Louisville, KY, is home to the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, which many people believe is one of the most haunted places on Earth. While the building is now primarily a tourist attraction for those with creepy predilections, it used to be a functioning tuberculosis hospital. In 1910, when the hospital was established, this was a place where roughly 8,000 people died bloody, excruciating deaths, as there would be no real cure for tuberculosis, known as the white plague, until streptomycin was invented in 1943.
With all of that suffering, it’s not surprising that rumors of creepy doppelgängers, ghostly children, demonic forces, and more have cropped up. It is one of the most famous Kentucky ghost stories, and the haunted Waverly Hills Sanatorium is known worldwide. While spooky stories like these can’t truly be proven, there are plenty of people who will swear on their lives that they’re true. Haunted sanatoriums are scary, but the spooky stories from Waverly Hills Sanatorium are downright terrifying.
With no real way to cure tuberculosis while the sanatorium was open, doctors did what they could to treat the illness. As a last resort, doctors devised treatments, such as inserting balloons into patients' lungs and filling them with air to help with breathing.
Doctors also removed ribs and muscle tissue to alleviate pressure and create more room for damaged lungs. This resulted in painful, ineffective, and often fatal surgeries.
Before the invention of streptomycin, tuberculosis was basically a death sentence. Bodies had to be disposed of somehow, and staff didn’t want to do it where the patients could see.
The solution was a "body chute," or a tunnel that led from the hospital to nearby railroad tracks. From there, a motorized rail and cable system lifted the cadavers into trains that would take them away.
When people in a sanatorium die, you’d expect it to be the tuberculosis patients, not the healthy staff. Despite this, Room 502 seemed to invite sadness. According to local legend, the head nurse of Room 502 was found hanging from a light fixture. This was believed to be a suicide, triggered by depression over an unwanted pregnancy.
Another nurse, who also worked in Room 502, jumped off the roof to her death. Who might have done it, and why, are unknown.
One legend stems from the experiences of the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society. When they visited Waverly Hills, they found the kitchen in shambles. Windows, tables, and chairs were broken. The cafeteria was in a similar state of disrepair. Finding nothing useful, the team tried to leave, but before they could, they heard footsteps. Then, they heard a door swing shut, and they noticed the smell of freshly baked bread.
No one else was in the building, let alone using the ruined kitchen to bake bread. There seemed to be no explanation for what they had witnessed.