Saturday, June 18, 2011


During the 1800s and early 1900s, America was ravaged by a deadly disease known by many as the “white death” - tuberculosis. This terrifying and very contagious plague, for which no cure existed, claimed entire families and sometimes entire towns. 

In 1900, Louisville, Kentucky had one of the highest tuberculosis death rates in America. Built on low, swampland, the area was the perfect breeding ground for disease and in 1910, a hospital was constructed on a windswept hill in southern Jefferson County that had been designed to combat the horrific disease. The hospital quickly became overcrowded though and with donations of money and land, a new hospital was started in 1924.

The new structure, known as Waverly Hills, opened two years later in 1926. It was considered the most advanced tuberculosis sanatorium in the country but even then, most of the patients succumbed to the disease. In those days before medicine was available to treat the disease, it was thought that the best treatment for tuberculosis was fresh air, plenty of nutritious food and lots of rest. Many patients survived their stay at Waverly Hills but it is estimated that hundreds died here at the height of the epidemic. 

The place was huge with balconies perfect for catching sick air even on rainy days, since the disease attacks the lungs. Dedicated doctors who risked their lives to caring for patients. But the disease was cruel, and had no cure in the sanatorium patients died more than 63mil.

At the location a tunnel was built to bring doctors and people who worked at the sanatorium to the outside behind it, where doctors had their homes not to return to the city to bring the risk of the disease. But at the height of the epidemic with three people dying per hour, the tunnel was used to bring dead bodies to their families without the other patients to see... and became known as Tunnel of death.

Ghost researchers are always drawn to the fifth floor of the former hospital. The fifth floor consisted of two nurses’ stations, a pantry, a linen room, medicine room and two medium-sized rooms on both sides of the two nurses’ stations. One of these, Room 502, is the subject of many rumors and legends and just about every curiosity-seeker that had broken into Waverly Hills over the years wanted to see it. This is where, according to the stories, people have jumped to their deaths, have seen shapes moving in the windows and have heard disembodied voices that order trespassers to “get out”.

There is a lot of speculation as to what went on in this part of the hospital but what is believed is that mentally insane tuberculosis patients were housed on the fifth floor. This kept them far away from the rest of the patients in the hospital but still in an area where they could benefit from the fresh air and sunshine. This floor is actually centered in the middle of the hospital and the two wards, extending out from the nurses’ station, is glassed in on all sides and opens out onto a patio-type roof. The patients were isolated on either side of the nurses’ stations and they had to go to a half door at each station to get their food and medicine and to use the restroom, which was located adjacent to the station.

With the discovery of the antibiotics came the cure for tuberculosis, the disease was eradicated and the Waverly Hill Sanatorium closed its doors in 1961. They tried to reopen its doors in 1962 as a nursing home, but it soon ended with accusations of abuse of patients.

Is any wonder, after all of the death, pain and agony within these walls, that Waverly Hills is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the country?

The movie Death Tunnel was recorded in the sanatorium and based on real events that occurred there. The sanatorium has also appeared in an episode of Supernatural. So... How about spending a night there?

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