History, hauntings near Huntington: Ohio film company to be featured at Haunted Majestic

·4 min read

Sep. 15—HUNTINGTON — History and hauntings come together at The Haunted Majestic, a floating seasonal haunted attraction on the Ohio River at Majestic Landing near Huntington.

The Majestic is a two-story structure that includes two inland river barges permanently moored side by side. One of the additional experiences offered will be "Horror Guests," including members of Fun Time Films, an Ohio film company and maker of the films "Are We The Waiting?" and "Night Howl," both of which were made locally with local actors. Fun Time Films associates will be there on Oct. 22 and 23 to meet visitors and offer merchandise for sale.

Tracey Pritt Roberts, associate producer at Fun Time Film, said she approached Haunted Majestic staff about setting up as a vendor.

"Since they found out we were horror filmmakers from the area, we became Horror Guests," she said, noting they received the honor before the pandemic hit.

"It was its first year, I think. They had so many people," Roberts said. "There was a scary school bus to walk through. There was a pavilion outside for horror guests from 'The Walking Dead,' the huge Green Goblin truck prop from the Stephen King film, 'Maximum Overdrive,' owned now by Tim Shockey, and more horror guests. "

This year's other honor guests include:

—Oct. 1 and 2, 7 to 11 p.m. — Michael Berryman, who was Pluto in "The Hills Have Eyes;" Santiago Cirilo, who was Julio in Season 4 of "The Walking Dead."

—Oct. 15 and 16, 7 to 11 p.m. — Jeremy Ambler of "The Walking Dead" and "Wrong Turn;" Jennie Malone from "Wrong Turn: The Foundation" and "Evil Takes Root: The Curse of the Batibat."

—Oct. 22 and 23, 7 to 11 p.m. — Christine, the car from the movie based on the Stephen King novel.

—Oct. 29 and 30, 7 to 11 p.m. — Melanie Kinnaman, Pam Roberts in "Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning;" Brett "Big Schwag" Wagner, who portrayed the Lost Leatherface in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 remake and Jesse in "The Crazies."

The floating site is a perfect place for a haunted attraction, given its history.

In 1912, two barges were built by the Majestic Steamship Line to maintain channel depth for cargo transport. While dredging the river bottom, remains of Native American burial grounds were thought to have been recovered, which led to reports of hauntings by crew members.

During World War II, the barges were rented from the Majestic company and renamed the Douglas Lee and the Eugene Morris after active military veterans from West Virginia and were moved to several sites and used as hospital ships. More than 300 died aboard the barges.

The barges also served during the Korean and Vietnam wars and earned the ominous nickname "Ship of Death." Reports of hauntings grew more frequent.

The ships were returned to the original company, which eventually sold them to a business group in Kentucky. They were moved to Covington and served as a restaurant from 1982 to 1996 and then administration and catering offices for a paddlewheel tour boat company in Newport. Reports of hauntings continued.

In 2019, the Majestic Steamboat Co., owned by a couple and their daughter, bought the barges and moved them back to West Virginia. The new owners knew nothing about the barges' haunted history, the like-named previous company that owned them or for whom the barges had been named.

Research revealed the husband is the son of Douglas Lee and the wife is the daughter of Eugene Morris; the two West Virginians for whom the barges were named did not know one another, were unaware of the barges having been named for them and their children had no previous knowledge of the vessels.

The family had paranormal investigations done and decided to keep the barges as a place for the spirits to stay, avoiding commercial use of the barges.

The Haunted Majestic's website states: "Believing they were somehow 'chosen' to care for the vessel's future and preserve its past, the owners have decided Haunted Majestic will remain moored at Majestic Landing indefinitely, where visitors can tour the vessel and meet those who will forever inhabit its hulls."

(606) 326-2661 — lward@dailyindependent.com

The Haunted Majestic is at Majestic Landing, 6100 Kyle Lane, Huntington, and is open every weekend in October. General admission is $20. For more information, call (304) 963-0271 or visit hauntedmajestic.com.

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