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Curt Strutz Presents "Haunted Places"

      Curt Strutz was introduced by Carmen Buss, library director.  Curt described the exploration of "haunted' places and admitted that his interest into paranormal activity began with a visit to the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota.  Seth Bullock was an early businessman and the first sheriff in Deadwood (1876).  He built a hotel in Deadwood.  He died of cancer in 1919, but, according to dozens of reports, continues to play host at his beloved hotel.  All manner of strange occurrences have happened at the historic hotel according to both staff and guests.   Some report seeing Seth's ghost.  Plates and glasses have been know  to shake and take flight, lights flicker on and off, showers turn on, and many other odd occurrences. Pictures of the evening can be found here.   Curt zeroed in on his visits to three of America's best known hauntings:


       Waverly Hills Sanatorium

     Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Louisville, Kentucky

     During the 1800s and early 1900s, America was ravaged by a deadly disease known by many as the "white death"--tuberculosis.  This terrifying and vary contagious plague, for which no cure existed, claimed entire families and sometimes entire towns.   In 1900, Louisville, Kentucky had one of the highest tuberculosis death rates in America.  Built on low, swampland, the area was the perfect breeding ground for disease and in 1910, a hospital was constructed on a windswept hill in southern Jefferson County that has been designed to combat the horrific disease.  The hospital quickly became overcrowded though and with donations of money and land, a new hospital was started in 1924.  The new structure, known as Waverly Hills, opened two years later in 1926.  It was considered the most advanced tuberculosis sanatorium in the country but even then, most of the patients succumbed to the disease.  In many cases, the treatments for the disease were as bad as the disease itself.  Some of the experiments that were conducted in search of a cure seem barbaric by today's standards but others are now common practice. 
     While the patients who survived both the disease and the treatments left Waverly Hills through the front door, the majority of patients left through what came to be known as the 'body chute'.  This enclosed tunnel for the dead led from the hospital to the railroad tracks at the bottom of the hill.  Using a motorized rail and cable system, the bodies were lowered in secret to the waiting trains.  By the late 1930s, tuberculosis had begun to decline around the world and by 1943, new medicines had largely eradicated in the United States.  In 1961, Waverly Hills was closed down but was re-opened a year later as Woodhave Geriatrics Sanitarium.  There have been many rumors and stories told about patient mistreatment and unusual experiments during the years that the building was used an old age home.
     Is it any wonder, after all of the death, pain and agony within these walls, that Waverly Hills is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the country?
     Curt told many stories about one of America's most haunted places.  He told how ghost researchers are always drawn to the fifth floor of the former hospital.  The fifth floor consisted of two nurses' stations, a pantry, a linen room, medicine room and two medium-sized rooms on both side of the two nurses' stations.  One of these, Room 502, is the subject of may rumors and legends and just about every curiosity-seeker that had broken into Waverly Hills over the years wanted to see it.  This is where according to the stories, people have jumped to their deaths, have seen shapes moving in the windows and have heard disembodied voices that order trespassers to "get out".

Waverly Hills Porch     Patients take in the sunlight on the open porches outside of the rooms.

                                                        Patients making the best of life at Waverly Hills.     Waverly Hills Ward

    Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
   (Previously the Weston State Hospital)

     Curt described another of America's most haunted places as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, constructed between 1858 and 1881.  It is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin.  The original hospital, designed to house 250 souls, was open to patients in 1864 and reached its peak in the 1950's with 2,400 patients in overcrowded and generally poor conditions.  Changes in the treatment of mental illness and the physical deterioration of the facility forced its closure in 1994 inflicting a devastating effect on the local economy, from which it has yet to recover.
     The Asylum has had apparition sightings, unexplainable voices and sounds, and other paranormal activity reported in the past by guests, staff, SyFy's Ghost Hunters and the Travel Channels Ghost Adventures.
Villisca Axe Murder House

Villisca Axe Murder House
Villisca Axe Murder House

      The third place Curt described was the axe murders that took place in Villisca, Iowa.  On the morning of June 10, 1912, a small community in Villisca, Iowa awoke to find 8 of their own had been brutally murdered by an axe during the middle of the night.  What once had been a peaceful community where everyone knew and trusted their neighbors, attended church together and left doors unlocked, changed forever on that bloody morning.  Joe B. Moore (43), his wife Sarah (39), their four children, Herman (11), Katherine (10), Boyd (7), Paul (5) and two visiting children, Lena (11) and Ina (8) Stillinger were found in the early morning hours of June 10.  All had been brutally murdered while they slept in their beds somtime between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.  They had attended Children's Day at their local church and arrived home about 11:00 p.m.  the night before.
     Many paranormal investigators and people of just paranormal curiosity have experiences while touring through this house full of brutal murder.  Some say they feel the presence of the murderer himself, others feel it is the presence of those murdered while laying asleep in their beds.
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