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Dest. Strange Destination Strange

Destination Strange Destination Strange

Your guide to all places other‑worldly, haunted, and just plain weird.

The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park

The Lake Shawnee Amusement park isn't just an abandoned amusement park... according to the owners of the once favorite family destination, it's actually the home of a Native American burial ground with a dark curse.

The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park

The Shawnee Amusement park is a favorite stop for paranormal investigators and enthusiasts due to the amount of spooky eye-witness accounts the location has racked up. There are two documented deaths that occurred on the property while it was still an amusement park, but according to Visit West Virginia, the true number might be upwards of six deaths.


One of the infamously tragic deaths happened in the 1950s when a young girl was struck and killed by a delivery truck while swinging on the giant swings. According to ghost hunters, she's still spotted at night still hanging around this ill-fated swing set, her white dress doused in blood.

The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park

The story of the alleged curse centers around the Clay family, a group of settlers who tried to claim the land in 1783. This, obviously, angered the Native Americans who called the Mercer County area their home, and the youngest of the Clay family, Bartley, was attacked, scalped, and killed while his father hunted. His sister, Tabitha Clay, was also stabbed and died from her wounds. But the worst thing to occur happened to the oldest son.

Ezekial, the oldest of the Clays, was taken and burned alive at the stake. When he returned home to find his children dead, Mitchell Clay exacted revenge for his family by killing several members of the local tribes. Ever since the incredible bloodshed, the land has been considered cursed.


Despite the curse, in 1920 Conley T. Snidow bought the land and it became the Shawnee Lake Amusement Park. Clearly, things didn't work out.

The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park

Abandoned since 1966, the park is rumored to be inhabited by the people who lost their lives on the property, including those buried in a massive Native American grave complete with several artifacts. Thirteen bodies were discovered on the property, though archaeologists believe the number could be upwards of 3,000.


The current owner, Gaylord White II, says even he's experienced strange unexplainable sights, feelings, and especially sounds. In 2005 while filming the popular ABC show Scariest Places on Earth, the entire crew, including one psychic, refused to set foot on the grounds at night, saying that the "spiritual energy [was] too strong," and claiming to have heard drums and chanting.

The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park

Since then the site has become a popular place for paranormal television shows to visit, and many ghost hunting teams have braved the night to investigate the claims of spooks, including the Virginia Paranormal Investigations (VIPA) who were kind enough to share their images to with us for this post.

If you're interested in visiting the Shawenee Lake Amusement Park, make sure to contact the current owner for permission, and whatever you do, don't forget the flashlights.

Photos courtesy of Virginia Paranormal Investigations


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From Around the Web

Rmit6502 Rmit6502
For more up to date information on Lake Shawnee please visit our Facebook page at www.LakeShawneeEvents.com or call 304-921-1580
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
lu.vest2 lu.vest2
I live close to a old amusement park all the equipment is gone but when it's still at night I hear the roller coaster and screams of joy. There were several deaths there but no creepy things happen here.
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
michelle.sandillo michelle.sandillo
Wow sounds creepy lol alil but I would like to visit
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
brenda.gormley.7 brenda.gormley.7
When staying with my grandparents we visited this park many times. We were there when 2 swings broke and flew across the road .....it was a park with lots of wonderful family funned memories....
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
Renee Renee
I would love to go! !!!!! Please let me know the correct #'s & cost ... Thanks! !!!
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
jlyncree jlyncree
The white man were scalping indians first. And from what my elders have told me was that the native american people put a curse on the white man. Thats why they go bald on the top of the head like they are being scalped.
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
dranerz dranerz
Indians were scalped by other people before they started scalping back....thank you.
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
ginny.close.7 ginny.close.7
Eastern native american tribes started scalping and fire torture in the mid 1500s.
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
angel.hall.7505 angel.hall.7505
So I'm guessing the Clay family had more children if the they were great grandparents.
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
johnpatrick.ballengee johnpatrick.ballengee
My 7x great grandparents are Mitchell and Pheobe Clay, the former owners and 1st white settlers in Mercer County. It is their children who were killed on the land.
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
roger.sullivan.718 roger.sullivan.718
I don't know anything about this place, however felicia.d.brown.90, I beleive you saw some images, but as far as the Indians on horses don't know about that, the Indians in this part of the country did not have horses, living in the mountains as they did horses were just not any use to them a man or Indian on foot can go places a horse can not, even Daniel Boon went on foot...the settlers in 1700 didn't have many horses...drum beating and chants OK but Indians on horse gost...and also the Indians did not know anything about burning people and scalping all of that stuff was taught to them by the French...
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
maria5232 maria5232
I would love to visit what do I need to do
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
bellafotos4u bellafotos4u
anyone know how much the tours are? They are opening the week of Oct. 25-31st this year... fun fun.
about 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
kelie.smith kelie.smith
Grew up near there & went there several times....completely spooky!!!!
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
cassandra.wiggins.31 cassandra.wiggins.31
I stayed all night there last summer and nothing strange occurred.
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
felicia.d.brown.90 felicia.d.brown.90
i grew up in Lake Shawnee and a lot of weird things happened all up and down rt. 10 and rt. 19 within 2 miles of the lake. if u haven't lived it don't knock it. u can hear drums and chants at certain times of the yr. u can see images of Indians on horseback. so unless u lived within that area don't knock it, cause i lived it!!!!!!!!!!!!
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
marsha.howell.56 marsha.howell.56
Have been there got a really creepy feeling in certain areas took pictures got some awesome images. They went in after Gaylord White 1 bought it and dug up the burial ground anyone knows its not good to disturbthe dead. I come from a family with strong Indian relations. My Grandad went down there during the digging and told them it was wrong. After this is when everything started. Just Saying
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
tabitha.martin.18062 tabitha.martin.18062
This sounds like so much fun!!!
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
mahalagibs mahalagibs
Any one that wants to go let me nkow
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
joanie.white.3 joanie.white.3
OH HELL NO!
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
VampireRed VampireRed
angelmp - Not sure where you get your information from, but the Native Americans most certainly used fire in many different ways as torture. So why wouldn't they know how to burn someone at the stake? The Eastern tribes definitely did it. And I think you'll find the plains tribes did their share as well.
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
angelmp angelmp
ok so everything was believable up until you said native americans burned his oldest son at the stake!? a native wouldnt do that back then. they knew nothing about burning people at the stake, but white people did....
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
GlamorousNothing GlamorousNothing
You make me wanna take a road trip lol for real.
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
Sandi67 Sandi67
I've lived in the area for 27 yrs and been their many times at night and never seen or heard nothing... the people that claim they have are only seeking publicity.
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
brandon.danieley brandon.danieley
I grew up right down the road from here on brickyard red Princeton wv and have heard plenty of stories
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
flora.woods flora.woods
I would love to go there!
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
angela.w.emmerson angela.w.emmerson
Gaylord (the prior owner) passed away a month or so ago but he was amazing at story telling Interstesting he named one of his children Tabitha ... I photographed some amazing things there!!!
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
donna.y.tack donna.y.tack
If I li ex closer, me and my siter and a few friends would investigate the park, very interesting story! Maybe one day xx
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
pamela.mills.946 pamela.mills.946
They had fishing in the pond in the 90's. I lived in the area for 18 years, never heard any story about it.
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
dianarojas22 dianarojas22
That's crazy. Great article.
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
JimmyBoy5150 JimmyBoy5150
Good read! Cool pics! Two thumbs up!
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
LizannWarner LizannWarner
Wow! Ironically, it appears that Gaylord White II past away only a few days ago!!! http://www.bailey-kirk.com/obituaries/Gaylord-White/#!/Obituary ..He was only 52 years old! Was this also a result of the curse???
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
Ken Ken
I'm pretty sure I saw this one on Scariest Places on Earth! Isn't it where there's an old tractor sitting somewhere that died when some paranormal event happened? I remember something about a ghostly little girl there... When you're afraid of heights like I am, all amusement parks are scary...
over 3 years ago The terrifying story of Lake Shawnee, the cursed amusement park
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