Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Haunted Travels: Huntington,West Virginia

Looking back at how long it has been since I posted my last Haunted Travels blog, I am really sort of taken back that it has been 5 years. There have been times in my life when my passion for paranormal things were front and center, but that hasn’t been the case over the past several years. I had more time back then to participate in and to do things like travel to haunted and historic locations. But as the years pass, changes come along and often your priorities change too. I still have a deep-rooted love for the paranormal world, namely ghosts, cemeteries, old houses and buildings and the ghost stories and sightings attached to them. I also love to travel, to see new places and towns and to explore. There is so much out there and so much to see and do and so many places to go.

A big life change came with me having two little boys just twenty-five months apart, in addition to already having a teenage daughter. Two boys in two years, yep, I really have had my hands full, and things like doing investigations and travelling went down on my list of priorities. We have not travelled with the boys a whole lot yet, they are still little and they need naps and snacks and have the occasional melt downs and such. But I do look forward to the day they are old enough to really enjoy traveling and hopefully they will have an appreciation for historic locations. While I enjoy Disney World as much as anyone, I am much more likely to seek out a smaller town with some serious history and spooky haunted places.

With having travelled less in the last few years, sometimes it’s easier to just stay in our own area to enjoy things. My town may be fairly small compared to others out there, but there is no lack of haunted locations here. In fact, Huntington, West Virginia seems be right in the middle of many other very haunted Appalachian towns and cities. When you can't travel hundreds of miles away to visit a new place, then why not look in your own backyard for some local haunted history?

Today I am reviving my Haunted Travels posts and I am starting in my own backyard, my town of Huntington, West Virginia.

Huntington, West Virginia sits on the banks of the Ohio River, it was founded by railroad magnate, Collis P. Huntington in 1871. Huntington has abundant history and many locations that are purported to be haunted. Spend a day or two in this little town and you can explore lots of amazing places and you may just get a glimpse of the supernatural side of this city.

Keith Albee Theater –

The Keith Albee Theater is a breathtaking historic landmark in Huntington’s history. The Keith Albee opened in 1928 as a vaudeville theater with beautiful architecture and details. Today the theater is still in operation and has undergone extensive restoration in recent years. The theater hosts a variety of events throughout the year. While it is not open for paranormal investigators, you can attend theater events or even book a private tour.

The Keith Albee may have a long history in theater performances, but it also has a darker side that everyone may not know about. At least two men have died on this property and there have been reports of a female ghost, a Lady in Red, who has been spotted inside the building. Theater patrons have also discussed feeling uneasy in the women’s restroom in the basement.

To learn more about the theater you can visit the website for further information.

Dr. Grimes Dental Office –

Dr. Grimes Dental Office is housed in a former early 1900’s duplex home. Dr. Grimes has kept a detailed journal of unexplained events that he and others have experienced since he acquired the building in the 1970’s. Dr. Grimes office is believe to be the home of several spirits, but most prominently the ghost of Lavina Wall, who died at age 21 under some rather suspicious circumstances. Dr. Grimes office was featured on an episode of the Travel Channel’s – The Dead Files. Dr. Grimes has since reported that after the show, based on the advice he was given, he believes the ghost of the Lavina has moved on. However, there is believed to be several other spirits that haunt this location.

Dr. Grimes has even written a book about the experiences at his office.

You can read the full story of Dr. Grimes Office here as researched by our Research Manager Theresa (she also runs Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State).

Central City -

Central City is located within Huntington’s west end neighborhood and is known as the “Antiques Capitol of the Tri-State”. Here you can shop or browse through many of the antique shops or grab a bite to eat at one of the old diners. Most of these buildings date back to the early 1900’s when Central City was established and became a prosperous manufacturing town. Our paranormal group has spoken with many the shop owners and many have confirmed that they have encountered strange and unusual occurrences within their shops they could not explain.

Ritter Park Historic District –

Ritter Park opened in 1913 and the general area surrounding the park known as the Ritter Park Historic District was designated a national historic district in 1990. The park boasts many features such as a water fountain, tennis facilities, amphitheater, walking trails and much more. Today you can walk around this lush greenspace on Huntington’s quaint south side. But like with many other locations in the area, the park also has been a site of several deaths.

The park once had a small man-made lake, however after a child died from drowning in the lake it was drained. Today the park’s playground sits on the edge of the old drained lake. Cabell County’s first and only public execution took place in the area that is now Ritter Park. A man was hanged for the murder of a Barboursville teenager in 1892. There was a reported crowd of five thousand people who gathered to witness the execution. Sitting at what is probably the highest point of Ritter Park just above the amphitheater area is a hill called Gobbler’s Knob. In early times there was a Native American burial mound located here, but much like the other burial mounds that were scattered throughout Huntington, this mound was leveled to build a road. If you take the walking path at Ritter Park and head toward the 5th Street bridge, you will come to the sight of Huntington’s notorious hitchhiker ghost – The Ghost of 5th Street Hill. Several versions of this story exist but a young woman was killed in a car accident on her way to get married, the accident happened at the bottom of the hill and many believe that her ghost has been hailing local cabs for many years, but she will always disappear before she reaches her destination.

Historic Guyandotte -

Guyandotte is a little neighborhood of Huntington, located on the city’s east end. Back in 1810, Guyandotte was its own little town and was for almost 100 years before being incorporated by the city of Huntington. Guyandotte has some of the oldest homes still standing in the city as well as having the oldest church cemetery in the county. Guyandotte’s Main Street was the site of a Civil War raid that took place in 1861 where many soldiers, both Union and Confederate lost their lives. The town was almost destroyed when it was torched by Union forces.

Today you can take a walking tour of Main Street and Richmond Street where homes and buildings dating back to 1810s through the early 1900s still stand. The old cemetery has graves dating back to the early 1800’s and includes reinterred remains of Revolutionary War veterans too. Many the old homes on Main Street are haunted by ghosts from the past 200 years. Our group offers guided ghost tours of this area in the fall, and there is an annual re-enactment of the Civil War raid on Guyandotte every November.

Spring Hill Cemetery -

Huntington’s largest cemetery was established in 1871. Many of Huntington’s prominent families are buried here and many others were re-interred to Spring Hill from other smaller cemeteries. Several Civil War Generals and US Congressmen are buried here. The names you see throughout this cemetery are names that remain on our public buildings and even our streets.

Spring Hill also holds a very important memorial to our city, the Marshall University Plane Crash Memorial stone sits at the top of the hill which overlooks the city and Marshall University. The plane carrying 75 team members, coaches and fans crashed in November of 1970, there were no survivors. Many were buried at Spring Hill. The movie “We Are Marshall” was filmed in parts of Huntington, and Spring Hill and the memorial were featured in the movie. This tragedy has left a lasting mark on our community.

While there are not specific accounts of ghost stories associated with the cemetery, the deep history,beauty and peacefulness of this location is worth stopping by for a drive or even a walk-though.

Camden Park –

Camden Park is a small amusement park located in Huntington. A park opened in 1902 that was used as a picnic area for passengers who were traveling the rail line or on the riverboats. The first ride was the carousel added in 1903 and over the years more rides and attractions were added.

One unique feature of Camden Park is that an Adena Indian Mound is located on its grounds, it can be seen while visiting the park. While the great majority of the burial mounds in Huntington were leveled to build the city streets, this is the only one I am aware of that still is standing within Huntington area. There have been reports over the years of the park being haunted, possibly by the spirits of the Native Americans who buried their people there.

So, if you are visiting the area, or even live in town and are looking for some haunted attractions or beautiful cemeteries to visit, Huntington has an abundance of both. This list of haunted and historic locations could be longer but most of these locations are open and accessible in some form or fashion. Enjoy the town, stop for a bite to eat a one of our local restaurants and go explore the mysterious side of Huntington you may not knew exists!

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