The Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta is a historic landmark that has a confusing and somewhat controversial history. The original large stone building was built to serve as a major arsenal after the War of 1812 brought to light the need to better protect the coastal borders of the United States.
The site in Augusta was chosen because of its easy access to the Kennebec River. The arsenal was in use until 1901 when it closed its doors. The property was then sold to the Maine State Hospital, which planned to use the arsenal as an expansion. The arsenal then became home to Maine’s mentally-ill, including children. The Maine State Hospital, later renamed the Augusta Mental Health Institute, closed the operations of the arsenal in 2004. The site was then sold to a developer.
But it’s during the time that AMHI operated on the property that is the most disturbing. Outlined by CentralMaine.com, a former patient of the hospital remembers horrific incidents in which other patients were found dead. Speaking of the dead, there is reportedly 11,647 people who died during their stay at the Augusta Mental Health Institute. What might be more shocking to some is that the hospital kept no detailed records of where those who perished were buried. The dead were believed to be buried along the shorelines of the nearby Kennebec River in unmarked graves.
If that isn’t enough to give you goosebumps, there’s also a series of old tunnels that exists underground throughout the Kennebec Arsenal. According to the Portland Press Herald, since the grounds are privately owned, the tunnels as well as the old stone buildings are monitored by police who are looking for trespassers. Police warn that the tunnels and many of the buildings are unsafe.
Recently, a United States Army recruiter, Joel Kruger, got an opportunity to tour the old buildings and shared some photos on Facebook.