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Kentucky Haunted Houses have grown over the years to feature some really amazing haunted houses some of which have been featured on Travel Channel. Several years ago when we visited haunted houses in the Louisville, Kentucky the haunted houses in Kentucky seemed to be around every corner especially in the Louisville, Kentucky area haunted houses are very popular form of entertainment and more haunted houses in Kentucky can be found at Hauntworld.com. On Hauntworld.com you will find every type of haunted houses in Kentucky from a haunted hayride, haunted house, Halloween Attractions, ghost tours, to paranormal ghost hunting. Read all about the best and scariest haunted houses in the state of Kentucky here at Hauntworld.com. Kentucky has some of the biggest haunted houses in cities like Louisville, Owensboro, Bowling Green, Covington, Pikeville and Lexington, Kentucky.
When looking for a scary or the best haunted house in Kentucky look no further than the area of Louisville, Lexington-Fayette, Owensboro, Bowling Green Covington and Pikeville, Kentucky because this is an absolute hotbed for haunted houses which would also include the Louisville area. Kentucky has more haunted houses than almost any other state in America, and not only do they have several haunts but they have some of the best found anywhere. Kentucky has many cities with great haunted houses especially Kentucky area which has more of the top rated haunts than any other city in America.
Do you want to know what we feel are the best haunted houses in Kentucky? Do you want to know the Scariest Haunted Houses in Kentucky? You will find Kentucky haunted houses here at Hauntworld.com. We want you to share your experiences on our Facebook page.
Kentucky haunted houses are some of the scariest and best haunted houses in Kentucky and America. Hauntworld.com will help you find haunted houses in Kentucky, Haunted Houses in Lexington, Kentucky, Haunted Houses in Fayette, Kentucky, to haunted houses in Louisville, Owensboro to Bowling Green and more. As the editor of Hauntworld.com we know Kentucky haunted houses well because we use to live in Lexington, Kentucky and have visted Haunted Houses in Kentucky many times and rate them for our readers.
Listed below you will find all sorts of information about haunted houses in Kentucky especially the best and scariest haunted houses including Halloween Attractions, Hayrides, Ghost Tours, and much more. Are you ready to find the best haunted houses in Kentucky? Just remember to come back to Hauntworld.com to rate and review the haunted houses you visit and to help our readers visit on the best haunted attractions in Kentucky.
Kentucky Haunted Houses have grown over the years to feature some really amazing haunted houses some of which have been featured on Travel Channel. Several years ago when we visited haunted houses in Kentucky, the haunted houses in Lexington, Kentucky are some of the best in America now featuring more than 10 professional haunted attractions. On Hauntworld.com you will find every type of haunted houses in Kentucky froma haunted hayride, haunted house, Halloween Attractions, ghost tours, to paranormal ghost hunting.
Find the best and scariest haunted houses, real haunts, Halloween attractions, Hayrides and more near or in the Lexington Kentucky area. Many people who visit and live in Lenxington agree that it is one of the scariest and haunted cities in Kentucky. The Cambell House Inn is a haunted Hotel in the city of Lexington. There have been several brutal murders in the Cambell House Inn. The first was on the stairs where a young woman was brutally murdered. There are reports of a nasty black sport that cannot be removed. The owners have tried to clean it, but have not had any luck with getting rid of it. The second murder happened on the third floor. The room this murder took place in now claims to be haunted.
There are several other hanted houses in the town of Lexington. The Hunt-Morgan House is where the spirits of the original owners just cant seem to leave. It is said that the ghost that died there can be heard pulling his car into the driveway, yet no one will be there or nothing will be there. Another well known haunted houses it the Loudoun Houses. This house is said to be haunted by ghost of women dressed in early Victorian clothing and always having their black cats with them. There are also reports of smellng a light flower like perfume and hearing people talking and playing music at night.
The Transylvania University is one of the most scariest Universities in Kentucky. Many have said it to be a Urban Legend. The Founder's Cabin is said to be haunted from the founder who is said to have cursed the cabin and the school. The entire University itself is claimed to be filled with ghosts. One of the known ghost is that of a former student who killed himself. Many of the students claim they have seen him sitting by himself at night in his room.
One of America's most haunted places is located in Louisville at the Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium. In the 1900's Louisville was hit extremely hard with the disease called Tuberculosis or as it was refered to back then, "White Death". With Louisville being built on such a low, swampy area it made the disease easier to spread. In 1910 a hospital was built to help try and control the population of death and help control the amount of people who were infected. The original hospital became quickly overcrowded and in 1924 a new building called Waverly Hills was built.
It is said that many of the patients that survived both the horrifying disease and the and even more horrible treatments left through the front doors. The majority of the patients that died left though what was called the "Body Chute" The doctors did not want the other patients seeing the dead, lifeless bodies being carried through the front door. They were afraid it would mess with their minds and hurt the patients recovery time. By the 1930's the disease had almost past and the hospital became to slow down. In 1961The hospital closed down for good and re-opened as the Woodhaven Geriatrics Santarium. There were many reports that during its time as a Santarium the older patients were not treated fairly.
Today the building is barely standing. It has been used for the homeless, young teens use as a shelter or just a place to hang out in. There have been hundreds of reports of paranormal activity and unexplained activity even to this day. There is no wonder that the building that has seen so much horror and pain over all these years would have a few ghostly sprits left behind.
In additional there are many ghost tours, and other real haunted house places throughout Kentucky. Find the best haunted houses and more here at www.Hauntworld.com
If you visit a haunted house in your area please come back and rate and review your experience
Kentucky Haunted Houses - Talon Falls Screampark
By David R. Waddell
Find Kentucky's Scariest Haunted Houses
There are often fables that rise up and spread around from campfire to campfire about old places that once were that disappeared because of some unexplained catastrophe. Not all of those stories, however, are completely false. What if one of those old ghost towns resurfaced, 100 years later, and was filled with exactly the spooky things that were originally said to have driven the townsfolk away? I, Todd Ferren, believe I found one of those places whenever I stumbled upon the evil community... of Talon Falls.
One night, sitting around his very own campfire amidst the extravagant outdoor Theme Park Studio by which he earned his accredited notoriety as a photographer, Todd Ferren, his wife Shell, and a group of their friends realized just how eerie the quiet sets were, set against the backdrop of only partially populated forestry. That night an idea happened into Todd’s creative mind: ‘What if I were to turn this photography Theme Park into a veritable nightmare – my very own haunting grounds?’ What happened next, as they say, is history.
The Evil Community of Talon Falls Haunted Scream Park got its official start in 1999, opening for the last three weekends of October each year, allowing their creative team to travel to other haunts and enjoy the season as a spectator before diving into the business of running a haunted attraction. Set on two acres of land, the park never truly had a ‘humble’ beginning, but compared to what it has grown into, one could say that it is obvious to see how Todd’s passion and ambition for the haunting business has grown over the years.
Looking back to before the idea of Talon Falls blossomed, it is not hard to recognize Todd Ferren’s creativity. In 1989, the one of a kind Theme Park Studio broke ground and began its own unique growing process. Over the years, the park had upwards of 100 or more outdoor sets including a Wedding Garden and Chapel, three waterfalls, tiki huts, a Bronx, a South Beach setting, plus so many more! Using these sets as a foundation, Todd then had his team go to work building mazes that he could place within or around his photography sets and suddenly a waterfall would become a swamp land and a the Bronx would become a junkyard, etc…
So, now that we see what he has accomplished and continues to build upon, we have to take a moment and ask, ‘Who is Todd Ferren?’
Todd Ferren has been a professional photographer for 25 years, with his home base being in Western Kentucky. From the very get-go of his photography career, Todd has quickly climbed ladders to become now nationally known for primarily swimsuit fashion photography in magazines and calendars. When he endeavored to combine his photography studio with a new concept for a haunted attraction, his creative and his business mindsets married to birth a brilliant conclusion. By building Talon Falls around his studio, he was able to cross promote both by the other to high school and college age kids. With his photography, he would promote Talon Falls by offering those for whom he would shoot senior pictures roles in the park, and he would promote his photography by offering those who portrayed characters the opportunity to also come and get their pictures taken. The marketing was genius.
Todd’s Theme Park Studio has now been featured on “Extra” and Fox Television as one of the countries hottest spots for fashion shoots. Yet every fall Todd and Shell transform their beautiful top hot spot into a grotesque, gory ‘shock spot!’ Honestly, I think they prefer the screams and moans to the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’, but that’s just my opinion.
So, why then the name ‘Talon Falls’? Easy! Already working with his own moniker ‘Todd Ferren’ attached to his unique concept ‘Theme Park Studio’, he simply wanted to take a frightening, entertaining play on words and create his haunts name. Thus, Todd Ferren became Talon Falls, and ‘Theme Park’ became exactly what he intended should happen: ‘Scream Park.’ Todd utilized the word talon based on the viciousness of an eagle’s talon and he used falls because the primary attraction of his studio were the three beautiful water falls.
After a few years of testing the waters, then the addition of the remaining weekends to the attraction, Todd realized he wanted to do more – he knew he could make it even better than it already was. Talon Falls had outgrown its beginnings. Add to that the second attraction he added in the Dead End Haunted House – an homage to one of his favorite dual haunts in St. Louis’s own Darkness and Creepyworld – Todd soon realized that having two separate locations in a smaller area such as western Kentucky was not as economical as it might have been in St. Louis. Therefore, in 2007, Todd began to move.
To initiate the move, Todd commissioned the building of a brand new Dead End Haunted House (moving it from its abandoned warehouse near the original Talon Falls out to its own private location), using the skilled hands of his son, Kathan Ferren and long-time friend Thomas Bostic. Over the course of the year, leading up to the inaugural opening night, the two worked with a small crew, around the clock, to build a brand new building and fifty foot façade and create an entire new haunt.
During the second year of the new Dead End, Todd began work on building a new Talon Falls, starting with the creation of his third haunt, ‘The Pirates of the Dead End.’ This third attraction actually became a crowd favorite and a wonderful stand-alone, albeit short, walk through. By the third year of the new location, Todd managed to build an entire new Talon Falls Scream Park. Therefore, in 2008, the 10th year of haunting, Todd Ferren held one last ‘Hoorah!’ at his original, beloved starting grounds, and then shifted his entire product out to the massive acreage on which his other two haunts were located.
The move was definitely a huge crap shoot. Having to prepare two Talon Falls, since he was working on building the new park while the old park was still running, was a financial risk, to say the least. Add to this the possibility of taking the location within the metropolitan area of Paducah and shifting it 30 minutes into the middle of county farmlands in Melber, KY, Todd was in jeopardy of losing a lot of his customers to the drive. The gamble, however, paid off big time. Bigger and better than ever, curiosity brought people to the new location initially, but the grand scale and amazing team kept them coming back over and over again! One of the big reasons for the move is to expand and take Talon Falls Screampark to the next level and create a hayride, after visiting the 4 best hayrides in the country the Headless Horesman, Spookywoods, Bates Motel Hayride and CreepyWorlds Tombstone gave Todd many great ideas from each to create his own unique style of hayride.
I would go so far as to say, in my humble opinion, that once he added the third attraction – Blood Creek Haunted Hayride – Todd and his wife Shell solidified the success of a masterpiece haunt for as long as they endeavor to have it.
So, what will someone experience when they visit his massive, elaborate three haunts? A whole-freaking-lot!
First, a person who has a three-haunt combo ticket will be escorted through an elaborate labyrinth of roped off lines to a saucy saloon girl who’ll introduce them to an amazing CGI zombie attack, getting them warmed up for what’s to come. Then they’ll be taken to get on a tractor-pulled wagon to visit the decaying ruins of Blood Creek, the Haunted Hayride. From there, that person will be taken on a 15-20 minute journey through a half mile of various intricate sets including the Wolf Barn, the Slaughter House, and the Black Widow Saloon. Just past the saloon the wagon comes to a stop in the old western town of Blood Creek, where a few ghastly zombie cowboys have it out over and over in an old fashion, western shoot out. Once the shots are fired, the wagon trails them through the towns old cemetery and finally through the Mine Shaft before returning safely to the 21st century loading dock from where they came.
The Evil Community of Talon Falls, which features a new, interactive theme every year with an all-original cast. You will not run into any Hollywood monsters in this haunt! You will encounter over 100 live actors to entertain and terrify you throughout your 40+ minute journey. Talon Falls is a combination of indoor mazes and outdoor paths being the main and original product, has held onto its dominance as Todd’s most popular haunt, largely to do its variety of mazes. In the year 2011, in fact, the haunt will include seven different, unique mazes, including:
A combination of large culverts joined together by rooms, one being with a grid floor to allow fog to rise from beneath, it then takes you up through a huge culvert into a fan room, which only functions to slowly blow more fog at the guest, keeping him completely disoriented. From there, you choose either the stairway or the slide, which most people crawl through a 4’ diameter, 20’ foot long tunnel until they reach the slide room. The last stop in the Toxic Waste maze is the Toxic Bus, filled with dummies and an actor or two, so the guest is constantly guessing which guise will prove to be alive! If that wasn’t enough, add more fog, loud music, and strobe lights, and disoriented becomes the persons state of being for even a few minutes beyond exiting the bus.
Next she will find herself in the cemetery. Zombies abound, roaming in and out of larger than life tombstones, Mausoleums, a rocking hearse, and a large Manor façade featuring a statue of the Angel of Death.
Crypt of the Vampires
For obvious reason, this is one of the constant most popular mazes within Talon Falls itself. This maze features an abundance of aspiring models dressed in Victorian dresses, pale skin and vampire fangs who work for the haunt during October to earn photo credit with Todd for shooting their portfolios. With a dozen beautiful women and a few grotesquely painted men, each turn offers a sensory overload of seduction and scare tactics to keep the guest completely off guard throughout.
The Asylum features Talon Falls iconic characters Dr. Feelgood and Nurse Cadaver, who obviously have their hands full with a hospital filled with bizarre patients. This is one of the most detailed mazes in Talon Falls, however, and alongside its intense cast, it is thus also one of the top frights. The luck of the draw would have it that Todd managed to buy a lot of authentic props from a hospital auction, and then he went overboard on creating the façade. You start your walk through in an old hospital, pass through a long hallway that, with a little haunt magic, seems to neer end, and then lastly you pass through the padded rooms and cages of the Asylum itself before passing by the Krazy Kristen animatronic at the exit.
Before Talon Falls was located where it is, the Pirate Ship was its own haunt. Once Talon Falls moved, it became an integrated, integral part of the attraction. The maze is a two story series of themed rooms that, from its crow’s nest first room to its end, truly makes you feel like you are exploring the innards of an old wooden pirate ship. As you walk up and down the stairs leading through, portholes showing skeletal fish swimming by, plus the chilled atmosphere and eerie soundtrack of a rocking ship, truly create a fantasy-come-true environment, if it weren’t for the wenches and scallywags leaping out to terrify you every time you catch your breath!
Killer Clown College
As you leave the Pirate Ship and move on, you suddenly pass through an outdoor carnival with the Ring Master urging you forward and into an Ice Cream truck and leads you right into an indoor maze. The clowns within the maze range from ridiculously funny to ridiculously frightening, and you never know which is going to be which. By combining old high school props with locker rooms, classroom settings, and a collage of color combinations, you truly get an atmosphere of learning – unfortunately the education is how to kill with pun and punch! Finally, you end with the dizzying vortex and disorienting dot room, where tiny people dressed like the walls wait to pop out of nowhere!
This is Todd’s favorite outdoor maze. To get through this part of the park, you first walk through a Tiki Hut porch, around through a detailed Voodoo Shack complete with witch doctor, then onto an old, rickety rope bridge crossing the lagoon itself, filled with gators and snakes and the infamous half-woman, half-creature swamp lizard, who hides in the murky waters. Finally, the guest comes face to face with a two story shack and an amplified Voodoo Queen!
Talon Falls is carefully planned so that the maze walls and fencing can be taken down and rearranged to create new, unique paths for the next haunt season. Many of the facades, in fact, are double sided! This means that one side of them, for instance the que line Mausoleum that has a movie screen on it (with a projector hidden in a tombstone), which is the opposing side of the Tiki Hut a guest would see as they walk across the porch. To add to it, the inside of that same building is actually a break room for the ‘ Midway’ actors. The largest set located in the heart of Talon Falls is a two story theme room, which has a different two story facade on all four sides of the building, a Crypt, Industrial Warehouse, Swamp Shack and a Manor.
Dead End Haunted House
Last, but certainly not least, you embark on a journey through the Dead End. Once inside this massive façade, you step onto the ‘Hellavator’, which transports you (through some more haunt magic!) from the entrance to the inside, revealing a house full of peeling wall paper, cracked plaster, and antiques and props everywhere. This journey lasts about 15-20 minutes, taking you from the house, through the cellar, through to a butcher shop room where you get to meet a variety of gory, slaughtered animals (including a giant cow, several pigs, and some turkeys) and also the room’s feature creature, Pervis the Butcher. As you walk through, you come across countless actor drop panels and animitronic frights, all keeping your nerves racked within the claustrophobic environment, only to finish the maze by going through the claustrophobia room, forcing yourself between two giant ‘balloons’ which threaten to squeeze the life out of you!
Todd & Shell created the Ultimate Midway at Talon Falls, which is one of my favorite parts of the event. Guests are greeted by erie music, movie screens, massive facades, three concessions, Miss Shells Ghoulish Gifts, and this year the all new Deadly Desserts Cafe. With scarecrow stilt walkers, stalkarounds, and originally themed icon characters many guest entering this festive midway say “Talon Falls atmosphere is like Disney”.
The Scream Team consists for approximately 150 actors, 75% of them volunteers and the other 25% support staff from managers, security, tractor drivers, concession and gift shop workers, and parking attendants. The team has two airbrush artists and four make-up artists who work with prostethics and their own artistic talents to create fantastic creatures and special effects. The volunteers are all offered photography credit for family portraits, senior pictures, or modeling portfolios. Also, a portion of the profits earned are donated to Child Watch, Red Cross and Crime Stoppers. To date, Talon Falls has raised over $80,000.00 for these charities.
Todd uses several forms of advertising radio, television media and mall displays.
Mall advertising has been a huge success for Todd’s local photography business, so he built five 1880s style hurst and put them in malls in the five state area with large posters inside and flyers for guest to pick up to promote Talon Falls.
Since Talon Falls is in a smaller market, Todd wants everyone to be able to afford to experience his shows, so he has multiple tickets to fit any budget.
Guest can easily get up to $10 off combo tickets with a Hardee’s Talon Falls souvenir cup and a $2 off of any single haunt with a Hardee’s coupon. Hardee’s is the title sponsor and exclusive coupon outlet with over 40 Hardee’s restaurant locations in the quad state area marketing the Talon Falls Screamfest. This year Hardee’s bumped the production of Talon Falls cups from 100,000 to 300,000 and had a contest for the Hardee’s employees that sold the most large sodas. The reward for the most sold was passes for all the employees and one guest to visit Talon Falls.
Talon Falls Future
Talon Falls is only moving onto bigger, better things! The Pirate Ship is coming out to create a new prison theme maze, ‘Cell Block D’, there is going to be a more intense focus on the actors and quality of the show. The Dead End will feature its first ‘theme’ as a ‘doll factory’ theme, with its main attraction being ‘Dollface’ and adding several new additions to Blood Creek Hayride. With 40 acres to grow on for future expansion Todd & Shell will continue to create one of the most unique Screamparks in the country!
NAME OF HAUNT: Talon Falls Screampark
LOCATION: Paducah, Kentucky
NUMBER OF ATTRACTIONS: 3
ANNUAL ATTENDANCE: 30,000 plus
ADMISSION: $12.00 to $40.00 for Combo
NUMBER OF YEARS IN OPERATION: 13th year of Fear
AD BUDGET: $35,000.00
WEBSITE ADDRESS: www.talonfalls.com
Check out Transworld pre-Convention,
Talon Falls Haunt Tour on March 8th, 2011
Kentucky Haunted Houses are some of the scariest haunted houses in America. Hauntworld.com rates and reviews Haunted Houses in Kentucky and today we offer another scary haunted house in Kentucky. USS Nightmare is one of the best haunted attractions in Kentucky, and each Halloween people from all over Kentucky flock to see one of the best haunted houses in Kentucky. Now enjoy our review of another Kentucky Haunted House.
For nearly 20 years, the USS Nightmare has been an annual Halloween destination in the greater Cincinnati region. Each fall, the historic steamboat appears on the Newport, KY waterfront just in time for the Halloween haunting season. Framed by the spectacular downtown Cincinnati skyline, the smashed wreckage of the massive old steamboat seems eerily out of place on the developing waterfront. And that is just how parent company BB Riverboats likes it; it is an attraction that catches your eye and peaks your interest. But, it was not always a decrepit steamboat in such disarray. It was once actually an innovative and powerful steamboat known as the William S. Mitchell. Built in 1934 by the Marietta Manufacturing Company of Point Pleasant, WV, the William S. Mitchell is an enormous 280 foot long steam powered dredge designed and commissioned by the Army Corps of Engineers to tame the wild Missouri River by creating and maintaining a navigation channel suitable for commercial traffic. As the need for dredging subsided, the Mitchell was retired from service and permanently docked in Kansas City destined to become a steamboat museum.
But it seemed the spirits of the powerful steamboat had other plans. Under flooding conditions, the Mitchell broke loose from its moorings. Powered by the raging flood waters, the mighty steamboat headed aimlessly down the Missouri River on a harrowing last voyage that was captured on video by the local media and dubbed the Mitchell massacre. Although a small tugboat tried to stop the enormous vessel, its attempts were futile, and the Mitchell scraped its way under the Broa
dway Bridge. Upon impact with the Railroad Bridge, the stern crew quarters were crushed. But the journey did not end there. The current pushed and turned the massive dredge sending it onward to another disastrous collision with the old ASB Bridge, and the 30’ smoke stacks were leveled. After hitting a fourth bridge, the dredge was finally stopped. The final voyage was over, but by then, the William S. Mitchell was virtually demolished. The damage was so severe that the museum project was cancelled and the steamboat was headed for the scrap yard. That was until it was discovered by present day owners, BB Riverboats. Saved from the scrap yard, the majestic steamboat now serves as the perfect backdrop for the eerie tale told by BB Riverboats and their crew led by USS Nightmare General Manager, Captain Allen Rizzo.
The USS Nightmare tour combines the mystery surrounding the frantic final voyage with the history of the steamboat and the stories of hardships and mishaps as told by surviving crewmembers that worked and lived aboard the dredge. During the initial planning for the tour through the USS Nightmare, the investigation revealed many strange and horrifying stories relayed by the crew. Based on these findings, it appears the mysteries and mishaps that have haunted the boat and its crew began during the boat’s construction with three unfortunate and mysterious deaths. Another bizarre accident reportedly occurred during the launching ceremonies resulting in one death and dozens of injuries. As a result, the steamboat began its 50 years of service with a crew that held many superstitions, and from all accounts, the bizarre and mysterious happenings continued throughout the vessel’s history.
Some events could be explained as unfortunate coincidences; others seemingly have no rational explanation. Separating myth from reality is difficult after so many years. But one thing is certain; a cursed and wrecked steamboat with a mysterious crew makes a fantastic storyline for Cincinnati’s favorite haunted attraction, the USS Nightmare.
Many of the surviving crewmembers believe the real trouble started when dredging during the maiden voyage uncovered an apparent ancient Indian burial ground. Later that same year, dredging operations were halted when the pump became clogged with what was later identified as a mast from an ancient sailing vessel. According to the legend passed among crewmembers, the operations of the large dredge in clearing the long uncovered riverbed were disturbing the eternal rest of past mariners and an ancient sacred burial ground. Some believed it was the souls of those disturbed mariners that haunted the William S. Mitchell and cursed all of the crewmembers to an eternity of unrest and horror.
The man at the helm of the majestic steamboat was Captain William Mitchell, the grandson of the boat’s namesake who grew up on the river living with his father, the original captain of the dredge. The young Captain Mitchell became the master of the steamboat at an early age when his father mysteriously vanished during a late night storm under mysterious circumstances. Although his body was never found, it was assumed that the mutinous crew had thrown the captain overboard.
Throughout his years of service on the vessel, Mitchell had various family members living on board including his wife, grandmother, his twin brother, and his daughter, Anna. The family was largely kept distant from the hard-working crew of the vessel. There are few mentions of the captain’s family among the records of the vessel – either the official records or the crewmembers’ journals. Although there is no record or known cause of her death, it is understood that the captain’s wife died when Anna was a very young child. Afterwards, Captain Mitchell became increasingly more protective of Anna, his only child. To this end, Captain Mitchell had many of the forward staterooms modified into the family quarters which included his private stateroom and office, the captain’s dining room, and a special area for his young daughter. Anna had a bedroom and play area secluded from the rest of the crew and safe from the dangers of the steamboat and dredge operations. She was schooled on the ship and had some of the finest toys a girl could want. The captain even had professional circus clowns living on board to entertain her. But, Anna was a curious young girl who quickly tired of the isolation and reportedly found hidden passages through the boat to get out around the crew and watch the crewmembers and her father.
Although he tried to keep life as normal as possible for Anna, the captain and the crew of the William S. Mitchell experienced long days and nights of hard, grueling, demanding work. These difficulties changed the demeanor of the young likeable captain. He became a very strange and hardened man who distanced himself from the crew who had become his trusted friends. He began to collect the spoils uncovered by the dredging operations – items the crew found to be very unusual. He collected quite a treasure trove of unique and bizarre things (not to mention his bizarre additions to the crew) from an unhatched gigantic egg to freaky insects and a shrunken head. Eventually, the captain was himself an isolated man wandering through the enormous vessel leading a loyal crew who barely recognized him.
Eventually, the captain and crew of the William S. Mitchell had completed their work along the Missouri River, and they faced the end of their journey onboard the historic steamboat. But, it seemed they would face one last mystery before the Mitchell would come to an end.
As legend has it, on a foggy night as most of the crew slept, the night watchman was making his rounds. Strange sounds were floating through the mist, strange even for the Mitchell. Growing ever more concerned as the sounds grew more intense, he thought about alerting the Captain who was below deck in a part of the ship where most crew members were not allowed. But he also knew he must not disturb the Captain for fear of being thrown in the brig, or worse. His hesitation probably cost him his life.
Just then, a thunderous noise came from the bow of the boat. As the night watchman raced forward, he saw lines that had been snapped and realized the boat was drifting into the river current. He panicked and sounded the general alarm. The Captain was the first to appear. “You fool,” he screamed as he saw the vessel had broken loose. He ordered all engines started and all hands on deck.
As the crew appeared and ran to the bow, even in their sleepy daze they realized the danger ahead. The boat was caught in the main current, careening blindly into the darkness. A bridge loomed up through the fog directly in their path. Then came the first of what would be many agonizing crashes followed by the excruciating sounds of crunching steel. Screams penetrated the thick fog reverberating throughout the vessel. The crew had no control of the boat as it went spinning downstream at the mercy of the current and obstacles that lay ahead. What actually happened that night is not clear. The ship did crash hitting several bridges along the way, but the captain and crew were never found.
Although detailed records were not kept or were destroyed, rumors indicate that over 100 crewmembers lost their lives during service on the boat. The history of the vessel and its dredging operations is filled with hundreds of deadly and mysterious occurrences. The hard, grueling, demanding work combined with the captain’s strong hand led many of the surviving crewmembers to dub the boat the “Death Dredge”. One such crew member is quoted as saying, "She’s haunted as surely as I am standing here. I am one of the survivors of the Death Dredge, and I can tell you that my nights are filled with nightmares more horrifying than you can imagine.
The USS Nightmare visitors today begin their tour on the bow of the steamboat surrounded by massive steam equipment and unique dredge equipment as they watch historical news footage of the perilous last journey that transformed the William S. Mitchell into the USS Nightmare. As they wait to enter the dark attraction, spine tingling screams emerge from within the vessel setting the scene for their impending entry. The tour of the USS Nightmare takes the fright seeker into all areas of the historic steamboat providing a glimpse of the dangerous and somewhat demoralizing life on a working steamboat dredge.
Upon entering the USS Nightmare, visitors enter the dimly lit Mitchell Museum displaying some of the bizarre and creepy oddities collected by Captain Mitchell with everything from old family photographs and documents to gigantic insects and a shrunken head. Making their way through the eerie steamboat, the fright seeker encounters some of the captain’s strange crewmembers including the one of the steamboat’s trademark characters, the Rat Lady who sits and plays with her rodent friends. And, that is just the beginning!
The 30 minute journey through the vessel wanders through twisted passageways encountering more than 40 terrifying scenes encompassing two levels and 20,000 square feet surrounded by the actual workings of the historic dredge. Visitors will get a feel for what life must have been like on this historic steamboat as they realize the vast requirements needed to house a crew of over 60 people for day and night operations. Areas that once served to provide for the daily needs of the crew have been taken over by evil spirits from the psychotic physician to the belligerent half man, half boar butcher. On their journey, visitors may also discover the captain’s bizarre pet, the giant 13’ Impaler, that was hatched from a strange egg collected and nurtured by the captain. It is often hard to tell whether visitors are encountering the tortured spirit of a crewmember, a strange creature collected by the eclectic hoarding captain, or a combination of the two. Regardless, each of the characters along the way is more than willing to have their guests stay as their latest victim.
As they continue along the meandering path, visitors will experience the vastness of the vessel. As they walk over the open grated catwalk between the vessel’s two levels, the cool mist from the Ohio River provides an additional level of creepiness to the experience. The fright seeker will also understand the isolation of the Mitchell family life as they visit the captain’s quarters and Anna’s bizarre playroom. The eerie giggles and taunting by the captain’s demented daughter set the scene for the dark, demonic playroom. They will also encounter the fun house and the creepy circus clowns brought onboard for Anna’s entertainment. And if they are lucky, they might just come face to face with Captain Mitchell himself!
The journey through the USS Nightmare plays on mankind’s most common phobias including the fear of heights, the fear of confined spaces, the fear of creepy crawling creatures, and the fear of being eaten alive. As visitors adventure through the complex equipment of the vessel in the engine room, the pump room, and the boiler room, they become acutely aware of the eeriness innately associated with the historic steamboat. If only the walls could talk, they would tell the twisted tales of Captain Mitchell, his family, and his creepy crew. The stories of the ghastly crew of the steamboat combined with the original inner workings of the vessel provide the frightening story used as the theme of the USS Nightmare, Greater Cincinnati’s top rated haunted attraction.
The USS Nightmare is annually ranked among the best haunted attractions in the country. It was named as one of the original Top 13 Haunted Houses by Haunt World Magazine and has also been named as one of the top 20 events in the southeastern United States by the Southeast Tourism Commission. It has annually received media coverage throughout the United States and abroad. As stated in a 2010 review from Ohio Valley Haunts, “Annually ranked among the best haunted attractions in the country, USS Nightmare is a seasonal attraction not to be missed!”
The attraction starts with an incredibly unique setting with original equipment and a mysterious history and builds a believable legend perfect for a haunted event. The core group of USS Nightmare employees has hundreds of years worth of combined haunt industry experience and expertise that provides the USS Nightmare with Hollywood quality sound, lighting, animation, special effects and makeup. This depth of knowledge helps set them apart from other haunted attractions and earns them local and national recognition annually.
The USS Nightmare takes great efforts to hire and retain devoted actors who develop and maintain their iconic characters. This effort is repeatedly recognized in the numerous reviews that are done each season. A 2010 review by Randal’s House of Doom indicated, “What made this perhaps the Nightmare’s best season to date was the effort, performance, and look of the actors…they were outstanding. The characters all used dialogue appropriate for their characters and their situation, doing an excellent job of interacting with the crowds. There was an unusual variety of approaches used-the Captain bestial, the Vampire Overlord smooth, the Tall Klown disturbing, Anna frightfully playful.”
Each year, the USS Nightmare strives to build on and improve from the previous season. Makeup, costumes, character traits and décor are tweaked to provide the best possible haunted attraction. As the demographic group for haunted attractions change, the USS Nightmare adapts to address their visitors’ needs. The regular shows capture the largest portion of the haunt’s visitors – an audience out for Halloween entertainment with a dose of fright. For the younger audience, the USS Nightmare offers a special lights-on matinee show perfect as a trial run for those who might not be ready just yet for the regular dark show. And, in 2010, the USS Nightmare offered an Unrated Extreme Night for a late night audience over the age of 18. For this show, the steamboat was darker, the visitors were more isolated, and the actors were given freedom to get closer and more confrontational than during the regular show. The USS Nightmare also offers a variety of ticket packages with added savings, group discounts, and a private party space for seasonal gatherings.
According to General Manager, Allen Rizzo, “The industry in the past 20 years has become more sophisticated creating a more sophisticated fright seeking customer requiring haunted attractions to take steps to stay ahead of the curve in providing what the customer wants and more.” The crew of the USS Nightmare work diligently to stay ahead of the curve. When they first started 20 years ago, things were much different. Gone are the days when fright seekers could pay $5 and enjoy being scared by loud noises and sudden movements. Today’s fright seekers want more. The USS Nightmare prides itself on recognizing and implementing the ever changing demands of the fright seekers. The USS Nightmare was one of the first haunted attractions to utilize express ticketing options. Now a common occurrence, the USS Nightmare’s RIP express ticket allowing faster entry for an increased ticket price (and increased revenue) was unique for its time. The USS Nightmare also recognized the need to allow customers to participate and interact with the show. Whether it is a scared child tucked safely away in the chicken coop waiting for their group or visitors on the bow waiting entry, visitors have opportunities to use various interaction stations to participate in scaring guests. The USS Nightmare also started early selling online tickets – for individuals, groups, and even packages with other local haunted attractions. In today’s economic times, the value added option has helped increase attendance for