(Laurel Hill Park)

Laurel Hill Road, Secaucus, NJ

Status: Former Almshouse; Former Insane Asylum; Former Hospital; Former Penitentiary; Former Sanatorium; Former Quarry; Mass Grave Site; Natural Wonder


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By Massachusetts at the English-language WikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0Link


Snake Hill was formed about 200 million years ago when a large intrusion of igneous (volcanic) rock pushed out of the Earth. The Palisades Cliffs were formed from the same geologic event. By 1960 mining the hill had reduced its size by 4/5 and its height by ¼.

The original Dutch Colonists in the early 17th Century named the location Snakes Hill due to the large population of snakes in the area. In 1658 the new English settlers purchased the area of Secaucus from the Aboriginal population. A plantation was built on the site; it was then divided into 2 plantations just a few years latter.

From 1855 to 1962 the land was owned by Hudson County and used for penal and charitable needs. The buildings were grouped on Snake Hill’s north side and included 2 almshouses (charity housing for the poor who had no one else to turn to), a penitentiary, a quarry, an infectious diseases hospital and tuberculosis sanatorium. The Hudson County Lunatic Asylum was added in 1873.

Many people were locked away in both the almshouses and the asylum who didn’t deserve it. Many were put there by their families for being a burden. Few records were kept on the vast number of people who died as they were just buried in a pauper’s cemetery – now called Hudson County Burial Grounds.

In 1926 the name of the hill changed to Laurel Hill.

In 1939 the 1,879 patients in the asylum – now called the Mental Disease Hospital – were transferred to the new Meadowvale Hospital and the asylum closed down.

In 1962 Hudson County closed the entire facility and turned the quarry over to an asphalt company for 20 years. In 1982 all quarry operations stopped.

In 2003 the New Jersey Turnpike was put through the area. The bodies of 4,500 people were moved for the creation of Exit 15X serving the Secaucus Junction. Old records of the former asylum were discovered at this time as well. Testing proved the bodies came from the former facility.

BY 2013 one almshouse was only building left on the site. This structure appears to have demolished since then.


Paranormal Activity

Many people believe the ground under the park is the resting site of thousands of more people buried on site. Considering the poor records kept and the amount of people who would have died in a facility containing not just an asylum but also a hospital and tuberculosis sanatorium, almshouses and a prison this is a strong possibility. All these institutions statistically have a large numbers of deceased.

Those who remember when the buildings were still standing say the asylum sat above the entire complex and it gave off very oppressive and dark energy. It gained names such as “Psycho Island” and “Dracula’s Castle”.

Paranormal Activity recorded here: apparitions of former patients, prisoners and staff wandering the grounds where the facility once was; shadow figures; a dark oppressive energy hanging over the area especially after dark; cold and hot spots; light anomalies; mysterious mists; time slips were people see the massive complex as it once was; disembodied voices, whispers, screams, crying and laughter; nausea and headaches and a feeling of being watched, not being alone and not being wanted.

During the period the buildings were abandoned but not yet demolished faces were seen looking out of the empty windows and many unexplained sounds were heard from the empty buildings.