In 2012, my wife and I spent our 20th wedding anniversary in New York. It was our first visit to New York and we walked for miles on end around Manhattan, seeing all the typical tourist attractions. When we travel or take vacations, we make the most of our time, from morning until late at night, we try not to miss anything. Two attractions we planned to visit were Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We visited the Ellis Island Museum and walked around Liberty Island, but one thing struck me as odd. Why was the hospital on the south side of Ellis Island left abandoned? The hospital must have equal historic significance as The U.S. Immigration Station, right? When we returned from our trip, I did some research online and found that several organizations offer guided hardhat tours of the hospital for small groups.Upon learning this, we had something new to add to our bucket list for a return trip to New York.In August of 2018 we made our return, but this time we took our two teenage sons. With everything we had planned for the week, I wasn’t sure what kind of feedback, or misery, I’d get from the family about taking them on a hardhat tour of an old hospital. I expected to get some groans, or at least are we done yet? comments from our boys. And I was completely wrong!Talking around the dinner table the following week, my two sons said that the hardhat tour was a highlight of our trip.
A couple of years ago I was driving from Ogden to the small town of Spring City, Utah to pick up a puppy. After passing through Spanish Fork Canyon, and taking a right onto US-89, I drove around a curve and saw the strangest sight. On the side of the road was a decaying house, mostly submerged in water, and partially hidden by tall grass. It’s not an easy area to stop in, and I was in a hurry to pick up my pup, so I was not able to stop that day and explore the area. It wasn’t until I recently found myself back in the area that I realized the submerged house was one of the few remaining hints of the town of Thistle, Utah
Like the Goldfield Hotel, the Pennhurst State School and Asylum was on my Top 5 list of haunted places to visit. In Summer 2015 I went to Pennsylvania to visit my family, and it gave me the perfect opportunity to check it out.If you want to read about Pennhurst’s history there are a few great websites such as Preserve Pennhurst, The Pennhurst Project, and Pennhurst Asylum: The Shame of Pennsylvania. There is also a television news report from 1968, called Suffer The Little Children that helped bring public attention to conditions inside Pennhurst. We arrived at Pennhurst about 6 pm and while waiting for my friend Nick to arrive and let us in we wandered around the outside and took some pictures.
Pennhurst opened its doors for Patient No. 1 on November 23rd, 1908. Within just a few years Pennhurst was underfunded, understaffed, and overcrowded. As early as July 29th, 1913 there were reports of abuse at the institution. A man named John Jacobs was arrested and charged for beating two young men who just didn’t move fast enough for his liking. He beat both of the men with a wooden club.
By 1923 there were accusations of mismanagement of funds. The superintendent was paid $5,000 a year ($79k today) along with a residence, expensive car, two servants, and a chauffeur.
In the 1960s an eye opening documentary was released by a local reporter named Bill Baldini. You can watch it here. At the time this was produced Pennhurst was housing 2,791 patients, most of whom were children. There were nine medical doctors on staff and eleven teachers, none of whom had any training in special education.
By the time Pennhurst finally closed its doors in December, 1987, over 10,000 people had passed through its doors. When you think about the vast amount of people, in severely questionable conditions, suffering from varying degrees of mental and physical illness, it’s not surprising the location is considered to be quite haunted.
It wasn’t until the location sat empty and caretakers began experiencing strange things that the site got the reputation as one of the most haunted locations in the United States.
Doors would slam shut, loud sounds and voices were often heard coming from inside the buildings. When the caretakers would go inside to flush out trespassers no one could be found. In the Quaker building, shadow figures are often seen, as well as full bodied apparitions. One of these is a small girl with long black hair. The Quaker building also has reports of people being shoved and scratched and items being thrown from across the seemingly empty room.
An apparition of a nurse has been spotted in the Limerick building. She’s seen wearing an old fashioned nurses’s uniform.
Having spent some time inside Pennhurst I can vouch that the place feels heavy. The history of what took place here still hangs in the air. It’s one of those places that you just will never forget the feel of.
A mother took her two young children out for a drive because she felt they were possessed by the devil. She drove off the bridge and into the river below killing everyone in the car. If you sit on the bridge with your windows rolled down and honk your horn three times you can hear children yelling “Don’t do it, Mother!!”
I’ve heard stories of various cry baby bridges across the United States, but I wasn’t aware Utah had one until I read an article about haunted spots across the state. Bear River City isn’t too far from where I live, and considering it was Halloween figured it’d be a great day to check it out.
We got to the bridge and realized that it had been closed off some time ago, and a new bridge constructed right next to the old one. Thankfully, they left the old bridge standing and after climbing through some brush we could see the bridge stretched out in front of us.
It quickly became clear why the bridge had been abandoned. Made of steel, there were holes every few feet. Some of them big enough to fit a foot through, and rust spots were everywhere. We looked for any indication of a car going off the edge of the bridge, and while it would’ve been easy enough to repair the bridge there were no areas that we could see that showed any signs of previous damage.
When we got back home I figured something as major as a mother committing suicide and murdering her two children in the process would have been a major story. Bear River City is tiny, it would’ve been major news.
I searched the internet and newspapers for any mention of a major car accident, accidental deaths, murder, suicide, etc that occurred in Bear River. Finding nothing I expanded my search to the nearby cities of Corinne, Tremonton, and Brigham City. Nothing at all.
And then I found an article dated the 16th of May 1931 with a headline that read: “Driver Freed of Blame In Bridge Death”. While the story didn’t involve a mother killing her children, it was nevertheless incredibly tragic.
On the morning of Friday, May 16th, 1931 a 4-year-old boy by the name of Ellis Anderson was playing near the bridge while his father was working in a nearby field. A mail carrier was crossing the bridge when a dog darted in front of his car. While swerving to miss the dog unsuccessfully, he lost control of the car striking Ellis, throwing his body off the bridge and into the river below. His father pulled his body from the river. The medical examiner stated he was dead at the time of his arrival on the scene. The mail carrier later said he didn’t see the little boy chasing the dog. Another article says that the driver struck both Ellis and a 12-year-old companion by the name of Norman. No mention of Norman’s condition was made, but apparently he survived.
While this was definitely not the tragedy I was expecting to uncover, it makes you wonder if it is the spark behind the legend of Bear River City’s Cry Baby Bridge.
Sitting on the corner of Euclid & Ramsey in Goldfield, Nevada sits the decaying, yet still imposing Goldfield High School. While most visitors to Goldfield today go to see the Goldfield Hotel, the high school is impressive because it is one of the oldest surviving structures in Goldfield. Very little about this building has changed since closing its doors in 1952.
The school opened in 1907 at the height of Goldfield’s gold rush, when the town had a population of about 20,000 people. The Nevada State Journal described it in 1906 as one of the state’s points of pride saying: “It is a three-story brick structure, modern, sanitary and admirably adapted for the educational purposes for which it was built.” It was said Goldfield High School was the largest and best equipped high school in Nevada. It cost $103,000 to build which is the equivalent of $2,649,884 in 2016. It also boasted the only standard-sized basketball court in the state outside of the University of Nevada.
Over the years, as it became less economical to sustain the town’s mining operations, the population started to dwindle. When the largest mining company left town in 1919, it was clear that the city of Goldfield was slowly dying. The final blow came in 1923 when a fire caused by an exploding still destroyed most of the buildings in town. The Goldfield Hotel and the high school were the only remaining large buildings.
The school has been auctioned off numerous times since closing. In 2000, Goldfield High School was purchased at auction for $8,000 and later listed on eBay with bids starting at close to $30,000. I was unable to determine if it sold or for how much.
I was fortunate to gain access to the school in the summer of 2013 and was not disappointed. Though it has deteriorated over time, much of the building was still intact and had original desks, chairs, and chalkboards. We had a great time exploring the building and being able to see the old writing on the walls left by children who went to school there.
The Goldfield Historical Society has been working to restore this building since 2008. For more information on how you can help, click here.
Since the Intermountain Indian School, better known as the Brigham City Indian School closed it’s doors on May 17th, 1984 rumors quickly spread about it’s supposed haunted past. As urban legends are apt to do the longer the buildings sat empty, the bigger and more fanciful the legend grew.