Insane asylums are one of the first things that pop into my head when I contemplate all the things that can be considered paranormal and terrifying, but one insane asylum truly does take the cake. The Ridges, formerly called the Athens Lunatic Asylum, was a mental hospital operated in Athens, Ohio from 1874 until its closing in 1993. It was seemingly normal at first, the hospital provided services to a variety of patients including Civil War veterans, children, and violent criminals suffering from various mental disabilities.The care was excellent and the patients were treated like normal human-beings, until of course it gained tremendous popularity and the previous 200 patients grew to over 2,000 in just 20 years.
Overcrowding led to the sharing of patient rooms and a dramatic decline in the quality of treatment administered by a staff which had barely been increased in size since it first opened. This decrease in individualized care and attention also led to more primitive ways of treatment, such as water treatment, shock therapy, and even lobotomies. This of course encouraged other cruelties to be committed by the staff, such as beating or neglecting patients without any justification. Patients were often restrained and were forced to sleep in group bunks in rooms intended for one person. One nurse could be responsible for as many as fifty patients at a time.
Several other strange things have happened at The Ridges, besides the cruel treatment applied to the patients. On the first of December in 1978, a patient named Margaret Schilling mysteriously disappeared. The legend says she was playing hide and seek with the nurses, who got distracted and forgot to look for her. It took over a month for her body to be found by a maintenance worker. They found her dead on the floor of heart failure, probably due to exposure in an unheated ward during the coldest part of winter. As she was dying, oddly enough, she took her clothes off, folded them neatly beside her, and laid down on the concrete floor.
When the staff attempted to move her body, they found that it had made a permanent stain in the outline of the woman’s body on the concrete floor. It seems as though the stain had been caused by the combination of her body naturally decaying and with her position lying directly in front of windows that allowed the sunlight to shine down on her. Despite constant scrubbing, the stain would not disappear. Even more, people walking past the asylum at night would report that they have seen the ghostly image of a woman staring down at them from the window where her body was found. The 1980s were the final days of The Ridges, as well as many other mental hospitals all across America. More and more people were against the idea of “abandoning” mentally ill family members by deserting them to hospitals, so a majority of insane asylums closed down across the states. Even though these hospitals are no longer in use, the memories of their numerous patients are still trapped inside the walls, preserved for a never-ending eternity in our exploits.