HAZARD — While parents have often tried to convince children that the things that go bump in the night are creaking floors or wind through the trees, some say there are places here in Perry County where it might just be the spirits of the past.
Perry County resident Mary Engle literally wrote the book on searching for the paranormal called Ghost Hunt Like a Pro, and was featured in a special on the Bio Channel investigating the infamous Lizzie Borden House that was the home of two brutal murders. She has also investigated haunted places across the country for ghost activity, but says she has found quite a bit of it in her own backyard.
Hazard and Perry County have played host to some of the bloody history that covers the United States during its early days of growth and industry. The push to connect the country through the railway often led to unsafe work conditions and major disasters. The sight of one of these disasters is rumored to be the Dunraven Tunnels near Krypton. It is believed that several men died in the construction of these tunnels and may continue to haunt the area today.
It is accepted in the paranormal investigations field that there are three major types of paranormal activity. The first is a ghost, or the spirit of a person, that is aware of what is going on in the physical world and reacts to it such as answering questions on recordings. This is considered an intelligent haunting.
The second is typically associated with ghostly figures, such as a bartender, regularly seen at a bar in period clothing. They are acting out part of their former life. Theories posit that this person does not know they have died, and their energy was left in this world when their spirit crossed over to the afterlife.
The third kind includes beings that never existed in the physical world. This is the demonic. It is typically associated with demon possession, attacks on people, and the overall evil side of the paranormal.
It is possible, Engle noted, that the tunnels in Dunraven have paranormal activity from all three of these sources. “Probably one of the most interesting places I have investigated in Dunraven here is Perry County,” she said. “There is definitely haunted history there.”
Engle claims that she and her team of investigators, Overnight Ghost Hunters, have captured several photos of a substance that is referred to as ectoplasm. In scientific terms, ectoplasm is the very outer membrane of cells, but in paranormal terms this ectoplasm is believed to be evidence of ghosts. While it is invisible to the naked eye, it can be captured in photos and looks like mist or smoke and often appears directional or in the form of a person.
The tunnels are rumored to be the home of some dark spirits that have even allegedly chased and attacked people that enter them. Old time train whistles and lights can reportedly be heard and seen when no train is coming. Unexplained lights are also believed to glow from manholes in the walls.
While this is a great place to find ghostly activity, Engle said it is not safe to explore.
Another place rumored to be wildly haunted is the old Hazard ARH building in Airport Gardens. “When you think about the Hazard ARH and it being a hot bed of activity, you have to realize about how many people died in that hospital,” said Engle. “They used to have a psych center there that was quite active. They would house some very severe cases.”
Engle has not been able to go inside the building to investigate since it is still a working office for the hospital which moved to Morton Boulevard. Despite this, she and her team have conducted some investigative work outside the building and gathered many stories from people that have worked there.
“Everyone that I have spoken to have given me the history of the nursery,” said Engle. “Several people have talked about a nurse standing with a baby in a white uniform. They also report that they smell a lot of baby powder.”
While this nurse apparition seems to be a stored energy or repetitive haunting, activity in the mental facilities area seems to take on a dark sort of paranormal activity. “That is primarily demonic. Pretty scary stuff,” said Engle. “Things levitate. They are able to manipulate lights.”
Another place notorious for reported ghostly activity is Main Street in Hazard. Hazard has been the home to thousands of people and businesses as well as bloody feuds and hospitals. Engle said that where Main Street is situated today has not always been where it was historically.
During the days of the deadly French Eversole War, Main Street was the home of many of the bloodiest scenes of the feud. Several of the men killed in the war were shot on Main Street, and this is one of the reasons Engle said she was found so much activity.
Using what is known as a Frank’s Box, which is a scanner working on radio frequencies, it is believed that the voices of the deceased can be heard. Using this piece of equipment along with digital voice recorders and flash lights, Engle said she was able to talk to several spirits on Main Street, including the wife of one of the Eversoles involved in the war.
While some spirits are not seen as a threat or unfriendly, it is believed that one that resides in the Typo area is not so pleasant. There is a long-standing urban legend of a man being killed on the train tracks there after being held down by his attackers while a train hit him. Since his death, he has allegedly haunted this area and will even hold unsuspecting victims on the tracks.
“The tale is that you go over there, especially on a full moon, and something will hold you on the tracks,” said Engle. “You physically cannot move. You cannot run you cannot scream.”
Engle said there are hundreds, even thousands of spirits among us in Perry County mostly due to our history. She and her team are happy to take people on hunts to find some of the ghost residing here. You can find out more about Engle and about going on an investigation by visiting www.OvernightGhostHuntersInc.com.