The first stop on our paranormal road trip is an amusement park that has been left for the spirits that roam there. I first heard of Shawnee Amusement Park back in 2010 when I watched an episode of Ghost Lab that took place there. Since then Shawnee Amusement Park has popped up in conversation a few times. I hope to make my way out there sometime. Perhaps the next time I drive down to North Carolina to visit my family I can make a pit stop in West Virginia to check it out.
Before I get into the hauntings that happen there, we need a little bit of the history of the area to understand why some of the spirits are there.
Back in 1775 the land was settled by a family from Europe. Mitchell and Phoebe Belcher Clay moved to land surrounding a lake that went by the name of Clover Bottom with their children. While doing my research I read different accounts about how many children they had. Some places said they had three kids while other sites stated they had as many as fourteen children. Either way, the only names of the children I came across was Ezekiel (the eldest), Tabitha, and Bartley (the youngest child). They were the first settlers in the area. The Shawnee tribe that lived on that land did not like that the Clark family took over their land. In 1783, a group of Shawnee Indians came onto the Clay’s property while Mitchell was out hunting. Bartley and Tabitha were both killed on the property by the Shawnee. Mitchell came back from hunting and saw his two murdered children and realized that Ezekiel was missing. He went into town to gather a group of men to track down the Shawnees that had done this and to try to save his son. Unfortunately by the time that they located the group of Indians that had done these acts, Ezekiel had already been burned alive. Mitchell and the group of townsmen ended up killing about eleven of the Indians in retaliation. The Clay family stayed on that property for about the 140 years.
In 1920, Conley T. Snidow bought the property from the Clay family to open the Shawnee Amusement Park. The park was to be named after Lake Shawnee He built a dance hall, a speakeasy, and a swimming pool with waterslides. One of the rides at the time included a set of circular swings that swung the rides out. In the 46 years that the park was opened, it unfortunately saw a few deaths. At least 6 deaths were recorded during this time period. Two of the deaths included children that died in unusual accidents. The first was a little girl who died on the swings. As she was on the ride, a truck making a delivery to a vendor at the park backed into the path of her swing. Reports state that she died on impact. The other death that I read about during this time period was an eleven year old boy that drowned in 1966. He had gotten his arm stuck in a drain and wasn’t found in time. The park closed later in 1966 as the coal mines around the area also closed.
After about 20 years, a gentleman by the name of Gaylord White bought the property in the hopes of reopening the park. Mr. White had worked at The Shawnee Amusement Park as a young man. He erected a Ferris wheel and brought in kiddie rides at the amusement park. He also purchased a circular swing to replace the one that use to be at the park. It wasn’t until the swings were put up and he checked the serial number that he realized that he had bought the original set of swings. He reopened the park. Death still visited this park while it was opened the second time. Reports of a man undoing his safety belt on the Ferris wheel and jumping to his death came up during my research. The park stayed open for three years when the cost of insurance and upkeep became too expensive. At that point, Mr. White decided to turn the surrounding areas into neighborhoods. While the digging in the area, Indian artifacts and bodies were revealed. Experts now believe the reason the Shawnee tribe was so upset by the Clays moving to that spot almost 200 years earlier was because they had built their 800 acre farm onto of one of their sacred burial grounds. People are left to wonder if the Clays disturbing the burial grounds led to the land being cursed.
There are quite a few reports of hauntings in this area. Often disembodied voices can be heard. They can be shouts, laughter from children, conversations between entities but the words can’t be made out, whispers, and even chanting that is believed to from Shawnee Indians. People have seen Indians walking around the area that disappear after a few moments. Orbs have been seen gliding through the abandoned rides. The swings creak when there is no wind to blow them. Mr. White has seen the ghost of the little girl on the swing. He stated that she was wearing a pink ruffled dress. On a security camera video, the safety bar for a seat on the Ferris wheel came undone by itself. People have seen a gentleman sitting on one of the seats of the Ferris wheel. People have reported feeling hands grabbing them or a pressure on the shoulders as they walk around the park.
WANT TO INVESTIGATE HERE?
While this place looks abandoned, please do not go onto this property without permission. Lake Shawnee does offer tours and ghost hunting opportunities. You can contact them through their website at WVLakeShawnee.com. If you have been here, I would love to hear about it. Please let me know in the comments below what your experiences were.
Be sure to come back tomorrow to hear about a place I visited as a teenager with some family friends.