Finally had the chance to visit the haunted Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia while I was visiting with my Mom over the summer. It’s been on my list of “places to check out” for several years, so I was thrilled to get the chance to go and take a tour.
Covid restrictions are in full force here. You have your temperature checked before you even get out of your car (all passengers are required to have a temperature check before exiting the vehicle). Masks must be worn at all times, even while outside, no matter the age of the individual and no matter the vaccination status. Just something to keep in mind before going.
There are several different tours to choose from, we chose to do the VIP and Criminally Insane Tours. Eventually, I would love to go back to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and do the overnight paranormal tour!
We started with the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum VIP Tour which lasts about 90 minutes and does not have a standardized script or tour route. It combines history, paranormal, Civil War, architecture, and treatments. Basically, it combines several of the daytime tours into one tour. It is only offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 pm and 4 pm, so keep that in mind if you’d like to do this tour.
Before the tour, we started on the first floor which is self-guided and checked out the rooms that had been made into a museum of sorts.
Some of the rooms were a tad creepy as they had mannequins dressed in asylum clothing of that time as stand-ins for “patients”.
Soon our VIP tour started and we were taken to the 1st floor ward. The 1st floor ward, so we found out, was where only the best patients stayed and was always kept clean and presentable as this is where they would take visitors who wanted to see the facilities and when inspection time came!
From there we continued on and made our way to the other floors, learning about the history as well as the fire that took out 4 wards.
We eventually made our way to the floor where the “apartments” for doctors and nurses were located.
For a while they used to hold high school dances and other events in the Asylum rec room.
While there is too much to list, we visited almost the entire building, learning the history and checking out all the creepy rooms like the one paranormal investigators use to try and interact with spirits by using toys. A patient was found hanging in the corner you see here.
I took well over 500 pictures while I was here, but here is a sampling of other areas you will see:
Criminally Insane Tour
The criminally insane tour leaves on the hour, lasts about 45 minutes-1 hour, and leads you on a guided tour of the Forensics Building areas which were designed to hold the criminally insane. You will learn about the admissions process as well as the history of some of the more “famous” criminally insane that was held here.
We had the guide to ourselves for this tour, which was a nice treat. We saw the main sleeping/shower room.
As well as the cells were the more devious insane inmates were held during solitary confinement.
Again, many pictures were taken and there is a lot of history here; we ended our tour in the exercise yard.
An Inmate Worth Mentioning
One inmate held here stuck out to me, mostly due to the fact that I had run across his story years ago when researching combat-related PTSD in our military. Also, because that topic is so near and dear to my heart as my husband suffers from severe PTSD as do several close friends. His name is Timothy Allen McWilliams.
Timothy (a Marine) shot 3 people near WVU after an argument outside a nightclub on August 1, 1980, claiming self-defense stating he was being followed by the CIA (among other things, as he had severe paranoia).
One man died. He was convicted in 1984 after a mistrial, but eventually, that conviction was overturned in 1986 due to the prosecutor failing to prove that Timothy was sane at the time of the shootings.
In 1988 he was released to his parent’s care (he spent most of his time between 1980-1988 at the Weston State Hospital, now known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, where he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic). For the next 30 years, he lived with his parents with no other incidents until March 8, 2018, when he woke up to find that he himself had been cut by his father who had dementia and then proceeded to stab his father. He pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
I highly suggest reading the book Sleeping in the Bathtub which tells about this tragic story. While our healthcare system has gotten better at recognizing PTSD among our Veterans and treating them, there is still so much more that needs to happen! I, unfortunately, know this first hand!
About the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Constructed in1858 and 1881, it is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America. Designed by architect Richard Andrews following the Kirkbride plan, it has long wings arranged in a staggered formation. Originally designed to house 250 patients when it opened in 1864, it reached its peak in the 1950s with 2,400 patients. It closed in 1994 due to the physical deterioration of the building and changes to how the mentally ill were treated.
In addition to being used as a lunatic asylum, it was also used during the civil war while it was being built and became known as Camp Tyler, establishing Weston as an important military post.
It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990. The entire facility and 300 acres were privately purchased in August of 2007 and renamed Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) from The Weston State Hospital.
71 Asylum drive
Weston, WV 26452
Walk-In Tours: Tue-Fri & Sun 12pm-6pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Closed on Mondays.
VIP Tours: Wednesdays & Saturdays at 1pm & 4pm
Overnight Ghost Hunts: Several Times a month; check the schedule
Photography Tour: No set schedule, check for times
$15 – $150 per person depending on the tour
Things to Keep in Mind
Daytime tours are first come first serve and tickets can only be purchased on a walk-up basis
Have you been to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum? What are your thoughts? Comment down below and let me know!