We’ve got to be honest: as great as Kentucky is, it is not without its shady history. Cringe-inducing (and straight up weird) tales and abandoned landmarks appear to fill the Bluegrass State. Seriously, we’re talking weird. Like a half-man, half-goat creature (who used to be a farmer, naturally) that supposedly hangs out on an abandoned train trestle... and not because he missed his train.
So, if you’re brave enough to take a ride (and hopefully a flashlight) to some of the weirdest places imaginable in and around Louisville, by all means, go ahead and do so. We can’t wait to hear what happened. You know, if you make it out alive.
Southern Jefferson County
Arguably one of the most haunted spots in Louisville, Waverly Hills Sanitorium first opened in 1910 as a hospital meant to accommodate 40 or 50 tuberculosis patients. However, a TB outbreak in the following years prompted the construction of additional hospital buildings -- some of which are still standing today. The sanatorium was closed in 1962, after nearly 9,000 people had died within its walls. It then sat empty for decades until being purchased and turned into a facility for ghost tours. Of course, there are still some spooky, unrefurbished corridors that are closed to public.
This Romanesque-style mansion was built for a prominent coffee merchant named Samuel Ouerbacker in the late 19th century. It changed hands a number of times over the years but was eventually repossessed by the city in 2005. In 2014, the property was sold for $1 to Oracle Design with the hopes of restoring the mansion and turning it into apartments.
While not in Louisville, this abandoned distillery has some newfound Louisville ties. Built in the late 1800s, Old Taylor Distillery -- complete with turrets, gardens and pools -- didn’t look like other distilleries of its time. Because of its abandonment in 1972, and the ensuing decades of neglect, vandalism, and decay, the property was looking pretty rough. Enter Louisville distiller Marianne Barnes who, alongside a team of developers, hoped to restore the property to its former glory.
Standing 13-stories tall, this former cold storage and ice production building towers over the Smoketown neighborhood. Developers have expressed an interest in turning it into apartment buildings. As of now, however, the tower is just a crumbling eyesore that occasionally loses a few bricks.
Go hunting for one of Louisville’s most famous urban legends at this location -- the Pope Lick Goatman... who is obviously part-goat, part-man. There are numerous theories as to how exactly the monster came to be: some say he is a circus freak who vowed revenge for being mistreated, others say he is a bizarre reincarnation of a farmer who sacrificed goats for Satanic powers. According to legend, he lures visitors onto this (mostly) abandoned train trestle. However, a few trains still occasionally rattle over the rickety tracks, and that’s how his victims meet their demise. Explore at your own risk.
For years, rumors have circulated about a web of tunnels beneath the city that were used during Prohibition. Some of these are well-known, like the ones that have been boarded beneath the Seelbach Hotel (where Al Capone would occasionally play poker), while others are still somewhat of a mystery, like the freight subway tunnels that ran under the city before WWII.
This eerie relic is definitely worth the road trip out of Louisville. First launched in 1902 as a luxury yacht, the “Ghost Ship” is a popular site for paddlers and geocachers to explore.
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1. Waverly Hills Sanitorium4400 Paralee Dr, Louisville
2. Ouerbacker-Clement House1633 W. Jefferson St, Louisville
3. Old Taylor Distillery Company3646 McCracken Pike, Frankfort
4. Merchant's Ice Tower801 Logan Street,
5. Pope Lick Train TrestleTaylorsville Rd, Fisherville
6. Forgotten Underground Tunnels129-133 N. Second Street, Louisville
7. Ghost Ship2500 Lawrenceburg Ferry Road, Petersburg
First opened in 1910 to accommodate local tuberculosis patients following a nationwide disease scare, The Waverly Hills Sanitorium has been abandoned since 1962. In the past 54, the Sanitorum's gained a reputation as one of the most haunted locales in America, appearing on the TV programs Ghost Hunters, The Celebrity Paranormal Project, Scariest Places on Earth and Most Haunted.
The former home of local coffee scion Samuel Ouerbacker, this majestic manse has been empty since for years. The building was officially taken over by the city in 2005 because of unpaid taxes on the property, but the site remains debris-ridden and according to legend, haunted.
A short drive outside of Louisville, the Old Taylor Distillery used to manufacture Kentucky bourbon and rye. Now, however, it's been abandoned for the past several years. The rumor mill is speculating that the castle like factory will soon be renovated and reopen to the public as a historical site.
This former cold storage facility in Downtown Lousville was first built in 1881. The site underwent several changes and housed many businesses over the years, and in 2010, was to be renovated as a senior living center. But that never happened and the building has been in disrepair ever since.
Beware of the Pope Lick Monster! Legend has it a mythic beast comes out a night along this train trestle and scares unassuming locals. Unfortunately, the site has seen a fair amount of death of late, with locals jumping off the trestle to avoid oncoming trains.
At the site of the former Belknap Building, legend has it you can enter into Louisville's system of forgotten underground tunnels. Originally built to aid local slaughterhouses and butchers in transporting meat to market, the tunnels have gone mainly un-used and kept secret from the remainder of Louisville at large. You can also apparently enter the tunnel at the Seelbach Hotel.
This abandoned ship has been rusting away in Petersburg for several years. Originally a luxury liner, the boat was built in 1902 and toured the Eastern Seaboard for over 40 years. It's unclear how many voyages it made before it bit the dust.