Your tour guide may not be your only host as you navigate the lobby of…
The Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum
It is indeed an eerie and eerie structure, a stone castle that, except for 25 feet, spans a quarter of a mile wide. It is located on nine lush acres in a sleepy West Virginia town at the foothills of Appalachia.
It once had a reputable past, a place of healing – a place of solitude and peace. Now that’s a tremendous reminder of the power and weaknesses of the human psyche. Inside the Gothic-style halls of this building hides a rich history of human stories – from rehabilitation to excruciating pain and suffering. If the walls here could talk – and indeed some say they do – they would tell stories of life and death, miracles and murder.
Tour guides — dressed in period pieces as nurses and orderlies — wouldn’t be the only guests roaming the hallways — some dilapidated and others restored — of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, Va. Western.
According to museum artifacts from the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (the TALA as locals know it), the reasons for admission to the psychiatric hospital could be as varied as the social climate at the time.
With only the foundation poured in 1861 and a building standing, the onset of the Civil War caused a halt to construction, property seized by either side of the battle – North or South – had control of the territory at the ‘era. The foundation walls served as corrals for horses and lookout posts for soldiers. In fact, asylum records indicate that a Union Army colonel robbed a $30,000 bank held in trust for the construction of the hospital. This money was used, in part, to ask the Supreme Court to allow the westernmost part of Virginia to become its own state at the end of the war.
And yes, the establishment has its ghosts. Featured nationally in several of the network’s “ghost adventures” and “ghost hunting” shows, the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is considered the most haunted former medical facility in the world. Ghost tours are given here daily. Visitors are also welcome to spend the night at the facility, conducting their own paranormal investigations.
For the past 14 years, 60,000 people have visited the facility each year. Every penny collected in admissions is used to pay staff, then to renovations. Since 2008 — a year after the entire property was privately purchased for $1.5 million by a wealthy Morgantown investor — TALA has been open for public tours — both haunted and historic.
And it’s just…a bone squirt…away.