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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Possessed by Cherry Blossoms

Nowhere else would troubles fade
in charming pink cascades
except within a citadel
of cherry blossom shade
~ diedre

Just looking at the map of where I’ve virtually been this past week makes me almost glad I’m not really driving!  I say almost because this is truly some breathtaking country, at least during this particular season. I imagine the amount of snow you must get in these parts is not good for cactus, so you can keep it, but do the Cherry blossoms smell as heavenly sweet as they look?  If I happen to be nosing around in your neck of the woods, I hope you’ll speak up ;-)

Is there a method to this madness? Absolutely! What began as a quest to visit oddly named places has simply expanded to include my favorite pastime—chasing ghosts and exploring ghost towns!  If a strangely named place happens to have ghost or two, I’ll consider it a bonus :-)
First Stop:  Athens, Ohio -  The Ridges
Before the Ohio University took over, The Ridges was called Athens Lunatic Asylum and surrounded by an enchanting, park-like setting; complete with fountains, gardens, orchards, a dairy and a carriage shop. It was also a place which, for over a hundred years, was known for its extensive lobotomy practices. It might be easy to imagine the hauntings a place like this could have, considering a report of a crude message carved in a windowsill that reads “I was not crazy”. But only one story seems to have any merit and that is of a female patient who went missing for so long that by the time she was found in an abandoned building, her decayed body left a permanent stain on the concrete floor.  However, Room 428 at OU’s Wilson Hall dormitory is reportedly sealed off due to the hauntings of a female student killed there, and at the nearby West State Street cemetery, the Angel of the Unknown Soldiers is said to flutter a wing or shed a tear from time to time.
Moving on:  Centralia, Pennsylvania The Burning Ghost Town
The exact cause remains a mystery, but upwards of fifty years ago a fire erupted and spread throughout a labyrinth of underground coal mines; torching trees and buildings and spewing toxic fumes above.  Despite the over 40 million dollars, allocated to relocate residents of this once-bustling mining town, by 2010 it was reported that a total of nine stalwart people remained; though it is estimated that the fire could continue burning for well over 250 years. Conversely, I was astonished to discover that the Conemaugh River Lake contains at least six underwater ghost towns!
And then there was:   Claremont, New Hampshire - Topstone Mill
After sitting empty for several decades, the new owners of this former shoe and furniture factory began to think perhaps it hadn’t been abandoned after all when patrons of the new Bar & Grill kept getting bitten by invisible teeth! Staff resorted to ‘travelling in twos’ when strange sounds and voices were heard throughout the building, and faces were seen in the windows of unused floors. The owner himself couldn’t stand on a ladder without it being shaken by an unknown source. When an EVP team was brought in, many of these claims were substantiated, but they too, were unable to place the source.

Have you visited any of these places? Would you? 

Happy 4th of July!



  1. Hi, dear Diedre!

    My brother-in-law recently put the bite on me for $100... but I was never bitten by invisible teeth at a bar & grill. :) I would love to visit Topstone Mill just to see for myself if those reports have merit. It would be worth a bite or two.

    I am very familiar with the sad story of Centralia, PA. The smoldering ghost town is within the coverage area of the television station where I worked as a news reporter and producer in the 70s and 80s. Over the years we ran many reports about Centralia and interviewed residents.

    Thank you very much for the fun and fascinating ghost stories, dear friend Diedre. I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy Independence Day weekend!

    1. Hi Shady!
      Glad to have you along on my adventure trail!
      Now I am fascinated! You've interviewed actual residents of Centralia? I would love to read about them, is there a link?
      There is a (former) asylum in PA that I almost visited, but the descriptions were so vivid and gruesome I had to change course ;-) I'm sure glad those places are few anymore.
      I'm guessing you referred to a bet-bite from your brother-in-law?
      Thanks for coming along, my friend :-)

    2. Hi again, Diedre!

      I doubt that you could find a link to any of the old news reports and interviews from the 70s and early 80s. However just now I found an informative 61 page slide show on the station's website. It explains how the fire got started in the first place:

      I never heard the term "bet-bite" and so I don't know how to answer your question. "Put the bite on" is a figure of speech meaning to ask to borrow money. As usual I was simply trying to add a touch of humor to my comment. :)

      Have a safe and happy holiday, dear friend Diedre!

    3. Thank you, dear Shady!
      I can't wait to visit the link you provided.
      Don't I feel silly, I hadn't heard the term 'put the bite on' before, but it is apt for the situation and your humor shines as always ;-)
      I thought maybe you and your brother in-law had a bet going on...
      Happy 4th of July!

    4. It's fascinating how some idioms are well known to some and unknown to others. Perhaps the difference in our ages makes the difference, or maybe that expression isn't commonly used in the southwest.

      I remember Grandpa (Count Sam Dracula the vampire) using the expression "put the bite on" (a double entendre) in an episode of the 1964 TV series The Munsters. I even found it on IMDB:

      Grandpa: [sighs] Problems, problems, problems. Sometimes I wish I were back in the old country, where my biggest worry was who to put the bite on for three square meals a day.

      Thanks for being such a great friend, Diedre!

  2. I've never seen a real cherry blossom tree. Oh, I would love to smell it and take pictures.

    What you do, visiting strange named places and places known for having ghosts sounds awesome. I wish I could do the same, but my back and long road trips don't get along. I'll just have to live through the experiences you share here. :)

    The fire is still burning and could burn for 250+ years? That is astonishing! I wouldn't live there because I'm afraid of fire.

    I hope you enjoy your 4th!

    1. Hi Chrys!
      I'm doing something a little different this year by exploring intriguing places virtually. Though I have been to the places I write about, in and around Arizona, I think Asheville, NC is as far east as I've physically been ;-) Glad to have you along, and we can stop and stretch whenever your heart desires!
      Can you imagine having to leave your home behind because of an inextinguishable fire? Gads, it has to be so disconcerting...
      Happy 4th, lady Chrys!

  3. I haven't visited any of the places mentioned but I'd like to. I've watched a couple of horror films that were actually made in old abandoned asylums and the places were the real stars of the movies. There are some amazing abandoned facilities around the country with many closed lead and asbestos issues as well as other reasons. A shame to see places like these razed, but nice when they can get renovated and repurposed for current generations to enjoy.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi Arlee!

      "the places are the real stars..." You are so right about that!
      I've seen a few ghost hunter shows where they had to wear masks due to asbestos issues. Not only are many of these places majestic and rich in history, but where do the ghosts go once the building is razed? Leave it to me to worry about that, huh?
      I felt terrible for the residents forced to leave Centralia, but they were sure to be sickened by the fumes sooner or later. I hope they find that little town in tact once the fire goes out.
      Good to see you, Lee!

  4. You know that I LOVE ghost stories, so these are now on my must-see list!


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