Most Haunted Places in America: Northern State Mental Hospital
The Northern State Mental Hospital near Seattle, Washington no longer houses the mentally insane. It is now the home of the Cascade Job Corp. But for the last century, this eerie location has been the rumored, and evidently true, residence of countless ghosts, apparitions and unsettled spirits who continue to haunt the grounds.
The Northern State Hospital was built just outside of Seattle, 4 miles north of Sedro Woolley, Washington. There were two other mental institutions in the state at that time, but the people of Sedro Woolley, still recovering from the economic crash of 1893, decided that the town needed another source of industrial income if they wanted to remain on the map. Thus, in 1909, 600 acres of land was purchased as the foundation of the Northern State Mental Hospital, with the arrangement that this institution would be for the sole use of non-dangerous, but mentally unstable, individuals.
The first 200 patients were moved in between December of 1912 and January of the following year. The mental institution became well known for its humane practices; a notable occurrence since most mental hospitals of that time were reputed for their intolerably ill treatment of the patients. The facility continued to grown and expand to double it’s original acreage, giving the dwellers an opportunity to learn vocational skills – farm, greenhouse, dairy, printing and other markets that proved self-sustaining for the hospital.
The very first murder known to have occurred at Northern State Hospital occurred in February of 1922. At that time, the hospital was headed by Dr. James Winfield Doughty. He remained in charge until 1950, (short of a 3 year stint in the 30’s from which he was re-appointed), when Dr. Charles H. Jones was appointed to the position.
Dr. Jones already had an interesting reputation by this time. Around 1945, as WWII was coming to an end, the young surgeon performed a highly experimental, and largely disapproved of procedure, with the assistance of Dr. Walter Freeman. The procedure in question, if you haven’t guessed it already, was known as a “transorbital lobotomy”.
Dr. Jones and his radical new method of curing the mentally insane took over the Northern State Hospital on January 1, 1950. there were more than 2,000 patients residing at the institution, and many more being sent their way on a regular basis. According to a report from Dr. Jones, the hospital was taking in about 650 new patients per year, while discharging about 400, and another 200 either died or got transferred elsewhere.
It is not known exactly how many patients, or employees, died within the walls of Northern State Mental Hospital, but it is widely believed that there are at least 1,000 bodies buried in unmarked graves behind the gymnasium building of the institution.
The most common reports of haunting refer to a ghost known as “Fred”, who seems to be the prankster type, enjoys tossing objects about, such as sheet pans that have flown across the room unassisted. The nurses dorm area has received numerous complaints of an extremely frigid, reoccurring cold spot, even in the dead heat of summer.
The dorm is also reported to be the home of the apparition of a little girl with a red ball. Claims also state that there is an older, male ghost who is eternally searching for the little girl. More disturbing accounts speak of a body hanging in the window of the old nurses station.
The Northern State Mental Hospital has an enormous root-work of underground tunnels, also reported to be heavily haunted.