Saturday, April 8, 2017

Moundsville Penitentiary

Moundsville Penitentiary
This old prison still stands in West Virginia. It was in operation for 119 years. It was considered one of America’s most violent correctional facilities.

"Old Sparky"
Close to 1,000 men that entered its doors died while incarcerated. Some died by hanging or later by electric chair. Others were murdered by fellow inmates or took their own lives.

Moundsville was notorious for violent riots that were caused more often by overcrowding. In the 1950s the prison was filled beyond capacity—each 5X7 foot cell housed three prisoners. This was later deemed inhumane.

Moundsville was closed down in 1995 but tours are offered today. Recent staff and visitors have reported seeing shadows and hearing strange noises in the old prison.

One of the first sightings was of one inmate who was brutally murdered by fellow prisoners. The room he haunts is the reception area of the prison. It was dubbed, “The Sugar Shack” by the inmates because of what was done. Fights, rapes and murders often occurred in this room.

The Sugar Shack
The murdered inmate, R. D. Wall met his fate here. He was cut and stabbed to the point that his body was found later in many pieces. His ghost is spotted lurking in the dark corners in the Sugar Shack.

Shadow figure photographed
by Polly Gear
A dark shadow has been seen and photographed in this area as well. Other restless spirits have also been seen in other parts of this prison. Some speculate these are the men who were executed.

To add to this activity is the fact that Moundsville, West Virginia is named after its many Native American –Adena-- burial mounds. It is said these spirits also roam the area.

With all this mysterious activity would you dare to take one of the night tours offered at Moundsville?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Haunted Ceiling

H. G. Wells
A recent discovery uncovered an intriguing lost story by the 19th century author H. G. Wells. It is a ghost story entitled “The Haunted Ceiling.”

Some of Wells’ most famous stories include: “The War of the Worlds”, “The Invisible Man”, and “The Island of Doctor Moreau”.

Experts of Wells stories feel this newly discovered manuscript written by Wells in the mid 1890s does not reflect his best work but I have read it and found it fun and surprising.

Andrew Gulli the editor of Stand Magazine found the manuscript in a large archive at the University of Illinois that keeps many of Wells papers. Gulli published The Haunted Ceiling in late November of 2016 in issue #50.

The story begins with a male character named Meredith speaking to a friend who is visiting. He looks up at the ceiling and states:

“Don’t you see it?”
“See what?”
“The thing. The women.”
I shook my head and looked at him.
“All right then, don’t see it.”

The story then takes its main character on a macabre journey that involves stranger and stranger activities that occur in the old house he resides in.

Wells often told gothic tales where his characters doubted what they experienced when they encountered a supernatural event.

The Haunted Ceiling is similar to another ghost story Wells published around the same time—“The Red Room”. In this story a skeptic—a scientist-- spends a terrifying night in a castle room trying to debunk claims it is haunted.

The Haunted Ceiling unlike The Red Room has a surprise ending.

The issue of the Strand Magazine that shared this story for the first time can be bought here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Wolf Creek Inn

Wolf Creek Inn
This inn was originally called the “Wolf Creek Tavern” when it opened in the 1880s. It is the oldest continuously operated inn in the Pacific Northwest.

In its heyday, it serviced weary travelers that made the 16-day journey north from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon.

Jack London is said to have finished his story Valley of the Moon while staying at Wolf Creek in the summer of 1911. He is one of the spirits that have been seen and heard in the inn since his death in 1916.

In later years, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stayed at Wolf Creek. Clark Gable, his wife Carol Lombard and Orson Wells also stayed at the inn. John Wayne rented a room while he filmed Rooster Cogburn

The inn today has a variety of spirits that still make appearances. One favorite ghost story is about a stagecoach driver named, One-Eyed Charlie Parkhurst. During the Gold Rush years Charlie was known to be one of the toughest drivers along the northern route.

Stagecoach Drivers
Quotes about Charlie include: “He drove his team hard, cussed up a storm and spat tobacco juice harder than anyone else.”

Charlie had a reputation for never missing a day’s work—except the day after payday when he was too hung over to drive.

In 1868, Charlie registered to vote, he told friends so he could vote for Ulysses S. Grant.

When Charlie Parkhurst died at the age of 67, the mortician that tended his body was in for a shock. Charlie was actually “Charlotte” an orphan girl who escaped her life by hiding as a man.

When Charlie voted in the 1868 presidential election some believe she was the first woman in the U.S to cast a vote.

For years, people who have visited Wolf Creek claim to have seen the ghost of a rough dressed man on the main floor at the inn. This ghost’s voice has been picked up on EVPs. Many believe this is One-Eyed Charlie.

But the facts point to another conclusion. Charlie died four years before the Wolf Creek Tavern opened. So it is unlikely her ghost is the one seen. But this story was too good to pass up.

This inn is owned by the state of Oregon and is on the National Register of Historic Places.