Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Part II of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

 This is the medical building which sits behind the main asylum.  This was an all inclusive hospital that occasionally treated emergencies from the town.

 One of the scariest things I saw on the tour was this tree.  It is a 200 year old sycamore and it is enormous.  I have two of these planted about 15 feet away from the front of my house...gulp.

This heavy metal door hides the ramp where the dead bodies were discreetly removed from the hospital so as not to panic the other patients.
Back to the main building.  These faces were carved by the stonemasons to ward off evil spirits.
 People from the town donated clothing and shoes etc. to the asylum and the healthier patients were allowed to pick some item out for themselves.


 In the pharmacy, the shelves still have the labels showing the drugs they held.  If you look closely you will see that this shelf held Haloperidol or Haldol.  This drug was used in the treatment of schizophrenia.

Haloperidol, marketed under the trade name Haldol among others, is a typical antipsychotic medication.[3] Haloperidol is used in the treatment of schizophrenia, tics in Tourette syndrome, mania in bipolar disorder, nausea and vomiting, delirium, agitation, acute psychosis, and hallucinations in alcohol withdrawal.[3][4][5] It may be used by mouth, as an injection into a muscle, or intravenously. Haloperidol typically works within thirty to sixty minutes. A long-acting formulation may be used as an injection every four weeks in people with schizophrenia or related illnesses, who either forget or refuse to take the medication by mouth

This is what a typical ward looked like.  However, remember that almost from the first year that the asylum opened, it was grossly overcrowded.  Rooms that were meant to hold one person held 6 and these halls were crammed with beds. Nurses had to walk with their backs against the wall trying to avoid being grabbed by the patients.
 There are a number of these sun rooms where patients could go to get more light exposure.

This is one of the isolation rooms.  Anyone could have you committed to an isolation room and the only one that could get you released was that same person.  For instance, if a janitor had an issue with you, he would report you and you were thrown into one of these rooms.  You were naked and there was no furniture.  People were left in these rooms for weeks at a time.
 This was the isolation room which was used for the worst patients.  It is enclosed by this heavy metal door rather than bars. There was a patient that was taken to this room and as they closed the door on him, he was screaming....'you can't keep me in here!'.  A nurse that came on duty heard pounding noises but just ignored them.  After a while they stopped and when she looked up from her desk. The naked patient was standing in front of her holding this door.  These are the indentations he made in the steel door. More tomorrow.

Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

 Last year after The Blog Tech and I left the Ramp Festival, we decided to take back roads home to see what we could see.  We do this as often as possible because without exception, we usually see something very interesting. As we were tooling along, looking for ramps and whatnot we suddenly came upon this huge building in a tiny town in West Virginia.  We weren't quite sure what we were seeing and there were few signs other than Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  We drove around the perimeter taking pics and were totally freaked out when we saw patients shuffling around in pajamas.  Feets don't fail me now....we were out of there!  When we got home we researched it and were determined to return there this year.

 Thinking that ramps might work like garlic to ward off evil beings, we consumed as many as possible, took The Fiance and headed to the asylum.  Click any photo for a closer look. We signed up for a tour.  This is the main entrance to the TALA. The asylum had just opened for tours a month before.  Apparently, when we were there last year, they were planning out how they might run tours and had actors playing patients.  Hey, it worked on us!

 The entire building is very dark and has been since it was built. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

 This is the second largest sandstone building in the world second only to the Kremlin.

 The room with the small balcony housed the nurses that worked there.  They worked 14 hour days with only 1 day off each month.  They were paid 12 dollars a week and it cost them 12.00 a month to live there. They were not allowed to have children or be married.

 It took next to nothing to be committed to institutions like this one. I will show you a list of reasons in a future post.  Basically, once you were in, there was no getting out. This place was initially designed to accommodate 250 patients, when it closed in 1994 (yes, that is the right date), it held 2500 patients.

 This building was added to accommodate the tuberculosis epidemic. There are caged in balconies on either end of the building on each floor and patients were wheeled out there in cold weather to breathe the fresh air.  It was later discovered that this treatment actually worsened TB.

 The sandstone for the building came from the surrounding hills.  The stone was cut and carved by Irish and German stone masons.

 The rear of the building.  This was a self sustaining institution.  They had their own farms, coal mine, hospital, etc. and were so independent that the depression had little effect on the asylum.

 This is the morgue. The nurse is standing in front of one of the body storage units. This is the usual way the patients left this asylum.  Most bodies were unclaimed and the asylum has 3 cemeteries.


I will have more tomorrow.  We took so many photos that we filled the camera and had to use our phones towards the end of the tour.