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Moody Meanderings

Take Time for Creepy Places in October

Eastern State Penitentiary

Post & Photos by Tiffany Harkleroad

This is the time of year when many of us like the spooky ambiance. We will indulge in haunted houses, scary movies, and even a ghost story or two. But for me, this moody aesthetic is not a mere one-month-a-year thing; it is a way of life.


I really enjoy seeking out the spine-chilling side of life in general, but one of my favorite things to do is to go hunting for spots that are, for lack of a better word, creepy. And today, I share some of my findings, both local and across the PA-OH-WV tristate area.


Let’s start close to home, shall we.


I have talked in the past about how much I love to geocache; one reason why is that geocaching allows me to find places I never knew existed. Take Furnace Run, not far outside of Kittanning. I went for the geocache located there, but I stayed for the abandoned furnace.


Another place we discovered a geocache at is a little spot the locals call The Black Cross. In reality, this spot in Cabot is actually a mass grave for those who died in the Spanish flu outbreak in the early 20th century. There is a historical marker, as well as a carved wooden cross.


Many claim to have experienced supernatural activity here, so proceed with caution. And given that it is a grave of those who died during a past pandemic, maybe wait until 2021 to visit it. Just saying.


There are plenty of cemeteries in the area that feel a little spooky, and again, many are purported to be haunted. Two of my favorites are the Snyder Cemetery hidden in Moraine State Park, and the Dunkard Brethren Cemetery near Cochran’s Mills.  And of course, who could resist the Evans City Cemetery, where the original Night of the Living Dead was filmed.


If you decide to wander over to the eastern side of the state, you will find Eastern State Penitentiary. This historic prison is still offering tours, including some night tours through November 15th. We visited in the daytime, and that was spooky enough!


Mount Moriah Cemetery

If you do venture to Philly, also stop at the Mount Moriah Cemetery. This sprawling cemetery is really beautiful, but it fell into disrepair after it closed in 2011. A group called the Friends of Mount Moriah was started to help clear the brush, but when we visited there were still large parts that had been reclaimed by nature. There was something quite beautiful about that.


Want to venture a little bit out of state? You can head to North Central Ohio, to a little town named Mansfield, to visit the old Ohio State Reformatory. Another historic prison offering tours, one of the big claims to fame for this site, as well as others in Mansfield, is that it was a filming location for the movie Shawshank Redemption. Or, you can head south in Ohio, to Athens, home to Ohio University. There you will find The Ridges. Now owned by the university, it was formerly the Athens Lunatic Asylum. Again, this spot is said to be haunted.

Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Headed to West Virginia? I have that covered too! In the middle of the state, you will find a small town called Westin, home to the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, also known as the Westin State Hospital.


Various tours are held of the grounds, and there are also ghost hunts held. We attended and overnight ghost hunt, and it was by far the creepiest thing I have ever experienced.


Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

Further south you will find Lake Shawnee and its abandoned amusement park -- yet another place said to be haunted. This place only opens itself up for paid tours in the fall or by private appointment.


I could go on and on about some of the creepy, mysterious, and generally unusual things I have found in my explorations, but I won’t. Because I want you to get out there and find some mysteries of your own. My goal is to find something off of the beaten path on every trip I take. I haven’t failed yet.


Tiffany Harkleroad is the Youth Services Librarian at the Butler Area Public Library, in Butler PA. She has long championed graphic novels for readers of all ages. She lives in Butler with her husband, their two adorable dogs, and their very cranky cat. When not reading graphic novels, she can be found playing board games, binging on documentaries, listening to podcasts, and taking long naps.

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