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