guest blog: the dark side of louisville

charles suddeth

Charles Suddeth was born in Indiana, living on a farm right on the Ohio River as a baby. He grew up in Michigan and has spent his adult life in Kentucky. He is widowed and lives in Louisville with his two cats. He is a graduate of Michigan State University. He belongs to the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), International Thriller Writers, Green River Writers, and the Kentucky State Poetry Society. He spends most days hiking and writing in Tom Sawyer State Park, within walking distance of his house. He often spends weekends at writer’s retreats or workshops. He started writing in the sixth grade and has never stopped. He has published numerous poems and short stories. His books: Halloween Kentucky Style, middle readers, Diversion Press, paperback, 2010. Neanderthal Protocol, adult thriller, Musa Publishing, e-book, 2012. 4RV Publishing will release three books: Picture book, Spearfinger, 2013. Young adult thriller, Experiment 38, 2013. Picture book, Raven Mocker, 2014.

The Dark Side of Louisville

Charles Suddeth

 My thriller, Neanderthal Protocol, takes place in and around Louisville, Kentucky. All these locations don’t figure in my novel, but they lurked in my mind while I wrote the manuscript.

Ghosts: Waverly Hills Sanatorium, reputed to be one of the most haunted places in the country, is a TB hospital that closed in 1962 after thousands of people died. It has been featured in several TV programs and movies. The most famous attraction is the Tunnel of Death, where bodies were whisked away at night. Do you have the courage to tour it? Not everyone does.

More Ghosts: Tom Sawyer State Park was built on the grounds of an 1870’s mental hospital, often called Lakeland Asylum. Once housing 3,000 inmates, the building is gone, but two unmarked potter’s fields hold possibly hundreds of bodies. Nearby, a bricked-in cave was used as a morgue. Ghost tours are available in October.

Things Best Left Unspoken: At the height of the Slave Trade, Louisville contained as many as 44 slave traders and four large slave pens. The term, Down the river, originated in Louisville, because slaves were sold, dragged to the Louisville wharfs, and steamboated downriver to cotton plantations in the Deep South. Thankfully, nothing remains but historic markers.

Murder: On Bloody Monday, August 6th 1855, members of the Whig Party and the Know-Nothing Party rioted against immigrants, mainly German and Irish Catholics. At least 22 people were killed in downtown Louisville and a nearby neighborhood, Phoenix Hill. Many of the churches where people sought refuge are still standing.

More Murder: The Pope Lick Monster (the Pope family were early settlers) is a half-man, half goat rumored to dwell under the lofty railroad bridge spanning Pope Lick Creek. It hypnotizes its victims, luring them onto the narrow train trestle until they are run over by trains. Despite No Trespassing signs, several people have been killed. By the monster?

Boom! The Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, located directly across the river from Louisville, covered about 15 square miles. It made gunpowder and rocket propellant from World War 2 through Vietnam. Rumors floated through Louisville about people and Jeeps blowing up. Part of it is now Charlestown State Park, but tall fences circle the remainder. Signs announce, No Trespassing.  Even without signs, I wouldn’t set foot on those grounds.

Gone but Not Forgotten: The United States Bullion Depository, AKA the Fort Knox Gold, holds the government’s gold. No one has been allowed inside since the 1970’s, because they don’t give tours, even to members of Congress. Rumors persist that the gold has vanished, but no one’s talking. Is the Federal Government broke?

Now you know the Dark Side of Louisville. If you’re afraid to visit Louisville, lots of great writers live here so you can visit the city via books.