Whipple Store Black Mist
One of my favorite locations to investigate since discovering it in 2009 is the old coal company store in Fayette County. Whipple Company store was built in 1890 with a gigantic 18,000-square foot imprint. The Whipple Company Store in the coal-mining glory days, provided just about everything and anything the coal miner and his family would need.
Entire families lived in the coal camp with the men and older boys working at the mine. Although the Company Store had its benefits to the coal miners and their families, it did not go without reputation. The coal companies owned the store, the newspaper, the homes, the goods, the miner, and their money. The Coal Baron, Justus Collins, designed Whipple Company Store. Justus was man of merit and great means. This coal company store is one of four that he had built. Today the only one left standing is this white beauty at the junction of County Roads 15 and 21/20 in Scarbro, right off of U.S. Route 19.
Inside the store, its employees could use scrip (company-specific legal tender) in which workers were paid for goods like food, equipment, grains, meat, clothing and shoes. Basically, anything could be purchased in the company store from candy to caskets. The building’s octagonal shape was designed as a way to control the workers, for the store’s one employee could stand dead center in the store on the ground floor and the room itself became an echo chamber, providing the company managers with all the intelligence it needed to maintain the upper hand over its workers.
Over the years of investigating this property, we grew to love its history, albeit dark history and uniqueness. We wanted to offer it to people as a location to explore for its paranormal activity and the history so we decided to offer our Ghost Hunting 101 Class as an event. Ghost Hunting 101 classes are a scheduled event in which people meet us at a location to learn the history and hauntings and then at the conclusion of class, they get the opportunity to explore and investigate the premises. At Whipple Coal Company Store, this was a true privilege to schedule and facilitate. Our class was set for a May evening in 2011 and my husband, Perry was present to help. Perry was a person of great interest and help at our events at the Whipple Store as he is a mining engineer and very familiar with coal mining means and equipment. He has been in all kinds of mines from deep mines, drift, slope and worked on many strip jobs, of course. He helped us identify various coal mining equipment in the museum and told us of some of his experiences working in mines.
The class went well that night. There were thirty souls in attendance with many of these folks including people I met through my prior ghost hunting adventures. A few were new to the field and were very excited as this was their first time investigating. The class itself lasted about two hours and we covered a brief history of the company store, the local coal camp town and Perry showed a few mining tools and implements to the group. As participants were seated in the General Store area and I was speaking, I remember pausing and looking around as people seemed to be murmuring amongst themselves. The unmistakable scent of pipe smoke wafted among us. I remember asking if anyone smelled anything unusual to which several nodded in agreement. Windows were closed in the building and no one was smoking of course. We all were slightly excited to have experienced the phenomena and more surprised when the owner of the building pointed out the store manager’s office was connected to the area where we were holding our class. Surely, back in the day, the manager and staff of the store would have smoked pipes or cigars? This phenomenon had been experienced prior to our visit on several occasions by other visitors, we were told. How cool is that?
We did a quick walk around tour of the levels and rooms we had access to. The lower level basement, the first floor store area housed a small granary room, a freight room, a restroom, offices and a post office, a vault and a switchboard. The top floor included a once popular ballroom with faded golden yellow paint and several small rooms. The freight elevator and a staircase connected the levels with the elevator being a true treasure as it was hand operated. After a quick walk around tour, we turned everyone loose to explore on their own. Perry and I wandered around exploring as well and we soon separated. It was halfway thru the evening that he and I met back up in the freight room by the basement door. He told me he felt “funny” and that I should be taking a lot of photos.
My husband tends to have a “sense” about him at times so I listened to him, grabbed my camera and began taking photos as he walked in that room. In the first one, you can see my husband standing looking at me. He had just said you had better start taking some photos, as it feels “funky” in here. As the freight room cleared out, I took some more photographs and in each one an unusual shadow appeared. This was with a digital camera so the flash is built into the body of the camera itself. So what exactly did we capture?
Here are some things we can rule out:
– It wasn’t cigarette or vape smoke. No smoking allowed on our investigations or inside of the Whipple Store.
– It is not a human shadow. Perry and I were the only two in the room when I took the last two photos
– It is not a camera strap or a shadow of one hanging by the camera. I had none.
– It is not a finger. I am very careful with the placement of my hands and fingers when snapping photographs.
– It is not human hair hanging in front of the camera.
We are left with no concrete conclusion and an anomaly. You could say it is paranormal because paranormal means it is not typical and not scientifically explainable. The room that we were in (the freight room) has seen violence in the past with a shooting. It is also in the area where the old elevator can be accessed. A man was found dead hanging in the elevator shaft many years ago. This room also is the access to the grain room where bags of grains could be purchased and filled. An unfortunate man many years ago was found dead with his head shoved into a bag of grain. Could it be the energy of these poor souls?
As of the writing of this book in 2019, the old Whipple Coal Company Store is ready for a new chapter. The owners have sold it in the fall of 2018 and the new owner has taken possession of this historic building. It will be interesting to see what is next for the spirits of Whipple.
Sherri Brake is a paranormal researcher, author and Haunted Heartland Tour owner. You may email her at SherriBrake@gmail.com or visit her website at www.HauntedHistory.net