Lakeland Asylum Tunnels

6:23 AM

Louisville, Kentucky is a place with a series of underground spaces, caves, and tunnels.  Most were built before the 1930's in order to move shipments from the river docks to downtown buildings and nearby neighborhoods.

In E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, we find one of those tunnels.  Known to the locals as "Sauerkraut Cave/Tunnel" it sits underneath what use to be Lakeland Asylum.  In 1873, the fourth Kentucky state mental hospital was established on the grounds off Lakeland Road.  What started as a single brick building housing 370 patients, it quickly grew into 15 buildings and 5,000 patients, even though the hospital was only built to house 3,500 patients.

Not all patients at Lakeland had mental disorders.  Some suffered brain injuries, mental retardation, or were simply elderly people who could not afford a nursing facility or retirement home.  Deaths went unreported, uninvestigated, and multiple records were "lost."  It is unknown the exact number of bodies that are buried on the grounds of E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park from those who were murdered, committed suicide, or were lucky enough to die from old age.  The photographs below are of what was known as a popular escape route for those crafty enough to escape the high-security asylum and risk the brutal punishments if caught.

As times changed and new policies and medications were made available, come 1980 the asylum was struggling to keep numbers up.  With patients staying an average of two weeks instead of a lifetime, it was on the downward spiral.  In 1986, a new modern facility was built in Louisville, Kentucky, and Lakeland Asylum was demolished in 1996 and the land became part of E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.

 People have reported hearing a young girl cry "Mommy" from deep down in this tunnel.  They think it is the daughter of the Mother from the article at the bottom of this post.

 The ceiling of the tunnel was only 4 foot high

 This poisonous lizard reminded use of the threat of snakes and lizards within these tunnels

This is one of the two "cemeteries" on the property that are known to have bodies buried from the deaths within the asylum.  Notice how what markers were there (if any) have sank into the ground permanently.

 The second cemetery property known to have remains of those from the Lakeland Asylum.  3 tombstones are still visible thanks to tree roots pushing them back up.

You can see the cemetery fence in the background.  This small building once stood just off the cemetery property on the woods edge.  What could it have been used for?

Read some headlines and articles from when Lakeland was providing services:

 The voice of a young girl saying "Mommy" was been recorded in the tunnels.

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  1. How do I get to this place? I know it is behind the archery range, but where is that?

    1. follow the wide path behind the archery range and it will be a side trail on your left follow that and you will see it

    2. Can you just show up and explore the cave on your own?

    3. Yes! It's not trespassing or a restricted area. Its simply a historic part of the park.

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  2. Tour guide told us that little stone house was used to hold the coffins until the ground was warm enough for them to be buried. (If it happened during a harsh winter)

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  4. It actually is trespassing I was there today. There is a sign that has it on it but it is covered in graffiti. I am definitely going back to this place though!

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