“Secret Louisville”: Your Personal Tour Guide to Where Louisville Keeps Its’ Weirdness.

Secret Louisville

We interview local author, Kevin Gibson, about his new book, “Secret Louisville: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure.”

Kevin Gibson was born over the bridge in Jeffersonville, IN, but has spent most of his life here in the Ville. He was the first full time staff writer hired at the fledgling LEO news weekly years ago and has spent the majority of the ensuing years observing and writing about the eccentricities of the city we call home. During that time he has compiled a wealth of stories about some of Louisville’s stranger landmarks, curious histories and urban legends.

Secret Louisville

Now he has gathered all of those off-the-beaten-path places, secret wonders and sometimes spooky legends into one book called “Secret Louisville: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure,” available now from Reedy Press at Carmichael’s Bookstore, Amazon.com and soon at major booksellers everywhere.

Want to find the haunted and terrifying Sauerkraut Cave? Want the secret location of Louisville’s lost dinosaur, gifted to the city from the 1964 New York World’s Fair? Want to learn about the ghosts of the Louisville Palace Theater? Do you dare learn the dark secrets of Club LATEX beneath Whiskey Row? The secrets of the Seelbach’s Rathskeller? The Witches’ Tree at the corner of Sixth and Park Streets?

All of these oddities and many more are covered in Gibson’s latest paperback, which might serve as the ultimate summer scavenger hunt; a road map to weirdest, wackiest and scariest secret places hidden just off the more trodden paths of Louisville’s city streets.

As a writer covering many of Louisville’s folktales and urban myths myself, there was even plenty of material new to my experience. For example, I had no idea that the skeletal remains of two Roman Saints were on permanent display at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church on S. Shelby St.

Mind blown.

“I consider myself a skeptic on most occasions,” admits Gibson, “but I have seen things I can’t quite explain.”

“When I was about 8 years old,” he continues, “I saw a small, white, translucent shape in our house about the size of a child. Over the course of several years, I saw the same thing three different times.”

“One night, when I was about 11 years old, I woke up to the sight of this same shape standing in my bedroom door, only this time it had an arm extending from it with a hand clasping the doorknob. My dog, who was lying in bed with me, also woke up and was staring directly at this same figure.”

Reedy Press hired Gibson to explore the strange underbelly of Louisville after the success of his former books, “100 Things to Do in Louisville Before You Die” and “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft.” While writing the later, Gibson discovered a style of beer created right here in Louisville.

“There are only two beer styles invented in America, and one of them was created right here,” Gibson elaborates. “It’s known as Kentucky Common and it was made from corn, barley and rye, everything you would normally put in bourbon.” You can find the places in town where you can still order Kentucky Common in the pages of “Secret Louisville.”

Gibson traveled across the city and into Southern Indiana to experience haunted places like Waverly Hills Sanatorium, the Pope Lick train trestle, Sleepy Hollow Road and the Witches’ Castle. Did anything happen during his research that raised the hairs on the back of the author’s neck?

“I don’t spooky easily,” he confesses, “but I had an experience at Sauerkraut Cave in E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park that did actually scare me.”

E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park was built next to the former grounds of the Lakeland Asylum for the Insane, which became infamous for questionable treatment of patients and overcrowding, and eventually was shut down. The cave beneath the asylum was used as a storage facility for sauerkraut, among other things, but it also served as an escape passage for asylum inmates and supposedly for the disposal of the infants of pregnant inmates. “

“When I reached the mouth of the cave, I heard something,” Gibson explains. “Something deep within the cave. I got this feeling that I was being watched and this overwhelming sense of dread. I wanted to run. I turned and started walking away from the cave when I got this feeling that someone was behind me, following me.”

“I have no plans of ever going back there again,” he asserts.

If you’re brave enough to face the unknown terrors of Sauerkraut Cave or just want to spend your summer looking for trolls under downtown bridges, magician’s grave sites, giant disco balls and living statues of Greek gods, pick up Kevin Gibson’sSecret Louisville: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure.”

Editor’s Note: As someone with a little knowledge and experience regarding the history of Louisville haunted attractions, I recommend you enjoy the chapter on The Baxter Avenue Morgue with just a grain of salt. We haunters have a way with tall tales that sometimes, when we do our jobs too well, blur the lines of myth and history in the most wonderful ways!

The Phantom of The Ville

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