Wheeling’s Abandoned Castle

Graffiti covers the walls of the Mt Wood Castle in Wheeling, WV

Mt Wood Wheeling Overlook, The abandoned Wheeling Castle. So as many people know I recently relocated to the greater Wheeling area. Naturally with my travel bug I have to check out the local unique hot spots. As soon as I heard abandoned castle I was all over this one.

There is much speculation to what and why the “castle” came to be. I’ve done my research and so far this is what I have discovered. An article stated that the castle property was purchased by Dr. Andrew J. Harness from the city of Wheeling on July 13, 1921, for the sum of $10. Whatever construction that took place on the castle would have occurred between 1921 and 1925.The building project came to a very abrupt halt in 1925, and the reason for it could have easily been taken from today’s news headlines. Dr. Harness was indicted for two federal counts of illegal drug sales, one for morphine and the other for cocaine. The two counts cited in the indictment took place on Feb. 24,1919, and June 21, 1925.A mere five days after his indictment, on Nov. 5, 1925, Dr. Harness pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Federal Judge W.E. Baker to serve 18 months in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. He was released on Jan. 16, 1927, and from there vanishes from local history. The piece also notes that on May 20, 1927, a “Capias Profane” was issued related to the unpaid $1,000 fine that was part of Dr. Harness’s sentence. 


And interesting aside from a business that was conducted by and large in code words, it was long rumored that more than a few Catholic boys from Pittsburgh came to visit Wheeling’s local temples of Venus. Afterward when going to Confession, the Friendly City’s reputation was so infamous they would simply say, “Forgive me Father, for I’ve been to Wheeling,” and the priests understood the errant lads had visited the vineyards of vice. After some consideration, I believe what they were implying was the Dr. Harness was involved in prostitution. Though the evidence is purely circumstantial, it would certainly seem to point in that direction. Almost from its birth, Wheeling has been a center for prostitution. 


Now for my take on the “Abandoned Castle”. It has stunning views all around. Other than that the structure is covered in graffiti and honestly rather gross. It is in a very rough part of town as well so I really didn’t feel comfortable being there alone. My other complaint is that I found the story of it was a would be castle hard to believe. The structure doesn’t really seem to be built for a home. But whatever none the less if you are in the Wheeling area this is one that if you do decide to visit you will get some great shots of the city below. Sunset/Sunrise would be the perfect time to capture some stunning photos of the river. If you are not a photo taking lover like myself then this might be one to skip!

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