Final Report & Analysis
Black Diamond Paranormal Society©
"We are the light that cuts the darkness. Therefore, when you see... truth must be honored."
Final Report and Analysis
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park
June 18, 2010
Located between Princeton West Virginia & Spanisburg West Virginia
Rodney Shortridge, Mike Brown, Amy Flick, Matt O'Quin, Heather Lamantia
Special Guests: Clayton Trout & Dr. Shari Stacy
On June 18, 2010 the BDPS team investigated Lake Shawnee Amusement Park located between Princeton West Virginia & Spanisburg West Virginia. I would like to take this moment to thank Mr. Gaylord White for giving us permission to investigate such an interesting site. We decided because of the size of the park that each team would investigate separate areas of the park and adjoining property simultaneously, while one member would watch the camera monitor in our base tent (which was previously set up). We started our investigation around 7:00 p.m. with a walking tour of the park that was given by Mr. White. We started our set up around 9:00 p.m. then proceeded to our investigation soon after. We finished our investigation around 6:30 a.m. the following morning. Each team worked on a rotation changing their location about every 3 hours. This was a great experience and very helpful in our constant training.
EQUIPMENT USED AT THIS INVESTIGATION:
•· (9) DVR's (Digital Voice Recorders)
•· (2) Microcassette Recorders
•· (4) Zero Lux low lever IR (infra-red) cameras
•· (2) Kodak digital cameras
•· (1) Nikon camera
•· (1) Fuji digital camera
•· (1) Canon digital camera
•· (2) Samsung digital cameras
•· (1) Motion diction IR (infra-red) Field video/camera
•· (2) K2 Meters
•· (1) EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) Meter
•· (2) Laser Thermometers
We placed (1) DVR (Digital Voice Recorder) in each of the areas of the park with reports or claims of paranormal activity, including the ticket booth, abandoned mobile home (aka Hot Dog Stand) by the lake, ferris wheel, chain link swing set and the upper end of the property away from the park. The (2) IR camera's were placed at the upper end of the property to cover the entire field, (2) Microcassette Recorders were carried by two different teams. Also, each team carried along with them during their investigations one of the following: K2 Meters, EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) Meter or Laser Thermometers.
Reports & Claims:
There have been many tragic claims at this location that have allegedly ended in death. The tragic killings of the Clay Family members history shows actually happened. Also claims that a swing that was once near the ticket booth, that is no longer there, a truck making deliveries to the park accidentally backed up into the path of the swing, and a young girl was killed when she allegedly was struck by the delivery truck , a boy drowning in a swimming pool that was on the property many years ago, some Chicago men being killed and buried on the property, people being attacked by unseen and seen spirits and demons. Unexplained disembodied voices, orbs, dancing lights, shadows and apparitions which could be the un-resting spirits of the Clay Family or possible the Natives that once lived on the property. There have been many paranormal investigations conducted on this property throughout the years with people coming from around the world and even big TV Networks and it was also featured on ABC's Top 10 Scariest Places TV Show hosted by Linda Blair. With a great percentage that have come away from the investigations with their conclusion that this property is haunted. The ferris wheel that is on the property was bought and placed on the property in the 50's and from our research no one has died or been killed on this ride. The swings that are near the ferris wheel have reports of a certain swing moving on its own for no reason and most people have the misconception that this is the swing in which the girl was killed. That assumption is incorrect. The swing that the girl allegedly was accidently killed on is no longer on the property. Also on the property is an old run down mobile home that Mr. White said was the hot dog stand. At the time of our investigation the area was badly flooded which made it very difficult to cover the entire park area of the property. The park is now an area for local catfish tournaments that are held on the site weekly. At the time of our investigation it cost us $100.00 to conduct this investigation and was told that the following month the price was going up to $400.00 per investigation.
Our Historian Dave Horn worked many long weeks and hours to find all the history of the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park and these are his findings.
Lake Shawnee: Historical Findings
Black Diamond Paranormal Society
Black Diamond Paranormal Society (aka BDPS) was given the opportunity to investigate the property in Princeton, WV locally known as ‘The Lake Shawnee Amusement Park.' BDPS was tasked with recording any potential evidence that was considered ‘Paranormal.' In addition to the paranormal investigation, BDPS conducts a formal, historical investigation in hopes of understanding possible causes to current day phenomenon. Contained herein are the findings of the historical investigation.
The property has a rich recorded history. Beginning in the late 1700's documentation begins with the locally known story of the ‘Clay Family Massacre.' As I have found very little to add to the already researched and well documented account of the Massacre occurring on the park's premises, I offer the attached excerpts taken from The Wyoming County Report titled: "Massacre of Clay Children Remains an Infamous Episode." (See attachment A)
The next part of the folklore and legend that surrounds the park is the alleged haunting of a girl, boy and/or children that died due to a mechanical swing malfunction. This is a completely unverifiable story. I have spent days in the library researching old newspaper articles via micro phish and have yet to find any evidence that would give credence to any deaths at the amusement park itself.
I personally verified with the Mercer County Police Department on August 4, 2010 that there are no recorded cases of children dying or being injured due to any sort of ride related incident. I also interviewed multiple employees of the County Clerk's office regarding this urban legend. None that I interviewed could recall any stories of that nature ever being spread. None could recall anything regarding a ride malfunction. Two recalled a story of a child drowning in the pool in the 50's, but both added that it may have just been a story. I am inclined to use these testimonies as fact due to those being interviewed, (a) being people between the ages of 60 and 75 thus being the appropriate age to have attended the park during the 50's as children/young adults and (b) having lived locally their entire lives. Therefore, giving said testimonies ‘first-hand account' credibility. It is my final conclusion that the alleged ‘death by swing' story is nothing more than a myth, being created in the proximity of the past 20 years.
In researching the previous deeds of the property, I found very little of interest with the exception of the following. In a deed recorded in Book No. 9 page 496 dated June 1859, the contents of the deed deviated from the regularly formatted legal jargon from previous deeds. The following is the additional wording of the contract:
(see next page)
["An elderly woman that is currently residing in a cabin upon the aforementioned grounds shall remain on these grounds and continue to have free use of the dwelling until she meets the end of her natural life. At which time the current owners of the property shall provide a proper and decent Christian burial for her, where she shall remain forever."]
Simply stated, a woman has been buried on the property on a long forgotten gravesite. Somewhere within the confines of the Amusement Park's property is presumably a grave. As far as I can conclude, there was no paper trail for the woman's name, birth or death year. Unless I can find a name, I am afraid it would be near impossible to find the identity of the woman that is buried there.
My final angle was to cover the excavation that was done in the late 1980's. I finally made some headway with confirming that the Amusement Park did have an archeological dig. The dig site is known as ‘Snidow -46MC01.' I put a call into Marshall University's Sociology and Anthropology Department where I did confirm with Dr. Nicholas Freidin (Marshall's Lead Archeologist) that the dig sight known as ‘Snidow -46MC01' did, in fact contain human remains, pottery, fire pits, foundations to buildings and an unprecedented wealth of artifacts from the 14th century. He also indicated that there was an additional find of pre-history artifacts that have been documented.
I also spoke to Lora Lamarre - Senior Archeologist with West Virginia State Preservation Office regarding the Snidow Dig. Lora also confirmed that the dig was reported and recorded as ‘it contained a wealth of artifacts which included an entire village.' This dig was literally unprecedented in the amount of in-tact artifacts and information that could be obtained from it regarding the Shawnee Indian Tribe.
It is very unfortunate that due to personal reasons, Mr. White refuses any further examination of the property from a historical and archeological approach. Instead of preserving this rich jewel to history, it has been flooded and turned into a catfish pond.
My final conclusion is this; the land in which the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is situated has such a long and rich history, that the property should be legislatively mandated to be protected and available for current and future research by historians, anthropology and archeological teams.
The urban legend of the child dying from a traumatic swing incident is false. This is a hoax ghost story that was created within the past few years. The fact that Mr. White is utilizing an old urban legend for monetary gain on sacred Shawnee ground, and knowingly utilizes this Indian Territory for profit and gain is a disappointment to the county, state, our country and the tribal nations. Unfortunately the West Virginia law does not encompass ‘what is right.' It only details what a property owner's rights are. Currently, the legislation regarding what archeological and historically important properties to be used as the current owner sees fit. So regardless of what treasures may lay on a man's land...it's up to the landowner whether or not to allow said treasure to be preserved. The possibility of any haunting and/or paranormal activity is best explained with the next report from Rodney.
Massacre of Clay children remains an infamous episode
By Paul Ray Blankenship for The Wyoming County Report
One of the better-known and
better-documented episodes between the Indian and the white man occurred in August of 1783 at Clover Bottom (now Shawnee Lake, located between Princeton and Matoaka), in present Mercer County. This
was the killing by a band of Shawnee Indians of Bartley and Tabitha Clay, children of Mitchell and Phoebe Belcher Clay, and the capture and ultimate execution of their son Ezekial.
As related by historian Rev. Shirley Donnelly in this article, "The Massacre of Clay Children," Beckley Post-Herald, September 5, 1979, the incident unfolded as follows:
"In the month of August, Mitchell Clay had harvested his crop of small grain, and wanting to get the benefit of the pasture for his cattle, ... he asked two of his sons, Bartley and Ezekial, to build a fence around the stacks of grain...
"While Mitchell Clay was out hunting, the two sons were building fence pens around the grain stacks. The older daughter, with some of the younger girls, was down on the river bank putting out the family washing. While this was in progress, a marauding body of eleven Indians crept up to the edge of the field and shot young Bartley Clay dead.
"When the girls ... heard the shot that killed their brother, they lit out for the house for safety. Their path to the house was directly by where Bartley had fallen. An Indian attempted to scalp the youth and at the same time capture the older girl, Tabitha Clay. She was trying to defend the body of her brother...
"In the struggle the girl reached for the knife which hung on the Indian's belt. Missing the knife, the Indian literally cut her to pieces before killing her...
"Ezekial Clay, about 16, was captured by another Indian...
"About the time of the Indian attack, a man named Lincoln Blankenship called at the Clay cabin. When Mrs. Clay saw her daughter Tabitha in her death struggle... she begged Blankenship to go and shoot the savage and save her daughter's life. But Blankenship ran away from the scene and reported to settlers on New River that the Clay family had been murdered by the Indians.
"When the savages got the scalps of Bartley and Tabitha Clay, they left the area with Ezekial Clay as their prisoner. Mrs. Clay took the bodies of Bartley and Tabitha to the house and laid them on the bed. She then took her small children and made her way through the woods to the home of James Bailey, six miles distance.
"Meanwhile Mitchell Clay... retraced his steps homeward and discovered the scene of horror... Thinking all his family had been killed or captured; Mitchell Clay left his cabin and headed for the settlements on New River.
"A party of men under the leadership of Captain Matthew Farley went to the Clay cabin and buried the two Clay children. They then pursued the Indian party. They caught up with the Indians in present day Boone County. Several of the Indians were killed.
"Charles Clay, brother of the two murdered Clay children, killed one of the Indians... Ezekial Clay, the captive lad, was hurried away by the Indians who escaped the Captain Matthew Farley party and was taken to their towns in Ohio. There he was burned at the stake, the third of Mitchell Clay's family to meet an untimely death at the hands of savages."
This episode has significant connection to the history of Oceana and Wyoming County since Mary Clay (1772-184?), daughter of Mitchell and Phoebe Clay, sister of Bartley, Tabitha, and Ezekial Clay, and wife of Capt. Ralph Stewart, lived most of her life in Wyoming County and lies buried at Crany, a short distance from Oceana. Mary Clay, eleven years old at the time, was no doubt a witness to the Indian attack at Lake Shawnee. Mary Stewart's brother, Henry J. Clay (1782-1866), who lies buried in the Stewart Cemetery at Matheny, was a mere babe-in-arms when the attack on the Clay family occurred.
Correspondence may be sent to:
Sociology and Anthropology
One John Marshall Drive
Huntington, WV 25755-2678
Telephone (304) 696-6700
Fax (304) 696-2803
UVA Anthropology Dept.
PO Box 400120
Charlottesville, VA 22904
UNC Anthropology Dept.
301 Alumni Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Virginia Tech Anthropology Dept
*Department of History*
431 Major Williams Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
At Virginia Tech , this dept falls under Sociology (Africana, American Indian, & Women/Gender Studies)
Dept of Sociology
560 McBryde Hall (0137)
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Mike Brown, Clayton Trout & Dr. Shari Stacy
"Lake Shawnee Amusement Park June 18. 2010
Mike, Clayton, Shari
Mike, Shari, and Clayton in field where tent is set up - about 75 yards from tent on the road in the direction of the house trailers:
•· No outstanding audio or images.
•· Personal Experiences: At one point Mike asks "Will you make a noise?" Both Shari and Mike heard a noise, which is noted at about 8:01 on audio 1-A-001 and noted on EVP log sheet given to Rodney Shortridge. Clayton did not hear the noise and the noise is not audible on the audio.
•· At about 9:30 on the audio all three investigators - Mike, Clayton, and Shari all state that they hear a growl. Clayton and Mike question if it is traffic noise, but because of the location the growl seems to come from, they determine it is not coming from highway, but the field area of the property. The ‘growl' is not audible on the recording.
•· Investigators hear murmuring coming from the direction of the tree line toward the trailers. The murmuring is not audible on recordings.
At tractor 11:10pm:
•· Beginning at 1:46 into audio we began to get strong hits on the K2 meters. One K2 meter was positioned at the front of the tractor and the other K2 was positioned on the tractor seat. Both K2's received strong hits at different times in response to questions, which are audible on the recording. No EVP's were recorded on Shari's Sony recorder.
•· At 5:25 Shari asked "If you want to play", which initiates the strongest hit from the K2 meter positioned at the front of the tractor.
•· One good hit on Mike's K2
•· Camera battery drain on both Clayton's and Mike's camera. Both cameras had a full battery. Clayton's camera shut completely off several times. Battery level fluctuated on both cameras showing empty bars and then bars would show camera half charged.
•· Witnessed swing moving on its own.
•· "I was teamed with Matt O'Quin for this investigation. We were walking towards the pavilion area, just asked questions at random. From across the lake, over by swings and ferris wheel we heard what sounded like a female vice. At first we thought it may have been Amy Flick, who was also at amusement park area. It turned out she was only just a short distance away from us at the lake when it happened. No other team members were there at the time. Not able to explain.
•· The most memorable experience was around the ticket booth area of amusement. In front of the booth I began to smell ‘buttered popcorn'. It would come and go and in different spots. Also, got the smell at the big tree just across from the booth. Right in front of booth was the strongest smell for me.
•· I tried the swing test as the owner suggested. I held my hand about an inch over the swing that was indicated during the tour. The swing moved slightly. The chains seemed to ‘twist' at that time. Matt confirmed this, he also saw it happen. No other swings moved and no breeze was blowing. No contact with the swing itself with my hand or body. Not explained.
No experiences at Indian Village site.
Heather Lamantia 6-19-10"
Photo evidence: There are photos with unexplained orbs, unexplained lights and unexplained mist.
Video evidence: Of a K-2 hit by one of the teams located at the swing set.
Note: BDPS does not support the idea of orbs as evidence of the paranormal because most orbs can be explained away as dust, bugs, rain, mist, fog, etc. There are cases that the orbs we photograph seem to move with some type of intelligent intent. We post these photos because we feel that there needs to be more investigation into the Orb Phenomenon and we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss this phenomenon without further investigation and explanation. So we show these photos in an attempt to add another piece to the puzzle and leave this decision up to you to accept or dismiss orbs as evidence. It is also my opinion to show all evidence so we all can learn from what might be an area of the paranormal that may be getting over looked by researchers.
EVP's (Electronic Voice Phenomenon)
We heard the following EVP's (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and unexplained noises on our DVR's (Digital Voice Recorders) & Microcassette Recorder:
•· Unexplained Click
•· Unexplained voice "Jeffery"
•· Unexplained male voice "What"
•· Unexplained 2 Knocks
•· Unexplained (Girls laugh)
•· Unexplained footsteps
•· Unexplained Loud click
•· Unexplained Knock & footsteps
•· Unexplained male voice "Come up"
Mobile Home (Hot dog stand):
•· Unexplained breath
•· Unexplained voice "Hey"
We have come to the conclusion that the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park has very low paranormal activity in the forms of EVP's, interesting photographic orbs, unexplained lights, mist, audio evidence and personal experiences that helped us to determine our conclusion.
With our conclusion, we would especially like to note that Lake Shawnee is located in a geographically unique area. The grounds are surrounded by mountains in this particular location, thus forming a bowl shape (as you can see by the map below). In this type of setting, it is typical for the bowl-shaped geography to act as an "amphitheater." This amphitheater-effect can distort the acoustics within the bowl itself. This can and does cause voices, traffic and typical everyday noises to be amplified. This, in turn, could explain some claims of disembodied voices.
Also surrounding the park are two major highways, Routes 10 and 19. As we witnessed on our investigation, these Routes are heavily traveled at night, also explaining some of the ‘unexplained lights' from previous claims. There is also a tree line and a creek that surrounds another large portion of the site, which separates the property and an adjacent mobile home park. With the combination of the amplified acoustics, the close proximity of the trailer-park and the constant highway noise, we conclude that most of the ‘unexplained phenomena' surrounding this area can now more logically be explained.
As you can see by the map below, any traffic, voices, sounds and lights could potentially be bouncing back from the surrounding mountains and the tree line that surrounds the park. We look forward to one day coming back to investigate the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park with more advanced equipment. This was our twenty-second investigation and it was a great success. I feel honored to have had the success we've had and to be working alongside such a professional team.
Native American Village Sites
Amusement Park Location
Mobile Home Park
Tree Line / Creek
Personal thoughts by Rodney Shortridge Founder of Black Diamond Paranormal Society (BDPS) on Lake Shawnee Amusement Park
It is my opinion there needs to be a change immediately in the laws and legislation passed in the state of West Virginia to allow researchers, archeologists and other individuals or groups with the knowledge and know how to be allowed entry to any property to conduct archeological digs, excavations of any Native American artifacts. I was extremely upset when I found out the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park property has significant historical artifacts of Native Americans and is a Native American burial ground and there are no laws in place protecting these things in the state of West Virginia. I would like to see any property that has any type of significant amounts of Native American artifacts or burial grounds to be researched fully and to be protected by Tribal Nations. I would also like that any excavations that are done to fully restore the property as it was found and place the artifacts in museums or however the Tribal Nations see fit. I understand that as a property owner you want to protect your land and use it as you would like but with extraordinary circumstances in cases such as this with a great amount of Native American history an exception needs to be made. This would be a perfect opportunity for a property owner to have potential income from a museum depicting the artifacts found on their property. I've seen many museums in other parts of the United States that have great income potential for state and local municipalities. It saddens me greatly that Native American artifacts that have been covered in water for a fishing pond. I have Native American ancestry as many Americans do and I have a strong belief in preserving this part of our past and taking measures to do so. Our research has shown that the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park area has the potential to be one of the greatest archeological finds on the East coast as the previous limited research has shown. I would like this information to be shared with the remaining living tribal members who share in the ancestry and the state of West Virginia and the world. I feel that this property has an amazing story to tell other than the urban legends and other false tales that have been told about the area. While we conducted our paranormal investigation and knowing some history of the area there was a sense of a lost history there and its story needs to be told. While we conducted our paranormal investigation many of us felt we needed permission from the living members of the tribes and we were only granted permission to be there by the property owner and paid him $100.00 to do so. By profiting off of ghost seeking individuals I believe has desecrated this historical site. I feel this is a holy site that needs to be respected and honored as such. I will be sending a copy of this report to the Tribal Nations in Washington DC for their input and also information about this site and to West Virginia congressmen, and all media outlets. This story needs to be heard by those who can make a difference.
I look forward to our next investigation. If anyone would like for us to do a paranormal investigation of their home, business, church, property or a family cemetery please contact us. If you would just like to speak with us about any paranormal activity you may be having we would love to hear from you. No problem is too small. We would be honored to help and we do not charge for our services. Contact BDPS to set up a time and place for us to discuss your paranormal questions and or problems.
I feel honored to be working with such a great team. Without the team's hard work and professionalism BDPS would not be what it has become today.
*Check out our Website:
I would like to thank all of the BDPS members for all their hard work. To all of our clients, a special ‘thank you' for giving us the opportunity to be able to come in and help to the best of our abilities. I know with the team that I have formed we will have exciting investigations in the future. I would like to let everyone know that our members have become more to me than just investigators, they have become my family. Without them BDPS would not be possible. Just like a family we sometimes agree and sometimes we don't agree but each and every member of BDPS is very special to me. Thanks guys, you all are the best!!!
I hope everyone enjoys the photos and the analysis sheet along with the new video we are providing. Also we will have our EVP's, photos and any video evidence on the website for everyone to view and listen to. You can judge for yourself. If anyone has any questions or comments we would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think.
Black Diamond Paranormal Society