It has been more than half a decade since I last worked on Nopeming…
Back then the story had been read 8,000 times, making it the most popular post on the site. For good reason too, I suppose, as the hospital’s history is near to our own—much nearer than many places I have documented over the years.
2016. A section of the third floor that has changed a lot over the years. Compare to 2006 shot.
A breeze and broken window has animated one of the few curtains still hanging in Nopeming as of 2015.
Some small candles light one of the few surviving tunnels that once linked buildings on the campus with the steam plant. In winter, it was common for patients to be transported through these to avoid the cold, and during the Cold War these served as nuclear fallout shelters.
Nopeming as Urban Legend
I confess that it is also true that Nopeming has come to take on the role of the creepy house down the block. Off-limits, scary, probably haunted.
Nopeming’s history has been twisted since its closure into something grotesque by those who cannot distinguish between the forbidden and remote with the surreal and gothic.
Urban legends about the hospital run amok in YouTube clips, forum comments, and coffee shops. The boiler house burned bodies. The hospital is an insane asylum. The surrounding forest obscures unmarked graves… and so on.
Patient, 1948, Chateau Building.
2015. Water damage hastens the decay of the annex and its stage. Every time I visit this room, the chairs are in different places. Kodak Portra 400 in a Voigtlander Bessa.
Goals and Format
This article is a work in progress, and meant to be a prolonged effort concerned with a few ideas. First, I want to set the record straight, and create a public space for the facts of Nopeming to be found and disseminated. Second, I want to have a place for me to (selfishly) explore my own fascination with the hospital, for if it is not haunted, it is certainly haunting. In doing so, I will do something I usually avoid on this site, and talk about my direct experiences. Third, I want this to be a case study for exploring the cultural space that abandonments create; contrary to popular opinion, these spaces are not vacuous.
For the researchers and local buffs there will be plenty of history. For the adventurers there will be stories. For the theorists there will be philosophy. Hell, I’ll even throw in a couple ghost stories, for people who like those.
Because of my aforementioned selfishness in writing this article, I encourage others to be equally self-minded and send in their stories. It is my plan to publish readers’ stories in the future here on Substreet.
A postcard of the hospital in its heyday.
On my second or third trip, the cross had broken in the wind.
…to Maryanne and Tony for giving me the time and resources to stitch this story together on my research breaks for Lost Duluth… to Raab, Hibby, Fantom, and satellite members of RTD… and to my readership, which encourages my ongoing research. Also special thanks to Rachel Phoenix who helped me with the prose.
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