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Lake Shawnee

Abandoned Amusement Park
I don't know that anything surprises us anymore. I don't know that anything could...

Chris, Lake Shawnee owner

The rides that loom eerily over Lake Shawnee are overgrown and rusted. It’s a dreary, creepy place. But in the 1920s, this amusement park was glimmering with whirring rides, boats and a dance hall. It was a place to play. It was exciting. It was alive.

But that didn’t last long.

Maybe the amusement park was always doomed. Lake Shawnee was cursed, after all. But the families who came to escape in the wonder of its playground didn’t know it already had a taste for young blood.

The first tragedy was a sweeping sickness that crept over a Native American tribe. They buried their dead there, and to keep the disease from spreading, they left the ill behind. When a team excavated the site, they found mostly bones of the elderly, and children.

The next victims were young, too. 2 sons of the Clay family (the first white settlers on the land), Bartley and Ezekiel, were out building a fence when a group of Native Americans attacked them and killed Bartley.

Hearing the scuffle, their older sibling Tabitha came running. She put up a fight, and tried to steal a knife to defend her family. But she missed, and the attacker used it to hack her to pieces instead. They scalped both the children and left with Ezekiel in tow.

All the while, their mother Phoebe was watching through the window, unable to do anything but watch helplessly. She gathered up her other young children and fled in the dead of night, trekking 6 miles over the mountains to the nearest farm.

When her husband Mitchell returned home, he went after Ezekiel, but he was too late. The boy had been burned at the stake. And Mitchell continued the bloodshed with a vicious retaliation.

Did you die here? Yes.

These tragedies planted dark roots in Lake Shawnee. But the park claimed at least 3 more lives during its amusement park days.

The spindly swingset that towers ominously over the park is a gravemarker for a little girl who died there. Sometimes, the chains of a single swing creak slowly, rhythmically.

How old are you? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Gina, dowsing rod communicator

Lake Shawnee is a hotbed of haunted activity. It’s been featured on the Discovery Channel’s “GhostLab,” and the Travel Channel’s “The Most Terrifying Places in America.”

The little girl the most present spirit in the park. Paranormal investigators and even regular visitors say they’ve seen her, or felt her presence. Gina talks to her sometimes, using dowsing rods. She asks questions, and the spirits respond by swaying the rods. Apart for no, crossed for yes, or to count.

The little girl is playful, and leads Gina correctly to the swing where she died. Shares her age. Confirms details about her death. Chris just watches and nods— all the details she’s sharing are true.

Do you like to play tricks on people? Yes.

The mischievous little girl doesn’t just play tricks... and she doesn’t just stay on the swings. Chris’s mom, Jewell, said her husband used to feel a presence behind him when he mowed the lawn, leaning on his shoulders. When he looked back, he saw the little girl in her ruffled dress. So he stopped, got off, and left the tractor to her right where it was.

It never worked again. They tried and tried fixing it up, but the only answer about why it wouldn’t budge came from a ghost communicator who was visiting the property:

“She doesn’t want you on it.”

Are you happy? Yes.

Pat, the county’s local historian, knows the details of the grisly history intimately. But not as intimately as her own near-death experience when she went swimming there as a young child.

“This was a magic place for a child. And all of a sudden, something grabbed my leg and pulled me under. That’s terror… I have this vivid memory that I can’t get rid of.”

You can hear more from Jewell, Pat and others who’ve had their own bone-chilling experiences— or maybe even from the spirits themselves— at events like the Dark Carnival in October or paranormal tours throughout the year. You can even book a private tour if you call ahead.

304-921-1580 304-921-1580

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