BOWLING GREEN, KY (10/29/12) – Tamela Smith is the manager of Interactive Video Services at Western Kentucky University. When she is not in this position, she collects ghost stories and investigates the paranormal. She has information on over a dozen locations throughout Bowling Green.
While several buildings have well known legends, Smith claims that it is possible that some parts of Bowling Green, regardless of the building, are haunted themselves.
“I’ve actually come across a couple of articles at the Kentucky Museum that talk about rumors of the hill being haunted before it was even WKU,” Smith said. “So prior to 1906, there were stories of haunting on the hill.”
Smith said that some people in ghost lore believe that it is not the buildings that are haunted, but it could be the land.
Bowling Green’s Haunts
While WKU has a lot of haunting legends, the city of Bowling Green outside of Western’s campus has several stories.
Smith said one of these locations is Hobson House at Riverview.
“The legend kind of has it that there was a family member that maybe had some mental issues and of course back one hundred years ago, they didn’t know how to deal with that, so they kind of locked him in the room upstairs,” she said. “Whether or not that is where the story of the haunting comes from, I don’t know, but that is one of the stories about the house.”
Smith said that she had heard that one night, a Bowling Green police officer was on patrol and drove past the house. He looked up at the house and someone was in the upstairs window and they waved at him. The house was closed and no one was supposed to be there so he called in and got other officers there and they entered the house but no one was there.
Another place that Smith said has a legend in Bowling Green is the Capitol Arts Theater in the downtown square. She said that she was involved in an investigation that took place there and experienced some “strange” experiences.
“There was a man who died in the bathroom,” she said. “He had a heart attack. I think there have been a couple other deaths in the building. All the people that work there will tell you that there are all kinds of things that happen there with footsteps, doors opening and closing, and I talked to one lady and she said she was sitting at her computer and saw a reflection of somebody behind her on her screen and turned and looked and there was nobody there.”
Smith said that she had an Electronic Magnetic Field detector during the investigation sitting in her lap. An EMF detector picks up a signal if there is energy detected around it. Smith said that people believe ghosts have energy that would set off an EMF detector.
Smith said she was using the EMF detector while a friend that was with her started asking questions. She said that every time that friend asked a question, the numbers would spike, stay up for a few seconds and go back down. She said that it only did this when the friend asked questions.
“That doesn’t happen all the time,” she said. “A lot of times, I don’t have anything happen.”
Another location Smith mentioned was a wooded area near Old Cumberland Trace.
“Supposedly, years ago, there was a bridge and something happened to a lady on it,” she said. “The carriage went off. She died and her baby died. And she is still wandering the woods looking for her baby.”
Smith said that there was a WKU fraternity a few years ago that went to the woods and had seen something.
One final location in town that Smith talked about was a bridge on Richardsville Road. Smith says that she doesn’t know anyone who has been there and had something happen. According to http://theshadowlands.net/places/kentucky.htm, the legend says that a girl jumped off the bridge and drowned. The website says that if you go to the end of the bridge, turn your car off and put it into neutral, the ghost of the girl will pull you across the bridge.
Hauntings on the Hill
As do most college campuses, WKU has several ghost legends. A dozen of the buildings on campus have at least one ghost story attached to it. It was this that prompted the hit television show “Ghost Hunters” to pay the campus a visit over the summer. Ghost Hunters shot an episode on WKU’s campus and, according to Smith, the episode is set to premiere in November. Ghost Hunters did investigations of Potter Hall, Van Meter Hall, and Schneider Hall.
Potter Hall was constructed as a women’s dormitory in 1921 but was later turned into an administration building in 1994. In the 70’s, a resident of the dorm took her life by hanging herself in her basement room. Shortly after, things began to happen in Potter that was attributed to the spirit of the resident. Items moved on their own. Coins would be inserted into a vending machine on their own. Smith said that when she was a police officer, she experienced something herself.
Smith was on patrol with a fellow officer one night in Potter and heard a loud noise in the basement. Upon following the noise, they arrived at the room in which the girl had killed herself. As Smith pulled out her keys, they noticed that the door knob was moving as though someone were turning it from the inside. They entered the room and found it empty.
Loud banging is still heard frequently from the room where the suicide took place.
Van Meter Hall was the first building built on WKU’s campus. It was completed in 1911 and is one of the largest buildings between Nashville and Louisville. The building features an auditorium with over 1000 seats, which is used for plays and other events.
As the building was near completion in 1911, a construction worker was on the skylight. While he was there, an airplane flew overhead. This was a sight that people didn’t see too often in 1911. While watching the airplane, the worker lost his balance and fell to his death on the stage. A bloodstain is still seen at various times in the spot where the man landed. Despite many attempts to replace the floor, the stain still appears during some dramatic presentations.
There have been instances in which a light has turned on by itself and shone on the spot where the construction worker landed on the stage. Actors have claimed to see a figure of a man in his fifties in the mirror while getting dressed for a show, but have turned to see no one there.
Schneider Hall is home to the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science which was recently ranked the best high school in America by Newsweek Magazine. According to legend, one spring break, two female residents decided to stay on campus to catch up on homework. One of the residents, who legend calls Janet, was in her room when an escaped mental patient burst into her room through the window with an ax and attacked her. The patient escaped back out the window, leaving Janet with an ax in her head. With what life was left in her, Janet crawled out into the hallway and down the hall to the other resident’s room and began to scratch at the door for help. The other resident was too scared to open the door. The next morning, she opened the door to see Janet dead on the floor with an ax in her head.
Some have observed the spirit of Janet sitting in a window of the building. Other paranormal activity that occurs includes objects moving and electronic devices not working. Sometimes scratching is heard in the hall that Janet crawled down before her death.
Smith said that she didn’t get to go with Ghost Hunters into these three buildings to investigate and even if she had, she couldn’t reveal anything.
Other buildings at WKU that feature haunting stories include McLean Hall, Barnes-Campbell Hall, Pearce-Ford Tower, Rhodes-Harlin Hall, the Kentucky Museum, Gordon Wilson Hall and a couple Greek houses.
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