Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hawk's Nest State Park

Photo by Theresa Racer
Hawks Nest State Park is located in Ansted, Fayette County. In the paranormal community, it is known for its long legacy of tragedy, and the subsequent hauntings that tend to follow such.

Hawks Nest is home to a popular "Lovers' Leap" cliff, that has a tradition going all the way back to the 1800s. The first pair of lovers to take this suicidal plunge is debatable, however. Some stories tell of an Indian Princess and her lover from an enemy tribe who jump together. Other tales say the Princess jumped on her own because a white man killed her lover.

However, since there is no such thing as an Indian Princess, and these stories have become a quite popular way to romanticize Native American probably isn't true.

More likely, the first pair of Lover's to take the plunge were a pair of pioneers from Lewisburg...then known as Fort Union...who fled because the girl's parents did not approve of the relationship. It is said the girl became dizzy and fell...and her anguished lover jumped on after her. More info can be found in George Atkinson's History of Kanawha County.

There is still no real evidence for this story either...but what IS verifiable is that the cliffs of Hawks Nest have had a long tradition of attracting suicides. Such suicides include a pregnant school teacher, a woman from Beckley, and an 18 year old boy named Richard Dudley Caldwell from New River State College (now WV Institute of Technology).

The tour guides and park personnel are hesitant to speak of the suicides, but will admit that the park is a favorite spot...with emphasis leaving the original Lover's Leap, and the new cliff of choice being the more secluded Hawk's Nest Overlook.

Hawks Nest is also famous for its Death Tunnel. During the 1930s, a tunnel was constructed, intending to divert water for electricity production. Over 500 men died from silicosis, a disease acquired by inhaling the high amounts of silica found in the rock. A smaller, but still notable tragedy happened on January 30, 1908 when an explosion at the Bachman Mine killed 9 men.

Because of all this tragedy, it is said that the park may be "haunted" by a genius loci...or guardian spirit of a location. (Click here for Genius Loci Information)

Other supernatural tales include a glowing white horse being seen by either a family or a group of campers...or both...that mysteriously ascended into the sky, leaving a glow, after it rampaged through the house/campsite. White horses are seen as a death omen to some cultures.

Also, it is said that if you stand on Lover's Leap, you can hear screams...and the sound of a body falling and landing on the rocks below.

Lovers' Leap, courtesy of the Fayette Focus

More Information:
Silica Mining Disaster


  1. The daughters of the Chiefs were called princess' by white men. They did exist, my Great-great Gmaw was called Princess BooHoo. She was married into the family to keep from going on the trail of tears. :)

  2. PLEASE don't let my friend Cat hear you say that, lol. It's a sensitive subject for her, lol.

  3. While "I" have never experienced anything paranormal at Hawk's Nest (and I've spent MANY hours there), it does have a feeling of the paranormal. There are many tales of apparitions along the Gauley Mtn Road (US Rt 60), between Hawk's Nest and the town of Gauley Bridge. The "tunnel" runs under Gauley Mtn and under that road. Some of the graves of the men who died in the tunnel have been moved to Summersville, WV. (search WVGazette). Many bodies are lost, disposed of like trash. These may be the apparitions so often seen. Within a mile of Hawk's Nest Lodge, are the Page-Vaughter House and Half-Way House (aka Tyree Tavern), an old stage coach stop on the old Midland Trail. Paranormal experiences are more likely to found there. Also nearby, are The Glen Ferris Inn and The Whipple Company Store, both well known paranormal hot spots !

  4. Thanks for the information! The Glen Ferris Inn and Whipple are featured on my website, and I've done some extensive research into the Hawks Nest "incident," and read a little about some of the graves being removed. An online acquaintance sought my help to perhaps further memorialize these lost men, but unfortunately nothing ever came about it. I'll definitely look into those other locations, too! Sounds really interesting!

  5. My husband worked at Hawks Nest State Park for twenty-eight years. He and others talk about a ghost at the lodge. The people and my husband said they would see a man in his ghostly figure walking around and going out of the door. The ghost is believed to be the man who lived in one of the room when the lodge was built. I believe he was the owner at that time. He died in the one of the lodge rooms.

    1. Wow, I've never heard that story! Thank you for sharing this really neat story; it doesn't surprise me one bit that the lodge itself has its own ghostly figure!