There’s an abandoned amusement park in Rock, West Virginia which has been the site of many horrible deaths, dating from as far back as 1783 (and maybe earlier) and as recently as the 1920s. Lake Shawnee Amusement Park’s awful history leads some to believe the land is cursed.
In 1775, Mitchell Clay was a settler from Europe who came with his family to live there and farm the land. It wasn’t a good move for his children.
In 1783, Clay and some other settlers went hunting. He left his children at the homestead to do their chores. The two boys were building grain pens, and the daughters were doing the wash at the river bank. Suddenly, the kids were attacked by eleven Shawnee Native Americans who resented the Clay family for living on their burial ground.
They snuck up on the boys and shot and killed Bartley, Clay’s youngest son. The girls heard the gun shot and started to run home. They came upon Bartley’s body as it was being scalped. A daughter named Tabitha was knifed to death trying to save her brother, not realizing she was too late. She was also killed and scalped. The oldest son Ezekial was kidnapped.
Mrs. Clay took the small children and ran to a neighboring farm that was six miles away. When Clay got home, he saw the dead children and buried them, but the rest of the family was gone. Even though a search party went out to find his family and managed to kill a few members of the tribe, for Ezekiel it was too late. The Native Americans had taken him deep into the forest in Ohio. He had been burned at the stake.
For over one hundred years, there were no more reported incidents on the land.
Then, in 1926, the site of the Clay farm was bought by a man named Conley T Snidow who built an amusement park there. It had a Ferris wheel, a large round swing set with wooden seats, and a pond that was turned into a pool for swimming. He had no idea that this was the location of the old Shawnee settlement and burial ground, and of the murders of the Clay children and the deaths of the Shawnee who died fighting Clay. Snidow, and those who came after, felt the curse of the land.
In the following years, during the summers, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park became very popular. Unfortunately, at least two children were killed at the park. Some reports put the total as high as six.
The first death at Lake Shawnee Amusement Park was quite mysterious. Planning to return later to pick her son up, a young mother dropped her son off at the amusement park. But, when she returned, she couldn’t find him. A search of the entire grounds ended with the discovery of his body dead in the pool. Some say his arm was stuck in the drain. Some say his body was floating in the pool.
The pool was filled in with sand, and no one mentioned the death. But, the next death happened soon after.
A little girl in a pink ruffled dress climbed onto the swing set, and a truck backed into the path of her swing. She died, and her pretty dress was covered in blood. The park was finally closed. West Virginia records show that the park rides were the cause of six deaths.
After the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park was finally closed in 1966, the rides and other structures, including the old ticket booth, were left to fall into ruins, abandoned. Some of the structures fell and lost much of their paint to the wind and the rain. Trees, branches, and vines grew through and around what was left. The old circular swing set remained, with some broken wooden seats.
Then, in 1985, a man named Gaylord White bought the land of Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, and he decided to start again. It only lasted three years. There was too much paranormal activity, too many wandering souls for the place to be successful. He could hear the wooden swings creak, perhaps moving from the lost spirits of children enjoying them in the afterlife, even when there was no wind.
White’s son once told the Travel Channel, for an episode of “The Most Terrifying Places in America” that sometimes a swing seat would start to move on its own, under his hand, until he could feel cold air blowing through the seat. And then, when he would get to the middle, the seat would be warm. He has also seen the little girl, with her dress covered in blood, and when she looked at him, he couldn’t move, until she turned away.
It was then sold to real estate developers. When they first starting digging, skeletons were found, and a formal archaeological dig was started. In addition to the thirteen more , mostly kids, found in this burial ground, they found Native American pieces, like bowls, shreds of clothes, and tools. And, they felt that many more bodies, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, maybe thousands, might be buried there.
They believed the land was once inhabited by more than one Native American tribe. The land was not touched again. But research was done on the land and its inhabitants, uncovering the horrors experienced by the Clay family and by the Native Americans.
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park has been investigated by numerous ghost hunters and paranormal experts. It was also featured on the Discovery Channel’s “GhostLab,” when one member of the crew said he was trapped in the ticket booth even though the door wasn’t locked.
Some who visit swear they can hear children laughing and Native Americans chanting. Some see a girl in a ruffled dress on the swings. Some see images of kids on the Ferris wheel. Some see the swings of the large circular swing set moving by themselves. No wind.
You can take a tour of the place now. For info on the 2017 events: