Saturday, September 14, 2013

Camp Wheelgate

The Haid House
While scouring the internet for brand-new, little known ghost stories and haunted places in West Virginia, I stumbled upon a story about Camp Wheelgate.  Camp Wheelgate, which was once a Girl Scout camp, is located on Dutch Road, just outside of Quick, WV.  It's about 30 minutes from Charleston and as I hope you'll find, has quite the interesting history...with plenty of haunts to go along with it!

I encourage you to read the story in her own words, but a submitter named cndlou2 shared a disturbing tale to the Your Ghost Stories website concerning her first paranormal experience.  The setting was a girl scout camp named Camp Wheelgate that she attended when she was a pre-teen.  It was during a routine scouting weekend, when the group stayed at Camp Wheelgate.  Camp Wheelgate was actually a farm setting, and instead of staying in a tent or cabin, the girls actually stayed in the old farmhouse (more on this later).  The first day of camp was uneventful, and the group slept downstairs.  During their second day at the camp, the group visited a local church/cemetery, and being young girls, probably didn't conduct themselves with as much decorum as they could have.  cndlou2 notes that girls played on graves and the church altar, and rang the church bell.  

From the Vintage Girl Scout Online Museum
That night, the activity started.  The group had decided to sleep upstairs in the old house this second night after finally getting the fireplace to work, and its unknown as to whether this act, or the earlier visit to the cemetery was the catalyst, but something happened that night.  Some girls reported seeing a white mist on the stairs, even claiming that they had difficulty getting up that staircase.  Others claimed to see a face looking down on them from the window while they were outside.  The activity accumulated when EVERYONE witnessed a loud bang coming from inside the house...a noise so loud that scout leaders went on a search to find the source of the noise.  Oddly, nothing was out of place except for the fact that 10 heavy cots had simply disappeared!  The cots, which had been set up earlier in another room, were too heavy for pre-teen girls to even lift, let alone sneak out of only two exits, both which would have been noticed.  Therefore, according to cndlou2, the scout leaders made other sleeping arrangements...far away from Camp Wheelgate.

Benedict and Margaret Haid, Jef and Rob's Wedding Site
Camp Wheelgate wasn't always a Girl Scout camp.  The home where these events took place was built around 1872 by Benedict Haid and his wife, Margaret.  The Haids, who were German, had anywhere from 5-9 children. According to the map below, I believe the Catholic Church and Haid Cemetery, where Benedict and much of the family is laid to rest, is the location where the girl scouts visited earlier on that fateful day.  What's interesting is this map, which I found while just trying to FIND where Camp Wheelgate was located, contains no less than 6 cemeteries nearby!  But, I'm pretty sure that's the one they visited.

Anyway, the farm stayed in the Haid Family for some time before it was required by the Girl Scouts in 1954.  The camp officially opened for its first session on June 27, 1954 and was only used for the Brownies, the scouting class for girls aged 7-10 years old.  In 1959, the camp saw a sad event when a retired gentleman named Augusten Bouchard who was working as a janitor for the camp, passed away on the property from a heart attack.  In 1961, the camp was still used for just the Brownies, and was managed by scout leader, Miss Meg Bailey.  It wasn't until 1974 when the Black Diamond Girl Scouts took over, and the camp was finally used for the older girl scouts.  Based on the age given by cndlou2, I believe that she visited the camp sometime between 1974 when the camp opened for the older Girl Scouts, and when it closed in 1986.

Bill Pepper, from Jef and Rob's Wedding Site
In 1986, the property was put up for sale and purchased by a lawyer from Charleston, Bill Pepper and his wife, Sue.  It was Bill's original idea to create a private get-away for his family close, but still far away, from the hustle and bustle of the city.  However, the business opportunity was ideal, and Bill eventually would convert the old Haid home into a beautiful bed and breakfast, and the farm hosted many weddings, family reunions, and other events over the years.  The B&B is still open and operational, both for rented events, but also to stay for a night or two in an idyllic farm setting.  It is no longer known as Camp Wheelgate, reverting back to the name of Benedict Haid Farm, and there are no reports of further paranormal activity that I've uncovered.  

Was the incident witnessed by a group of girl scouts and their leaders simply the product of overstimulated pre-teen minds?  Was the ghost that of the former janitor, still on the job?  Or, was the ghost(s) that of a member of the Benedict Haid family, upset that not only these girls disrespected the family cemetery and church, but then were hanging out in the family homestead?  Perhaps you should book at night and find out for yourself!

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