Abandoned amusement parks are spooky. Look at that picture. Now imagine being there at night, far from any city lights. If the image of the rusted rides, squeaking ominously in the wind, isn't enough to give you the heebie-jeebies, this place also holds Native American burial grounds and is the spot where two teenagers met a gruesome death. This is the Lake Shawnee amusement park in West Virginia.
The place does have a legitimate bloody history. In 1783, the property was owned by Mitchell Clay. In August of that year, a band of Shawnee attacked the homestead, killing two of Clay's teenage children, Bartley and Tabitha. A third child, Ezekiel, was abducted and was found burned at the stake in what is now Chillicothe, Ohio.
Conley T. Snidow purchased this land and operated a park there beginning in 1926. At first, the park consisted of a swimming pond and cabins, but eventually he expanded the amusements to include a ferris wheel and swings. The park was shut down in 1966, briefly revived under new owners in 1986, and finally closed permanently just three years later. These days, the owners make some money by opening it up around Halloween and allowing ghost hunting groups to investigate. Oh yes, it is claimed the park is haunted.
With the history, it is not surprising. What is surprising is that none of the ghosts seem to be of dead Shawnee buried there or the spirits of the Clay children whose lives were taken so suddenly and violently. Instead, these are the ghosts of children killed during the hey-day of the amusement park.
Depending on which source you read (and there are many, many websites and blogs with articles on the hauntings at this park), two children drowned in either the lake or the "pond" swimming pool and, most famously, was the young girl killed in a freak accident. According to the lore, this girl was riding the swings (like the ride in the picture) when a delivery truck backed into her path and she slammed right into it.
It isn't at all surprising that there were drownings in the past. I was able to verify the deaths of two boys who drowned there, one in 1961 and another in 1966. However, I have not been so lucky with verifying the story of the girl's tragic death. It is said that she died in 1966 and that it was her death that caused the park to close. I browsed the death certificates for Mercer County in 1966. Nothing. I then scoured the newspapers for that year. Still nothing. Then I did a keyword search in the newspaper database from 1926 through 1966, including articles from other states. One would think the story of a young girl in a pink ruffled dress getting killed while riding a harmless amusement would make, if not headlines, at least filler material for newspapers all across the country. I found nothing.
At this point, I have to call hijinks on that story. The park may well be haunted from any of the other numerous deaths that occurred there, but I doubt this girl is one of them.
I would love to be proven wrong. I do not live in West Virginia, in fact I live on the other side of the country, so perhaps there are sources that would confirm this accident I could not find online. If anyone can send me proof (not of a ghost, just of the girl's death) I will happily post a retraction.
The story of the Clay family can be found in many sources. Here are two that I looked at: "Massacre of Clay Children Remains an Infamous Episode," Wyoming County (West Virginia) Report, 31 May 2010, online edition (http://www.wycoreport.com : accessed 4 April 2020); excerpt from Paul Ray Blankenship, From Cabins to Coal Mines (Oceana, WV: P. Blankenship, 1999). Also, "Mitchell Clay Reunion Will Be Held Sunday," Bluefield (West Virginia) Daily Telegraph, 10 September 1931, p. 2, col. 1; digital image, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 4 April 2020).
 "Conley Snidow will have his swimming pool" under "Princeton Paragraphs," Bluefield ( West Virginia) Daily Telegraph, 16 May 1926, p. 9, col. 2; digital image, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 4 April 2020).
 Michelle James, "The Haunted History of Lake Shawnee," The Register-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia), 25 October 2015, online ed. (https://www.register-herald.com : accessed 4 April 2020).
 The two children were Wayne Harman and John Talley. For Wayne Harman, see "Youngster Drowns in Pool Full of People," The Raleigh Register (Beckley, West Virginia), 6 June 1961, p. 10, col. 2; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 5 April 2020); also, "Damage Suit Filed in Mercer County," Beckley Post-Herald The Raleigh Register (Beckley, West Virginia), p. 9, col. 3; ; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 5 April 2020); also see Wayne Harman's death certificate at "Births, Deaths and Marriages (databases)," database and images, West Virginia Division of Arts, Culture and History (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=2579001&Type=Death: accessed 5 April 2020); West Virginia State Department of Health, death certificate 008166 (1961), entry for Wayne Eugene Harman. For Richard Talley, see "9 Tragic Deaths Mar State Holiday," The Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail, 4 July 1966, p. 1, col. 1; digital image, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 5 April 2020; also see John Talley's death certificate at "Births, Deaths and Marriages (databases)," database and images, West Virginia Division of Arts, Culture and History (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=777066&Type=Death: accessed 5 April 2020); West Virginia State Department of Health, death certificate 010587 (1966), entry for John Richard Talley.
 James, "The Haunted History of Lake Shawnee."
 Negative findings for girl who died in 1966: "Births, Deaths and Marriages (databases)," database and images, West Virginia Division of Arts, Culture and History (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/) > Death > Mercer County > 1966 > Search, conducted 5 April 2020; also, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/ : accessed 6 April 2020, search parameters included various combinations of "Lake Shawnee", "West Virginia", swings, and death, narrowed down using dates 1966 and 1926-1966, conducted 10 April 2020.