rss
twitter
    "Death is no more than passing from one room into another." – HELEN KELLER

Kolmanskop



Kolmanskop began as Coleman's Hill after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman abandoned his ox wagon on a hill opposite the settlement during a sandstorm. In 1908, black worker Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while working in the area. Then, showed it to his supervisor, German railroad inspector August Stauch. Soon after, German miners began to settle in the area. Within two years, Kolmanskop in Namibia, Africa was born.

The first diamond miners used their enormous wealth to build a village in a German architectural style. It was complete with a ballroom, power station, butchery, theater, casino, ice factory, soda water and lemonade plant, swimming pool, playground, hospital with with the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere, bowling alley, school, bakery, exclusive residential buildings and the first tram in Africa. 1,000 kg diamonds were being processed in factories. Some 700 families lived in the town, including about 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 Owambo contract workers.

After World War I, the town began to decline due to the diamond field slowly being exhausted. Larger diamonds were being discovered to the south near Oranjemund, leaving Kolmanskop ultimately abandoned by 1954. In 1980, the mining company De Beers, restored a number of buildings, and established and interesting museum, which has now become a tourist attraction.

Today, Kolmanskop is slowly being reclaimed by the desert. Tourists walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Several structures are still standing including the hospital, butchery, school and residences. Sand may be gradually wiping the slate clean but it doesn't seem to deter the ghosts who reportedly haunt the old mining town. Visitors have experienced hearing whispers and footsteps. Saw and was touched by apparitions. Like any mining town, there were deaths by accidents and, in this case, extreme heat exposure.

It is possible to tour Kolmanskop. However, the town is located in a restricted diamond area. You will have to get a special permit. These permits can be obtained in nearby L├╝deritz on the day of your visit.

GS Question of the Week

Which island do you think is the most haunted in the world?

Woodland Opera House Documentary

Strange Phenomenon: Woodland Opera House from Rob Blake on Vimeo.

I was contacted by Rob Blake who put together the above documentary with friend Ray Tarara about the Woodland Opera House in Woodland, California.

The Opera House was designed in 1885 by Thomas J. Welsh for $28,000. It was the first opera house to serve the Sacramento Valley. Seven years later, a fire destroyed much of what is now the Downtown Woodland Historic District, including the Opera House. A fireman named William Porter died in this fire when a back wall collapsed on him. David N. Hershey purchased the site and the Opera House was rebuilt between 1895 and 1896 using many of the materials from the original building were used including some of the partially standing walls.

Over 300 touring companies had appeared on its stage. However, the growing popularity of motion pictures and a lawsuit filed by an event attendee who mistook a loading door for an exit, falling three feet and broke their arm, forced them to close its doors in 1913. It remained unused for many years, despite efforts made by some, until going through a $2 million restoration project. Woodland Opera House reopened its doors in 1989 and is still in operation today despite the ghost stories.

The above 40-min long documentary goes in depth about the Opera House's history and paranormal activity and includes a paranormal investigation done by Blake and a couple of friends. The information portion is done rather well. The background music compliments the stories being told.

However, it loses stride upon entering the investigation stage. It started with an evidence reveal to the Opera House employees from investigations two years prior. Two years seems a long time to sit on evidence, but their explanation of "disorganized" seems to quite fit. Their third night in Woodland wasn't so much of an investigation as it was attempts to experiment with Paranormal stimuli.

The first and second one was geared more toward a female performer known as the woman in white. They labeled her a Helena Modjeska only because a psychic who visited Woodland gave a name similar to this Polish stage actress and she is seen wearing white in some photos. Hundreds of touring companies performed at the Opera House. The "Woman in White" could be any number of actresses who once stood on that stage.

They set up a guitar, as musical instruments are known to play on their own, to see if any of the spirits might want to play it. Of course, they did hear like two notes coming from a guitar but don't show anyone checking the one they brought. Overall, I just think this could have been sooo much better. Hopefully, their documentary on the Gibson Mansion will be a step up from this one.

"Haunted" UK Hospital Set for Demolition



The Borough of Sunderland decided to take advantage of good rail service and the scenic view of the North Sea and build a psychiatric facility in Ryhope in between 1893 and 1895. Sunderland Borough Asylum also known as Sunderland Lunatic Asylum was designed by noted asylum architect G.T. Hine.

There are six wards on either side of a combined chapel and recreation hall along with the usual services. An isolation hospital and infirmary block were added in 1902. In the 1930's an admissions hospital and wartime Emergency Medical Service Huts were constructed nearby. These later became the Ryhope General Hospital, which still operates to this day. The rest of the site became known as Cherry Knowle Hospital when it was acquired by the National Health Service in 1948.

As community care replaced the long term stay facilities, the original asylum eventually closed in 1998. However, other satellite buildings were retained for use by mental health organizations. After being abandoned for 13 years or so, plans are in the works to demolish the Laurels block and build up to 770 new homes to be completed by the end of the year.

In recent years, Cherry Knowle Hospital has become a magnet for ghost hunters despite warnings issued by police that people were putting their lives at risk by breaking into the crumbling buildings and possibly being exposed to asbestos. It gained notoriety after a local publication called the Sunderland Echo described it as the "most haunted hospital" in the UK. Ever since, paranormal enthusiasts and urban explorers have broken in to the derelict block numerous times. This doesn't include visits from the vandals and underage drinkers.

Cherry Knowle Hospital is supposedly haunted. However, I was unable to find many ghost stories related to it other than a Quija Board incident where the pointer allegedly spun on its own. This asylum allegedly partook in patient abuse and the overall appearance is enough to fuel rumors of its haunted status. Whether it actually is or not, I don't know. In the process of constructing the new homes, original architectural features such as foundation stones and doorways will be retained when possible. We will one day know if there is any truth to its title of "The Most Haunted Hospital in the UK".

Isla Coiba

Isla Coiba Island was considered the Panama version of Alcatraz. The island is far from the mainland. The nearest town is hours away by boat. It's ten miles wide and thirty miles long (largest island on the Pacific coast of Central America) but not populated. The waters surrounding it are infamous for aggressive sharks and strong currents. Coiba is mountainous, covered in thick jungle and home to very poisonous snakes. Not a place anyone wants to be sent to.

Established in 1919, Panama’s worse criminals and opponents of the military regimes were sent to the island under the dictatorships of Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega. Prisoners were taken to the island twice a month by boat from Puerto Mutis, Veraguas; the trip took six hours. The longest sentence any inmate could receive was 20 years. Panama does not have the death penalty.

Isla Coiba has 30 buildings. At its peak, the prison housed 3000 inmates. Prisoners were kept in a central compound where there was a church and a small clinic. Beyond the central compound there's nine smaller compounds where prisoners worked small farms. The island provided all the food for the penal and public health system in Panama. Prisoners worked long hours and were only allowed one meal a day. They ate at noon and then was taken back into the fields to work.

Other prisoners were tortured. During the military years in Panama, the prison was turned into a concentration camp of sorts for political opponents of the regime. Inmates were hung from basketball rims for up to five days until their hands swelled up and the bones of their wrists were exposed. Flies would lay eggs in the wounds and maggots would eat at the flesh. Other prisoners were tied to the back of horses and dragged.

Those who tried to escape were shot in the jungle. Inmates who actually committed a crime spent their days killing each other while prison guards looked on and did nothing. The few who managed to escape walked about 16 hours through the jungle to the side nearest the mainland and either swam across or had a boat pick them up. The ones who were unsuccessful were carried off by the currents or died in the jungle.

In 2004, the prison closed. The last eight prisoners were taken from the island that July. Anything of value was removed from the site. The remaining structures are slowly being reclaimed by the jungle. The fear of the prison and its inhabitants inadvertently resulted in preservation of the largest untouched rain forests in the Americas.

Those who fear the prison, fear the ghosts who are believed to inhabit it. Witnesses have reported strange lights and noises, footsteps, shadows, whispers, screaming, and banging on the bars by an unknown source. Supposedly, a guard killed himself upon realizing the escaped prisoner he was chasing turned out to be a ghost.

GS Question of the Week

What are Deer Women?

Three-Legged Lady Road

Upon researching this Columbus, Mississippi road, I found myself believing the stories to be false. Why? Because there are so many of them. Variations in a legend are fairly expected. With the legend of the three-legged lady, I uncovered very few consistencies. However, the unexplained phenomena taking place on this road could have one wondering what is really going on. We must start with the tales about the three-legged lady.

One story begins with a girl living with her mother. One day she was run over by a car, losing a leg and supposedly her mother sewed her daughters leg back on. Now if you knock on the church (that doesn't exist anymore) door 3 times she'll chase you. Don't look backwards until you go around the next curve (where the gate is) or she'll open the gate, you'll drive out into the field and she'll kill you. (The knocking on the church door three times and the lady chasing you seems to be a consistency even though the back story isn't.)

Another story talks about a poor farmer and his housewife who lived on Nash Road a.k.a. Three-Legged Lady Road. The housewife had an affair with a civil war veteran, and of course, the farmer found out. The farmer killed the veteran, and drug his body down Nash Road and over the bridge. In the process, the veteran's leg was torn off on the bridge. The housewife found his leg after the funeral, and stitched it onto her own body. She then went crazy, killed the farmer, and committed suicide. She now walks up and down Nash Road, and haunts the church (which isn't there anymore) that the funeral took place in.

A third story talks of a here was a woman and her husband who lived on Nash Rd. She loved her husband dearly and devoted her entire life to him until she discovered one day that he was cheating on her. She killed him and chopped him up into bits. Then sewed his leg onto her hip so he would always stay with her, and buried the rest of his body in the cemetery down that road. The church found out and accused her of murder and threatened to turn her in (because having a third leg attached to her and a husband who mysteriously disappeared wouldn't have been enough to cause suspicion). So one day during Sunday mass, she locked everyone inside the church then lit it on fire! The remains of the dead are scattered up and down the road. She has never been seen since. Rumor is that she will kill anyone who walks on the church grounds and threatens to tell her secret.

Finally, there was allegedly a girl named Rose who was kidnapped and dismembered possibly sacrificed by satanists in the woods surrounding the road. Her mother is seen walking up and down the road, searching the area for the rest of her daughter. She is seen carrying the only part of her daughter she found, a leg. A variation of this story has the mother sewing her daughter's leg on to her own body as a way to be closer to her child.

These are only but a few of the stories told about this road. It's uncertain which one if any has a degree of truth to it. With there being so many, it doesn't help to describe why odd things are happening on the road. There are rituals of knocking on the church door which doesn't exist anymore three times or stopping on the road and flashing your headlights to entice her. Some people have allegedly found handprints on the back of their car after an encounter. Some eyewitnesses claim to have actually seen a woman with three legs or heard the whispers of a female on Nash Rd. Others could hear her fists ramming in to the side of their cars in attempts to run them off the road and even later found mysterious dents.

Whether or not there is any truth to the three-legged lady, people are experiencing something unexplainable on that road. To interact with those familiar with this stretch of dirt and gravel or see pictures, check out its Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-used-to-ride-on-Three-Legged-Lady-Road/354126064656

Duckett Grove Castle

The story of a spectacular castellated Gothic castle complete with gardens, towers, thirty rooms and statues expanding over 12,000 acres beings with a man named Thomas Duckett. While not the first Duckett to arrive in Ireland, he purchased a 500 acre small town on the northern edge of the Lake District known as Kneestown from Thomas Crosthwaite of Cockermouth in 1695. Crosthwaite had obtained extensive land property in Ireland under the Acts of Settlement of 1666 to 1684 during the reign of Charles II.

Thomas married Judith de la Poer, heiress to her father’s estates in County Waterford. However, it was his grandson William's marriage that turned things around for the Duckett family. William married Elisabeth Dawson-Coates, co-heiress of wealthy Dublin banker John Dawson-Coate in 1790. The couple had four sons. On November 19, 1895, William remarried at the age of 73 to Maria Georgina Thompson. He died on June 22, 1908 and was the last family member to be buried in the family burial ground at Knocknacree.

The mansion house at Duckett’s Grove was built during the 1700s, replacing a smaller house. In 1830, William acquired the services of architect Thomas A. Cobden to Gothicise the family estate to include Gothic towers, turrets, arches, niches, crenulations, loops, high-stacked chimneys, statues, urns and oriel windows. During a time when labor was cheap, tradesmen were paid about 9 shillings a week, about the same amount earned by farm workers. Eleven men were employed full-time maintaining the lawns, gardens and drives leading to the mansion from its three gate-lodges on the Castledermot Road, The Iron House and The Western Gate. After William's death, the castle was left to his widow in absence of a male heir. She abandoned the property in 1916.

The estate was put under the management of an agent until 1921. A group of local farmers and laborers under the umbrella of the Killerig Land Committee, purchased the estate with a £32,000 loan from the Bank of Ireland. By 1925, the Killerig farmers had failed to agree on the division of the land and no repayments of interest or capital had been made to the Bank. On June 20th of the same year, the Bank issued all the committee members with a bill for £38,217.18.6, with a threat that legal action would be taken against them. Two years later, the Land Commission took over the estate, cleared the bank debt.

Sometime in the 1920s, the property was used as a training camp for the Irish Republican Army. When the Land Commission purchased the estate, the bank retained the mansion and eleven acres of land, which was sold in 1931 to Frederick George Thompson of Hanover Works, Carlow for £320. Some of the outbuildings were demolished and the granite was used in the building of a new Christian Brothers school in Carlow town called named Bishop Foley National School. The remaining outbuildings were used as stables and a riding school by Frances Brady who occupied a wing of the old mansion until the estate was purchased by Carlow County Council.

There are several stories attached to Duckett Grove giving it a well rounded paranormal history. One of the main stories is that of the banshee. In Irish folklore, the banshee is an ancestral spirit associated with certain Irish families who forewarns death in the family with a recognizable wail. She's often known to have long flowing hair and wears cloaks or shrouds. She is also known to use a comb to lure people. If you touch the comb, you'll suffer dire consequences.

In this particular case, Duckett Grove's banshee is supposedly that of a woman who William Duckett had an affair with. She was the daughter of a farmer who died while riding her horse. After her death, her mother put the "Widow's Curse" on William and thus the Duckett Banshee was born. She's seen and heard throughout the property. Witnesses even claimed to have heard her wail for two days straight from one of the towers. As a result of this, a woman walking on a path on the property died suddenly. A former caretaker saw the banshee several times in the mansion. She became very fearful of the entity and abandoned the property, never returning. A man saw and heard the banshee in the walled garden. His mother died the next day.

A man on horseback was riding by Duckett Grove when his horse suddenly stopped and stared at the gate. The horse wouldn't budge until the man placed his rosary on the animal. It, then, felt safe enough to continue on the journey. It's unknown why the horse was so fascinated with the property. A mysterious fire broke out on April 20, 1933, reducing the mansion to ruins. Interesting enough, people witnessed smoke coming from the mansion a week earlier. Their swift actions put the blaze out, saving it. Luck would not be on their side twice. The origins of the second fire was never determined.

The Banshee is not the only entity supposedly haunting Duckett Grove. Members of the Duckett family and servants have also been seen and heard throughout the property. Eyewitnesses have reported seeing mysterious lights, noises, voices, shadows, apparitions, and sounds of servants working in the kitchen. There is also reports of a phantom horse and carriage seen in the front of the castle.

Currently, Duckett Grove is being renovated by the Carlow County Council. You can keep up-to-date with their efforts by visiting their website: http://www.duckettsgrove.eu/. If by chance you didn't watch the Destination Truth live episode, you can view various pictures of the castle and investigation at http://twitpic.com/photos/dtlive.

GS Question of the Week

Do you think the supermoon on March 19th will bring a series of natural disasters?

17th Century Witch Chronicles

Ever wonder what it would have been like to be accused of witchcraft in the 17th Century? A 350-year-old notebook, documenting the trials of women convicted of witchcraft in England during the 17th Century, is now available online thanks to a team at The University of Manchester's John Rylands Center for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care who spent two weeks photographing it. The author was an English Puritan named Nehemiah Wallington. The manuscript is one of Wallington's seven surviving notebooks. The woodturner wrote 50 journals about religion, the civil war and witchcraft trials during the course of his life.

Within its pages, she recounts the fate of women accused of having relationships with the devil during a time when England was deep in civil war. Specifically, it relays the details of a witchcraft trial held in Chelmsford in July 1645. More than a hundred suspected witches were serving time in Essex and Suffolk at the time of this trial. Of the 30 women on trial in Chelmsford, 14 were hanged.

"Divers (many) of them voluntarily and without any forcing or compulsion freely declare that they have made a covenant with the Devill," he wrote.

"Som Christians have been killed by their meanes," he added.

Wallington also speaks of the experiences Rebecca West, a suspected witch who confessed to sleeping with the devil, endured. She subjected to torture leading to her confession because "she found her selfe in such extremity of torture and amazement that she would not enure (endure) it againe for the world." In turn, this spared her.

I'm sure this document will provide much insight to all readers. The notebook can be viewed free of charge at http:/chiccmanchester.wordpress.com.

Black Diamond Cemetery

Black Diamond Historical Cemetery is located in Black Diamond, Washington. Once known for its coal mining, the cemetery was founded in 1884. It sits on Cemetery Hill Road, hidden by a row of trees. The only indication of its existence is a wooden sign erected by local Scouts.

The earliest gravestone dates back to 1880 and now contains over 1100 graves. the tombstones show cultural diversity and tragedy that existed in town when coal mining was at its peak. At least half a dozen graves mark belong to those of mine workers who died in explosions in 1902, 1910 and 1915. Graves mark residents who came from countries such as Italy, Australia, Russia and Germany. A Civil War veteran was laid to rest in Black Diamond as well as children who died in the early 1900s due to epidemics of small pox and influenza.

Being a cemetery, it's not too unusual the property has a haunted title attached to it. Paranormal reports have been quite consistent even though plausible explanations could be determined for all and there are no records when the activity began. On foggy nights, looking in to the cemetery, you can see swinging lights supposedly belonging to a deceased coal miner (or possibly the product of a natural gas phenomena). Some have heard whistling in the wind (it's an open area. sounds could come from anywhere especially carried on the wind). There are also reports of a white horse seen trotting around headstones (Black Diamond is a rural area. An actual horse may have gotten loose. One witness and the story is added to its haunted persona).

However, several local paranormal groups have investigated Black Diamond Cemetery. One group captured a mist on several photographs (whether it was natural or supernatural, I can not say). From what I can tell Puget Sound Ghost Hunters is the only one with a rather detail report of their investigation. Their visit ended with virtually no physical evidence but personal experiences including odd aromas, feeling of being watched and a light anomaly. You can view their detail report here. Is Black Diamond Cemetery haunted? Although I personally feel cemeteries should be off limits, only future investigations can confirm or deny it.

USS Olympia

USS Olympia saw service in the United States Navy from her commissioning in 1895 until 1922 as a 5,300-ton protected cruiser. She launched on November 5, 1892. Her claim to fame came when she led five warships in to Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War on May 1, 1898. Navy Commodore George Dewey stood on her bridge and utter the famous words: “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” The fleet destroyed ten Spanish cruisers and gunboats without losing a single American life.

The ship was decommissioned after returning to the United States in 1899, but returned to active service in 1902. Her first duty was to serve as the flagship of the Caribbean Division.

She served until World War I as a training ship for naval cadets and as a floating barracks in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1917, she was mobilized again for war service as the flagship of the US Patrol Force, patrolling the American coast and escorting transport ships. She patrolled the eastern seaboard of the United States in search of German warships.

Following the end of World War I, Olympia participated in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War in 1919 as well as conducted cruises in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to promote peace in the unstable Balkan countries. In 1921, the ship carried the remains of the First World War's Unknown Soldier from France to Washington, DC, where his body was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Olympia was decommissioned for the last time in December 1922 and placed in reserve.

In 1957, the US Navy ceded title to the Cruiser Olympia Association, which restored the ship to its 1898 configuration. Since then Olympia has been a museum ship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which now part of the Independence Seaport Museum. It is currently the oldest steel warship still afloat and the only surviving vessel from the Spanish-American War.

There were about 19 documented deaths (all various accidents) aboard the USS Olympia. One being that of Coxswain John Johnson who was killed in an accident involving one of the 5 inch guns during its first gunnery practice on April 20, 1895. She has seen her share of paranormal experiences. Witnesses have reported shadow figures, apparitions, footsteps, voices, and unexplained knocking.

The USS Olympia has been a maritime museum since September 11, 1957. However, due to lack of funds and poor ship conditions, she is in danger of being sold for scrap or be scuttled somewhere offshore, becoming an artificial reef. The Philadelphia museum is soliciting bids from other organizations to acquire the Olympia, saving it from such a fate, but its future remains uncertain. For more information on the efforts to save the USS Olympia go to www.tcohs.org.

Ghostly Thirteen

Halloween Graphics - http://www.halloweentext.com

Ghostly Thirteen was inspired by the Thursday Thirteen meme. You list thirteen paranormal-related things, for example your top 13 posts (if you have a paranormal blog), mythical creatures, gods, haunted houses, etc... All is welcomed to participate. Theme is up to you.

My Theme – 13 Haunted Former Hospitals

1. Pennhurst State School and Hospital

2. Norwich State Hospital

3. Manly Quarantine Station

4. Hayswood Hospital

5. Linda Heights Hospital

6. Essex County Mental Hospital

7. Northern State Hospital

8. Rolling Hills

9. Waverly Hills Sanitorium

10. Mount Misery

11. Hot Lake Hotel

12. The Pike House

13. The Lyric Theater (temporary makeshift hospital)

GS Question of the Week

What are you expectations for the very first LIVE show on Destination Truth?

Pennhurst State School and Hospital



In 1903, the Pennsylvania Legislature authorized the creation of the Eastern State Institution for the Feeble-minded and Epileptic. A commission was organized to determine how many feeble-minded and epileptic people were in need of specialized institutional care.

Construction began in 1903 on hundreds of acres of Crab Hill in Spring City, Pennsylvania. It officially opened on November 23, 1908. However, additional buildings were added throughout its years of operation. The lower campus buildings include Philadelphia, Quaker, Franklin, Nobel, Devon, Mayflower, Whitman, Wilson I and II. Upper Campus are Pershing, Buchanan, Audubon, Keystone, Capital and Horizon. A tunnel system connects twenty-six of the buildings. The Pennsylvania Railroad created a Pennhurst Station to deliver coal and other supplies. The tracks had since been removed but are currently being recreated.

In 1908, "Patient number 1" was admitted. Four years later, Pennhurst was overcrowded and under pressure to admit immigrants, orphans and criminals. Residents were divided in to various classifications: 1) mental - imbecile or insane; 2) physical - epileptic or healthy; 3) dental - good, poor, or treated teeth. Children who were admitted to Pennhurst had conditions such as mute, paralytic, blind, imperfect prehension, deformity of face, head, limbs and/or feet, and offensive habits. Residents were assigned to various branches of industry including mattress making, farming, laundry, sewing, baking, butchering and painting. However, in 1913, the Commission for the Care of the Feeble-minded believed every feeble-minded person was a potential criminal and should not be mixing with the general public.

A lawsuit was filed against Pennhurst State School and Hospital by former resident Terry Lee Halderman siting violations of her Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments in 1977. The complaint included carious allegations of unsanitary, inhumane and dangerous conditions and staff used cruel and unusual punishment methods. Psychotropic drugs were allegedly used to restrain patients. Seclusion rooms were used to punish aggressive behavior. Patients were left in metal cribs for days at a time. Physical restraints were used due to staff shortages. Patients were raped, physically assaulted, thrown across the room, hit by a belt. Patients were witnessed by family members having bruises, scratches, welts, bites, broken bones, missing teeth by the hands of themselves, staff or other patients. Outbreaks were common due to minimal cleanliness. Some patients walked around partially dressed or completely naked.

Halderman's lawsuit was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court stating federal courts cannot order state officials to comply with state laws due to the Eleventh Amendment. However, the facility was forced to close in 1986 due to the allegations of abuse. Today, it is in the process of being renovated and is not opened to the public.

There are numerous paranormal reports associated with Pennhurst. Witness have seen partial and full bodied apparitions (including a woman in white and a young girl with blonde hair), doors slamming, screams, voices, banging, feeling of being watched, shadows, dragging sounds, piano playing, and items being thrown by unseen hands. Others have seen apparitions peering around corners and out windows, being pushed, whispers, and footsteps.
 
Blogger Templates