HUNTINGTON — The fear is nearly here. A truly creepy floating seasonal haunted attraction called The Haunted Majestic will begin its first ever haunt tours starting Thursday night, Oct. 17.
The Haunted Majestic is a floating seasonal haunted attraction at 6100 Kyle Lane on the Ohio River at Majestic Landing near Huntington, next door to the Robert Newlon Airport.
The attraction is composed of a common two-story structure that covers two inland river barges that are permanently moored side by side.
According to the attraction’s owner Dana Toms, the vessel has a haunted history that dates back more than a century.
“The barges began service as separate sand dredge barges built in 1912 by the Majestic Steamship Line during the great canalization of the Ohio River,” Toms explained. “As a result of the River and Harbor Act of 1910, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was required to maintain the Ohio River channel deep enough to allow for cargo transport. During the next 16 years the barges were used to haul sand and mud which was dredged from the river bottom. It was during this service that the barges reportedly picked up more than just sand, possibly the remains of a massive Native American burial ground that contained hundreds of graves which had been hidden from view by the Ohio River’s water.”
Toms says bad fortune hampered the barges throughout their service as many employees of the steamship line reported seeing ghosts and hearing chants as the barges were moored during nighttime hours.
“This dredging effort was completed in 1928, and the barges were used sparingly until the onset of World War II,” he said. “The barges were considered haunted by the Majestic Steamship Line’s captains and were only used as last resorts when needed.”
The barges, originally named Davy Crockett and Mark Twain when constructed, were renamed at the onset of World War II when they were leased by the U.S. Navy to transport and treat injured soldiers during land invasions. The barges were moored side by side, and a common two-story hospital structure was built atop both barges.
Toms says they were renamed the Douglas Lee (1924-2009) and the Eugene Morris (1919-78), after active military veterans serving in World War II. Both men were from West Virginia, the home base of the Majestic Steamship Line that owned the barges.
“During the war effort, the floating structure was towed to the English Channel between England and France, where it served as a military hospital ship serving Allied soldiers injured during the European Campaign,” he said. “It is reported that more than 300 service men died on the vessel during its three-year war service, many of whom paranormal investigators believe may not have fully left the vessel after their deaths.”
Following the war effort, the barges remained a single unit and were stored in a naval shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia. The barges also saw action as a hospital complex during the Korean and Vietnam wars as well, being towed abroad during both conflicts to serve the U.S. Armed Forces.
Toms said the vessel earned the nickname “the ship of death” due to the astonishingly high number of soldiers who perished on board during the span of three foreign wars. He said the reported hauntings grew more common as time passed, and the barges were returned to the Majestic Steamship Line in 1978.
The company had since changed hands many times, according to Toms, and had ceased business as a steamship line many years ago. Its heirs eventually sold the vessels to a business group in Kentucky. The unit was moved to Covington, Kentucky, where it was remodeled in 1982 and served as a restaurant until 1996.
“At that time the barges became home to a paddlewheel tour boat company in Newport, Kentucky, where they served as administrative and catering offices for the company until retired from service in 2018,” Toms said.
Toms said he purchased the vessel in January this year.
“We brought it up here in June, and we have been working on it ever since trying to get it ready to be used as a haunted house,” he said.
Toms said the haunts on the vessel are very unique.
“We could not find anything like it in the region and decided with its history to make it a dedicated haunt attraction,” he said.
Tony Bowen is managing the haunting aspects of the tours.
“A floating haunted is a unique thing for this area, and we will have so many scary things I think most will be very surprised and scared,” Bowen said. “We have everything you could expect when you go through the haunted tour.”
Bowen said the very scary attraction is for those teenage and up and recommends anybody less than 12 years old be with a parent or guardian.
Its 2019 haunt season will run Thursday through Saturday nights beginning Oct. 17 and ending Nov. 2. The hours of operation are from 6 to 11 p.m. with special guests appearing each night including Eddie Munster from the 1960s sitcom “The Munsters” and the Green Goblin Head from Stephen King’s “Maximum Overdrive” movie.
The cost is $17 for a general admission ticket, which gives customers access to a guided tour and access to special guests. There is the fast pass for $22, and a season pass that costs $42.
Toms says after much research and consultation with paranormal investigators, the owners pledged to preserve the vessel for those who “live” aboard and not use it for commercial purposes again.
On Oct. 17, 24, 30 and 31, the Paranormal Investigative Team (PIT) will offer paranormal ghost hunts through the Haunted Majestic and surrounding grounds. These tours will take place after Haunted Majestic closes on these nights and will cost $20. Paranormal tours of Haunted Majestic last approximately one hour.
“Bring your flashlight, cell phone or other recording device, and find out who or what occupies Haunted Majestic,” Toms said.
Visit www.hauntedmajestic.com online for a complete list of events, guests and other information.
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