Bedford Paranormal
Waverly Hills

If you know much at all about the paranormal, you’ve probably heard about Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville Kentucky. The Sanatorium was first a two story wood frame structure and construction started in 1908. It was created to handle 40 to 50 tuberculosis patients. The huge and intimidating structure that we investigated was finished in 1926.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection most often affecting the lungs and can be spread by air when someone infected coughs or sneezes. Before pasteurization of milk it was also possible for humans to be infected by the cattle strain of the disease. The disease is credited with killing 100 million people in the 20th century. The disease progresses fastest in a warm, humid climate which is why so many people including the famous Doc Holiday moved to the areas of the west which were known for having dry air.

Thankfully in 1946 the antibiotic streptomycin was developed and was used as a treatment and cure for the disease. During our afternoon tour of Waverly we were told of several treatments that doctors used before the advent of antibiotics. One involved the removal of enough ribs to collapse the lungs.
My opportunity to participate in an investigation at Waverly came when Marty, a friend of mine called and asked if I was interested in going along with his paranormal group. Marty’s group is called the Shenandoah Valley Paranormal Society.  He had made a good plan that included the rental of two vans and had divided the personnel into four groups of four to five people. I was in the group headed by Laura. She and her fiancé Josh live in Charlottesville. I had known Laura for a little over a year and was confident in her knowledge of the paranormal. I met the group in Staunton and we were on our way.  The drive took about 8 hours, but it was a good trip with lots of exchanges of opinions on the paranormal, different ways to conduct an investigation, personal experiences, and so on. I had met the Staunton group before but this was my first time to join them on an investigation. I was impressed at how good they all got along and how upbeat and generally happy everyone was. We arrived in time for a quick lunch before starting the two hour tour of Waverly Hills. As we stepped out of the van several of us attempted to take a photo of the main building on the other side of the parking lot. It proved just too big to fit the whole building in a photo. The tour began in the gift shop. We were shown the Ghost Hunter’s episode where Jason and Grant had visited Waverly. It was a great show, but to tell the truth we had all see it more than once and were eager to get started. Our tour began with what is known as the “Body Chute”. The Chute is a 500ft concrete tunnel that led from the first floor to a train loading platform. At one time the Sanatorium was averaging a death an hour to tuberculosis and it was thought that if the bodies were transported in the tunnel and out of view the other patients wouldn’t be as demoralized. The tunnel has steps on the left side as you descend and a smooth ramp on the right. Every so often you will see a round opening in the roof of the tunnel to allow some light to enter into it. Before we entered it we were told by the guide that we were about a hundred yards from a mass grave of patients that had died at Waverly. The guide went on to say that most accounts claim that well over 60,000 people died at the Sanatorium, but that he felt as if the actual number was less. Due to important records being ruined in a flood, there is no accurate count of how many lives were lost there.
Next we went into the first floor where the morgue was located. We were shown room 99 where we were told electroshock therapy was preformed. Our guide told us that this was a very good room for EVPs.

We then visited the second floor and were shown the chapel where most family members would come to in order to visit their unfortunate relatives stricken with TB. We were then shown the rooms on the floor. In one room not far from the chapel was a photo of a young lady that was a patient there. I seem to remember that she was 28 when she died. Her family brought several photos of her to be placed in the room. She was a beautiful woman and had such a sad, hopeless look. It’s one thing to be told of what happened at Waverly, but to see her face made things much more real – at least for me. On the third floor we were told of a young boy that likes to play ball with investigators. Several balls were placed on the floor in the hopes that he would move one.  The guide told us that when Brian from the “Ghost Hunters” show was there he threw a large ball hard down the hallway only to have it stop about ten feet in front of him. We were also told of a tall homeless man that used to live in the building before the current owners bought it. He was known to wear a trench coat and had a dog that stayed with him. During these years before the current owners there were reports of people practicing black arts in the building and acting out rituals. The tall homeless man and his dog were both killed by these people during a ritual according to our guide. Our guide went on to say that we could look up the story for ourselves online. The bodies of the homeless man and his dog were found in the elevator shaft. The man’s ghost has been seen near the elevator at times and witnesses have said that he has no eyes.

On the fourth floor we were told about an entity known simply as “Big Black”. The guide told us that it appears as a dark black mist or cloud as it travels down the hallway. The guide went on to say that he had been punched and slapped on this floor by something he could not see. A door to one of the staircases on this floor has many large cuts into it. The guide told us that one night some young trespassers had snuck into the building and one of them had carried an axe to defend himself with. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to fight something paranormal with an axe, but that’s the weapon he chose. It was late at night and the guide heard screaming and calls for help from the fourth floor. He went to the doorway and arrived to it on the other side from the boys who were trying unsuccessfully to squeeze through a small window in the door. One teen was franticly chopping at the door with his axe. The boys franticly begged for help and told of how “they are all around us!” The guide simply opened the door from his side and let them out. The door was not locked, but couldn’t be opened by the teens. I was surprised to hear that people try to break into Waverly almost nightly. As our tour continued a member of our group pointed out some people hurriedly entering the woods beside the parking lot. The guide called over the radio about the trespassers, but they were quickly gone.

On the fifth floor we were shown the famous room 502 where a nurse had hung herself. Actually she died in the hallway just outside the room. She was a single woman that had been involved with a married man who also worked at the Sanatorium. She became pregnant and when she told her lover he quickly broke off the relationship. Despondent in a time when being a single mother was not acceptable, she hung herself in the hallway. Some people have reported seeing her in this hallway. Also on the roof top just outside this hallway is the rooftop where the children played.

Our tour complete, we gathered in the gift shop again and then left for dinner. We ate at a nearby Pizza Hut and went over the plan for the evening. Our group was to start on the fourth floor, then descend to the first, and then to work our way back up in turn. Each team would have a floor to themselves and the rotation system sounded good.

We arrived back at Waverly and encountered 4 more trespassers at the gate. They looked at us nervously and left quickly without saying anything to us. The investigation was scheduled to last from 8pm until 4am and we were all ready to start. The volunteers for Waverly came and let us in. They had told us that they volunteer for the guide positions and in return the owners allow them to investigate after groups like ours leave at 4am. We unloaded and set mounds of equipment, placing a recharging station on the first floor and the DVR on the fifth. Waverly does have electricity in select areas. The exterior alarms were set and the only way out would be from a tunnel that led from the first floor to the gift shop where our guide would be positioned. He promised that if he had to enter the main building after the investigation started he would radio to us first so as not to scare or confuse anyone.

The team I was on was to start on the fourth floor. Tap and his wife positioned themselves on one end of the large building while Josh, Laura, and I took the other end. I positioned myself in the doorway of a patient’s room on of the hallways where the guide had said that Big Black visits and waited with three cameras on one side of me and a bottle of water on the other. Laura and Josh did some EVP work out of sight from where I was. There was still a little daylight left as we started, but it was getting dark quickly on the inner hallways where I was positioned. I sat quietly for about a little more than half an hour and then decided to join the others doing EVP work and quietly patrolling the floor. We came to a ball on the floor and while I video taped the team members watching Laura moving the ball testing how easily it would roll, we all heard a loud male’s voice calling from the end I had just left. It sounded as if he was calling for someone named Jay. We all looked at each other and wondered who in the heck that could be on our floor. It sounded so distinct we assumed it was a person at first. We all started walking and then jogging towards that end of the building glancing into rooms as we passed them. We reached the end of the floor without seeing anyone or hearing anything else. Laura called the other teams on the radio and found that everyone was accounted for on their assigned floors. We also realized that there was no one on the investigation named Jay or having a name close to Jay. Surprisingly enough even though it seemed loud and clear to us the voice did not turn up on my camcorder, but you can see the group turn at the same time towards the sound and several asked who it could be.

Next we rotated to the first floor.  This was the only floor that you could not see outside from. There were several bats flying back and forth most of the time on this floor. Team members ducked as they went past, but having been caving several times in the past I felt that if you stayed still the bats would know where you were and avoid you. Then I started hearing thuds where the bats were crashing into the walls. So much for my theory on bat radar. As we set up Tap showed me his headphones and sound amplifier and said how glad he was to have it. I tried to capture some EVPs in the room where the electroshock therapy had been performed and then joined the others in exploring the floor in the dark. We heard some shuffling noises from the end of the first floor that lead to the gift shop passageway, but when we would get close it would stop. We turned and were slowly making our way to the other end of the first floor when Tap and Laura saw a shadow run around a corner in front of them. We all ran down the hall in an attempt to catch up with whatever it was. We came to a crossroads of sorts and milled around in different directions trying to decide which direction was best as I took several photos. Tap opened a storeroom door and called out to the rest of us that he had seen it again and that it gone through a wall. I took several photos of the storeroom, but it was too late and nothing showed up in them. We continued to alternate between quietly waiting and exploring the first floor, but nothing made itself known to us.

It was now our turn to be on the second floor. This floor had the photos of the former patient in her old room that I had mentioned earlier. I went to her room and quietly stood while looking at her photos and looking out towards the sun porch. I filmed some video in the dark some while in this room, but nothing showed up in it during the review later on.  I then set up in a hallway and set the video camera to film the length of that stretch as it lead to the Chapel. As I sat there partly in a patient’s room and partly in the hallway I thought I could a dark but misshapen form on the other side of the room where it opened up to the sun porch. I didn’t want to turn on my light or stand up for fear of it disappearing. After a couple of minutes of straining to make out what was there (or wasn’t there) I could see a flashlight coming down the hall. It was Laura and Tap. She asked if I had seen any dark shapes. I said that yes I had and told her of the shape in the room. She seemed relieved that I had seen something resembling that too and told how they had seen some dark shapes. I felt very comfortable on this floor and can’t remember any uncomfortable feelings while on it. It was time to move on to the third floor.

By the time we were on the third floor everyone seemed to be getting very tired. Most of us had gotten very little sleep in the last couple of days. I walked by myself to the end of the building and had a very strong feeling that someone was watching me. I didn’t feel threatened, only that I was being looked at. The closer I got to the end the stronger the feeling became making me slightly uncomfortable at times. This feeling stayed with me the entire time I was on this floor. I met up with Tap, his wife, and Laura and we decided to test the theory that a child will move inflate balls left on the floor. We would have one person roll it or toss it down the hall a little ways and watch it to see if it stopped or moved in an unusual way. We concluded that this was very unreliable due to the irregular floor and the not perfectly round shape of the ball. Also keep in mind that we are standing in the dark except for a flashlight or two and it’s easy for a person to think the ball is moving do to a paranormal source. It’s entirely possible that other groups have seen the ball move on its own, it just didn’t happen for us. We split up again and I walked to the other end of the large building and just stood in a corner listening. After we were done on this floor we went to the fifth floor.

On the fifth floor I set up to watch and video outside of the room 502 where the nurse had been found. Josh and Laura went out onto the rooftop. We were not allowed on the far end of the rooftop where the children had their playground for safety reasons, but we could easily see it. After a little while I could hear some talking from the rooftop and walked over to see what was going on. Josh and Laura had spotted some trespassers in the parking lot and security was trying catch up with them. They along with Tap and his wife were shining their lights on them to help security. The trespassers made their way into the woods and were not caught, at least not that night. 

It was now time to pack up everything and somehow get everything back into the two vans. Everyone was tired but upbeat and trading stories of their experiences. The ride back was quiet as most of us slept.

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