Monday, October 19, 2009
The Haunted Legend
What once stood tall as a manor gracing the North Side of Pittsburgh is now a ghost legend. Formerly known as the most haunted mansion in America, the Ridge Avenue residence has a history dating back to the winter of 1871. According to legend, the lady of the manor came home one evening to find her husband in bed with the maid. On a jealous outrage, she stabbed her husband to death and beheaded the maid.
For the next twenty years, the mansion was vacant. But in 1892, the manor was renovated to accommodate railroad workers. But when a woman’s screams haunted the house, the workers fled, leaving the manor once more vacant.
Around the year 1900, a doctor moved into the mansion but was rarely seen by neighbors. On August 12, 1901, an explosion occurred in the house, shattering every window. A haze of red erupted from the residence, according to spectators. When authorities entered the home, they found the decomposed body of a woman strapped to the bed and five headless young women in basement graves. The doctor had fled the scene. It was later learned the doctor was experimenting with severed heads and was able to keep some alive after decapitation for short periods of time.
Once more, due to its unsavory reputation for being haunted, the mansion was vacant for several years. After going through a second renovation, immigrant workers moved into the home. Several workers complained of strange and bizarre happenings but wrote them off as pranks by co-workers. But when the corpses of two men were found in the basement, all thoughts of pranks came to an abrupt halt. One worker had a wooden stake driven through his heart and the other man dangled from the rafters.
In 1920, the famous scientist and inventor, Thomas Edison, came to the home to sample a device he was building to test communication with the dead. Although Edison died before the machine was perfected, his visit to the Ridge Avenue residence supposedly strengthened his belief in the afterlife.
But the haunted house on Ridge Avenue met its demise on the morning of November 15, 1927 when the largest natural gas storage facility in the world exploded. Located across the street, the tank ignited into flames. Thought to be an earth quake, the explosion shook the earth and was felt for a twenty mile radius. Chimneys toppled and bricks and debris flew. Twisted hunks of metal and steel and bricks rained on the victims caught up in the chaos. And although homes were partially destroyed all over the county, the haunted mansion was the only home totally obliterated, all remnants vanishing without a trace.