Exploring Haunted Places

Exploring Haunted Places

I have a group of friends who, like me, believe in earth-bound spirits, energy that stays when the body is no longer alive. Yes, most people call them GHOSTS.

We travel around the tri-state area checking places out for a night. Most of them are guided tours that can last from 8 or 9 p.m. until 6 or 8 a.m. Some are longer; some are shorter depending on the size of the property for that night.

One thing you must remember is you can’t go to these places without permission from the owners. That’s why we go with a guided tour group. The Ghost Hunting Tour Groups have been to these places before we arrive, so they know where to go and how to get though the places -- because most of them don’t have electric anymore. Flashlights are required. Headlamps are also great for these outings.

Dressing for your ghost tour is extremely important because of cold, rain, heat, high weeds, asbestos, pooling water, spider webs, wild animals, mold/mildew – to name just a few things you might encounter during your ghost hunt.

These places are not for the faint of heart. Touring is something you do because you want to see why energy from someone is still there. At some of the places, you’ll experience an overwhelming sense of sadness. There have been ghost hunts in which people have been touched or heard banging sounds, voices, a whisper in the ear or felt a breath on the back of your neck, hot or cold spots, your hair being played with or your backpack getting tugged. Of course, you might also see something you know shouldn’t be there. We always try to debunk these happenings, but there are just some things you can’t explain.

Our group has been to Conneaut Lake Hotel in Ohio; Moundville Penitentiary in West Virginia; Nemacolin Castle in Pennsylvania; and our latest trip to Cresson Sanatorium and Prison in Pennsylvania. 

We do have fun at these places. We stay together and keep it lighthearted -- just in case we come across a spirit that would want to communicate with us.

The Moundsville Penitentiary is where I was used as guinea pig, thanks to one of my friends volunteering me. I was left alone in a room for 45 minutes while the rest of my group moved on. I really had to work at trying to figure out if what I was hearing was other people or a spirit. Shadow play is a big part of most haunted locations. You must try to debunk whatever you can. Not everything you see or hear is paranormal. Most of the time you can find an explanation. My only salvation in the Moundsville Penitentiary was singing out loud. I kept hearing music but couldn’t figure out from where so I just sang the “Hallelujah” lyrics of the song I was hearing. It comforted me, and any noises I was hearing before I heard the song just stopped. I believe my voice scared the spirits as much as it scares my family and friends.

We’ve all had that feeling when the hair on the back of your neck stands up. But when you have that feeling all over your body along with goosebumps, there might just be something more in your area than you and your group of friends. Communicating with a spirit can be interesting. You can use knocks, taps, flashlights (they can make them go on and off for yes and no questions), voice recorders or movement of toys and other objects.

These earth-bound spirits just want their story told and to be heard. Others have been wrongfully accused of crimes or acts they did not commit. Sanitoriums or mental hospitals always makes me sad because those people were mistreated, experimented on and in overcrowded spaces back in the day. The tuberculosis (TB) wards in these places were a death sentence for many.

Reading or hearing about these places where many have died and only a few survived to tell their stories is fascinating. Some of these people are buried in unmarked graves on the properties due to their families not claiming the bodies. Sometimes even the graveyards are unmarked, so no one really knows about the graves. It’s so sad these souls are buried in places no one knows about nor cares for their gravesites. No wonder they are still earth-bound.   

The Cresson Sanatorium and Prison was first used for the TB outbreak. Parents with TB would go with their children. The children were separated from the parents and, more than likely, the children would never see their parents again. Later it was turned into a maximum-security prison, which was built on the sanatorium property. Everything was shut down in 2013. The sanatorium, infirmary, end of life building and church are said to have the most activity. Those buildings need repairs though. The new owner hopes to restore some or all in the future. There are 13 buildings on the grounds and that doesn’t include the prison. The prison on the grounds still looks to be in good shape -- other than the neglect of being closed for eight years. The main building was built in the shape of a cross. You can see it best when viewed from an aerial shot. There are also underground tunnels connecting buildings. The tunnels are only open in October. October is said to be one of the most haunted months.

Being in these buildings in total darkness makes your possible interactions a little scary. But if you are there for the experience, you’ll need to do your part to make the spirits communicate. For most, it’s in total darkness. 

Our experience at the Cresson Sanatorium and Prison was interesting. In the church, we saw something, but thought it could have been another group outside investigating the grounds. Later, we found out no other group was near the church while we were in there. In the end-of-life building, we heard crying, which I guess was to be expected considering the name of the building. It’s where you were sent if you had cancer or any other illness that couldn’t be cured. You would spend your last day there without family being allowed to visit. It’s so sad they had to die in a room by themselves because of being contagious or a prisoner.

We go to places like these to see if we can help tell a story or see why places were closed -- from being overcrowded or beyond repair from neglect to being shut down when counties learned of mistreatment.

So, if you’re into the paranormal, get a group of your friends together, find a reputable ghost hunting group and go out to explore America’s haunted places. You never know what or who you may encounter.     

Rock on people; rock on.

    Today, Jeanne Dedo takes us through her recent trip to the Cresson Sanatorium and Prison in Pennsylvania.