Abandoned Places Road Trip In Virginia And West Virginia

Abandoned Places Road Trip In Virginia And West Virginia

Stops include a sanatorium, amusement park, and marble palace!

Maggie McMahon

I have always had an obsession with all things creepy, especially abandoned places. This summer my mom surprised me an abandoned weekend with my best friends (most people's nightmare, my dream vacation). The trip originally consisted of camping at an abandoned amusement park for the whole weekend and ghost hunting there (we had the owner's permission, don't worry!). While on the long car drive there, I started to research what else was in the area. My moms GPS suggested a place called Swannanoa Palace so we stopped there first. This huge marble palace was in the middle of nowhere, right behind an abandoned portion of the highway called Rockfish Gap.

The building was in obvious decay but there were multiple cars parked out front. It had turned out we were lucky enough to get there right before closing. We walked the whole palace, viewing the beautiful architecture, the stunning stain glass, and the decaying gardens. After exploring as much of the palace as we could (much was blocked off due to structural dangers), we got back in the car and headed to our campsite for the night. We set up camp at the amusement park (Lake Shawnee) with the group hosting the event. The most famous part about this abandoned park is the huge Ferris wheel that has been reclaimed by nature.

It towers over the lake and stands next to a spinning swing ride where a little girl died after a truck backed into the swings in motion. There are stories about seeing a man sitting in one of the Ferris wheel carts. We spent the night investigating the many different (creepy) parts of this park. The next morning, I told my mom how there is an abandoned asylum about an hour away and I have always dreamed about going to one. Mom got in our car and said "Alright, let's go then.". We drove through a pretty populated town, especially for the areas we had been in so far, and came up on a huge building in a state of ruins: St Albans Sanitorium. We pulled up the drive cautiously, hoping not to get caught considering we were trespassing (which I do not in any way recommend!). We pull into a parking spot and see a sign for "gift shop" which was very confusing considering it was abandoned and had previously been an asylum, not really a gift stop.

As I am staring in awe at this incredible building in front of me, a girl, about my age, walks out the front door and towards our car. Fully convinced she's a ghost, I look at my mom wide-eyed as she gets out of the car. She talks to the girl, the girl goes inside, peeks her head back out the door and says something to my mom, and my mom starts walking back to our car. She opens the door and says "Okay, let's go". Luckily, we happened to pull up just as the caretaker and his daughter were finishing up their rounds and they were the nicest people on the face of the earth because they offered to give us a tour. We go into the gift shop and meet our tour guides and they lead us down a hallway with soda and snack machines and open a door to complete darkness. We look to our tour guides who say "oh, yeah you probably should have brought flashlights, Maybe use your phones?". One thing I never thought of was how incredibly dark abandoned buildings are, especially the basement rooms. We walked through dark, twisting hallways, the guides with the confidence of people who have done it a million times, us with the confidence of terrified, lost tourists who were kind of concerned they were being led to their death and it was all an act (looking back, we probably shouldn't have trusted the strangers to take us into a dark building with no one around, again don't follow my example).

Some rooms had wheelchairs, some had stretchers, others had weird levers that looked like something Kronk would not want to pull. The whole place had a terrifying feel like people were watching you around everyone corner. From rooms filled with toys with writing along the walls, to rooms with magazines page glued to the wall and holes punched through them, the whole building felt very eerie.

We saw the fenced in rooftop area for the patients to get some fresh air and we saw the rooms that had giant, suspicious tubs that even the caretakers didn't want to talk about. At some point during our tour, we heard voices traveling through the hall and our tour guide went to investigate as we stood there, nearly peeing ourselves from fear. It had turned out some kids were attempting to trespass, and he told them to get out and continued with us. Finally, after walking through this massive building for about an hour and a half, the tour guide turned to us and said "are you ready for the creepiest part?". He led us down twirling, tight staircases, which if I remember correctly, required ducking (which I didn't do, and slammed my head on a low ceiling immediately). He led us down a pitch black hallway with no windows or source of light at all (which makes sense since we were at least one floor underground). He opened a creaky door and we went into a completely dark room. The room had a feeling about it I can't explain but I still can remember perfectly. It felt open, but also like it was full and like there were people there watching from the outskirts of the room. We turned our flashlights on our phones on as fast as humanly possible to see a two lane bowling alley in front of us. The room was massive and so empty every sound echoed of the graffiti covered walls.

We turned our flashlights off again to see how dark it was and my friend noticed something glowing in the mechanisms behind the pin deck at the very end of the lane. I will never understand how this girl did it, because this place was gross, terrifying, pitch black, and literally falling apart around us, but she climbed underneath the giant machinery to figure out what this red glowing thing was.

It turned out it was a big bouncy ball that glows when you shake it, which is weird considering we were the only ones there and had been in other rooms for the past two hours, but this thing was glowing bright enough for this girl to see from the end of the lane. We left the ball, and started to walk out, not forgetting to purchase our asylum memorabilia and tipping our incredibly kind tour guides on the way out. Overall, the experience was terrifying. From my mother feeling like she was being chased, me feeling watched only to turn around and find two holes in the wall with the saying "look behind you", my friend finding a blood stained wall, and my other friend getting lost in a dressing room full of mannequins, the asylum held quite a bit of terror and excitement for us.

One of the most terrifying parts about the tour however, was realizing that people lived this. Not only can you see the evidence of torture, whether it be the electroshock room and the hydrotherapy room, but you can feel it. The whole building is filled with a sense of torment and pain. The damage of the buildings is almost symbolic of the damage the building caused to those that were admitted there. The trip was incredible, but our unplanned, unintentional, total surprise tour of St Albans Sanitorium will forever stick out in my mind. Not only did it provide me with some awesome and creepy photos (for more, check out my Instagram mmae_photography), but it also filled me with a sense of sorrow for the mentally ill that were tormented here. It has awoken a hunger in me for more adventures to abandoned asylums, and though I have been lucky enough to visit a few more (such as Eastern State Penitentiary), it is very hard to find abandoned places that are legal to visit, so I am still on the hunt for more! Remember, as incredible as this experience was, it is not worth getting arrested, so please do not trespass. If you decide to explore the ruins of the past, please do so with permission and/or guides, as these buildings are dangerous. Explore at your own risk!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

13 Father's Day Shirts Under $30 To Gift The Dad Wearing The Same Two Every Day In Quarantine

You've been begging him to change it up, and now he won't have a choice.

Let's be honest: most of our dads are wearing the same shirts today that they probably wore while changing our diapers and holding our hands as we learned to walk. Sure, we love them for it. But whether you're quarantined with him wearing the same two shirts on rotation every week, or every time you FaceTime him, you know what he'll be wearing before he answers the phone, he needs to add some new items to his wardrobe rotation.

And you know dads — they'll feel guilted into using practically anything you were to give them. But these shirts are sure-fire ways to get him to switch up his wardrobe, and he'll be more than excited to wear each and every one of them. Plus, most of them are under twenty dollars, so no harm in dropping more than a couple in to your cart and letting Dad have his pick of his favorites.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Hollis Tuttle To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less

My Boyfriend Has Changed Since Quarantine Began, And I Don't Know What To Do

"All he says is 'I love you,' which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Dear Swoonie B,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year, which has been the best year of my life (as far as i know). Well we go to different schools and are both very involved in sports and school activities which makes it hard to see each other. During this quarantine it is especially hard. Since we haven't seen each other in over a week things are kind of tense. He won't really talk to me much and I always check in on him to make sure he is doing well and to just see how he is, ya know being a girlfriend. Well apparently that is driving him crazy and I don't understand how. I'm not being controling or clingy, i'm just checking in on him. While this is happening, I also have noticed how he just doesn't really care anymore. I'll leave him paragraphs of sweet love letters to wake up to and I encourage him throughout his day but I just don't get it in return. I love him with all of me and I obviously care about him a lot. Also, I've compared how he talked to me before all of this has happened. He was so sweet and caring, texting me a lot and telling me he loves me and just making sure everything is OK but he doesn't do that anymore. All he says is "I love you," which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him. He is a little stressed at home with trying to find another job to pay for his car, constantly having to do things for his mom, being responsible for his siblings, and managing school. I know thats a lot but im doing a lot too right now and going through a lot of the same stuff he is but It seems to me he just does not care and i don't know what to do. Please help me or give me some advice on what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. Anything at this point will help. Thank you!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "these are unprecedented times," I'd be rich. But that's because it's true!

Keep Reading... Show less
Tower 28

On paper, Amy Liu appears to be one of the most intimidating women in the beauty business. Not only did she launch her beauty marketing career at legendary Smashbox Cosmetics, she went on to lead luxury, high-end brands like Kate Somerville and Josie Maran — just to name a few.

But sitting down to meet Liu for the first time in an underground New York bar over a year ago felt like meeting a friend I'd known since childhood. As she walked into the bar in a chic red dress, it was impossible not to feel her immediate warm presence. When she talks about her history as an entrepreneur (and truly, at heart, she always was one), you don't get the sense that she's selling you anything, though with her impeccable taste, I'd use anything that had her glowing review attached to it.

Keep Reading... Show less

Sixth grade was the year that you were allowed to participate in a school sport. This was what my friends and I had all been waiting for since we started middle school. I had already made the cheer team with my friends, but I had to wait to start that in the winter since we cheered for basketball. I really wanted to have some sort of activity in the fall, but I did not know what to do. Somehow, I decided to run cross country. Not really sure how I decided on a sport where it was quite literally just running. A few of my friends were doing it as well, so I knew it was going to be fun.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Working Out Every Day During Quarantine Helps Me Feel A Sense Of Control

Physical activity helps my mental health in a world that feels uncertain.

Before the pandemic, I exercised a handful of times a week at best. In quarantine, I've been exercising every single day. I don't want this article to be another spiel about how exercise "changed my life," and all the other cliches that health gurus use to convince others to work out more. Rather, I want to reveal that exercise is a tool that works for me because it boosts my mental health when I feel like the world is spiraling out of control.

Keep Reading... Show less

To say that 2020 has been a bit of a roller coaster is an extreme understatement. Who knew that this decade was going to start off like THIS!? Not me, not you, and not that sweet old lady who lives down the street. One thing is certain though — while the world may be a mess right now, you can still fuel your body with food that keeps you happy and healthy. Thankfully, as we are all spending more time inside, you can get healthy snacks delivered straight to your front door! Amazon has never been more convenient (and tasty).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments