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Colleges in West Virginia Aren't as Spooky as You Might Think.
- Daniel A. Reed

When the term "school spirit" is mentioned, most people immediately think of students or graduates who express pride and enthusiasm for their school or alma mater.  However, for those who delve into the realm of folklore and urban legends, the concept of "school spirit" can take on an entirely different connotation.  Departing from the conventional definition, the term “school spirit” might evoke stories that are filled with ghostly apparitions and ethereal encounters that have been woven into the tapestries of campus lore for numerous educational institutions. 


            Public acknowledgment of campus ghost stories can vary from institution to institution. 

At some schools, stories of apparitions may only be whispered about during late-night dormitory gatherings, while other schools may go so far as to run feature pieces about their campus ghost(s) in school newspapers.  Of course, there are some schools that just don’t have ghost stories associated with them at all. 


            So, what's the scoop on paranormal activity on campuses in West Virginia?  With the rich folklore associated with ghosts, "haints," and other supernatural and cryptozoological entities in our state, one might expect a plethora of ghost stories to permeate our campuses.  Surprisingly, the reality is quite different!  The number of campuses with documented ghost stories is probably fewer than you'd imagine.  To satisfy your curiosity, here is a chart featuring West Virginia’s post-secondary schools along with whether they have a documented ghost story as well as the corresponding story references.


*Source – Wikipedia


Out of West Virginia's 43 post-secondary institutions, only 12 (27.91%) have documented ghost stories.  As it turns out, if you are looking to attend a school in West Virginia with a campus ghost (as some people might), your choices are going to be somewhat limited!  What’s more, while one might assume that older campuses tend to have ghost stories, and younger schools do not, the data say that this is not always the case. Surprisingly, there is only a weak to moderate positive correlation (0.419) between the age of a school and of it having a documented story of a campus ghost.  Apparently, just because a school has been around long enough to have ivy growing on its walls does not necessarily mean that it will have stories of ghosts floating through its halls!


            One thing should be made clear; documented ghost stories are not the same thing as documented ghosts.  While numerous anecdotes, personal testimonies, and urban legends recount ghostly encounters, scientific investigations into the paranormal have not been able to substantiate that ghosts exist at all.  Just because there are reports of ghosts, it does not mean that ghosts actually exist.  This is not to say that people who have reported sightings didn’t see something.  There are many reasons as to why someone might truly think/believe that they saw a ghost.  We must remember though, that something being unexplained is quite different than something being wholly unexplainable.  The question we must ask ourselves in cases of a reported ghost sighting is this:  Which is more probable?  Is it more likely that people have seen the spirit of a long-deceased individual, who somehow manifested and was seen in our physical plane from another dimension, or perhaps from another point in time?  Or is it more likely that people mistakenly identified something quite normal and natural as a ghost, and because of various stories about hauntings in the area, were psychologically primed to conclude that they saw a spirit?  In most cases, it is the simplest explanation that is usually correct.


The main limitation of this research lies in the sources used—internet archives and books from my personal library.  Contacting institutions without referenced stories could yield more detailed information on yet to be documented campus ghost lore in our state.  Expanding the search beyond the mentioned sources may uncover hidden tales waiting to be discovered.  If, by chance, readers have documented ghost stories from the campuses of West Virginia schools that have not been included in this article, please feel free to contact me with the information.  Any contributions would be greatly appreciated.


If you are a college student (or anyone else, for that matter!) who is intrigued by the mysteries of the paranormal and seeks a community that explores them through the lens of critical thinking and skepticism, we ask that you think about joining the West Virginia Skeptics Society.  To learn more about us, visit our website at or connect with us through our Facebook community.  We look forward to meeting you!


Ghost Story References:








4.      The Big Book of West Virginia Ghost Stories; 81-83








8.      The Big Book of West Virginia Ghost Stories; 34-38











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