Monday, February 28, 2011

Amish Funeral Today

Thursday night, an Amish horse-drawn carriage overturned into a flash-flooded stream and four children drowned in Dublin, KY.

The funeral is today, and it is expected that over 1000 Amish will be in attendance. Cassie Hammonds, proprietor of Shamrock's Restaurant in nearby Mayfield, is organizing a donation campaign to help the family defray the costs of the funeral and of hosting their extended family.

Donations of food or money can be sent to Shamrock's at:

6237 state Route 339 S.
Mayfield, KY

Checks should be made out to Emanuel Wagler, who is the father of
three of the children and uncle of the other one.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Male Cheerleader Almost Ruins U of L Game

Today's UofL game versus Pittsburgh seemed like a done deal as the final seconds approached. The Cards' Kyle Kuric scored a three-point shot putting them 62-57. But as for what happened next, I'll let explain:

That's when things got a little bizarre.

The clock didn't stop after the basket, which put the Cardinals up 62-57, and the horn sounded. Some Louisville cheerleaders on the baseline raced onto the floor, with one male cheerleader grabbing the ball and tossing it in the air.

Officials called Louisville for a delay of game technical foul and put .5 seconds back on the clock. Pitt's Ashton Gibbs knocked down two free throws and the Panthers had one last chance to tie, but Gibbs couldn't get off a desperation heave in time.

"All good things have to come to an end, and the male cheerleader (at Louisville) comes to an end," joked Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "Hopefully he'll learn the rules."

You can see it on YouTube here, but it happens so fast that some viewers are missing it. It's towards the very end of the clip - watch the goofball dressed all in white come walking onto the court and grab the ball, then flip it recklessly high in the air, not even caring where it might land.

The technical foul called because of cheer-dude's unexpected intervention meant that Pitt had a chance for two free-throws and control of the ball, giving them a narrow but real chance to turn it around.

The Facebook Car

Someone just loved that Facebook so much, they had their ride all tricked out in Facebook-adoring graphics. I can't imagine liking a website - any website - so much that I'd actually pay money to have it detailed to resemble it.

But hey, it's a free world, or so I like to pretend.

I found this gem on another website that I don't particularly care for - People of Walmart, a place where people surreptitiously take pictures of other people shopping, then post them to the web and make fun of their weight, their attire, their sexual preference, their social status, etc. (That's not to say I didn't chuckle hard at some of the stuff on there, but funny or not, I'd still love to see sites like this get shut down forever.)

But the case of the Facebookmobile doesn't end there: I also found another picture of it on Craziest Gadgets.

The People of Wal-Mart site, whose content is mostly user-submitted, lists this photo as having been taken in Kentucky. Has anyone else seen this thing out there on the road?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Corn Grave?

When I took these photos of a tipped-over gravestone in Henry County, I initially thought that what we're seeing here is a row of ears of corn, with a small corn plant sprouting in the foreground.

It still looks like that to me, but someone else suggested that this may actually be depicting a weeping willow tree, albeit an oddly-rendered one.


Friday, February 25, 2011


I've been studying the blog stats that Blogspot so handily provides, and the data is rather interesting.

For starters, here's just a random sampling of some of the odd search-engine queries that brought people to this blog:

concrete pig

derby pie blah blah blah

miss tater day

ghost janitor kentucky

mothman kentucky

satan cave

blue people

passenger trains in the 1920's

branch davidians in kentucky

crypt bardstown

kfc secret location

kentucky nudist

festival of sacrifice lexington

unusual swimming pools

dog kidnaps baby

unusual mosque kentucky

hallowed by usage and consecrated by time

white castle wedding

tough guy in campbell county

I suppose by listing them here, I'm reinforcing their search-engine stick-icity by feeding them back into Google's crawlers for another go-round, aren't I?

According to the stats, 80% of my visitors are from the USA, which doesn't really surprise me given the focus of the blog. (By contrast, another blog of mine, Revelation Awaits an Appointed Time, gets almost as many European visitors as American, and also has a large readership in Middle Eastern countries.)

The vast majority of UnK readers are running IE and Windows, which also is no shocker - Firefox is a close second though.

Less than 1% visited UnK using iPhones, however, which I found a bit unexpected.

And in case you care, the ten most-clicked-on UnK articles of all time (well, since last summer anyway, when Blogger started keeping stats):

Blue People of Kentucky
Shirley Ardell Mason
Mothman Sighting in Russell
Carrie Nation
Stringbean's Hidden Treasure
Tom Cruise Climbs Burj Khalifa
The Erica Fraysure Case
Bobby Mackey's Music World
Reclining Figure on Grave
Miss Elizabeth

Now see, before I saw the stats I would have conjectured that surely Tombstone Junction, or one of my Bill Sparkman or Edward W. Edwards posts, would make the top ten most viewed.

But "Reclining Figure on Grave"? Really? Huh.

I suppose I should listen to what the market demands, and make my next novel "Stringbean and the Blue People Vs. Mothman".

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Trees of Life

I don't give a fig for much modern TV programming now that LOST is off the air, but I do adore that History Channel show Life After People. They use a mix of CGI and real footage to demonstrate just how quickly all traces of our civilization would be absorbed back into nature and disappear, if all humans suddenly just up and vanished. (Hope springs eternal.)

I always enjoyed the weeds that start to take back parking lots when the blacktop starts to crack and decay, like behind the abandoned Showcase Cinemas at Bashford Manor. If left untouched for another 50-100 years, the vast expanse of concrete would once again be a wildlife area - the back-and-forth temperature extremes of scorching summers and ice-encased winters will gradually weaken anything, be it concrete, steel, what have you. And the gentle forces of vegetation pressing upwards against the pavement shouldn't be underestimated - like slow water torture, each Spring brings pressure from below. Sooner or later it all begins to add up until shoots of plants with a lust for life succeed in breaking on through to the other side.

Now here's an even better example of nature's indomitable drive to survive. I spotted this pair of strong-willed trees in Anchorage refusing to let a thick slab of poured concrete stop their advance. And upon closer inspection, I could see their roots extending like tentacles some feet away, going over, under, around, whatever it needed to in order to get the job done.

If I had but ten people in my employ with half the determination, life force, and joie de vivre of these trees, imagine what could be accomplished overnight.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Johnson Family

And speaking of William Burroughs (which we were in the previous post), if you've read him (and I'm going to assume you have because that's just the kind of solipsist I am) then this grave in Louisville's Eastern Cemetery probably would make you do a double-take, too. (And maybe also if you're a Days of our Lives fan!)

Paul K's first band in Lexington, The Johnsons, were so named as an homage to Burroughs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lexington's Narcotics Farm

For most of the 20th century, Lexington was the drug addiction capital of the nation. Not because of its citizens, but because of the inmates at the U.S. Narcotics Farm - also known as the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital, the NIH Clinical Research Center, and the Federal Medical Center.

Construction started in 1933, and was completed in 1935. From then on, some of the worst drug-addiction cases around the nation found their way to the good old Kentucky hills. As the popularity of Heroin grew in beatnik musician and literary circles, celebs and celebs-to-be like William S. Burroughs, Chet Baker, and boxer Barney Ross ended up here for "the Lexington Cure". But as time passed, the center's ideas for treatment of drug addiction remained laughably primitive. According to a 1962 survey, the hospital had a success rate of less than 7 percent.

Burroughs mentioned his time spent at Lexington often in the course of his writings, especially his first novel Junkie, written under the pen name William Lee. He become addicted to Heroin in 1942, but managed to live in a highly adaptive state with his burden. Fellow writer Alan Ansen met Burroughs at the height of his addiction, and described him as a "totally autonomous personality". Ansen was impressed with Burroughs' eloquence and intelligence, and his ability "to use drugs without losing consciousness or articulateness".

The "cures" at Lexington were useless and Burroughs remained an addict. It wasn't until 1957 that Burroughs was permanently cured of drug addiction in the U.K. by Dr. John Yer­bury Dent's ground-breaking apomorphine therapy. Upon returning to the states a healthy man, he tried to interest the docs at the Lexington farm about Dr. Dent's discoveries. None of them would listen. They preferred their own ineffective and barbaric methods.

By the late 1960s, however, the public and the media gradually became aware of the psychiatric atrocities taking place, and the Center's reputation grew more and more infamous. An article in the Lexington Herald in the early 1970s exposed cruel and bizarre "treatments": "Some of the patients were stripped of their clothing and their pubic hair burned off, that some of the male patients' genitals were placed in ice water for long periods of time."

The junk really hit the fan when it was learned that tax dollars were funding wild experiments, with hundreds of federal convicts volunteering as human guinea pigs and being rewarded with Heroin and cocaine! The institution was dealing smack and coke even as it was raking in the megabucks to try to fight these drugs. And partially declassified CIA documents relating to the controversial MK-ULTRA program not only mention the Lexington hospital as a place of interest, but as an actual CIA-cooperative asset:

Because of the unconventional use of the materials involved, CD has had added difficulty in obtaining expert services and facilities to conduct tests and experiments. Some of the activities are considered to be professionally unethical and in some instances border on the illegal. These difficulties have not been entirely surmounted but good progress is being made. Another problem is raised by the lack of professional knowledge of lysergic acid, the basic substance with which CD is concerned...

The National Institute of Mental Health conducts tests on its ape colony to study the effects of P1, and knockout material and has provided much information of operational value. Human experimentation is more difficult to accomplish. The best results have been obtained from mental institutions such as [one line redacted] Narcotics Addiction Hospital, Lexington, Ky., [one line redacted].

An arrangement is in process with the [one line redacted] which is expected to produce valuable results. Even with all the data gathered from these institutions there remains a considerable area of doubt. These tests and experiments are conducted under controlled conditions and the results may be quite different from those obtained in the operational use of the material. In this respect, [half-line redacted] must be experimental as well. Much more testing must be conducted before the behavior program can be considered to have accomplished its objective. [One-half page redacted]

In 1974 the center was turned into a federal prison but maintained a sideline as a run-of-the-mill psychiatric hospital until 1998, when two inmates allegedly killed each other and it was decided to move all psychiatric prisoners elsewhere. Currently the prison houses, last I checked, 1,530 men and 284 women.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rare Tombstone Junction Video

Got this email over the weekend:

Dear Mr. Holland,

I love your website and purchased your Weird Kentucky book the week it came out. Since Tombstone Junction seems to have such a cult following I'd thought you'd like to know that actual video of the park in operation is slowly becoming available on my youtube channel.

The only known video of the park was taped a couple of months prior to the first fire that damaged the park. Copies of this tape have been gifted over the years to a very few railfans in the area. Since I have one of these few copies I've been adding some selections from the tape to my youtube account.

You can view a video of the train ride and robbery here: There are also a few other videos on my channel and I will be adding more shortly.

Thank you,
Matthew Cole
Berea, KY

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Goodbye, Lexington Mall

Lexington Mall was always troubled, since day one. Though they opened in 1971 with its anchor stores McAlpin's and Shoppers Choice supermarket, the developers went bankrupt before they could finish the actual indoor-mall part in the middle. It wasn't until 1975 that the place was finished.

The 1980s were good years, however. During the flavored popcorn craze, Lexington Mall's Karmelkorn shop was named the #1 sales-leader in the nation, according to Wikipedia. (Do they mean among Karmelkorn outlets? Or mall stores in general? They didn't specify or clarify.) The prestigious County Market replaced Consolidated as the mall's latest supermarket, and I can remember the huge local buzz of excitement at the time. This was about the same time as the Starbucks plan of world domination was really taking off, and as the private shopper's club Pace became popular. There was a feeling that all of us were really moving on up, and going upscale.

But by the booming years of the Clinton economy, we'd all gotten so upscale that we outgrew the Lexington Mall. The over-the-top Hamburg Pavilion sucked away Lexington Mall's rapidly dwindling customer base. Many more on the other side of town had already been lost to Fayette Mall, which reinvented itself with a massive makeover. Rather than renovating and expanding, Lexington Mall was devolving: County Market pulled out in 1995, Sony Theaters in 1997, and soon Dillard's was the sole remaining tenant. In 2005 they closed and the mall has sat empty ever since.

In an article called "City in the Dark as Saul Stonewalls", from the September 22, 2006 issue of Business Lexington, it was lamented that the mall's owners, a real-estate-hoarding group in Maryland called Saul Centers, were being obstinate and uncommunicative in Lexington's efforts to make them do something with their property that had become an eyesore and a waste of space. Unfortunately, it's a problem with shopping malls and shopping centers around the country - they're almost all owned by some guy in a faraway city who couldn't care less about the impact his decisions have on the cities in which his properties lay dormant.

There is new hope for the property today, although the light at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming church. Southland Christian Church is moving in with big changes and big plans for everybody. Pastor Jon Weese has announced the timetable for turning the area into their new satellite campus: their goal is to complete their own new building in December 2012, and demolition of Lexington Mall will begin in May.

I checked the Southland Christian blog and it provided a fascinating glimpse into their mindset. One post suggests that their flock stop "holding onto stuff", and instead sell it to help the church. It says:

"From coffee to sports cars, people are realizing that a temporary sacrifice of convenience right now can make a substantial impact for the Kingdom for years to come!"

It also reprints a letter from one of the faithful that gleefully tells of how they're selling their new 2007 Corvette Convertible with only 2000 miles on it, so that they can give that money to the church to build this new building. The letter closes:

"We believe that being a part in the hands and feet of Jesus on Richmond Road are more satisfying than those 4 Corvette tires on the roads of Lexington!"

Well, they're certainly dedicated, I'll say that for them. And then this post from their blog gives helpful tips on how to cut back your lifestyle in order to better serve the church:

"Drink water instead of soda. Drink a tall black coffee instead of a venti latte. Or forego the overpriced coffee altogether and meet your friend at one of your homes. Buy a reusable bottle instead of buying case after case of bottled water. Get just a sandwich instead of a value meal at the drive-thru, I promise you won't starve to death. Rent a movie for $1 at RedBox instead of spending $9 at the theater."

(I don't mean to pick on these folks, but this is seriously the first time I think I've ever seen a church come right out and ask people to cut back on eating food in order to donate to said church.)

But nevertheless, I wish them well. Many people criticize megachurches for no other reason than that they are megachurches. Me, I applaud any entity that has the moxie to keep expanding and setting their sights higher and higher (much like the aforementioned Starbucks). Whether or not I fully agree with their agenda is irrelevant; I support them anyway out of respect for their ability to get things done. Those who dislike them are free to get something bigger done themselves.

I just wish they hadn't chosen such a modernistic "big glass box" design for their new branch (see image above).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kentucky: Laziest State?

Another ignominious first for Kentucky: a new CDC study has determined that of the most sedentary and inactive counties in the nation, 4 out of 5 of them are in Kentucky.

Ironically, I just read about this upon returning home from a three hour hike in the woods. Heh.

It kinda irks me that a WKYT-TV story about the CDC report quotes Dr. Scott Black at the University of Kentucky as saying, "If you look at the areas that are particularly inactive, there's not a lot of opportunity for physical activity. There aren't gyms available, fitness centers."

I'm sure Dr. Black meant well, but we didn't have any gyms or fitness centers in the area I grew up in (Waco/College Hill/Bybee/Irvine) and we certainly didn't sit around doing nothing. We went out and did things. Still do. I find the suggestion that "there's not a lot of opportunity for physical activity" without the relatively modern concept of cheesy fitness centers to be absurd and even somewhat offensive.

Of course, growing up we didn't have the internet, video games, and handheld gizmos sucking our attention span anyway. We also didn't ingest high fructose corn syrup, Nutrasweet, Splenda, Acesulfame-K, or genetically modified foods. And kids back then weren't as doped to the gills on needlessly-prescribed zombie meds by evil creeps like Pfizer and Merck.

And interestingly, our grandparents smoked like chimneys and drank like ducks and yet their generation is outliving ours. Ask yourself, what environmental factors are different now?

We've already been declared #1 in the nation for depression, and Manchester has been determined to be double the national average in obesity. This year I urge my fellow Kentuckians to stand up, get up, get out, and prove these gloomy statistics wrong. My modest proposal is not that we need to build more "fitness centers" in rural areas, but that we first need to pull the plug on electronic distractions from what is important and what is real, and then start eating real food instead of Monsanto's monstrosities.

The four counties named by the CDC as most inactive in America are: Carter, Magoffin, McCreary, and Pike.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Where Dead Voices Gather

In addition to all the many deaths that took place behind closed doors at the multi-named Lakeland asylum - and there were many - I'm also intrigued by the ones that took place outside.

Some in-the-know folks have told me that many patients drowned trying to escape through an aquaduct that leads to the Lake for which Lakeland is named. I'm looking into that and will report soon. Another anecdote I've been told is that someone, presumably a patient, climbed the water tower on the asylum's grounds and committed suicide by jumping off. For some reason, this story has stuck in my head lately and I decided to try to figure out the exact spot where this occurred.

Fortunately, the photograph above gives us a near-precise indication of where the tower stood. Yesterday morning I trudged out there in search of the spot and found a semi-circular sunken area, partially paved, with a service road leading into it. This would seem to be it.

There were also other interesting and possibly related structures in the vicinity, like a large rusting pipelike opening that is filled with mud and leaves (image 1), an opening in the ground covered by a square stone slab (image 2), a huge hole in the ground that upon further inspection was revealed to be a partially exposed well of some sort (images 3 thru 6), a similar but above-ground enclosure that appears to have once been part of a sewer system (images 7 thru 10), and several other large holes that may lead somewhere or may just be really large fox holes (image 11).

And keeping with my anti-plastic environmental concerns from yesterday's post about all the antiquated garbage along the fenceline, I noticed some lackadaisical park groundkeepers apparently chose to ditch a pile of plastic plant containers in the nearby woods (image 12). Not cool.

It's been said that the asylum area is a great hotspot to get ghostly EVP recordings of the voices of the dead, especially near the cemetery. I remain lukewarm on the EVP concept, just as I have little reason to swallow most of the other gimmicks employed by so-called would-be "ghost hunters". Although I heard a tape a few years ago purportedly recorded here, sounding indeed like spirit voices, there was no chain of evidence for it. And I don't take anything on faith.

Mind you, that doesn't mean I necessarily disbelieve in ghosts and ghouls and things that go boomp in the night. I would hazard a guess that the asylum grounds are dense with gathered spirits, entities, life-force energy, or whatever you wish to call it. This would probably also include the unfortunate soul who jumped from the water tower and hopefully found some subsequent peace. But for those who seem to have an unhealthy obsession with "contacting the dead" and so forth, it's going to take more than a tape recorder, a gaussmeter, and some wishful thinking to establish communication with anything unseen.

(Do I have a better idea? I do indeed, and I'm working on it. Wait and see. All in time.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Archaeologic Assay of Human Artifacts Deposited Alongside Roads, Vol. 1

On Lakeland Road in Anchorage, there's this deep gulch running alongside the E.P. Sawyer Park. The park, as my regular readers are probably tired of hearing about, used to be the grounds of the Central State Insane Asylum and is so haunted, they say you have to scrape the ectoplasm off your shoes when you get back to your car. (I exaggerate only slightly.)

Lakeland Road, incidentally, used to be a railroad track that shuttled directly to the asylum. If you look closely at some points you can still see evidence of the tracks before they paved it over and turned it into a road. And human beings, filthy creatures that they are, have been tossing crap out their car windows along that road ever since.

Today while in the park searching for the exact spot where the asylum's water tower had stood (more about that tomorrow), I happened up the embankment where the park's fenceline meets the aforementioned roadside gulch. It has acted as a catch-net for much of the debris that has been accruing there for decades, and while my left brain was appalled that no one has cleaned that area up for so long, my right brain was fascinated by inspecting what humanity had sloughed off.

Without even doing any digging or disturbing the site at all, I could visually identify corroding beer and soda cans from the 1970s with pull-tabs rather the modern stay-tabs. (Stay-tabs were introduced in 1975 and had become the industry standard in the United States by that decade's end.) Most of the outer layers of garbage were recognizably between the 1980s and the present. And if you think that's not very old, let me remind you that 1991 was two decades ago.

I spotted evidence of much older strata of trash peeking out here and there, however - large murky green and brown bottles, and a fragment of very old floor linoleum (seen in images #16 and #17). A little digging with a shovel would likely yield some more serious finds.

I found a liquor bottle still partially filled with what I presume is vodka or gin because it's clear and the lid is tightly sealed (see image #5). Then again, I also found a pop bottle full of a liquid bearing that unmistakable color of urine (see image #3). Such are the hazards of my profession.

What am I seeing in image #14? Is it a child's sweater? A hat? Definitely some sort of abandoned clothing. It appears to have a face on it. I didn't even really notice it until after I got home and looked at the pictures closely.

While the junk seen here isn't as immediately compelling as, say, the old dumpsite in Elliott County I chanced upon a few years ago, I betcha there's all kinds of groovy goodies lurking under the surface. Avid fan of urban archaelogy that I am, you can be sure this gulch hasn't seen the last of me.