3301 North 7th Avenue
Status: Former Insane Asylum; Partially Abandoned; Partially Repurposed
Originally known as the First State Asylum for the Insane this facility opened in 1900 with the arrival of it’s first inmates – yes, like prison – of 100 men from the St Peter Hospital (now known as St Peter Security Hospital).
This hospital was designed in the cottage style as designs for housing the mentally ill were moving from the giant Kirkbride style asylums to smaller buildings spread out over a large area as the 19th century closed and the 20th century began.
From the beginning this facility was focused on care rather than treatment. Most residents admitted would die as residents – only a small minority were ever released.
The first inmate buried in the nearby cemetery committed suicide by walking off the property and into the Rum River in June of the opening year. In the beginning escapes were common as there were no bars on the windows and no fences.
In the beginning there only 15 staff who worked 12 to 15 hours a day with most of them on call 24/7.
By 1920 there were 847 patients at the hospital – 561 of them were female.
Between the 1920’s and 1940’s were the dark ages for the institution. By 1926 the population broke the 1000 mark and stayed there for almost 3 decades. This was an attempt – by a number of Countries – to remove the so-called “feebleminded” and “insane” from the general population and stop them from polluting our gene pool.
A Country called Germany took this vile idea to it’s evil end in the 1930’s – 40’s.
By the 1940’s in this facility – and many others - overcrowding and low staff numbers had turned it into Hell on Earth. Patients filling the hallways, patients restrained for days or weeks at a time, unsanitary and filthy conditions etc.
In 1948 the State Governor allowed a reporter into the hospital to see the conditions. This led to the Governor – in 1949 – visiting the hospital and setting a pile of restraints on fire symbolically ending the horrid conditions.
At least that was the idea.
More staff were hired – and volunteers came in to help with the patients – but many problems still existed that burning restraints weren’t going to fix.
91 lobotomies were preformed in the hospital between 1952 and 1962; this was an accepted treatment at the time. Other treatments now considered inhumane like insulin shock, electro-shock and cold water therapy were also used at this time.
An escape where a patient beat an elderly lady to death in 1976 finally allowed the security to be upgraded.
In the 1990’s the State Hospital came to an end. All remaining patients were moved to the new Anoka Regional Treatment Center in 1999 leaving the old buildings locked and abandoned.
In 2017 the County leased 4 of the buildings and are using them to rehouse veterans that have been left homeless. There is also a prison on site; Anoka County Workhouse.
No one has ever done an official paranormal investigation at this location. Neither the State nor the County will give permission to do so.
Reports of paranormal activity come from former staff and visitors for the most part.
The most common activity reported is the apparitions of former patients are seen looking out of the windows of the buildings. Probably because without access to the buildings that’s literally the only activity witnessed by the general public.
Feelings of intense unease – even anxiety – is felt in the hallways, and reportedly the underground tunnels, as well feeling as if you are not alone.
Phantom footsteps are reported in the tunnels that will stop for a moment or two before moving on. People believe these are from patients who try to use the tunnels to escape but ended up just getting lost in the maze. Many are reported as hanging themselves from the pipes choosing the final escape rather than be caught.
Other Reported Activity: disembodied voices; electrical disturbances; unexplained sounds such as loud bands, whispers and laughter; light anomalies and cold spots.
(Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center)
N Union Drive
By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/75966886@N06">Mr. Moment</a> from Minnesota - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jtmillphoto/7513335712/">Fergus Falls State Hospital 2012</a>, CC BY 2.0, Link
Construction of this facility was begun in 1888 and it was opened in 1890 as a facility designed for 1,000 patients. During its heyday in the 1930′s it held between 1,800 and 2,100 patients and covered over 1,100 acres with a working farm.
By the time it closed in 2005 the facility covered only 180 acres and has condensed into a 290 bed facility - only using 127 of them - leaving a mainly empty campus of 37 buildings.
In 2007 the State sold the campus to the city which opened it up for redevelopment plans.
There were plans to redevelop the buildings into a hotel and spa plus restaurants. Unfortunately, these plans fell under the weight of financial pressure.
In 2018 the city asked the State for funds to begin demolishing some of the buildings; which has begun. There are still hopes to save the main Kirkbride building as it is one of the last buildings of the Kirkbride design still standing.
In 2014 the former nurse’s dormitory was converted into apartments for artists.
Apparitions of former patients and staff; phantom bangs, screams, cries and footsteps and disembodied voices.
Doors open and close on their own and objects move on their own. Malfunctions in electronic equipment and lights turning on and off on their own.
Other activity: feeling of being watched and not wanted, light anomalies, shadow figures and a general feeling of unease.
500 Sinclair Lewis Avenue
Status: Historical Hotel
This hotel was built on the site of the city’s first hotel which had burned down. It was built in 1901 by Ralph and Christena Palmer and it was the first building in town to have electricity. The Palmers lived on site with their children while running the hotel.
In 1916 the second owners of the hotel added a rear addition adding another 20 rooms to the 24 existing ones.
It wasn’t until 1993 that the hotel was remodeled into 19 rooms with each room getting it’s own bathroom. Previous to that all guests shared a common bathroom in the hall.
A young Sinclair Lewis – America’s first writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature – worked as a desk clerk here for 2 summers. The hotel was used as the inspiration for his Minniemashie Hotel in his novel Main Street.
This location has been visited by a number of celebrity paranormal experts as well as paranormal teams and is considered not just one of the most haunted places in the State but in all of North America.
This location is very aware of it’s hauntings and very open reports of paranormal activity. There’s even a page on their website where guests can leave their experiences.
There was a reported large loss of life when the Sauk Centre Hotel burned down – the Palmer House Hotel was built on the exact site of the fire – and most believe this is source of the paranormal activity and haunting.
Many reports say the original hotel was nothing more than a brothel and the fire was set deliberately to “clean the town up”.
That being said there are also many who believe there was no loss of life in the fire and the only recorded death on site is a little boy who died of the flu.
However, there are other reports of a man killing himself in one of the upstairs rooms and another who hung himself in the bar area by jumping off a pool table.
The reports of paranormal activity started around the 1950’s.
Many people have reported a strong dark energy that many believe is sourced in the basement. Strange unexplained noises have also been heard in the basement.
Disembodied voices have been heard and recorded throughout the building.
Phantom footsteps have been heard on the staircases even when there are no guests or employees in the hotel.
The ghost of Sinclair Lewis has been seen in the hotel.
The apparition of a little boy playing with a ball in the hallways is frequently seen. He had also been seen sitting on the third floor staircase.
People have reported being pushed on the back of the knees on this staircase; some people have actually fallen due to this. This activity is believed to the boy who died from the flu.
The apparitions of a tall man in a top hat and a woman in a wedding dress have been reported.
The downstairs toilets will flush on their own.
In the dining room the silverware is reported as moving on it’s own.
Glasses have been thrown by an unseen entity in the bar area. Glasses have also been thrown in the storage area of the kitchen.
There is one report of a man coming into the bar and ordering a drink telling the bartender to bring it up to his room. One problem; there were no living guests in the hotel that night.
There are reports of knocks on room doors but no one is ever there.
Room 11 is reported as always being unnaturally cold like air conditioning is on all the time. A dark presence has also been felt in this room.
In Room 17 the furniture has been reported as moving around the room when guests leave the room.
People staying below Room 18 have reported the sounds of someone walking around above their heads when no one was in Room 18. The sounds of someone sitting on the bed and taking off their shoes has also been reported.
Other Reported Activity: shadow figures; objects moving on their own, electrical disturbances; touches, tugs and pulls from unseen entities; time slips; unexplained noises from whispers to loud bangs; doors slamming on their own; light anomalies and feelings of not being alone and being watched.
(Arcola High Bridge)(Soo Line High Bridge)
11934 Arcola Trail North
Status: Active Railway Bridge; Steel Deck Arched Bridge
Warning This Location is an Extremely Dangerous Active High Speed Railway Bridge. Entering the Tracks is not only Illegal but Could put your Life in Danger
This railway line was originally built in 1884 by the Wisconsin Central Railway as means to ship between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
The river has very steep banks on either side and for the first bridge trains needed helper locomotives to climb the hill. In 1909 they built the much higher bridge that exists today.
In the 1960’s a number of railroad companies merged together to become the Soo Line Railroad and ran the main freight line between Minneapolis and Chicago. This bridge remained an integral part of that important line.
In 1987 it became known as the Wisconsin Central Railway again.
In 2001 the Canadian National Railway bought Wisconsin Central.
The most famous and often encountered ghost at this location is a “woman in white”.
No one knows her details for sure, but many believe she is either searching for her child or her significant other. Either way she is sure to have died either from falling from the bridge or being struck by a train. She is most often seen on the west side of the bridge as far as Arcola trail overpass to right on the bridge itself.
When the “woman in white” is seen by onlookers she does not interact and usually will walk away sometimes just fading away to nothing as she gets further away.
Many people have died on or near the bridge over the years. If you get caught on the bridge when a train comes you have 2 choices: jump or get hit by the train (either one will result in your death). Other people have simply had an accident or made a mistake resulting on them falling through or off the bridge.
Other apparitions are seen either on the bridge or near it. Sometimes the ghosts will replay out the accident that ended their life.
Other Reported Activity: disembodied voices and screams; phantom footsteps; unexplained mists and breezes; light anomalies and feelings of not being alone.
Due to the numerous accidents the police heavily patrol this area. If you are parked near here after dark you will be asked to leave; if you are caught on the bridge you will be arrested and charged with trespassing.