Many people have taken a tour through the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, whether on a ghost hunt or historic tour. But this year, TALA's offering a totally new experience.
It's a tour that starts unlike any other at the asylum. People climb in the back of a trailer to begin a tour of the hundreds of acres of grounds the asylum put to use in its heyday.
"Each year we try to add new tours, to try and bring back people who have been here before, obviously, and offer new and exciting things they can learn about the asylum. This year we added our cemetery and farm tour," said Operations Manager Rebecca Jordan Gleason.
The tour takes you through the woods behind the asylum, including a look at the coal mines and cemeteries the asylum operated. Brenda Reed volunteers at the asylum, and although she's spent some time there, she was still surprised to see the scope of its operations decades ago.
"Of course you think about how many people fit inside the building and worked in the building. But when I took the farm and cemetery tour, for the first time I really understood the scope of all the labor that was done here," said Reed.
The tour ends back at the asylum where tourists can continue their exploration of the grounds. And Gleason said she's already looking ahead to bring people back to TALA another time, and provide yet another way to learn about the building's history.
"Next year I intend to open a historic tour of the auxiliary buildings, so I think that will be very interesting, folks will be able to come in, learn about the history of the forensics building, the geriatrics, and of course the medical center," Gleason said.
For more information, including tour times, contact the asylum at (304) 269-5070.