By Kelly Romlein
It’s imperative to our soul’s well-being to find passion, define ourselves, and, most importantly, learn and grow from this experience called life. My passion is ghost hunting, which involves much more than the cliché midnight graveyard stomping, and is surrounded by history, instincts, primal fear, and adrenaline.
There are many haunted places throughout America that are open to the public, allowing guests to spend sleepless nights roaming the remains of old hospitals and prisons. To smell the dank air of the past and feel the electricity of something other-worldly is a remarkable experience and one that not many people probably have.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the amazing artifacts of American history that has recently opened its doors to those brave enough to spend a night inside. The building, which was constructed in 1908 as a small tuberculosis ward, was quickly inundated with patients as this extremely contagious epidemic made its way across America. This patient overpopulation led to deplorable conditions riddled with human suffering, and as a result, many of those being restless souls of the unfortunate victims who still remain within Waverly Hill’s walls.
Waverly Hills’ lockdown began at midnight on a warm Kentucky night in August of 2012. The doors were closed behind me, and I was left, enveloped in darkness, to meander through the halls, looking to find the paranormal. Treatment for tuberculosis back in the early 1900’s involved allowing patients plenty of fresh air, so each room was equipped with a balcony that let the night flow freely through the vandalized and ravaged hallways. The balcony’s windows allowed moonlight to spill in and streak across the floor.
The top floor of the ward was specialized for children, and the curator has a special relationship with the ghost of a small boy he calls Timmy. When the ghost of this boy was asked to turn on a flashlight with no one nearby, the light would get turned on without hesitation. Slowly the power drained from the flashlight and its light went out, all was silent for a few moments until the spirit was able to re-energize it. This spirit is notorious for interacting with guests, so visitors often bring him toys in exchange for communication. I myself approached Timmy once. The spirit fearlessly moved a ball across the floor right before me as if trying to play with me. As a witness to these events, I know what I have seen is real.
As the cool air of that Kentucky night settled through the decayed structure, shadowy figures were undeniably drifting through the open-door, in the studded hallways of the lower floors. It felt as if the spirits were curious about their visitors and wanted to poke their heads out of their rooms to see what the commotion was. Eyes could be felt from every direction, and the depth of their darkness was visible against the moonlit doorways. I saw figures darker than the night shifting through paint-peeled corridors, and could sense that undeniable feeling that you are not alone in a room, although you’re supposed to be.
Finally, perhaps the most irrefutable piece of evidence that ghosts are more than fictional is something that I captured with my own camera. The basement of the Waverly Hills building featured a tunnel so infamously referred to as the “death tunnel.” Its grim name was given by people due to how it was used to remove bodies of the deceased from the building, which was done to spare the living patients from having to see the dead, and their own potential outcome, rolling through the front door. While walking down the tunnel, with only my sister slightly ahead of me, I snapped pictures the whole way down. Around 7 am, when the lockdown was over, we were released. I was scrolling through the photographs I had just taken during my pancake breakfast at a restaurant and I saw someone in front of my sister in one of the photos. The figure appeared opaque and large, the silhouette clearly of another person, but I am certain there was no one else in the tunnel with us that evening among the living.