While eating dinner on a casual Friday night, I received a text message from Ohio University notifying students that classes for Monday were cancelled, "in anticipation of severe weather and potential flooding." Emails from housing soon came in telling students to expect power and water outages and to try and go home if possible. Within moments, in classic Ohio University fashion, Flood Fest was created.
While the weather was poor for most of the weekend, Sunday and Monday turned out to be beautiful, sunny days that were perfect to spend time outside working on homework, hangout with friends and the option to go to a "fest" party was available.
After getting food Sunday afternoon, my friends and I decided to take a walk to see the Hocking River. This was the supposed culprit of potential flooding. The river runs along a bike path (Hockhocking Adena Bikeway) that follows the outer edge of campus. After seeing the height and speed of the river, we started walking on the path. Before we knew it, we were practically on the other side of campus where you are able to see the Ridges (former Athens Lunatic Asylum) in the distance and I noted how I had never been there. My one friend said how cool it was and that she would take me so we decided to make an impromptu climb up and explore the property.
The Ridges is currently owned and used by Ohio University for some classes, offices and storage. The main building is currently the home to the Kennedy Museum of Art. But most importantly, the Ridges is known for the hauntings that happen to go on due to its history as a lunatic asylum (stories can be found with an easy Google search).
I am not going to lie when I say the Ridges are spooky. The black crows, often a symbol of bad luck and death, circling above along with vultures sitting atop buildings gave a very unsettling vibe. The architecture of the buildings gave a "horror movie opening scene" image in my head, and the open windows that should not be open in buildings that are closed off to the public just did not feel right.
We further investigated the property, finding one of the multiple cemeteries with most graves just marked with a patient's number. It was heartbreaking knowing the mistreatment that went on within the walls of the asylum, and the lost souls of those who did not belong in a place like that at all such as veterans suffering PTSD, teens who were considered rebellious and the elderly when family could no longer take care of them. It was an important lesson in how far as a society we have come with mental illness, but is a reminder that there is still plenty of work to be done to improve mental health treatment.
*Disclaimer* We were not trespassing, the Ridges and the surrounding land are open to the public