The Haunting of The Lee Family Cabin at Lost River State Park, WV

The weekend was full, we had plans for fishing, hiking, seeing the Lee family cabin and sulfur springs at Lost River State Park and camp ground near Mathias West Virginia. The drive is several hours of mountain Highways. Up one mountain and down again until you reach the valley of Hardy county. In a matter of minutes you drop from the rocky cliffs and steep grades of the Appalachian Mountains into a valley that is several miles wide and fallows an ancient river bed. The valley is full of dried corn at this time of year ready to harvest for the cattle feed and chickens that are the main source of income in this river basin. Farm after farm leads you from Baker West Virginia to the entrance road to Lost River State Park at Mathias West Virginia. The park is a favorite for those looking for wilderness and a peaceful get away from the big city of Washington D.C. The capital city is only about 1 1/2 hours  from the border of the park. Once inside the grounds you have stepped away from the world of barns and farms into a place of hard woods and mossy rocks. The park has over 3,700 acres for exploration and a haunted cabin owned by the famous Henry Lee family of Virginia ( Robert E. Lee’s father).There are 15 lovely  cabins built by the Conservation Core during the great depression and 12 modern cabins. Making this wooded rustic park a perfect setting for a ghost story and tails of murder and destructive fires

Cabin at lost River State Park in the rain.

Cabin at lost River State Park in the rain.

Rainy day at Lost River State Park

Rainy day at Lost River State Park

Lost River State Park was once a land grant estate starting with several owners from England including Lord Thomas Fairfax slowly changing hands over the years to the Revolutionary war hero General Henry ( Light Horse Harry) Lee. Henry received the  Granted property for superior service in 1796 and the family soon built on the land. First was a cabin that they used as a summer retreat from the hot,humid summers of their Virginia home. Henry had 7 children one of the youngest was Robert E Lee the famous Civil War General. Over the years Henry and his boys continued to build in the shallow valley, he build a resort hotel and had visitors come from D.C  and Maryland to bathe in the sulfur spring water that pours from a historic spring, relaxing in Victorian style. The resort caught fire and burnt to the ground in 1923 and after years of financial trouble for the family the property sold to West Virginia in 1933. In 1934 the park was open and ready for visitors.

Only the cabin and sulfur spring remain on the property and are open to the public. The cabin is a two-story frame and hewn log house with a large stone fireplace and large porch with 4 rooms two on the main floor and two rooms upstairs. There is no drop ceilings in the upper rooms making for a tall vaulted roof that reaches a steep peak. The stair case is in the middle of the house as a room divider with two bedrooms up stairs and living room and kitchen below.

front view of Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park

Front view of Henry Lee cabin  with Fire Place at Lost River State Park

We toured the home and were able to see that the rooms in the top story of the house are white washed and the kitchen below also. This seemed rather strange to me although I did not ask right away why a cabin of this age was white washed if it had not been used for anything more than a museum for the last 70 years and a retreat before that. Most cabins would have never been treated in this way if they were not a primary residence. Then I found out the story of why the upstairs rooms and kitchen needed paint.

White Kitchen fire place at the Henry ( light horse Harry) Lee cabin

White Kitchen fireplace at the Henry ( light horse Harry) Lee cabin.

Living area of Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park

Living area of Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park.

Bed Room of Henry (light horse Harry)Lee cabin at Lost River State Park

Bed Room of Henry (light horse Harry)Lee cabin at Lost River State Park.

vintage clothing hung on back wall of cabin

Vintage clothing hung on back wall of cabin Lost River State Park.

During the late 1840’s a stock trader returning from Virginia to his home in Moorefield, West Virginia came up on an ambush close to the location to the entrance of the park. The trader Charles Sager dismounted and with in minutes the two robbers dragged him the 1/4 of a mile up the hollow between the tree covered hills, through a small creek into the yard of the Henry Lee cabin. All the while the Lee family was away in Virginia not knowing a thing about what was happening. The struggle continued up the steps of the porch to the cabin door… To not attract attention Charles’s robbers pushed him into the cabin that they had already broken into. Then wrestling for his life, Charles climbed up the steep stairs where he was found with no money from the sale of his live stock in Virginia. Being stabbed not once but several times Charles was left to die in a upper bedroom. His remains were found later resting in a huge pool of blood. The blood smeared down one wall and pooled on to the floor where it flowed down the baseboard into the ceiling of the first floor and dripped and pooled again staining the floors of both rooms. The stains from the murder were never removed. That even with scrubbing the blood stains remained and the family could not return to the cabin in such a state. So the walls were white washed and rugs made to hide the stains and allow the family to continue to use the cabin.

So as the Park Naturalist tells the story he suggests that the cabin is still haunted. Maybe it is Charles whose life was take violently that causes the many disturbances in the cabin. On our visit the naturalist did not seem to dislike spending his days talking with guests and making sure we stopped at the Lee Sulfur Spring in the front yard of the cabin. Yet, when I finally did process the photos from our trip the very first photo of the cabin  seems to have some thing wrong with it.  That untreated photo is below for your consideration:

Henry (light horse Harry) Lee cabin Lost River State Park... untouched photo of house with Transparent blob in right hand corner under porch

Henry ( light Horse Harry) Lee cabin Lost River State Park… untouched photo of house with transparent blob in right hand corner of photo.

The next photo I took from the very same location does not show the blob and the rest of the photos are fine. I am not sure what to think. I have had other photos with orbs and rain drops but this is the first that I have ever taken one that just does not make seem like it is the light source. It is interesting to think that this cabin and park have such a long rich history… From Lords, to war heroes, to murder and destructive fires and even healing water spring.

As my family walked down to the sulfur spring in cabins yard we began to talk about how strange it would be to stay the night in the cabin and take a bath in the springs often thought of as Healing Waters. The Resort Hotel that Lee built had used the spring to bring people from all over the south. Many drank coffee made from the spring and bathed in the pink water. It is still believed that even General Robert E Lee returned to the park for a cup of Sulfur coffee or tea after his campaigns during the civil war.  This is all that remains of the spring.  A shallow bath sized pooling area with a Plexiglas cover and this spout for water collection. The spring has never run dry in the 250 years after discovery and people still  gather water for home spa treatments.( we did not collect any of the water due to its overwhelming smell)

Tom getting a handful of water from the Lee Sulfur Spring , Lost River State Park, WV

Tom getting a handful of water from the Lee Sulfur Spring , Lost River State Park, WV

Above view of sulfur water at Lee Sulfur Spring, Lost River State Park, Mathias, WV

Above view of sulfur water at Lee Sulfur Spring, Lost River State Park, Mathias, WV.

On our walk back through the cabins yard I stopped to take more photos and Tom found what he thought was horse shoe tracks at the foot bridge. That same bridge that poor old Charles Sager had been dragged across when he was murdered. My mind sparked at the hoof prints in the mud. Those are the same marks that would have been here 200 years ago when two unknown mounted men attacked and drug Charles through the meadows and gaps behind the Hotel. Where they dismounted at the bridge, pushed and shoved Charles Sager across the wooden bridge and across the yard in front of the spring where the Lee’s house sat. The scuffle that took place outside had to have been the reason that if you believe in ghosts  that my camera picked up the smoky images floating in front of the house. It was the last place the Mr Sager saw before his murder and maybe it is the remnant of his ghost. Who will forever remain part of the Lost River State Park, WV.

I love  ghost stories and will be sharing more over the next month or two as I get time. Happy early Halloween from Mountain Mama!

View of back of Lee cabin Lost River State Park, WV

View of back of Lee cabin Lost River State Park, WV

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Camping, Folk tails, ghost stories, Halloween, rural life, State Park activities, Travel, WV | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “The Haunting of The Lee Family Cabin at Lost River State Park, WV

  1. Pamela Crist

    Thank you for this very informative piece! Having grown up in Pence Springs, in Summers County, my dad loved sulfur water and I couldn’t stand the smell. It wasn’t pink, however! The history of the Lee house is fascinating.


    • Pamela did your dad drink the water? I have herd that many people around our area used it from drinking and cooking?


      • vernon davis

        we live 2 miles from here along hoards lick and we have some sulfur in our drinking water after awhile you get used to it


      • I also had sulfur water on a farm that we lived on many years ago… we never drank it plain just in tea and coffee and we kinda got used to it too… although I never got used to the smell in the shower.


  2. Thanks for providing the fascinating history of this house. I had never heard of this, and I did spend three years in WV. Nicely done.


  3. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing!


  4. Poor Charlie
    While one would willingly be lost in this Park
    That story sure is bloody spooky 🙂


    • Ruebuss

      I grew up in Mathias and our home and many homes had sulfer water.It smelled like rotten chicken egg.but not as strong as what it was at the park.The water is not pink and it staines the white sinks orange!Don’t know why that is pink but has been that way for years!


      • strange and wonderful but I guess I will have to find out more about sulfur to get the story behind the water being pink.


  5. Ispent many hours during the summer giving tours at the Lee Cabin museum… told the “ghost” story many times too.. brings back lots of memories of my summers there and the many folks I met as well.. thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Elizabeth Moyer Snapp

    Interesting! During the late ’60’s I was fortunate to have had a summer job at the park and was, in fact, the tour guide and caretaker of Lee Cabin, recording the history and the inventory. The local Home Demonstration clubs of the area took the cabin’s refurnishing and opening as a project. Local citizens donated and/or loaned period furniture, tools, clothing, and accessories. The park added wooden bowling balls and croquet balls as well as documents of the early days when the resort stood above where the present swimming pool is. After giving my spiel for the two downstairs rooms, I would tell the story of the murder. The light switch for the upstairs rooms was located on the side of the bottom step of the stairway. As I finished the “bottom” spiel, I would stand at the foot of the stairs with my heel against the switch, tell the “ghost story,” and then call for Charlie. The lights would flicker on and off. Oh my! We would then climb the stairs to see if Charlie was there and to hear the spiel for the upstairs rooms. Unfortunately, there were several break-ins at the cabin during the winter months one year. Several valuable items/antiques were stolen. Locals who had loaned their property collected those items remaining while much of the inventory was stored closer to the park’s office building and superintendent’s residence. The present inventory, while still quite interesting, is not what it once was. Perhaps the ghost of Charles Sager promoted the break-ins so he would be left alone. 🙂


  7. Susan Caldwell

    I grew up not far from Lost River State Park. I worked at the restaurant and spent many summers swimming in the very cool (cold) pool. Haven’t been back to the park or the Lee Cabin for quite a few years now, so I see myself taking a trip home for a walk in the park when the leaves begin to turn. Enjoyed your story!


  8. Dan Cullers

    Interesting story. I was just there a few weeks ago myself. My grandmother and her siblings stayed in this cabin a couple of summers during the late twenties when her father, Joseph Harter, was timbering the land that is now the park. She never mentioned this story about Sager — I wonder if she knew it? They had an outdoor kitchen and played in the old bowling alley that was in disrepair. She looked back on those times fondly. I have some pictures from that time if you are interested.


    • Dan if you ever have time to sent me copies and any information would be wonderful I am may at some time try to take this ghost story and expand it into a fictional story based on facts… you can send any thing you want to my e-mail account at I may want to actually speak to you also if you are willing to share what you know also.


  9. Wanda Kennedy

    How do they know there were two men that killed Sager. Were they caught and served time for his murder?


  10. Bonnie Sager

    I found this an interesting article since I married into the Sager family 47 years ago and we have been down every year for the reunion, yet I never heard this story. I would like to print it off for our children and grandchildren as this trader, Charlie Sager, was probably an ancestor, but the site won’t let me print it. You do have a printable version with pictures?


    • Bonnie I have a button at the bottom of the post that should let you print it… should have a printer icon on it.You also should have a print screen key on your key board if you are using a home computer in the upper right corner this should also print what you are seeing but may print more pages then you need. Also I have found conflicting information about where Charles was from some places say he was from Va and others say he was from Moorefield… Their are many Sager family descendants in the Moorefield area so I am inclined to think my story is closer to the truth.


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