If you think that Waverly Hills Sanatorium, in Louisville, KY, is a scary place, you have yet to hear about the Lakeland Asylum.

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Where was Lakeland Asylum?

It used to be located in an area now known as E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park. The 550-acre park is on the outskirts of Louisville, Kentucky.

The asylum was established as the fourth insane asylum, in Kentucky, in 1873. As with many facilities like this, its reputation is one of mistreatment of human beings that were sick and suffering. It's chilling to think of what people went through in the name of medical treatment.

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For someone who suffers from mental illness, the thought of places like this fills me with fear and anxiety. When you read about the history of laces like this, you discover how people with mental illness were treated. Because of a lack of understanding of mental illness, patients were subjected to extreme electroshock therapy, lobotomies, and other forms of torture as attempts to try and 'cure' them.

The scariest part of all is that asylums were used as a place to put undesirable people away. There was a time when you could be admitted to an insane asylum for any reason. It didn't even require a doctor's referral. Anybody could admit you. For that reason, asylums would be filled with people that society didn't want to deal with like the mentally or physically handicapped, unwed mothers, poor people, and the elderly.

With my anxiety, I would have been someone admitted to a place like this and subjected to horrific forms of treatment. Many, many people would have found themselves in places like Lakeland Asylum with no means of escape.

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What went on at Louisville's Lakeland Asylum?

Terrifying and unthinkable things happened at the asylum. Because mental illness was so misunderstood and treating people you didn't understand unkindly was so accepted, chilling things were done at the asylum.

According to Serious Paranormal,

...extreme & barbaric experiments were tried including lobotomies, electroshock therapy, insulin & cold & hot water therapies. In the 1940s & '50s, there were allegations of abuse & neglect, and it was deemed an overcrowded fire hazard with an intolerable stench. The asylum was almost 1000 patients over capacity and they continued to admit people that were not insane.  Only 800 death certificates exist in the over 100 years of operation. It is thought there could be up to 5000 lives lost on the property. Deaths went mostly unreported & causes of death were kept secret. The cemeteries that are known have no markers or headstones or an accurate list of those buried there. 

Other more specific stories of torture and murder circulated about the asylum as well. According to beargrassthinder.com,

...cruelty, torture, and neglect were abundant. It was common knowledge that the patients were beaten and horribly abused by hospital workers. Stories of orderlies accused of murdering patients by holding their heads underwater in bathtubs were told amongst locals.
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Were there tunnels and a cave under Lakeland Asylum?

Yes, the Saurakraut Cave, with its many tunnels, sits right below the land where the asylum was built. Many locals say that the tunnels were used as a place to do more horrendous things.

...the cave below was where female inmates were taken when they became pregnant in the asylum. It's not known what happened to the infants, but the patients were always sent back to their rooms without their babies. - beargrassthunder.com
 The tunnels were also used as a means to escape the nightmare the patients were living in.

The cave was the go-to method of attempted escape for desperate inmates. Unfortunately, they were often ill-equipped to handle the deep water, sharp rocks, or freezing cold of the brutal Kentucky winter and perished within. Many of them died en route to what they thought was freedom. Thousands of dead inmates are said to be buried on the property... beargrassthunder.com

See more of the history, photos of the original structure, and what remains of the asylum now.

So many places like Lakeland Asylum existed. It makes me sad and angry that so many people suffered in these terrible places.

 

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