As one of America’s oldest universities, it is no surprise that the W&L campus is home to a plethora of superstitions, suspected hauntings, and secrets. From the many audacious, horny squirrels to the salad bar lady who acts like every bowl has personally wronged her to the large workload due every Friday, us students are constantly in an environment that puts us on edge. There are some places on campus that amplify this dread, and so without further ado, I present seven places on campus that could easily feature in a horror movie for y’all to visit if you’re in the mood for a spook (disclaimer – I take no responsibility for your well-being if you vanish or are otherwise harmed while visiting these places).
1. W Nelson St (Road between Gaines and Lenfest)
The bane of my existence as a performing arts student. Anyone who has ever needed to go to Wilson or Lenfest for any reason knows the fear we have for that road. Not anything supernatural or cryptid-related, it’s just a really dangerous road to cross because all the drivers who use the road fly down the hill as if they are late to the birth of their firstborn or are fleeing from the police despite the very obvious crosswalk painted into the road and the signs imploring drivers to please slow down so students can cross. I would compare this road to the one in Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery where the cat, Church, and the main character’s infant son were run down by speeding trucks. “You want to watch out for that road,” Jud Crandall said at the beginning of the 1989 adaptation, and this couldn’t be more true for our own deadly road. Be safe out there, y’all.
2. Woods Creek Trail Tunnel
Although short, this tunnel is terrifying because I’ve almost been hit by people/animals going through from the other side more times than I care to admit. Visibility, even during the day, is just not optimal at all (as in, you cannot see what is approaching the other end of the tunnel until you are in it), and the path is not nearly wide enough for you to safely avoid a bicycle that has just turned into the passage going 20mph. The water is also quite spooky, despite being shallow and wadeable, and I am always afraid that something is going to reach out and drag me in when I least expect it. Furthermore, despite being clean and not stinky at all, this tunnel just radiates sewer-from-the-IT-miniseries energy with its slightly grungy walls and weird acoustics. Does it make a stroll along Woods Creek more interesting? Yes. And I appreciate that, but I am also scared.
3. Duchossois Racquetball Courts
These new squash/racquetball courts are something straight out of a dystopian psychological horror TV show. Pristine and unmarred with floor-to-ceiling glass, the subterranean courts lie silent, empty, unlit, and full of apprehension when not in use, like glass cages meant to hold people- or another, more sinister being- imprisoned, yet still on display. It just feels like something is meant to be inside the courts (which is true, I guess), so when you see them empty, the hairs on your neck raise with the feeling that something dangerous has escaped. The area is also a bit chilly in general, so walking past these courts is just a very uncomfortable time. Proceed with caution.
4. Cadaver Bridge (especially on a rainy or foggy day)
This one combines practical and supernatural fears. On the practical side, this bridge is treacherous – I have seen so many people wipe out on this bridge during a rainstorm or after a snowfall (I have also slipped and fallen at least twice), so crossing the bridge in general is a feat in itself. The general length of it is also quite daunting, as it is very difficult to see the end of it on a foggy day and my poor eyesight will not let me identify who the person walking towards me is until it’s too late for me to turn around and run. I’m also a firm believer in the theory that Cadaver bridge extends a centimeter or two whenever no one is around – I swear the bridge is longer this year than it was last year, so there has to be something suspicious going on.
5. Skull Shelf in Newcomb
This one isn’t actually scary – it’s very gothic and I’d love to have a display like this in a private library. However, it’s sort of tucked away in a random building (sorry to anyone who is a big fan of Newcomb) and never mentioned, and it is this nondescript treatment that irks me because if I had a glass case full of skulls, I would never stop talking about it and maybe try to arrange them less haphazardly. I don’t think these bones are respected, and that is never a good thing. If the display is ever forcefully opened and a skull removed, I would realistically understand that someone had broken in and stolen it, but internally I would still feel as if the skull had just escaped on its own through rage and is now making its merry little way to find peace or revenge.
6. Side door into University Chapel
If you are ever walking down the Colonnade at night, I implore you to take a minute to just gaze at the side door (not the one by Traveller’s grave) into University Chapel, with its lonesome lantern above the doorway and the shadows of the surrounding bushes creating ghostly figures against the walls. It’s such a simple thing, easy to overlook, but it also has no right being as unnerving as it is, and once you see it, it is quite captivating. You won’t be able to look away. I know that the Lee family is buried past that door, so I suppose it is no great conjecture to assume that if they were to exit the building on a spectral outing, they would use that door. If I ever see someone without a W&L staff shirt coming out or going into the building through that side door, I will run and pray that they did not see me.
7. The 2nd floor of the University Store
The vibe here? Awful. This is such a liminal space and I 100% believe that there is something funky going on with the air circulation because every time my friends and I come up to the second floor in search of some discounted W&L merch, we all feel massively ill and light-headed. You will feel like you’re being watched as you look for trinkets, and the headless girl mannequin with the “Visit my friends! Upstairs” sign placed at the foot of the staircase is incredibly ominous. The light sprinkling of dust on certain objects and the lifeless and quiet textbook section create an atmosphere a la abandoned warehouse. The layout of this floor is also just so odd – why are there tiny offices wedged into the corners of the floor between shelves? What is in the empty rectangular section with no visible entrance in the center of this floor? I feel like this floor would disappear me if given a chance.
- Any frat bathroom. Who knows the last time the floor has been sanitized? Who knows what things have occurred in them? Will the toilet be working? Also, chances are that if you’re in a frat bathroom, you are experiencing a horrible case of the spins which just makes the experience all the more daunting.
- That elevator and the staircase in the Science Addn that go to the basement. These are just not nice zones to be in, and the Cadavers definitely take advantage of the spooky factors at play here to move around the science building without running into anyone.
- Campus garden. It’s a bit isolated, surrounded by trees that could hide literally anyone or anything, and there have been bear sightings. I would not recommend going to the garden by yourself, especially after dark.
- Whatever is behind the rusty spider web covered gates by Leyburn (you know what I’m talking about). Is it probably just maintenance supplies and access to water/electrical lines? Yes. But they are still quite spooky.