Paranormal Travels, Klamath Falls, Oregon

Sherri Granato By Sherri Granato, 24th Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>Oregon

Troubled Spirits Who Suffered Through the Spanish Influenza and Tuberculosis Epidemics Live On

The Ghosts of the Blackburn Sanitarium

It is no secret that many of the sanitariums of the late eighteen hundreds through the mid nineteen hundreds had a reputation for treating mentally ill patients and those with deadly diseases and other unfavorable conditions in a way that was anything but humane. The state-of-the-art-equipment during that time resembled something out of a Frankenstein movie and the blood and gore often brought on by surgical practices involving balloons being implanted in the patient's lungs and lobotomies performed through the frontal lobe of the brain were something out of a horror show. Questionable patient management now reviewed as barbaric ranged from total isolation with months without actual human contact to cold water or shock treatments to rib removal which was thought to allow the lungs to expand. At the time they were considered to be top rate medical practices that often left patients fearing for their lives.

Sexual assault and beatings often took place and poor sanitation along with a lack of good food was a normal occurrence in many institutions that was quite often covered up. A normal thriving environment was something that only the very fortunate were allowed to indulge in. While sanitarium's like Waverly Hills in Louisville, Kentucky, America's most haunted mental institution, was guilty of these practices. Smaller operations followed suit and soon sanitariums were springing up in every state across America. The Blackburn Sanitarium in Klamath Falls, Oregon was one of those state facilities that followed the standards of the larger asylums. The smaller institution was built during 1911 and 1912 and officially opened in the early part of the twentieth century during the middle of a tuberculosis outbreak.

By the early part of the twentieth century the tuberculosis epidemic was completely out of control, and nationwide patients were dying at a rate of one person every 30 minutes. Later a pandemic of patients carrying the Spanish influenza affected 500 million people worldwide, killing roughly 675,000 Americans during its active years from 1918 through the end of 1919. In all the Spanish Influenza Pandemic claimed the lives of sixty-nine residents in Klamath County. The Public Health Officer Dr. Warren Hunt immediately ordered city wide quarantine on all public gathering places from dance halls and theaters as to prevent the spread of the Spanish influenza that lasted in all for about two months.

Unethical practices and a lack of admissions forced the sanitarium to eventually close their doors permanently, but the space was quickly put to use when a fully equipped hospital found the building to be a suitable space that would accommodate their needs. The fully staffed Klamath General Hospital came complete with a motorized ambulance known as an "invalid car" and a fully operational morgue located in the basement. The hospital thrived up until the middle part of the twentieth century, up until the need for a larger hospital was necessary to accommodate more patients became apparent.

The Blackburn Sanitarium and the Klamath General Hospital are now nothing more then a piece of history, but the haunting memories along with the building still remains. A need for housing due to a full population growth from the opening of NAS Klamath Falls during the forties and fifties eventually led to the sanitarium receiving a full remodel into everything from offices during the fifties to apartments in the sixties and seventies and later the historical building was used as a frat house during the eighties. Renovations to the historical building beautified the interior, but it did nothing to quiet the inner turmoil they lay dormant inside the red brick exterior of the once very active sanitarium. Ghosts, dark shadows, spirits, orbs, voices, electrical problems, static in the phone lines and strange odors were constant complaints from those who lived or worked at the building for the last 70 years.

Frat parties managed to drum up the most paranormal activity, perhaps due to the extreme noise that disturbed the spirits during a time of rest. Students reportedly moved out just as fast as they moved in, and the rumor mill has it down that is was due to the multiple sightings of ghosts walking up the steps that simply vanished into thin air, and the faint sound of whispering that echoed through the halls all hours of the night keeping them from their studies. Dark shadows are always lurking in the basement, and far away voices coming from somewhere deep underneath the building are nothing short of disturbing to those that have heard them.

Many believe that the frequent renovations on the building have stirred up the tormented people who were once housed here, and this has become even more apparent to those that have witnessed the many ghosts that appear to those that cannot ignore their sickly frame as being desperate souls who are wearing nothing more then a thin hospital gown and carrying a look of grave illness that passed with them into death. The entire building possesses the feel of heaviness and is often cold despite warm weather or other sources of heat. The basement that once housed deceased patients is now apartments. The Romanesque style apartment building at 1842 Esplanade is hard to ignore when you take in its grand stance that is evident of Victorian elegance hidden behind years of sadness and decay. The Blackburn Sanitarium now goes by the name of Blackburn Manor and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now privately owned.

*First Person: In 1972 my parents and I moved into the Blackburn Sanitarium into a very haunted basement apartment. We had driven from Dover, Delaware to Klamath Falls, Oregon in just under a week. Upon our arrival my mother scoured the classifieds and found a "quaint and charming" Victorian in the historical section of town that offered a low monthly rent. When we drove up to the address I knew that nothing was going to change her mind. She fell in love with the place on the spot. I remember thinking it was a big creepy house, but kept my mouth shut. I was only eight, but I can remember that the apartment always felt chilly despite the fact that it was the end of summer, and I always felt like someone was watching me. Noises, possibly from the ancient steam heaters kept me awake throughout the night and I often woke up to the air feeling heavy. Paranormal activity was in its infancy as far as media hype and ghost shows were concerned, but my grandparents has spoken of ghosts, so I knew a little bit about the walking dead, but not enough that I was comfortable living in the same space with them.

My suspicions were confirmed when I overheard my mother talking to the next door neighbor Julie who also lived in a basement apartment about how spooky the place was. Julie swore that she had seen a woman walking through her bedroom and then she disappeared through a wall. Soon after that I had my own experience in the building sometime during the early winter when I was bored and went to explore the building. I entered the building through the front doors and then I headed for the upstairs area. I immediately walked into a man who was coming down the main steps located in the hallway leading from the upstairs apartments into the main foyer. I remember saying sorry, but my words were spoken to thin air because there was absolutely nobody there when I looked up. That image has never left me, because it was so very clear and all too real. Not long after my incident with the ghost our neighbor Julie moved out of her apartment, and shortly after her departure we moved to the other side of town. I didn't feel the need to question my parents why, I just naturally knew.

Location: Address: 1842 Esplanade, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97601


Balloons, Blood, Frankenstein, Ghosts, Horror, Lobotomies, Lungs, Morgue, Paranormal, Sexual Assault, Shock Treatments, Spirits, Surgical Procedures, Tuberculosis

Meet the author

author avatar Sherri Granato
Sherri has lived in several haunted properties, including a morgue turned basement apartment. Instead of fearing the paranormal, she has opted to embrace, investigate and understand it.

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author avatar 6String
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Exciting article.

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author avatar Retired
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Great to see you posting here, dear friend. Fascinating, as always. :)

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
10th Jan 2015 (#)

Sherri, great article! I see how you came to have such curiosity about haunted places. I too have had what I would call run ins with the other side. The stories I could tell you.

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