An abandoned asylum in West Virginia
As you wander the gloomy corridors of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, W.Va., you have to feel grateful that the walls can’t talk, said Jim Barnes in The Washington Post. Opened in 1864, the imposing sandstone building was designed as a place where the mentally ill could live with dignity. Instead, it became a hellhole. Patients endured severe overcrowding, and were chained to the walls and subjected to ice baths for “hysteria” and ice-pick lobotomies for other perceived disorders. The facility, closed in 1994, now offers a range of ghost tours, but I took a more respectful heritage tour. Led through the halls by a guide in a nurse’s uniform, we learned that not all patients were mentally ill: Some had epilepsy or brain damage; others were wives whose husbands wanted them out of the way. The asylum has no medical records, but I left wanting to know more about these poor souls, about secrets that will never see the light of day.