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Theresa's Travels: Williamson, WV and the Coal House

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Last month, the Spectral Research and Investigation team made our third trip to Williamson, WV. Our goal was to once again explore the mysteries of the former Williamson Memorial Hospital, now known on the paranormal circuit as The Old Hospital on College Hill! The Old Hospital on College Hill is an awesome location, full of history and hauntings, and I often tell people that it is quickly becoming one of those super-sites when it comes to paranormal destinations! In addition to offering private investigation opportunities for a VERY reasonable fee, the Old Hospital routinely offers a variety of fun and spooky public events throughout the year! Starting as a Halloween haunted house attraction, under its current ownership, the hospital now offers public investigations/tours, horror-themed weddings with actual horror celebrities, spooky holiday dinners, escape rooms, and much, much more! 

The Old Hospital on College Hill is quickly becoming one of MY favorite haunted locations. Each time we’ve been there it has been an excellent experience all-around. The owners, Tonya and Charlie, are so welcoming and accommodating. They really go out of their way to make sure that you feel comfortable and have everything you need…including a most awesome addition of indoor plumbing! Yes, you heard that right! No more port-a-potties…there are two very clean, well-stocked, and comfortable bathrooms now located on the first floor.  

We’ve also had plenty of really strange experiences that we cannot debunk, including two of our members seeing a creepy, pinkish-orangish FACE peek around the corner at them. I’ve personally had sightings of a little shadow figure with white eyes, heard a lady’s voice humming, heard a child crying for her daddy, and have had some full-on two-way conversations via various spirit box/Ovilus technology. But…those blogs are for another day. I’ve already written a little about the Old Hospital on College Hill (The Nurse Who Never Clocked Out and The Haunting of Mose Blackburn) and I’ll be writing even MORE about some of the stories and our investigative experiences in the near future…but for today’s blog, I wanted to highlight some other areas of my latest trip!

As the Old Hospital on College Hill continues to grow into a premier paranormal destination, more and more people will find themselves making the pilgrimage to the small, southern WV town. And those people will need to eat, fuel up the car, and possibly spend the night off-site. They’ll want to see the sights, both those of historic interest as well as additional paranormal hot-spots, and they may even wanna purchase a few locally made crafts and souvenirs! 

On this most recent trip to Williamson, I got to town pretty early—early enough to make a stop at the famed Coal House! Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Coal House is home to the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce and is an excellent little place to pick up some books or postcards featuring local history, handmade craft items from West Virginia artisans, t-shirts, and much more. It’s also a great place to pick up some information on what else there is to see and do around Williamson. Whether you’re looking for some outdoor adventures on the Hatfield and McCoy trails, wanting to travel back in time to the historic Matewan Massacre, or simply need some suggestions for where to eat (Starters on E. 2nd Ave is a great place that’s open later) and stay while you’re in town, the staff at the Coal House can give you a hand! 

The Coal House itself, however, is a tourist destination all on its own. Located right in downtown Williamson, the Coal House is made up of 65 tons of bituminous coal. The idea originated in 1931 when O.W. Evans, manager of the Norfolk & Western Railroad’s fuel department conceived the concept of a structure built entirely of coal as a way of symbolizing Williamson’s contribution to the coal industry.

The Coal House was constructed in 1933, designed by Welch, WV architect, H.T. Hicks. Construction was supervised by Williamson resident, David M. Goode. For over 2 decades, it stood as the only structure in West Virginia to be made out of coal, and today is still only one of two such buildings. Historical signage and beautiful landscaping frame the exterior of the Coal House, while the inside wood paneling gives the little shop a comfortable, homey feel. It’s just a really cool place to see, and its filled with fun things to take home to yourself or give as gifts. Unfortunately, the Coal House’s hours tend to be short. According to their website, they are open Tuesday-Friday 10am to 2pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm. When I visited, it was a weekday, and they were closing at 4pm…so just give them a call or check them out on Facebook to make sure they’ll be open when you’re in town. But, even if they’re closed, it’s still a cool, easily accessible spot to take some pictures, read the outdoor signs, then walk around the historic downtown Williamson area. Plus, the website offers an on-line shop, so you can still pick out your favorite local goodies! 

I’m really glad I was able to finally see the Coal House for myself after hearing about it for years. I picked up some postcards and a book about Williamson history and had a nice chat with the staff member working that day. It might seem like there’s not a WHOLE lot to do around Williamson, but I’m quickly discovering that there may be too much to do. There’s a lot of history packed into this southern corner of West Virginia, but it’s a place that I never really made plans to visit before The Old Hospital on College Hill came on the scene. Spectral Research and Investigation has now completed three investigations of the OHOCH, and each time we’re in town, we try to eat locally, check out area businesses, and of course, take a peek at other sites of haunted and historical interest, including the nearby Dingess Tunnel. The Tug Valley Area CVB has a section of their website dedicated to area hauntings, so definitely check that out, and make a little time to explore Williamson and surrounding areas. 

The Old Hospital on College Hill is a wonderful location, full of activity and very accessible to the serious paranormal investigator, or just someone wanting a fun, spooky night out. It’s a great destination all on its own, but it has given me the opportunity to get to know the town better. It has inspired me to check out what else is in the area, and every trip to the old hospital gives me another chance to see something new. 


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