Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Creepiness Surrounding Camden Park

Camden Park officially opened in 1903 as a picnic and recreation area along the Camden Interstate Railway streetcar line.  The rail line, owned and operated by Sen. Johnson Newlon Camden of Parkersburg,  ran between Huntington and Ashland.

Camden got the idea that a picnic area would draw additional patronage to the rail line, and thus, Camden Park was born.  By 1907, the park's first real ride was installed--the historic carousel, and by 1910, the number of rides had grown to seven, plus a community swimming pool.  That year, Col. E.G. Via was hired to manage the facility.

Six years later, Via purchased the park from the streetcar company, and continued to operate it until his death in 1946.  That year, the park was up to nine rides, and was purchased by John Boylin, Sr.
Boylin owned and managed the park until 1980, and made many improvements and additions.  In 1958, the Big Dipper, one of the only wooden coasters left of its kind, was installed.  That was also the year the Cabaret Room, which hosted dances and band performances burned to the ground, replaced a year later by the roller rink.

Unfortunately, the group of Virginia investors who took control of the park in 1980 let the park run into disrepair.  The park was poorly managed, and the investors owed a lot of money, much of it to the Boylin family, who still owned the land.  In 1995, the John Boylin, Jr., along with his wife and son, take over management of the park and begin to help clean things up.  Today, the park is run by Jack Boylin, grandson of John Boylin, Sr.

Over the years, the park has picked up the reputation for being haunted.  Located within the park property is an Adena Indian burial mound, which has never been excavated.  The mound is the only one left of its kind in the area, and is the third largest in the state.  Because of the location of the park, it is rumored to be haunted by Native American spirits.  One witness reports seeing the apparition of one Native American chasing the apparition of another, while carrying a knife.  A reader to my site, unfamiliar with the park's haunted history or presence of an Adena Mound, recently confided that SHE too had seen the vision of a Native American, and was simply told she must be imagining things.

The Big Dipper also has had its share of reported apparitions.  A woman's figure is sometimes reported seated in the last car of the wooden coaster.

26 comments:

  1. I work there, I also do investigations, ill definitely have to check that out

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    1. Nice! Did you ever get a chance to explore the claims of paranormal activity any closer?

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    2. I'm doing a blog post on Camden Park, do you know when the haunted house was built?

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    3. As far as I can tell, no one is really 100% sure of the date on the haunted house, but its estimated from 1940-1960 and it was probably redone around 1968. This article has more info: http://www.herald-dispatch.com/x1119734926

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  2. I was always afraid of the train tunnels. Something definitely nit right about them

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    1. You're not alone! More and more people keep coming forward with feelings of unease in various spots in the park. I haven't heard anything specific about the train tunnels, but I'll make a note of it. Thanks!

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  3. yeah I always felt uncomfortable I thought it was because I was afraid of the dark but I guess not

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    1. I've had a lot of people tell me they have felt a general uncomfortable feeling in various spots throughout the park. It's definitely something to take into consideration.

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  4. I always felt like I was being watched while in the park even as a child. Since reading your article I know where that Indian mound is now. We used to eat in a picnic shelter near there every time we went and that area always felt cold to me.

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    1. It's interesting how more and more people are coming forward with similar stories; sounds like there is definitely something up with this location. Thank you for your comment!

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  5. Interesting indeed. As a child, and even now as an adult, I have always felt uncomfortable at Camden park. I always feel like something is watching me, like I'm not alone. I'm highly sensitive to stuff like this so, something definitely felt off about that place. The two spots that creep me out the most are back in the woods when taking the train ride, I feel like something bad is gonna happen while back there, and inside of the haunted house I feel uneasy too like something is gonna push my car off the tracks.

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    1. Thank you for visiting Theresa's Haunted History! As you can see from the comments above, you're definitely not alone with sensing something at Camden Park!

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  6. I always felt something menacing in the haunted house. It felt like someone was coming up behind me. Ive seen Indian apparitions during the train ride. Im not surprised that Im not the only one experiencing things.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences! Camden Park's haunted house is only one of two of that particular style of ride left in the US, and people come from all over to experience it. They aren't sure exactly how old this particular one is...sometime after the 1940s it is believed, but that's still a lot of history. It wouldn't surprise me at all if there were some energies lingering around in there somewhere.

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  7. When I was a wee one, we spent many days at Camden Park and the only ride in the whole place that terrified me was the train. I would do everything from cry to run away in order to avoid having to ride the train. The whole family always rode it together and I was too young to be left alone so I always had to go along, which I would sit farthest from the open sides and bury my face until the train stopped. Also, my dad would often times take our boat up the creek to the park and because the area where boats pulled up had such a creepy feel we stopped going that way, we also saw weird lights many times(we said they were swamp gas). It was a big deal to take the boat up that way so to just stop because of a feeling, was not normal. I also begged and loved to ride everything, the haunted house, alone even, coaster, and even the swings that made me sick. But, that train still scares me and I have not been back in years. I also used to think I would see an Indian moving around but I thought it was my over active imagination, now it scares me even more. As this is the first I have ever heard of people seeing an Indian there, and I really never thought about the Mound being real. I knew of the Mound, but my years of fear surrounding that train are from long ago and I didn't even really know what a Mound was. I guess maybe I'll go back and see if I can face my fears. Great article!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences! More and more people are coming forward, especially about that train!

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  8. I recently came back from here and had a very strange experience. While I was riding the Big Dipper there, I felt someone touch my shoulder. I assumed it was just a kid sitting behind me at first. But, I was sitting in the last seat of the train and no one was sitting with me. I didn't know anything about the ghost woman who sits in the last seat of the train until after I got home. Nor did I know anything about that Indian Burial Ground being there. This is certainly a surprise!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! That would be rather weird to feel something touch you...and then realize that there's no one around!

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  9. I have lived here all my life, so you can imagine how many picnics we've had at Camden Park. Every time I would ride the train my mood would change like I was someone else. It would go back to normal as we entered the station and the ride was over. Very eerie feeling, to say the least!!

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    1. It's freaky how son many people have come forward with similar stories about the train! I hadn't realized there was anything strange about it until I wrote this blog and started seeing all the comments on that train! I'm gonna have to do some more digging to see what I can find out about it. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  10. In the early days, they had mechanical Indians over to the side during train ride that even shot guns, then a little building that would look like it caught on fire. They later removed them because they caused nightmares.

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  11. Train - a miniature railroad, featuring a replica steam locomotive and four cars with wooden bench seating and one fully open side. In the 1980s and 1990s, the cars were decorated in a wild west theme, and each was named for a city made famous in western folklore, including Dodge City and Tombstone. The ride begins near the midway, and circles the northeastern portion of the park, passing through a covered bridge before turning for home. Until the 1980s, the wild west theme was portrayed with life-sized dioramas of Indian attacks on settler cabins; as the train passed, riders heard and saw gunfire from the rifles, and saw fallen settlers and panicked housewives. The dioramas were removed in the 1990s, but recently a Hatfield–McCoy motif has been added in their place.

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  12. These stories are fascinating. I've gone to that park every year since I was a small child (forty years ago) and never had any "cold" or "being watched" feelings anywhere except in the Haunted House as a child. I always felt like someone (real, not spirit) was hiding in the dark and could reach out to grab you at any time. I feel like that was more the type of ride, designed to create fear, than anything supernatural. I loved the train as a child, with the Indian and pioneer warfare displays. I hate that they were removed -- that train is incredibly boring now with no real purpose at all. I've known about the Indian mound since I was a little girl but it never bothered me nor did I ever feel like they were around. There are a whole row of them up in the city park at Ashland too.

    A Hatfield McCoy motif?? On the Camden Park train? Where and when did that come from?? I was just there with my kids a couple weeks ago and saw nothing except the old pioneer cabin, empty and plain!

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  14. I remember those mechanical Indians that shot guns, they were loud! Kinda scared me as a kid. One of the abandoned houses on the left is still there! Hated that they were removed. One of my favorites was the Hot Cat, and they removed it also. Everything is so overpriced for such a poorly maintained place. I have always felt some sort of creepiness vibe over that place, especially on the haunted house ride. But I love taking the kids there. It's the only cool thing to do round here.

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  15. Is there a website that has pictures of the park throughout the years? And the burial mound???

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