Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fallstreak Clouds: Nature's Rapture

Fallstreak Cloud over Australia (November, 2014)

At the beginning of the month, a rather peculiar anomaly was spotted over the skies of Wonthaggi, Australia.  Dozens took to Twitter to share photographs and offer up theories as to what this strange thing in the clouds was.  Many thought that it may be extra-terrestrial in nature...possibly some type of alien spaceship with a shoddy cloaking mechanism engaged.  Some described the image as what the sky will look like during the Rapture.  Others simply had no idea what this thing could be.

Luckily, science had the answer.

This weird anomaly goes by many names including punch hole cloud, hole punch cloud, and fallstreak...and its a MOSTLY natural phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, "such holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the lack of ice nucleation particles.  When ice crystals DO form, it will set off a domino effect, due to the Bergeron Effect, causing the water droplets around the crystals to evaporate: this leaves a large, often circular, hole in the cloud."

Interestingly, fallstreak holes were not observed prior to World War II, which led to a working theory that these anomalies are actually sparked by airplanes!  In a study led by Andrew Heymsfield, "the research determined that precipitation is triggered by water droplets at extremely cold temperatures, below about 5 degrees. As the air is cooled behind the planes, the water droplets freeze and drop toward Earth."

Still...these are beautiful...and beautifully creepy!  They've certainly fooled many a person as to their true identity and will probably continue to do so for years to come!

10 Examples of Fallstreak Clouds
Fallstreak in Australia
USA Today Article

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Attic Ghosts of the White House

Today, Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook page is devoted to the hauntings of the White House!  Staying with that theme, today's blog post is dedicated to just one of the many, many ghosts associated with our nation's capitol!

1927 construction of the third floor residential areas
When construction of The White House was completed, it came complete with a traditional third floor attic space.  Accessible only by ladder, the majority of the space was used as storage, but there were several small servant bedrooms that were initially created as space for Zachary Taylor's slaves. During Abraham Lincoln's presidency, it was a favorite place for his children to play.  It wasn't until 1902 that a staircase was added, along with several more rooms used as guest bedrooms, clothing storage, ironing, etc.

Each subsequent president did a little more work to the attic space until 1927 when a major renovation took place, turning the traditional attic into a more modern residential living space.  Many paranormal enthusiasts will be quick to point out that renovations often have a way of stirring up paranormal activity and that seems to be true in this case because even though the dark, dank attic was now transformed into a pleasant living area, the ghost stories could not be deterred.

William H. Harrison
The main ghost of the White House attic seems to be that of our ninth president, William Henry Harrison.  Harrison passed away from pneumonia on April 4, 1841--only serving 32 days in office.  Unexplained noises coming from the attic, especially over the area of the Yellow Oval Room, have been attributed to Harrison, who seems to be rummaging through the storage area, looking for something.  Harrison has even been SEEN in the attic.  Witnesses report that his apparition appears to take on a blue glow, and that the sounds of his hacking cough often accompany his sightings. 

William Henry Harrison may not be the ONLY ghost that roams the attic, though.  In 1790, David Burns, the original owner of the White House property, was forced to give up his land in order to build the iconic presidential home.  He would die nine years later, apparently carrying a chip on his shoulder throughout his afterlife. FDR's valet may have been the first person to publicly come forward with his encounter with David Burns.  He had heard someone say his name, and when he turned to see who it was, there was no one there.  However, he heard a loud voice in his ear say, "I am Mr. Burns."

Ten years later, a security guard working under the Truman administration also heard the voice saying "I am Mr. Burns," and assumed it was the voice of James Byrnes, Secretary of State.  The voice has been heard in the Yellow Oval Room, which at one time served as Abraham Lincoln's library (and isquite haunted in its own right), seemingly coming from the attic above...but its also been heard in the attic as well, especially in the area over the Yellow Oval Room.

What is President Harrison looking for so intently and will he ever find it...and why has David Burn chosen the attic and the Yellow Oval Room as his favorite spots to haunt?  Until paranormal investigators are allowed in and allowed to publish their findings, we may never know.

White House Museum-The Third Floor
Mr. Lincoln's White House
David Burns from Washington Oddities

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Haunted History of Frankfort's Liberty Hall

Although he was a quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of politician, John Brown is often referred to as The Founding Father of Kentucky.  Born in 1757, he was the youngest member of the Continental Congress and when Kentucky gained statehood, was one of its first senators.  When the seat of government moved to Frankfort, Brown picked up and moved to the frontier area and built a beautiful home on a four acre plot near the Kentucky River.

The home was completed in 1796 and was named Liberty Hall.  Three years later, Brown married a woman named Margaret and brought her to the fine home, where the guest list included many famous names of celebrities and politicians of the period.  Liberty Hall stayed in the family until 1937, and was then later willed to the Colonial Dames of America in 1956.  Today, it operates as a historical site and museum, where tours are offered daily sharing the history of this marvelous home and the people who lived there...and of course, the history of those who died there as well.

Over the years, Liberty Hall has picked up several ghost stories, and it is believed that at least three main spirits still walk the grounds.  In 1805, a visiting Spanish opera singer was said to have attended a party at Liberty Hall, yet was never seen or heard from again.  She was last spotted walking the gardens in the direction of the river and her disappearance was blamed on an abduction by Indians.  Whatever the young woman's fate, her spirit seems to remain.  A dark-haired woman has been seen running through the gardens, her mouth frozen in a silent shriek.  Another ghost is said to be that of a British soldier from the War of 1812.  Legend states that the man had fallen in love with a cousin of the Brown family who was visiting, yet the affection was not reciprocated.  The soldier has been seen standing outside, peering into the windows.  When he doesn't see what he's come to see, his countenance takes on a mournful expression, and he walks sadly away.

Photo of the Gray Lady?

While these sightings are quite interesting in their own right, the star spirit of Liberty Hall is undoubtedly the Gray Lady.  The Gray Lady is believed to be the spirit of Mrs. Margaret Varick, the elderly aunt of Margaret Brown, who came to visit and console the family in 1817 after the death of one of the Brown children.  Mrs. Varick traveled all the way from New York and unfortunately the long trip proved too much for her and she passed away from a heart attack three days after her arrival.  She was buried in the gardens, but her body was later moved to a larger cemetery and today, its exact whereabouts are unknown.

But just because her body cannot be found doesn't mean that Mrs. Varick will allow herself to be forgotten.  She was first sighted as early as the 1820s by a grandson of John Brown.  Later, she was spotted by a great-granddaughter, Mary Mason Scott, her witnessed the small woman in gray in her second floor bedroom---the same bedroom where Mrs. Varick allegedly passed.  In 1965 a firefighter responding to a small fire at the home snapped a photo that appears to show a woman in a cloak descending the stairs.  Many believe this is evidence of the Gray Lady.

It is believed that the spirit of the Gray Lady is a gentle, helpful one.  She seems to watch over the house and take care of its inhabitants...something she tried to do while alive, but unfortunately was never able to accomplish.  To celebrate her life and her afterlife, each October Liberty Hall holds a special tour in her honor.  These Gray Lady tours cover the life of Mrs. Varick and the ladies who have witnessed her presence, discuss the hauntings, and share the mourning practices popular at the time.  As an added bonus, Gray Lady costume contests are held at Halloween!

Liberty Hall Website
Haunted Kentucky, by Alan Brown
Article by Troy Taylor
Article from Lex18

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Shadow Man of WV State Penitentiary

This evening I'll be attending a public investigation event at the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville!  One of the ghosts I hope to encounter is the infamous Shadow Man.

Shadow Man, by Polly Gear

This iconic photo was taken by Polly Gear, co-founder of the Mountaineer Ghosts Paranormal Investigators.  It was taken around 1:30 am on May 7th, 2004, just a few hours after a severe thunderstorm rolled through the area.

The area you are seeing in the photo is the doorway to the cafeteria.  Polly was in the North Hallway walking south towards the lobby, when she heard a noise behind her, coming from the area of the doorway that leads to the cafeteria.  As she went to investigate the sound, she turned on her light and saw the shadowy figure of a man, who looked at her before darting back behind the door frame.  At the point that she saw the figure, she estimated she was about 10 feet away from him.  She began to back away from him and dropped her light in order to ready her camera for a picture.  At an estimated 110 feet from the figure, she managed to snap the famous photograph that has caused quite the stir in the paranormal world.

When TAPS filmed an episode at the prison for their Ghost Hunters television show, many believed they had solved the mystery. In episode 303, which aired on October 25, 2006, Jason and Grant attempted to debunk the Shadow Man photo. Since they were able to recreate a similar phenomenon employing the IR shadow theory, it couldn't have been a real ghost, right?

Well...that theory, while sounding good, doesn't account for the details provided by Polly about the conditions under which the photograph was obtained.  According to the awesome information provided by the Sparks Spirit Hunters, "an IR shadow occurs when there is an Infrared light source behind the investigator who is taking a photograph or video in the dark. The IR light is 'invisible' to the naked eye, so often the investigator is unaware that it is even shining on him or her. The investigator then snaps a picture with a camera that has the ability to capture this 'invisible' IR light.  The result is a shadow shaped like the investigator where they have blocked out the IR light.  It looks just like a Shadow Person!"

Graphic by Sparks Spirit Hunters

While it seems like the IR shadow is a very plausible explanation--and is a concept that ALL investigators need to be aware of, especially when investigating large, open areas-- as I said earlier, it just doesn't mesh with the circumstances.  We don't know if there was an IR source behind Polly when she took the photo, but there may have been since this was presumably an investigation.  However, Polly saw the shadow with her own eyes...and she saw the figure dart behind a door, independent of her own movements!  If this were an IR shadow, technically she shouldn't have been able to see it, and it certainly wouldn't have moved on its own.  Therefore, if we take this information as being truthful and accurate, that still leaves this photograph as unsolved.

But who is the Shadow Man?  I've heard theories ranging from it being the spirit of a former prisoner, possibly the infamous RD Wall who was murdered in the 1970s, to it being the spirit of a former guard who is still wandering the halls, keeping the prison in check.  Whoever it may be, I hope to meet him tonight!

Interview with Polly Gear

IR Shadow information from Sparks Spirit Hunters

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Ghost of RD Wall at Moundsville

The Boiler Room, from Haunted History
Robert Daniel Wall, inmate #44670, was serving a life sentence at the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville for a Logan County rape conviction.  More commonly known as R.D., he was a model prisoner and a favorite of the wardens.  Therefore, he was entrusted to work as the inmate maintenance clerk. He spent the majority of his time under the administration building in what was the prison's boiler room, working and even living near the base of operations for the maintenance department.

Unfortunately it is there that his life ended.  On October 8, 1979, R.D. Wall was brutally attacked and killed.  His fingertips were cut off, and some believe he may even have been decapitated...or at least had his throat severely sliced.  Overall, it was a horribly bloody and vicious murder.

It's common knowledge that inmates serving sentences for certain crimes against women and children tend to be targets of violence for other inmates, but the prisoners of the WV state pen had another reason to hate R.D. Wall---it was widely accepted that he was a prison snitch.

Rumor has it that a day or so before, an inmate had overheard Wall speaking with Warden Richard Mohn about some of the activities of the other inmates.  After breakfast, a group of inmates snuck downstairs, armed with their homemade knives and attacked Wall.  He managed to briefly break free from his attackers, but died in an adjoining room.

Although there are a lot of rumors and false information out there about R.D. Wall, we do know from an Associated Press newspaper article about the murder that this, and another attack later in the day, followed a prison-wide theft investigation.  Was R.D. Wall really guilty of being a snitch, and if he was, did he have inside information about the thefts that were happening?

It seems that either way, R.D. Wall is still roaming the area, trying to make contact with those who dare enter his basement home.  Women who have visited the area where he was killed have felt a hand stroking their hair or their cheek.  Disembodied footsteps and voices have been heard and a man in a khaki uniform, believed to be Wall, has been reported.  Some even believe that the infamous Moundsville Shadow Man may even be Wall!

Tour Notes from Paranormal
Afterlife with No Parole: The Haunted History of the West Virginia Penitentiary, by Sherri Brake
Associated Press article, October 9, 1979

Newspaper article on RD's Death
This article appeared October 9, 1979 in Huntington's Herald-Dispatch:

Associated Press
Moundsville, W.Va. -- One inmate was stabbed to death and, in a separate fight, three others were injured at the West Virginia penitentiary yesterday, corrections officials said.

Two of the injured inmates--Boyd Tomlin and Dale Eugene McCoy--are from Cabell County.

The three inmates were among four who were fighting in the morning, McCoy said.  He described the incident as "a major disturbance-a big scuffle."  He said it was not a riot.

The fight followed a weekend investigation of thefts at the prison, McCoy said.

Earlier in the morning, inmate R.D. Walls, 57, was stabbed to death in the maintenance area of the northern section of the prison, according to prison Superintendent Richard Mohn.  He was serving a life sentence on a rape conviction from Logan County.  No one has been arrested in the stabbing, officials said.

"We can find no connection between the incidents," McCoy said.  State police were called to investigate, McCoy said. Tomlin, 26, was serving a five to 18 years on a murder conviction, prison officials said.  McCoy, 24, was serving a life sentence on a murder conviction. The third injured prisoner, Carl Echard, 33, was serving a life sentence on an armed robbery conviction from Wood County.

Tomlin was listed at Reynolds Memorial Hospital in fair condition and the other two were listed in good condition. A fourth inmate involved in the fight, Rudolph Green, was put in a segregated discipline area after the fight, prison officials said. A piece of pipe and a wrench were found in the area where the fight took place, Mohn said. Authorities closed off Jefferson Avenue in front of the prison for a time and the city fire department was put on alert.

Theresa Takes on the Most Haunted Places in America

Close to Halloween, I posted two separate articles from different sources (Viral NovaPeople), each trying to compile the perfect, state-wide list of haunted places.  The choices made by the authors of those articles sparked a fair bit of conversation and debate over on Theresa's Haunted History's Facebook page, which inspired me to see if I could come up with my OWN Haunted America List, even better than the other two.

It was a lot tougher than I imagined!  My criteria started off simply---I wanted to choose a location for each state that anyone, no matter what his/her level of paranormal prowess, would instantly recognize as being haunted.  For several states, the choice was clear.  For other states, there were dozens of possible picks that I just had to use my best judgment on, based on how well known it was, television appearances, historical significance, and intensity of the haunting.  And then there were the states where, for the life of me, I could not think of even ONE haunted location!  States like Idaho and Utah just simply aren't known on a national level for their ghosts. However, with help from various websites, I was able to fill in the blanks and am reasonably happy with my list and I hope you are too! Grab a snack, because this is a long one.

*In the interest of brevity, I've tried to keep the information on these locations as short as possible.  If you'd like to learn more about their history and ghost stories, please click on the links I've provided.  Nearly all of these locations are open to the public, with a vast majority of them hosting ghost tours and other special events.*

Sloss Furnace, Alabama

Alabama Sloss Furnance--This steel factory, which operated from 1882 to 1971 has been featured on numerous paranormal shows for its long and violent history with the paranormal.  In 1906, a foreman named Slag allegedly fell to his death into a vat of melted iron ore, many believing it wasn't an accident.  After that, the furnace was plagued with strange accidents, missing persons, disembodied voices and the sighting of a half-man/half-demon that supposedly attacked a security guard.  Today, the location is home to a haunted house attraction, and has been investigated numerous times, with evidence seeming that the old foreman is still trying to exact his revenge.

Alaska Begich Towers of Whittier--Less than 200 residents live in the tiny town of Whittier, almost all of who live in the haunted Begich Towers.  Disembodied whistling and heavy phantom footsteps are common. The towers, which is home not only to most of the residents, but to almost all of the city government buildings, post office, doctors offices, etc., is actually the former Hodge Building, built between 1953 and 1957 for soldier housing.

Arizona Bird Cage Theater--At least 26 people have been killed in this former brothel/casino/saloon, which opened its doors in 1881. The apparitions of both cowboys and prostitutes have been seen, along with the feelings of being touched, and the disembodied sounds of laughing and yelling.

Arkansas Crescent Hotel--Known to many as America's Most Haunted Hotel, the Crescent was once used a medical facility run by the infamous Dr. Baker.  Dr. Baker himself has been seen, along with several of his patients, and even a stonemason who fell to his death while working on the construction of the original hotel in 1885.

California Winchester Mystery House--There actually aren't too many ghost stories attached to the Winchester Mansion, but it definitely earns a spot based on its history alone.  After Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune, lost both her husband and child, she blamed the spirits of those killed by the Winchester Rifles.  To appease those spirits, she was told to construct a grand home and NEVER stop the construction.

Stanley Hotel, Colorado

Colorado Stanley Hotel--Stephen King's inspiration for The Shining, the Stanley Hotel has plenty of its OWN ghosts, including phantom piano music and sightings of the original owners. Room 217 is considered to be an especially active spot.

Connecticut Dudleytown--Dudleytown is an alleged cursed area of Cornwall, sometimes referred to as The Village of the Damned.  According to legend, the founders of Dudleytown were descendants of Edmund Dudley, who was beheaded for treason during the reign of Henry VIII, and thus cursed. Dudleytown apparently had a significant number of residents who went insane and/or committed suicide, with one claiming to have had visions of demons before her death. Today, those who dare to trespass on this wooded area have noted that the woods are abnormally quiet, and balls of light dance around the ruins of the old town. 

Delaware Fort Delaware--This old Civil War-era fort is still haunted by those who lived and died within its confines, notably a woman in period clothes who is seen in the kitchen area and has also been photographed.  Fort Delaware hosts public ghost hunts throughout the month of October.

Florida St. Augustine Lighthouse--Built in 1874, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is most famous in ghost lore for being the location where Ghost Hunters filmed an episode in which they caught the apparition of a shadowy man, believed to be the former keeper, peering down on them.  But, the sounds and apparitions of three little girls believed to have drowned nearby also have been reported.

Georgia Moon River Brewing Company--Opened to the public in 1999, the Moon River Brewing Company is housed in the old City Hotel, built in 1821 by Elazer Early. Since opening to the public, the brewery has been noted for its paranormal activity including bottles being thrown at people and a resident ghost named Tony who likes to hang out in the billiards room

Hawaii The H-3 Freeway--Although the planning for this freeway, which cuts across Oahu, began in the 1960s, it wasn't fully open to the public until the 1990s.  Built over two Hawaiin temples, many islanders were outraged at its construction, and feel the road is cursed.  Construction crews were plagued by such activity as sounds of chanting, rocks moving, and equipment sailing through the air.  Many native Hawaiins refuse to use this road.

Old Idaho Penitentiary

Idaho Old Idaho Penitentiary--Serving as a prison from 1872 to 1973, the Old Idaho Penitentiary was featured on an episode of Ghost Adventures.  Common reports include intense feelings of sadness and anxiety where the executions took place, and disembodied footsteps and voices throughout the prison.  Tours and special Halloween events are available.

Illinois  Resurrection Mary--She's the quintessential vanishing hitchhiker, haunting an area outside of Chicago, waiting for a ride back to Resurrection Cemetery.

Indiana Willard Library--Sightings of Willard's Gray Lady date back to the 1930s when a custodian first saw her.  She is still being seen today, along with various other paranormal activities.  Activity is so prevalent that the library has installed various webcams so that viewers all over the world can help investigate these claims.

Iowa Villisca Axe Murder House--A small town in Iowa was shaken to is core in 1912 as couple and their young children, plus two neighbor girls who were spending the night, were brutally attacked as they slept.  The crime was never solved and today the home is open to ghost hunts and tours, where numerous visitors have claimed contact with the murder victims.

Kansas Sallie House--Built in 1872, the Sallie House has long been known for its paranormal activity, including full bodied apparitions, poltergeist activity, and plenty of unexplained sounds.  Featured on television and in books, the home is now open to tours and paranormal investigations.

Waverly Hills, Kentucky

Kentucky Waverly Hills--This former TB hospital is often cited as being one of the most haunted locations in the country, if not in the world.  Shadow beings, a little boy, and a nurse who killed herself or just some of the ghosts you can encounter at the formidable building, which is open for tours and investigations.

Louisiana Myrtles Plantation--Stay the night at Myrtles Plantation to catch a glimpse of Chloe, a former slave, or the children she allegedly cared for.  There's also a pretty haunted mirror in the parlor where multiple witnesses claim to have caught photographic anomalies.

Maine Kennebuck Inn--Originally built as a private residence in 1799, the Inn is said to be haunted by Silas Perkins, a clerk who passed away in the mid-20th century.  He likes to make his presence known by throwing around wine glasses and other objects.

Maryland Dr. Samuel Mudd House--After shooting President Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth was injured while fleeing, and sought refuge at the home of Dr. Mudd, who patched him up and let him stay there for 12 hours.  Later on, Dr. Mudd was found guilty of accessory to the assassination for aiding Booth.  Today, the home where this all occurred is haunted enough to have attracted the attention of Ghost Hunters. The team captured an EVP believed to be Dr. Mudd saying "I am Not Guilty," and investigated claims of a chair that moves on its own, the ghost of one of the Mudd children, and the apparitions of people standing around a fire outside.

Massachusetts Lizzie Borden House--Now a Bed and Breakfast, you can sleep where the famous axe murders took place, back in 1892.  Visitors have reported cold spots, apparitions, and the indentation on the bed where Mrs. Borden was killed that resembles a body lying there.

Whitney House, Michigan

Michigan The Whitney House--Now a restaurant, the old mansion was built in 1894 by lumber baron, David Whitney.  He has been spotted wearing a rather dapper tuxedo, but the most haunted area of the house is the elevator.

Minnesota Greyhound Bus Museum--In this unique museum, tools will go missing only to show up later stacked neatly in another location.  Shadows dart around the vintage buses, with the Number 9 being especially susceptible to haunted activity. The apparition of a little girl around 9 years old has also been seen and heard quite often.

Mississippi Cedar Grove Inn--The mansion pre-dates the Civil War and its first owners never seem to have left.  The man of the house prefers to make his presence known with the scent of pipe tobacco, while his wife prefers to be seen walking down the front stairs.  There is also the ghost of a little girl who died upstairs, and the souls of Civil War soldiers who stayed in the home during its use as a hospital.

Missouri  Lemp Mansion--Once home to millionaires in the brewery business, a steady decline led to the suicides of no less than 3 members of the Lemp Family.  Today, the home is open as an inn, hosting ghost tours, murder mystery events, and much more.  It is haunted by several members of the Lemp Family, including a son with Downs Syndrome who makes his presence known in the attic.

Montana Little Bighorn Battlefield--The spirits of both soldiers and American Indians have been spotted roaming the grounds where the infamous battle took the life of General Custer.  Disembodied screams and the sounds of horses have also been observed.

Nebraska Alliance Theater--The Alliance Theater began as the Charter Hotel in 1903 and became a theater in 1938.  It is home to the spirit of an actress named Mary, who was killed by a falling light fixture.  Today she makes her presence known by messing with the lights, showing up in a shadowy form, and manifesting phantom footsteps that run up and down the aisles.

Goldfield Hotel, Nevada

Nevada Goldfield Hotel--Built in 1908, the former hotel is filled with ghost stories, the most famous being that of Elizabeth.  It is believed that Elizabeth was a prostitute who found herself pregnant and chained to a radiator in one of the rooms. She was later murdered after the baby was born...or was she?

New Hampshire Spalding Inn--Established in 1926 as a spring/summer retreat for private members, this hotel was made famous when Jason and Grant from Ghost Hunters took it over in 2009. One of the most paranormally active spots in the second floor of the Carriage House, where voices, shadows, and apparitions have been noted.

New Jersey Hindenburg Crash Site--When the great zeppelin crashed on May 6, 1937 ninety-two people lost their lives.  Outside the hangar which housed what was left of the airship, witnesses have reported a variety of phantom voices screaming such phrases as:  "Away the lines; Christ be blessed, away the lines!" and "She's afire!"

New Mexico State Penitentiary--This prison had a relatively short run, operating from 1956 to 1998, but that was plenty of time for it to be labeled one of the most violent...and most haunted in the country.  Featured on Ghost Adventures and Dead Files, this prison is known for the phantom slamming of cell doors, apparitions, and other spooky happenings.

New York Rolling Hills Asylum--Not much is discussed about this location today, but several years ago it was THE go-to pay-to-play location for ghost hunters and paranormal investigators.  It began life in 1827 as a poorhouse farm and a long history of disembodied screams, shadow people, and doors slamming shut on their own has led to countless television appearances and investigations.

North Carolina The Biltmore--This palatial estate was constructed as a summer home for George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s, and many say George has never left.  His ghost has been seen in the library, and a disembodied woman's voice has been recorded whispering his name.

San Haven Sanatorium, North Dakota

North Dakota San Haven Sanatorium--Founded in 1909 as a TB hospital, San Haven would later go on to become a home for the developmentally disabled.  Apparitions have been spotted peering out from the windows, and the disembodied cries of babies have been heard.

Ohio Prospect Place--Built in the 1800s by abolitionist, G.W. Adams, this house has been featured on several television shows, and featured in several books on hauntings.  Still, its one of those places that I think is actually underrated.  Various ghostly happenings go on in the old home, including reports of a little girl who died in the home and held in the cellar until burial, a murdered slave hunter, and some creepy goings-on in an upstairs ballroom. I investigated the home several years ago and it was an awesome experience!

Oklahoma McBride House--This house, built in 1895, was recently the subject of a book on hauntings...and for good reason.  It is haunted by several ghosts, most notably that of Dr. McBride, the very particular builder of the home who is still watching over his property today.

Oregon Shanghai Tunnels--Nearly 2000 people were have believed to have been kidnapped and forced into labor using Portland's network of underground tunnels.  Today, that tunnel system is one of the country's most haunted places.  The ghost of a former prostitute named Nina is just one of the many spirits that still roam the tunnels.

Pennsylvania Eastern State Penitentiary--Billed as the world's first true penitentiary, ESP picked up a reputation for being haunted as early as the 1940s when both officers and inmates began reporting strange and unusual experiences.  Since its closure in the 1970s, the hauntings have only increased, and today, the prison has been investigated by numerous groups and has been featured on numerous television programs.

Rhode Island Belcourt Castle--Originally built as a summer cottage in the early 1890s, Belcourt Castle is now home to a haunted suit of armor that screams...and at least two haunted chairs that have been known to dump those brave enough to sit in them onto the floor.  Ghost tours are held during the summer months to accommodate the curious.

South Carolina Battery Carriage House Inn--A gentleman ghost and a headless torso are just a few of the spirits awaiting visitors in this inn, dating back to 1843. If you stay, ask for room 3, 8, or 10!

South Dakota Orpheum Theater--The first recorded sighting of resident ghost, Larry, happened in 1959 when an actor named Ray witnessed a blue, pulsing light, and then experienced a string of bad luck.  Larry was again seen in 1972 when a technical director was startled by an unknown noise that resulted in him finding an old tin-type, believed to be of Larry himself.

Sensabaugh Tunnel, Tennessee

Tennessee Sensabaugh Tunnel--There are actually two 'haunted' Sensabaugh Tunnels, one of which is closed off, and the other which is a drive-through version.  The legends surrounding the tunnel are extremely steeped in folklore, but I've added this one to the list simply because of that darn infographic that kept getting posted over and over by every paranormal group and page on Facebook.  Oh, and for the fact that the tunnel made the news when a group of kids were actually shot at by a property owner while exploring the tunnel!

Texas The Alamo--The Alamo was the site of many deaths on March 6, 1836 and those events left their mark on the old fort.  Today, visitors have seen apparitions, heard screams emanating from the walls, and experienced phantom music.

Utah Fort Douglas--Established in 1862, this former Civil War era camp and fort is now haunted by a soldier named Clem, who likes to hang out in the site's museum.

Vermont Emily's Bridge--The Gold Brook Bridge, aka Emily's Bridge is steeped in legend and folklore, but the basic story goes that a woman named Emily, who died on or near the bridge after a love went south, haunts it.  Activity is at its peak between midnight and 3:30am, when Emily has been known to scratch vehicles stopped on the bridge, make noises, etc.

Virginia Monticello--Once home to former President Thomas Jefferson, many believe its still haunted by him.  Visitors have heard whistling in the gardens, and some have even claimed to have been approached by a gentleman fitting Jefferson's description who asks them what they are doing on the property.

Washington Thornewood Castle--Although its more widely known as the home used in the exterior shots of Stephen King's Rose Red movie, Thornewood does have its own ghost stories, including sightings of both Anna and Chester Thornton, the original owners.

White House, Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C. TheWhite House--Ghosts have been seen in the Presidential home since at least the days of Abraham Lincoln.  These ghosts include former presidents, first-ladies...and even a demon cat?

West Virginia WV State Penitentiary at Moundsville--Construction began on the old prison as early as 1866, and it was home to thousands of inmates over its 130 years of service. The Shadow Man, Red Snyder, and R.D. Wall are just a few of the more famous ghosts that still call the prison home today.

Wisconsin Pfister Hotel--The haunted history of the Pfister Hotel was brought to national attention a few years ago when it was widely reported that MLB players staying at the hotel were encountering the resident ghost/s on a regular basis.

Wyoming Sheridan Inn--When a long-time employee and resident of the hotel died, her cremains were interred within the wall of her favorite room.  Today, she is still said to watch over her beloved inn, making her presence known closing and opening doors, flipping lights on and off, and unexplained cold spots.

*What do you think of the list?  Is there anything you would have changed?  Let me know over on Facebook!*

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Amy Bruni's Ghost Photo

She may no longer be a member of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, but Amy Bruni is still in the paranormal news.  On November 18, 2014 she posted a photo to her Facebook fan page with the following information:

"28 years ago I took this photo. It has been lost for probably the last decade or so, but we finally just found it in an old album stashed away in my mothers house, (it has clearly been damaged over time.)  The girl in the photo is my little sister...I was just playing with the camera and making her pose.  But, there's someone on the porch...and that person wasn't there when I took the picture...and they aren't casting any shadow.  My mother to this to our photographer neighbor at the time, who was completely dumbfounded by the photo - because before we moved into this house, the old woman who had lived there passed away in it. Every day, when her husband went to work or ran errands, she would diligently wait for him on the porch, right where this figure is standing. In all my years looking at photos, maybe half a dozen have impressed me...this is one of them.  I'm so glad we finally found it."

It certainly looks as if there is some interesting anomaly in the photograph, and certainly Amy Bruni, with her investigation skills and background, would be reasonably well-educated enough to make an assessment. However, I have to play Devil's Advocate a minute, and use this photo as a great example of one of the many frustrations myself, as well as other paranormal researchers, face when it comes to assessing another person's photograph.

A major piece of information that is needed when analyzing a photo is the owner's information on it.  Why was it taken?  When?  Where? What was going on at the time and who was present?  A visual assessment based on a knowledge of photographic principals, as well as using certain tools such as EXIF data and error level analysis software, certainly help fill in the missing pieces, but they can only give us so much.  Some mysteries, in order to solve, require that human element...and the whole thing relies on an honest and accurate description.

Unfortunately, humans are notoriously bad witnesses.  Let's use this photo for an example.  The photograph was taken 28 years ago when Amy was a child. No one even saw it for the last ten years.  There is a very good chance that certain details could have been forgotten over time...or even changed over time through each re-telling of the story of the spooky photograph.

Even if the photograph was just taken yesterday, many people simply aren't consciously aware of certain details around them. She was probably having fun with her sister, concentrating on 'making her pose.' Was she really paying attention to what was going on outside during that fleeting moment the photograph was taken?  I see this over and over again with photos submitted as paranormal proof---the anomaly turns out to be a real person who just happened to wander into the shot, un-noticed by the subject and the photographer.

Obviously, I cannot claim that this is what happened with Amy's photo, and a more thorough analysis would have to be done in order to make a more accurate assessment.  Without doing such an in-depth study, it does appear that there is something possibly paranormal in this photo!

But, please keep this in mind when you're submitting a photo for analysis or if you are assessing one and the person claims that there was no one else around....especially if they are outside or in a public place.  These people might not necessarily be giving you false information or lying to you; they might simply be telling you what they honestly perceive was the circumstance.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

13 Spooky Movie Classics

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...but even it can't hold a candle to these spooky classic films!

Here in the tri-state, winter has finally hit!  It's been cold, wet, and even a little snowy at times.  Therefore, leaving the house unless absolutely necessary hasn't been a huge priority for me.  So what have I been doing to fill my time?  Watching scary old movies on Youtube, of course!  Grab some popcorn and a cuddle buddy and enjoy these horrifying examples of classic horror, cherry-picked from among my personal favorites!

1. Carnival of Souls (1962)--Before there was The Others or The Sixth Sense, there was Carnival of Souls.  After a tragic accident, a young woman journeys across the country to settle into her new life, but along the way she's plagued by strange happenings.

2. Suspiria (1977)--A new-comer to a prestigious ballet academy quickly finds out that there is something very sinister going on.  Is a coven of witches responsible for the brutal murder of one of the students?

3. White Zombie (1932)--In order to steal a beautiful, young bride-to-be away from her fiance, a jealous suitor employs a witch doctor to turn her into a zombie.  Unfortunately for him, the plan backfires.

4. The Ghoul (1933)--An Egyptologist returns from the grave to exact revenge on those who plundered his tomb.

5. The Vampire Bat (1933)--When the citizens of a small town start dying of a mysterious blood loss, it is believed that the culprit is a vampire...but is it really a vampire, or something much worse?

6. The Old Dark House (1932)--Five travelers seeking shelter during a terrible storm find themselves at a strange old house with even an even stranger family living inside.  Will they make it through the night alive?

7. House on Haunted Hill (1959)--Guests are challenged to spend the night in a haunted house for a cash award.  Who will take home the prize...and who will die trying?

8. Ghosts of Hanley House (1968)--Another movie where guests are staying the night in a haunted house, and start dying off.

9. Terror in the Haunted House (1958)--When a young bride is taken by her husband to their new home in Florida, she's shocked to see that the home is one that she has never seen in person...but has been having nightmares about.

10. Horror Hotel (1960)--A young student spends her school break researching witchcraft in a small town.  However, she soon finds out that things are not quite what they seem and that witchcraft might still be alive and well here.

11. The Ghost Walks (1934)--Another movie involving stranded motorists trapped in a sinister house, where the widow of a murder victim is 'mourning' the anniversary of her husband's death.

12. Nosferatu (1922)--The classic silent film that sparked a cultural phenomena of vampire movies.  Even after all these years, the Count is one of the creepiest depictions of a leading role vampire you'll EVER see on screen.

13. The Phantom Carriage (1921)--A silent film about a drunkard telling the legend of the Phantom Carriage.  It's New Year's Eve and the legend states that whomever is last to die in a year will be cursed to drive the phantom carriage...who will the unlucky soul be?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Occult Books

Happy National Occult Day!  I'm not sure where this celebration originated from or even why it is celebrated, but its a great excuse to once again share my love of reading with you all!

 Today's blog is just a short list of some of the FREE (yes, FREE) ebooks that are available on occult subjects.  The world of the occult is a huge one, encompassing many different ideas, but I've chosen to narrow down these literary choices to ones that specifically use the word 'occult' in the title.

These books are all now in the public domain (written in the late 1800s through early 1900s), so the FREE price point should remain constant.  The links below will take you to the Amazon website where you can easily download them for your Kindle.  However, if you do not own a Kindle device or a way to read Kindle books, all of the selections can be found for free on other websites as well, including Project Gutenberg, where they are available in a variety of formats to read on your PC, laptop, tablet, e-reader or phone.

Happy reading...and Happy National Occult Day!

1. An Outline of Occult Science by Rudolph Steiner.  This is a look at the psychic anatomy of man, and covers topics such as reincarnation, the transition from life to death, and the relationship between sleeping and waking consciousness.

2. Clairvoyance and Occult Powers by William Walker Atkinson.  Written under the pen name of Swami Panchadasi in 1916, this book contains 20 lessons on topics such as astral travel, psychic healing, and crystal gazing.

3. Studies in Occultism by H.P. Blavatsky. Topics covered include black magic in science, hypnotism, and noetics.

4. Occult Chemistry by C.W. Leadbeater.  This book proposes that the structure of the chemical elements can be assessed through clairvoyant observation with the microscopic vision of the third eye.

5. Mystic London; or Phases of Occult Life in Metropolis by Charles Davies is a collection of articles about late 19th century Spiritualism in London.  It defends the practice and beliefs of Spiritualism, arguing that they can co-exist peacefully with the beliefs and ideals of Christianity.

*If you have any other great recommendations, feel free to pop on over to Theresa's Haunted History Facebook and share!*

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kentucky State Office Building

KY State Office Building
The Kentucky State Office Building in Frankfort was built over a period of several years, from 1937 to 1940.  Prior to its construction, the land it sits on was home to the original Kentucky State Prison.

The first Kentucky State Penitentiary was built in 1798 and the following year a branch was built in Eddyville.  By 1912, the Eddyville branch became the main penitentiary, while the facility in Frankfort was renamed the Kentucky State Reformatory.  As the name suggests, the Reformatory was supposed to have started handling younger, less violent offenders, but due to overcrowding issues at all the facilities, it continued to house prisoners of all ages and levels.

That overcrowding, in addition to severe flood damage in the mid-1930s, led to a major restructuring of Kentucky's penal system.  A new reformatory was built at another location, and the heavily damaged, outdated building at Frankfort was torn down to make room for a new office complex.

Original Kentucky State Penitentiary

Those working in the office building today believe that the souls of the Kentucky State Penitentiary/Reformatory  are still on the property...causing mischief throughout the building.  Many employees refuse to work in the building after hours due to all the strange things experienced over the years.  People have been touched.  They've heard voices and footsteps and seen shadows.  One ghost in particular likes to run the copy machine in an empty room, and another likes to rustle the paperwork in one of the cubicles.  Another witness reported seeing a man step into the elevator, but when he walked up to the elevator right as the door was closing, he could clearly see it was empty.  When he pushed the button, the elevator popped back open immediately, confirming that no one was inside.

During a period of time between 2005 and 2007, the building underwent extensive renovations, which seemed to have stirred up the activity.  Construction workers reported being grabbed by unseen hands, and at least one person claims to have been shoved down the stairs by someone who wasn't there.  The building opened back up in 2007, still housing various departments of state government, and....still housing a few ghosts as well.

Joint Investigation Data from SIGH and iGHOST
Personal Experience from Your Ghost Stories
The Haunted State Office Building
Kentucky State Reformatory History
Historic Photos 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Central City Masonic Cemetery

John Cameron, by Ron West
The Central City Masonic Cemetery in Gilpin County, Colorado was established in the early 1860s, immediately following the establishment of the small mining community.  Today it is maintained by the county and has become a popular spot on the local historical society's annual ghost walk!

Like many cemeteries, Central City Masonic boasts the claim light anomalies and orbs being photographed by night-time visitors.  Also reported are sightings of a little boy who will follow behind visitors, but will run and hide if anyone tries to approach him.  It is the Lady in Black, however, that has firmly cemented this burial ground's haunted reputation.  Her story begins all the way back in 1887...

On November 1, 1887 a local man named John Edward Cameron passed away after a brief illness---paralysis of the heart was given as the official cause of death.  Cameron had moved to the area with his family when he was just seven years old and grew up to be a loved and respected citizen, even serving with the town's fire and rescue squad.  At the time of his death, at age 28, he was unmarried, but it was rumored that he had been courting a woman who lived near Bald Mountain.

The town mourned his death, but a mysterious woman in black seemed to take his passing very hard.  Every day from November 1, 1887 to late June of 1888 the young woman would visit the grave.  On one occasion, she planted a yellow flower on the grave.  Suddenly, however, the visits stopped and the young woman wasn't seen for several years.

But on November 1, 1890, the young woman returned and laid a bouquet of blue columbines on John's grave before mysteriously gliding out of the cemetery.  This yearly vigil continued in the same manner until 1899, when a group of a dozen or so men, acting on the rumor that the young lady was actually a ghost, staked out the cemetery on November 1 in an effort to uncover the woman's identity.

They were not disappointed.  That evening, the woman came into the cemetery and laid her flowers upon John's grave.  The men noted that she appeared to be very beautiful, but her silk mourning clothes were of an outdated fashion.  They were so mesmerized that it wasn't until she exited the cemetery and started up the hill toward Bald Mountain that they decided to go after her.  As they crested the hill, they found the woman was no where in sight.

Since then, the Lady in Black still walks the cemetery every November 1st, visiting the grave of John Cameron, who many believe had been her suitor in life.  She has also been seen roaming the cemetery on April 5th, following the same pattern of her November visits.  After all these years, her identity is still unknown.

Legendary Ghost Walk of Masonic Cemetery
Colorado Cemeteries