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Anoka State Hospital inspires curiosity in the paranormal community

The abandoned cottages at Anoka State Hospital
The abandoned cottages at Anoka State Hospital Christy Urick

For a paranormal researcher, there’s nothing more frustrating than a location dripping in haunted lore that you simply cannot gain access to. One such location exists about twenty miles northwest of Minneapolis in Anoka, Minnesota.

Along the edges of the Rum River sits the historic, physically imposing, visually impressive Anoka State Hospital. Anoka State Hospital, originally known as First State Asylum for the Insane, opened its doors in the spring of 1900 under the authority of the state of Minnesota. Made up of numerous separate cottages situated circular in the middle of a working farm-the First State Asylum for the Insane was something the city of Anoka fought tooth and nail for in the late 19th century.

In its 100 year-plus history, First State Asylum went through many changes. Numerous name changes including its most current, Metro-Regional Treatment Center, along with patients served, at one time being a female-only facility, as well functioning as a tuberculosis clinic for the criminally insane from other facilities in the 1960’s.

Now, Anoka State Hospital is no longer property of Minnesota but under the stewardship of Anoka County, it’s said to be rife with paranormal activity.

A series of tunnels exist underneath Anoka State Hospital, connecting the cottages, but also leading to the river. The rumors about these tunnels and cottages fly among former staff and patients. Suicides in the tunnels by confused patients are said to have been rampant.

Ghostly voices and spirits have been heard and seen. Shadows and footprints have been spotted in the now long abandoned cottages, some current staff refuse to enter certain parts of the grounds due to the uneasy feelings they experience.

Despite the rumors and stories, the hauntings of Anoka State Hospital have never been confirmed. Many of the cottages on the grounds of Anoka State Hospital are no longer in use and have sat empty for several decades, but never has a paranormal investigation been granted at Anoka State Hospital.

Parts of the hospital are still in use as a substance abuse rehabilitation center. Many reputable paranormal groups in the Twin Cities and beyond have asked to investigate, but have been turned down by the powers-that-be due to the fact of the current patients on-site.

Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped some irresponsible members of the paranormal community from “breaking into” Anoka State Hospital. Hoping to catch a glimpse of a ghost or get a good scare, people often make the poor decision of not only not asking for permission but trespassing on property where armed guards patrol. This sort of illegal behavior and lack of foresight damages the paranormal community as a whole and also a good way to get yourself in trouble.

While many are eager to gain access to Anoka State Hospital and dig into the location to figure out the pieces to the paranormal puzzle that seem to exist there, going so far as to breaking the law to prove any sort of point, supernatural or otherwise, is never good idea.