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“Dark Carnival” at Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

Roku today when one story really caught my eye. It was about the abandoned, and rumored to be haunted, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in Rock, West Virginia. (I’ve embedded it below.)

If you watch shows like Discovery Channel’s “GhostLab,” Travel Channel’s “The Most Terrifying Places in America,” and ABC Family’s “The Ten Most Curious Places in the World” you might be familiar with it. The Lake Shawnee Amusement Park has been featured on all of them.

According to a post on the Visit Southern West Virginia Vacation Blog, the amusement park sits on land once settled by Native Americans.

An archaeological dig uncovered 13 bodies… mostly of children.


The first European settler on the land, Mitchell Clay, lost all three of his children when Native Americans killed them while he was away. He came home to find one son scalped, his daughter’s body next to him. He found his youngest son burned at a stake by the tribe. The Clay Memorial Park pays tribute to them.

Centuries later the amusement park was erected nearby. According to the current property’s owner, six people lost their lives on the rides during the park’s lifetime.

One particularly tragic ride tragedy recounted in the blog was of a little girl riding the circling swing set. As she was going around, she collided with a delivery truck that was backing up and died.

A boy also drowned in the pond.


Which leads to the paranormal activity often described at the park.

The swings are among the hot spots. It’s reported that even when the air is still with no breeze present, they move. In addition, visitors have claimed to see the little girl clad in her pink-ruffled dress who died on the swings.

Other apparitions have been reported at the hot dog stand and on the Ferris wheel.

Chanting is also often reported, which some attribute to the Native Americans who once lived on the land.


The Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is normally closed to visitors. However, Dark Carnival is open on Friday and Saturday nights in October. (What a fantastic venue for a Halloween haunted attraction, eh?)

The current owners, the Whites, acknowledge there’s something going on at the abandoned amusement park. They get inundated with hundreds of requests from people asking to check it out.

They decided to offer “Dark Carnival” as a way to let the masses enjoy the park. It’s a 30 minute tour that details the history of the park –haunted included.

As one tour-goer put it in a Charleston Daily Mail article about the park,”it was both scary and educational.

For more information about Dark Carnival and the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, check out their Facebook page.


See the discussion in our Forum “Is the land in Rock, WV cursed?” which ponders the following quote from the Visit Southern West Virginia Vacation Blog about the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park:

Strange that an amusement park would eventually lay on the grounds that seem, historically, to be particularly inhospitable to children.


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Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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