carpenter’s book includes several accounts from people who have had similar experiences in Ashland Cemetery, the main cemetery in the small town of Ashland, of which two are particularly interesting.

The first account, from a 29-year-old Boyd County woman, tells of several teenagers exploring the cemetery at night. The teens were only walking around and reading graves which inevitably led one of them to begin telling ghost stories. As they talked, they began to hear sounds from the darkness around them. After they began to feel a distinct chill in the air, the group began to run for the entrance. As they neared the gate, a cry was heard, that cry turned into a moan causing the frightened teens to run faster.

Ashland Cemetery Kentucky
The gates of Ashland Cemetery. Photo by JC, 2006 and courtesy of Find-a-grave.com.

Another local woman recalled her visit to the cemetery to see the gravestones of the children killed in what was dubbed the “Ashland Tragedy.” On Christmas Eve 1881, the bodies of three teenagers were discovered in a burning home. Robert and Fannie Gibbons and their friend, Emma Carico were beaten to death in the Gibbons family home which was set on fire to conceal the murder. Three local men were arrested, tried, and convicted of the murders. A lynch mob wishing to enact justice executed one of the men, while the other two were moved to nearby Catlettsburg for their safety.

The two convicts were later boarded onto a ship in Catlettsburg along with some two hundred guards. As the ship passed Ashland, a large crowd gathered on the shore demanding that the convicts be turned over. A ferry loaded with local men approached the ship and fired their guns only to be answered with a hail of gunfire from the guards, killing four locals.

After reading about the tragic events, a local woman decided to visit the teenage murder victims’ graves in Ashland Cemetery. The Gibbons siblings are buried side by side with Emma Carico’s grave across the road. As she stood at the graves of the Gibbons siblings, the woman bent down to brush grass from the stones. Touching the grave of Fannie Gibbons, she heard the scream and cry of a young girl. Looking around, no one was nearby. Again, she bent down to touch the stone and heard sobbing and a scream.

A look at the Ghosts of America page for Ashland, Kentucky reveals several more oddly similar accounts. An account from Ray notes that he was visiting the cemetery to put flowers on the grave of a relative. During his visit, Ray heard an odd buzzing from his hearing aid and when he adjusted it a voice came through the device asking, “What do you want from us?”

Martin recalled that he would sometimes walk past the cemetery at night when he visited his grandmother who lived nearby. “We would hear screams come out of the cemetery that would put cold chills up our spine.”

If you decide to walk past the old cemetery at night, listen out for the screams of the dead.

Sources

  • Ashland, Kentucky Ghost Sightings. GhostsofAmerica.com. Accessed 4 January 2020.
  • Carpenter, Bill. Ghost Stories of Eastern Kentucky: A Pocketful of Poltergeists. Baltimore, MD: Publish America, 2011.
  • Kleber, John E. ed. The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992.

Clocking in for the afterlife–Kentucky

This is the ninth entry in my Twelve Days of Southern Spirits Series celebrating traditional ghost story telling over Christmas. 

Danville-Boyle County Public Library
307 West Broadway Street
Danville, Kentucky
 

Last year I began work on a series looking at haunted libraries throughout the South. While Kentucky was published, I have only just come across the information on this library.

Starting as many public libraries, the Danville Library originally started as a subscription library in 1893 occupying a rented space. In 1920, the library board purchased a downtown building as a permanent location. In 1936, that building was demolished and replaced with the Young-Rodes Library building. That small structure has been augmented in later years with the addition of several more attached structures to create the large library that exists today.

Danville-Boyle County Public Library
This house was torn down to build additions to the Danville Public Library. Part of the Young-Rodes Library can be seen at the right. Photograph taken circa 1988 by Ron Logue for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

A 1999 article in the Advocate Messenger notes that the library has had some anomalous activity. Several years previous to the article a library employee passed away. Shortly after their passing, an employee working on payroll discovered that the employee had been punched into the timeclock. Two weeks later, the deceased employee’s time card was punched out. The librarian insists that there is no way the employee’s card could have been punched in or out by someone else.

Since that time, there has been some other “strange happenings” occurring with or near the time clock.

Sources

  • Clay, Julie. “Specters of the past still haunt area cities.” Advocate Messenger. 31 October 1999.
  • Fairchild, Dave. “Boyle County Public Library’s history and future.” Advocate Messenger. 2 May 2018.

Looking for Little Egypt—Richmond, Kentucky

This is the eighth entry in my Twelve Days of Southern Spirits Series celebrating traditional ghost story telling over Christmas. 

I went and bought myself a ticket and I sit down in the very first row-wo-wo.
They pulled the curtain up and when they turned the spotlight way down low-wo-wo.
Little Egypt came out strutting wearing nothing but a button and a bow-wo-wo.
–“Little Egypt (Ying-Yang),” 1961, Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller

In Richmond, Kentucky, one does not need to buy a ticket to see, or rather experience, “Little Egypt.” You simply need to follow a brief ritual. After driving out to one of the more rural areas of Four Mile Road, perhaps to the bridge that crosses Otter Creek, one opens their windows and calls either, “Little Egypt, Little Egypt, come ride with me,” or repeats her name three times.

Supposedly the spirit of Little Egypt will enter the car and make her presence felt while you drive for a bit. After a breezy drive—your windows should remain down—you return to drop the spirit off where you picked her up. If you don’t open your windows, there is a chance that the spirit may cause an accident.

So much of this sounds like the plentiful urban legends that reside on roadsides throughout the country, but there may be something to this forlorn Kentucky spirit.

Madison County Kentucky courthouse Richmond
The Madison County Courthouse in downtown Richmond, near where Four Mile Road begins. Photo by Russell and Sydney Poore, 2007. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Four Mile Road branches off from East Irvine Street in downtown Richmond before it winds through the Kentucky countryside, ending as a mundane dirt road. The story of Little Egypt is anything but mundane, it is as colorful as a field of goldenrod in the spring.

Like so much urban legend, the story takes many forms. Author Rebecca Patrick-Howard presents three versions of the legend in her book on haunted Madison County. In one, Little Egypt was a 16-year-old local girl who was raped and murdered, and her spirit continues to look for the men who murdered her by riding in the cars of passersby. Another version recalls that the girl lived on a local farm and when she announced she was pregnant by one of her cousins, she ran out of the house and into the road where she was killed.

The third version of the story had the girl being abducted, killed, and her dismembered remains being scattered on nearby farm fields. Those travelling along the road are supposed to call her name at the farm and drop her spirit off at the bridge.

Patrick-Howard includes the accounts of several people who have experienced odd things around Four Mile Road, things that could be attributed to the spirit of Little Egypt. One story involved two college girls who performed the ritual at the bridge and didn’t experience anything at first. Then, suddenly, their radio began flipping through channels. Frightened, the girls sped back to their dorm room.

A local amateur paranormal investigator decided to go legend tripping with his friend, though they took a decidedly different route. They visited a cemetery on the road, opened their windows and then closed them. As they drove away, both young men experienced intense pressure on their heads. The pressure was relieved as they got further down the road.

For a Halloween story last year, one of the local news stations, WBON, sent a reporter out to perform the ritual and film the results. The reporter only got some creepy feelings on the lonely bridge, though a passerby did share an odd story. This woman mentioned that people having breakdowns in the area have been aided by a strange man in coveralls who seems to appear and disappear into thin air. The woman noted that he had helped her own daughter, who was not from the area and unfamiliar with the legends.

Perhaps Little Egypt now has a friend along lonely Four Mile Road?

Sources

Haunted Kentucky, Briefly Noted

N.B. This is a repost of parts of the original “Haunted Kentucky” and “Haunted Old Louisville” articles published in 2011. These entries have been revised.

Conrad-Caldwell House
1402 St. James Court
Louisville

On the south side of Louisville’s Central Park is the St. James-Belgravia Historic District which consists some of the grandest houses in the Old Louisville neighborhood. This area was the site of the Southern Exposition held between 1883 and 1887. Once the exposition ended, the acres that it occupied were auctioned off and laid out in a British style.

haunted ghosts Conrad-Caldwell House Louisville Kentucky
Conrad-Caldwell House, 2016, by Kenneth C. Zirkel, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Conrad-Caldwell House, now a house museum, was perhaps the grandest house in this most grand of settings when it was constructed in 1893. Built of limestone, a stone associated with paranormal activity, the interior utilizes seven different types of hardwood to great effect. The house was constructed for Theophile Conrad, a French immigrant who built a number of successful businesses and who wished to build a home similar to the opulent house of his childhood. Conrad passed away in the home in 1905 and his wife later sold the house to another successful businessman, William Caldwell.

After the Caldwell’s residence, the home was used as a boarding house and later sold to the Presbyterian Church as a retirement home.

Employees in the home are accustomed to greeting the spectral residents when they come in the morning. “I think all of us have gotten into the habit of saying hello when we come in morning because we know we’re not alone.” The director told local news station WDRB in 2013. It is also believed that Theophile Conrad continues to run his home in a strict manner, occasionally appearing to visitors, wagging his finger in disapproval. The Caldwells may also be around, as the odors of perfume and cigar smoke have been smelled within the museum as well.

Sources

  • Dominé, David. Ghosts of Old Louisville. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2005.
  • History.” The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum. Accessed 10 December 2019.
  • “Mingling with spirits at the Conrad-Caldwell House.” WDRB. 26 October 2013.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
7351 KY-90
Corbin

At 68-feet high, Cumberland Falls is known as the “Niagara of the South,” and it’s also the only place in the Western Hemisphere where one can witness a moonbow, a rainbow caused by moonlight filtering through the falls’ mist. Considered a sacred place by local Native Americans, the site was developed for tourists at the end of the 19th century. The state park was developed in 1930.

The legend surrounding the park involves a bride who either slipped and fell or jumped to her death from one of the overlooking cliffs. One version of the legend holds that this happened in the 1950s, when the bride and her groom were exploring the park on their honeymoon. The couple had not had time to change clothes and the groom had decided to photograph his bride on one of the cliffs. As she posed, she slipped and fell to her death.

ghosts haunted Cumberland Falls State Resort Park Corbin Kentucky
Cumberland Falls, 2009, by J654567, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Another version of the legend speaks of a young couple marrying at the park’s lodge. The bride had become worried when the groom did not show up and was crushed when word arrived that he had been killed in a car accident. In despair, she rushed to the precipice in her wedding dress and flung herself off.

A woman in a white gown has been seen throughout the park, both in and around the falls as well as on the main road. Some have seen her form drifting up through the waters on nights that the moonbow appears. A 2008 blog entry reveals that she may also be active at the park’s lodge.

Sources

  • Cumberland Falls. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 January 2010.
  • Lamkin, Virginia. “Kentucky’s Cumberland Falls.” Seeks Ghosts. 15 December 2015.
  • Specter, Jason. “The Bride of Cumberland Falls.” The Scary States of America Blog. 23 February 2008.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.

Filson Historical Society (Ferguson Mansion)
1310 South Third Street
Louisville

In a city filled with extravagant Gilded Age homes, the Ferguson Mansion is perhaps the finest. Constructed in 1901 for the Walter Hite Ferguson who built a business selling cottonseed oil, the home was initially built to house him, his wife, their daughter, and a retinue to six servants. Little expense was spared on this Beaux-Arts style manse which included light fixtures by Louis Comfort Tiffany and other works by the leading designers and decorators of the day. The Ferguson family occupied the home until 1924, when it was sold to the Pearson family who operated a funeral home here until 1978. The house was renovated as a home for the Filson Historical Society, which concentrates on the history of Kentucky, the upper South and the Ohio River Valley.

ghosts haunted Filson Historical Society Ferguson Mansion Louisville Kentucky
The Filson Historical Society by W.marsh, 2007, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The house is believed to be the residence of a spirit named Sally who gleefully tosses books from the shelves in front of shocked visitors and staff members. She is known to produce disembodied footsteps, strange odors, and slam doors, as well as pulling volumes from the shelves which sometimes end up in piles on floors or tables. While there is nothing in the home’s history to attest to Sally’s identity, David Dominé posits that the spirit may stem from the home’s use as a funeral home.

Sources

  • Dominé, David. Haunts of Old Louisville. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2009.

Natural Bridge State Resort Park
2135 Natural Bridge Road
Slade
 

Adjacent to the Red River Gorge, a place noted for its wild landscape and mysterious encounters, Natural Bridge State Resort Park has its own paranormal activity. According to investigator and writer Patti Starr, the park is home to the Purple Lady, a female apparition wearing a purple evening gown who has been frequently spotted throughout the park. Staff members and visitors alike have seen the spirit in and around the park’s lodge, roads, and campgrounds. Her identity is unknown, though one park employee suggested that she may be the spirit of a woman who was murdered in a cabin on the property many years ago.

ghosts haunted Natural Bridge State Park Slade Kentucky
The Natural Bridge in Natural Bridge State Resort Park, 2009, by Ken Thomas. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Nina Lautner published the experience of a park visitor in her 2014 Ghosts of America: Southern Appalachia. The visitor stayed in the park’s lodge in 2008 and she experienced an overwhelming sense of dread from the moment she stepped into the room. Unable to sleep, she turned on the lights and they flickered a bit, but she wasn’t able to shake the negative feeling. When she reported her experience to the front desk, the clerk asked if she had seen the spirit.

The titular feature of Natural Bridge State Resort Park is a sandstone archway formed by millions of years of weathering. The park opened in 1896 as a private attraction and trains brought visitors from Louisville, Lexington, and other large cities. The park and Hemlock Lodge are now under the auspices of the state of Kentucky as a state park.

Sources

  • Lautner, Nina, ed. Ghosts of America: Southern Appalachia: True Accounts of Ghosts. Stratus-Pikpuk, 2014.
  • Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 January 2010.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.

Pink Palace (private)
1473 St. James Court
Louisville

In the late 19th century, St. James Court was developed as one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Louisville. The dramatic French-styled house at number 1473 was constructed in 1891 originally as a gentlemen’s club for the wealthy homeowners. Rumors allude to the fact that this staid institution may have provided female companionship to club members after dark. Interestingly, after a brief stint as a private family home, the house was acquired by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), a group that crusaded against the consumption of alcohol and other vices. After the WCTU discovered the home’s sordid past, the decision was made to paint the home pink to counteract the negative memories of the building.

Pink Palace Old Louisville Kentucky ghosts haunted
The Pink Palace in 2007. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Over the years, residents of the palatial home have had various encounters with an aristocratic gentleman. David Dominé included the story of one young lady who lived in a basement apartment some decades ago. One particular night, she had two visits from the spectral gentleman. She saw him first standing in her kitchen; then a short time later he appeared in her bathroom doorway while she took a bath. She quickly got out of the bath and left the room. Hearing the crash of breaking glass and splashing water, she returned to the bathroom to find the window broken. She summoned the police who discovered that the window had been broken by a cement block during a robbery attempt. The cement block landed in the bath where she had been lying just moments before.

The apparition, believed to be the image of one of the home’s former owners, has also appeared to other residents of the home as a warning. The house remains a private residence.

Sources

  • Dominé, David. Phantoms of Old Louisville. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2006.

Presentation Academy
861 South Fourth Street
Louisville

The oldest school in continuous operation in the city, the Presentation Academy is a private college-preparatory high school for girls founded by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in 1831. The school’s current building was opened in 1893 and designed by D. X. Murphy, one of the city’s leading architects of the time.

Legendary spirits at the school include a nun who died after falling down a staircase and Mary White a student who was killed in a car accident while en route to her coming out party. While documentation does not back up either story, that does not discount the numerous encounters that have occurred here.

ghosts haunted Presentation Academy Louisville Kentucky
Presentation Academy, 2012, by Nyttend. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

David Dominé includes the frightening account of one student’s encounter. As she walked down the hall towards a class, the student noted that another student was walking next to her. After seeing that she was dressed in an old-fashioned uniform, she then noticed that the young lady did not have legs. The student stopped in the middle of the hall to gawk as the spirit continued down the corridor and faded from view.

Sources

  • Dominé, David. Phantoms of Old Louisville. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2006.
  • Hedgepeth, Mary Poynter. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Presentation Academy. 15 August 1978.
  • Presentation Academy. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 18 December 2019.

L. B. Speed Art Museum
2035 South Third Street
Louisville

Founded as a memorial to her husband, the Speed Art Museum opened in 1927. Hattie Speed’s devotion to her husband’s memorial and her own perfectionism may be what is keeping her spirit within the walls of the museum. A rose-type perfume has been smelled, motion sensors set off, elevators operate mysteriously by themselves and misty, white shapes have been seen on security monitors; all believed to be Mrs. Speed checking up on “her” museum. Some particularly notable occurrences have been connected with the portrait of J. B. Speed’s first wife, Cora Coffin, which has had issues with its label mysteriously peeling from the wall. One museum staff member was shocked to discover the portrait removed and left propped with its face turned to the wall.

ghosts haunted Speed Art Museum Louisville Kentucky
A view of the galleries inside the Speed Art Museum, 2016, by Sailko. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Several visitors and staff members have reported odd encounters with a Native American man in the museum’s Native American gallery. While the man’s identity is unknown, he has been seen and his presence felt in the space.

Sources

  • Dominé, David. Ghosts of Old Louisville. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2005
  • Speed Art Museum. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 18 December 2019.

Walnut Street Baptist Church
1101 South Third Street
Louisville

Demon Leaper Walnut Street Baptist Church Louisville Kentucky
Early 20th Century postcard of Walnut Street Baptist Church.

Erected just at the outset of the 20th century, the grand Gothic Revival Walnut Street Baptist Church has provided spiritual sustenance for over a century to the citizens of Old Louisville and beyond. But it also harbors a legend. Over the century, people have reported a large, winged creature around the church. Reports of this creature, dubbed the “Demon Leaper” even come from as recent as 2005.

Sources

Dominé, David. Haunts of Old Louisville. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2009.

“The groaning of the prisoner”—Kentucky State Penitentiary

Kentucky State Penitentiary
266 Water Street
Eddyville, Kentucky

For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth;
To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death.
–Book of Psalms, Chapter 102, Verses 19-20 (King James Version)

In his marvelous book, Hauntings of the Kentucky State Penitentiary, Steve Asher recounts a number of experiences he and other staff members had within the walls of this grim institution. A guard working in the late 1980s had a frightening encounter while inspecting cells in Three Cell House. These particular cells had once been part of death row, and despite them not being in use at that point, they still required inspection.

After examining the first few cells, the guard encountered a cell that was occupied. The prisoner stood in the center of the small space reading a Bible. The prisoner greeted the guard and he acknowledged it with a nod and smile before returning to his inspection.

When he returned to his office, he asked his sergeant if the prisoner had gotten a meal. The sergeant replied that there was no one in that cell, in fact no one had been in those cells in nearly a month. Knowing how thorough the guard normally was, the sergeant insisted on looking in the cell himself to ensure that a mistake had not been made.

The guard and the sergeant approached the cell to find that it was indeed empty. A light layer of frost attested to the cell having been unoccupied for some time. The pair stepped inside and noticed that the temperature inside was quite chilly. The cell had been stripped and was empty except for a small Bible that lay open on the floor.

Picking it up, the guard noted that the pages were open to the 102nd Psalm and one single passage had been highlighted, verse 20, “To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death.” He passed the Bible to the sergeant and shuddered as he read the highlighted verse aloud. Perhaps the spirit was trying to communicate with the guard.

Kentucky State Penitentiary Eddyville
The front facade of the Kentucky State Penitentiary, 2011. Photo by Acdixon, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Eddyville, Kentucky is situated on a sharp bend in the Cumberland River near the border with Tennessee. The bend in the river and the two lakes that were created in the 20th century create a finger of land that is preserved as Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, a place that is known for many strange goings-on. Rising above the river at the old site of the town of Eddyville (much of the original town was destroyed with the creation of Lake Barkley) is the famed “Castle on the Cumberland,” the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

For more than a century, this grim edifice has stood reminding the lawful of the consequences of lawlessness and little hope for law-breakers. Several sources note that the front entrance of the prison was once marked with a plaque bearing the words, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” the same words marking the gates to Hell in Dante’s Inferno.

Steve Asher posits that the prison itself may act as a kind of paranormal dynamo. Constructed with prison labor, the very building itself is imbued with negativity and that that atmosphere creates the perfect storm for an array of paranormal activity. His book offers a glance behind the prison walls revealing apparitions, phantom sounds, bizarre sensations, and disturbing nightmares experienced by members of the prison staff.

The Kentucky State Penitentiary began life in 1884 as a branch prison to relieve the overcrowding of the main state penitentiary in Frankfort. Opening in 1886, the Medievel-Revival edifice was meant to house 800 prisoners. The prison became the main state prison with the closure of the Frankfort prison in 1937. In 1911, an electric chair was installed and served as the primary method of execution at KSP until 1962. During that time, 163 men were put to death in “Old Sparky.”

view of Kentucky State Penitentiary from the Cumberland River
View of Kentucky State Penitentiary from the Cumberland River, 1939, from the National Archives and Records Administration.

On July 13, 1928, “Old Sparky” saw its busiest day when seven men were executed back to back. On that Friday the 13th, the headline of the Louisville Courier-Journal shouted, “Red Seymour loses fight for life, is doomed to die with six others.” The Thursday before had dashed the hopes of murderer Orlando “Red” Seymour when a judge overruled a petition for a sanity hearing. The hearing was held in the KSP chapel where the newspaper described the scene.

Seymour was brought into the prison chapel, where the hearing was held, and remained throughout. He appeared to be very weak and was assisted up the steps to the stage where he sat, his hands in his arms. He frowned when the decision was announced and then was led back to his cell.

Just after 7 PM that night, the prison warden visited the cells of the seven condemned men to read the death warrants. The executions were slated to take place just after midnight. The newspaper described the scene at the prison on Thursday afternoon leading up to the mass execution.

Corridor Is Jammed.

Guards at the prison declared today that never had there been so much excitement attending an execution here, the corridor outside the warden’s office throughout the day was filled with relatives, friends and attorneys of the condemned men. Here and there a woman was sobbing. Little groups congregated about the doorways.

[…]

Down in the death house, the heat was oppressive. The four white men sat or stood before their cell doors throughout the afternoon. All were composed and each repeated his assertion of yesterday that he was ready to die.

[…]

Death Cell Furnished Plainly.

The death house has seven rooms, only four of them cells. These cells are situated directly across from the electric chair room, which may easily be seen through a wide door. The death chamber is very plainly furnished. The electric chair is in the center at the far side of the large room. To the right side, facing the chair, is a small room from which the switches are manipulated.

The Owensboro Inquirer picks up the story of the executions.

Four white men, three of them very young, and three negroes made up the seven whose deaths in the electric chair set a record for Kentucky. Sullen, defiant and prayerful by turns during their stay in the death house, the condemned men were reduced by fear to a condition bordering upon collapse as midnight approached.

Shaken by Dread 

Although there was no clock going to sound the hours, the prisoners sensed and all talk died away long before the death march started at 12:15. With heads supported in cupped hands, they sat silent, their bodies shaken by chills despite the intense heat in the squat stone house that had been their home in the prison. In plain view was the execution chamber and the chair.

After the seven white coffins were placed outside the prison for the families to take, the newspaper noted:

It was thought however, that one or more might remain to be buried in the tiny prison cemetery that lies just outside the towering walls. Early in the morning a red cart and mule stood hitched near the coffins ready to perform their last duty of the state in hauling those that remained down the hill.

After such a dreadful day in KSP history, it is possible that one or more of these prisoners have remained behind in spirit form. Perhaps it is one of these prisoners who appeared to the guard while going about his rounds.

Eastern view of the Kentucky State Penitentiary
Eastern view of the Kentucky State Penitentiary, 2014. Photo by Nyttend, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Please note that this prison is still in full operation and not open for the curious or paranormal investigations.

Sources

  • Asher, Steve E. Hauntings of Kentucky State Penitentiary. NYC: Permuted Press, 2016.
  • Blanco, Juan Ignacio. “Kentucky Executions 1607-1976.” Death Penalty USA. Accessed 26 November 2019.
  • Kentucky State Penitentiary. The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Accessed 26 November 2019.
  • Robards, S.M. “Red Seymour loses fight for life, is doomed to die with six others.” The Courier-Journal. 13 July 1928.
  • “Seven suffer death penalty at Eddyville.” The Owensboro Inquirer. 13 July 1928.

A cupola seaman—Louisville, Kentucky

This is the third entry of my Encounter Countdown to Halloween. There are only 28 more days until All Hallows Eve!

United States Marine Hospital
2215 Portland Avenue
Louisville, Kentucky

There’s something quite jaunty about the cupola atop the old U.S. Marine Hospital in Louisville. The rest of the building is stately and noble and almost bows to travelers as they cross the Ohio river into Kentucky; perhaps it’s a gracious bow of warm Southern welcome. But the little cupola adds a certain joyful flair to this staid structure, almost like a hotel bellman’s pillbox cap.

US Marine Hospital Louisville Kentucky ghosts haunted
The U.S. Marine Hospital with its jaunty cupola, 2007. Photograph by Censusdata, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Travelers have been passing this spot for nearly two centuries and they have been greeted by this landmark. Almost a hundred years ago, the Dixie Highway was routed across the steel lace of the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge from New Albany, Indiana into the bustle of Louisville’s Portland neighborhood. Automobile traffic over the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge ceased in 1979 and rerouted to Interstate-64 and its nearby concrete bridge. The interstate rushes past the sober hospital with its jolly cupola at Exit 3 as it hurries towards the spaghetti bowl interchange with I-65 and I-71.

Built by the Federal government to provide healthcare to boatmen operating on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and Great Lakes. This hospital was situated here on the Ohio River, for the “beneficial effect of a view of the water, and the impressions and associations it would naturally awake in the minds of men whose occupation were so intimately connected with it.” After the decline of the Marine Health Service in the late 19th century, the facility continued to operate as a hospital and later as quarters for medical professionals until 1975.

The now ancient building saw a multi-million-dollar restoration of its exterior some years ago, though the interior remains unusable, except for a few ground-floor rooms. Efforts to restore the entire structure have yet to succeed.

During the restoration in 2004, a painter working inside heard someone whistling down one of the hallways. When the painter realized that he was alone in the building he grew more curious. A few days later he was working with another painter and the two decided to take a smoke break on one of the building’s galleries. As they walked into the unrestored portion of the building, painter’s co-worker accused him of staring at him and making him uncomfortable. The painter denied that he was staring at him and said he was only concentrating on his work.

“So, we stepped out onto the gallery and lit up our cigarettes, and it just weird all of a sudden. The hair stood up on our necks and the whole place just felt all staticky and like it was charged with energy or something. It got real cold, too, just like an icy wind blew in, and when that happened, my buddy just sort of looked at me as if to ask what was going on.”

The two men were standing facing one another, the painter standing against the railing his back to the railing, while his co-worker was looking out towards the river. Suddenly, the co-worker appeared to see something, and his eyes got big. When the painter turned to see what his companion was looking at, there was a man standing next to him.

Staring at the man in disbelief, the pair was aghast when he simply vanished before their eyes. “He just sort of appeared for a moment or two, and then he was gone. It was almost like we were seeing an old-fashioned picture.” The painter described the man as appearing like “an old-time sailor.” He was wearing “tight, striped pants and a short jacket and a straw hat.”

George Caleb Bingham Jolly Flatboatmen in Port 1857
George Caleb Bingham’s “Jolly Flatboatmen in Port,” 1857. Dating to the period when the Marine Hospital opened, it depicts men who might have been patients here. The description of the seaman seen by the two painters resembles some of the men in this work. This painting hangs in the St, Louis Museum of Art.

After the spectral vision vanished, the co-worker fled back inside the building and refused to talk about what had just happened. The painter, however, told his story to Louisville author and tour guide David Domine, who included it in his 2006 Phantoms of Old Louisville. Hopefully, this magnificent building with the jaunty cupola can be fully restored as old mariners continue “blurring the fine line between the Here and Now and the There and Then.”

Sources

  • Brooks, Carolyn. National Historic Landmark Nomination Form for the United States Marine Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky. 15 March 1994.
  • Domine, David. Phantoms of Old Louisville: Ghostly Tales from America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2006.
  • United States Marine Hospital of Louisville. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 October 2019.

Sipping with Spirits—Guide to Spirited Southern Bars

N.B. Last updated 29 May 2020.

Throughout the South, there are many places where you can sip with spirits. This guide covers all of the bars that I have explored in the pages of this blog over the years. Not only have I included independent bars, but breweries, wineries, restaurants, and hotels with bars as well.

Alabama

Buttermilk Hill Restaurant Sylacauga Alabama ghosts haunted
Buttermilk Hill Restaurant, 2016. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.

District of Columbia

Omni Shoreham Hotel Washington DC ghosts haunted
Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2009. Photo by Jurgen Mattern,  courtesy of Wikipedia.

Florida

Island Hotel Cedar Key Florida ghosts haunted
Island Hotel, 2007. Photo by Ebyabe, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Georgia

Jekyll Island Club Hotel Jekyll Island Georgia ghosts haunted
Jekyll Island Club, 2012, by Lewis Powell IV. All rights reserved.

Kentucky

Old Talbott Tavern Bardstown Kentucky ghosts haunted
Old Talbott Tavern, 2008, by C. Bedford Crenshaw. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Louisiana

Hotel Monteleone French Quarter New Orleans Louisiana ghosts haunted
Hotel Monteleone, 2009 by Bart Everson, courtesy
of Wikipedia.

Maryland

Middleton Tavern Annapolis Maryland ghosts haunted
Middleton Tavern, 1964. Photograph for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Mississippi

Weidmann's Meridian Mississippi ghosts haunted
Weidmann’s, 2010, by Dudemanfellabra. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

North Carolina

Lake Lure Inn North Carolina ghosts haunted
The 1927 Lake Lure Inn. Photo 2012, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

South Carolina

Mad River Grill Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Mad River Grille, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Tennessee

Earnestine and Hazel's Memphis Tennessee ghosts haunted
Earnestine and Hazel’s, 2012, by Thomas R.
Machnitzki, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Virginia

Michie Tavern Charlottesville Virginia ghosts haunted
Michie Tavern, 2005, by Forestufighting, courtesy of Wikipedia.

West Virginia