Growing up in Louisville, lots of kids visit E.P. Tom Sawyer Park. It’s a great place to go hiking, shoot a basketball or play soccer. But the really weird kids like me like to venture out a little further into the park, behind the archery range, where you’re not allowed to go. If you go past the archery range and turn left onto a gravel road, you will see a side road that has a big sign that says the area is monitored by electronic surveillance and you will be arrested for trespassing. Beyond that sign is Sauerkraut Cave. Let me be clear; Do not break the law and go somewhere that is off limits. The area is patrolled by police, and you will be arrested. The area the park now sits on was once home to Isaac Height. Height was given a plot of land in what is now Louisville for valiantly fighting in the French and Indian War in the late 1790s. Unfortunately, Isaac had a run in with some Native Americans who also laid claim to the property. Isaac was scalped and killed. After Isaac’s death, his family sold the property to the government in the late 19th century. The land was used for the Lakeland Asylum for the Insane from 1873 to 1986. In the early 20th century, mental illness wasn’t treated like it is today. Electric shock therapy and lobotomies were the go to methods to treat patients at Lakeland Asylum for the Insane who might have been just suffering from depression or anxiety. Sauerkraut Cave was once part of the asylum and was used as a storage facility. It’s been rumored that when the facility was shut down, people found thousands of cans of Sauerkraut left in the cave. Thus the name ‘Sauerkraut Cave’ was born. Patients often tried to escape through the cave. However, they usually were not equipped to handle the water, sharp rocks or freezing cold inside the cave and some died en route to what they thought was freedom. Lakeland Asylum for the Insane was overcrowded and housed almost 2,500 when it was only equipped to care for 1,600. Thousands of dead inmates are thought to be buried on the property that is now E.P. Tom Sawyer Park. According to legend, Sauerkraut Cave was where female inmates were taken when they became pregnant in the asylum. It’s not known what happened to the children but the patients always were always sent back to their rooms after they gave birth without their baby. Strange things still occur in the area. For more info check out the Louisville Ghost Map in the iTunes App Store for only $1.99.
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