Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Documentary Roundup

Last Saturday I posted about all the horror films I watched throughout the week, all of which were available through Netflix streaming.  THIS week I went in a little bit different of a direction---I focused on documentaries and non-fiction series.

1. Mystery Files: Hitler---I began with a short, 24 minute documentary by the Smithsonian Channel (available on Netflix streaming) about Adolph Hitler's earlier years.  This film focuses on the changes Hitler went through during WWI that turned him from an unambitious slacker to the anti-Semitic politician hell-bent on world domination we now know him as.  I didn't really know a lot about Hitler's involvement in WWI so this was definitely interesting and educational...but with most of these Mystery Files, there was still no real sense of...closure...maybe?  Only speculation and theories were presented in regards to the mystery of why Hitler became the most evil man in history.

2. Killer Legends---If you enjoyed the Cropsey documentary, you'll really enjoy this one as well.  It's put out by the same people, and has a similar theme.  Instead of focusing on ONE urban legend, however, in this film they tackle four popular urban myths and find REAL crimes that formed the basis of the tales.  I thought this was really well done and its probably my favorite documentary of the week. Interviews with the people who lived through the tales, plenty of newspaper accounts, and actual visits to the site were enhanced by statements made by historians, researchers, and folklore/urban legend experts, making this not only entertaining, but pretty educational as well. It was also pretty creepy...

3. Myth Hunters: The Nazis and the Book of Power---This one wasn't a documentary, per se, but part of a television series.  I chose to watch this particular episode because I've always had a fascination with the Nazi obsession with the occult.  The Book of Power in question is the Germania...a book Himmler read and based much of his ideas on genetic purity and the perfect German race on.  I was absolutely fascinated by how a stubborn Italian Count went to great lengths to make sure the Nazis didn't get what they wanted.

4. The Truth Behind: UFOS---Pretty standard UFO documentary, complete with a trip to Area 51 and much discussion on Roswell.  However, this was still pretty interesting as it delved a lot into the recent work of Moller and his UFO-like flying vehicles.

5. Mystery Files: Abraham Lincoln---Abraham Lincoln was a pretty complex guy.  This short film focuses on his early life and how it shaped his political agenda.  Lincoln's earliest years as a politician were of a stark contrast to his later years and I never realized that he sat out of politics for five years.

6. Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue---A look at the cultural history of horror movies in the United States.  Most of the American greats in horror film make an appearance in this documentary.  Probably my SECOND favorite pick of the week!

7. The Search for the Holy Grail---This was an excellent documentary as well.  Most grail documentaries focus on the Dan Brown interpretation of what the grail is.  While those theories are certainly discussed, this film tends to explore all possibilities and examines how art, literature and pop culture through the ages worked to shape the grail story...and vice versa.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yokum's Vacationland

Shirley and Carl Yokum, Source

It all started in 1935 when Seneca Rocks resident, Carl Yokum, realized the potential of the area as a premier fishing tourism destination.  That year, he built the first two log cabins at an investment of about $30 per cabin that would grow into the massive vacation empire known as Yokum's Vacationland.  Three years later, Carl married his childhood sweetheart, Shirley Bland, and together they ran their rustic empire, which today includes a general store/motel, Princess Snowbird's Indian Village complete with teepee camping, campsites and cabins, a restaurant, a second motel, two school buildings and even more log cabins!

However, things didn't always go as planned for the Yokum's and their campsite near the base of Seneca Rocks.  Carl's very first customers only paid for one week---their second week's check BOUNCED. During WWII, Seneca Rocks was used as a rock climbing training facility for soldiers, and tourists were replaced with military personnel.  Vandals destroyed the original canvas coverings of the teepee village and in 1985, deadly flooding destroyed most of the original cabins.  But through it all, the Yokum's managed to stay together, and rebuild, bigger and better than ever at each setback.  Today, Carl has passed, but Shirley still takes care of much of the daily operations well into her 90s and visitors still come from miles around to stay at the campground.  Staff working as guides to Seneca Rock also sometimes stay for the season.

In fact, it is one such former employee who is responsible for sharing all the spooky goings-on here!  In February of 2014, a climbing guide who stayed at the campground in a pop-up camper all season long wrote into the WVGhosts website to share plenty of personal stories from the campground.

Activity experienced included a constant feeling of being watched, either through the windows of the camper, or from the treeline or pavilion on the way to the bathhouse from there.  The pavilion was also said to creak and make other noises, just as if someone was standing there. Footsteps were heard in the gravel behind this guide, and in one unfortunate incident, some unseen force seemed to have grabbed the neck of this unfortunate employee and slammed her head down on the table!

The most haunted area, however, seems to be the bathhouses, located on the lower level with guests rooms above it.  Stall doors would unlock and fly open, this employee would be poked while showering, and footsteps and movement could be heard upstairs, even when no one was staying in the rooms above.  It's anyone's guess as to who or what is responsible for the strange activity experienced in the area, but many believe that the root cause of the paranormal activity could be because of the Native American influence of the area, especially the disturbance of a burial ground.

Goldenseal Magazine: Fall 2008
Yokum's Vacationland Website
The Legend of Princess Snowbird

Monday, May 18, 2015

Louisville's Rose Bowl Lanes and the Ghost of Amy

All of the information regarding the hauntings of this establishment are from Robert Parker's awesome book, Haunted Louisville 2: Beyond Downtown

The Rose Bowl bowling alley in Louisville is an older, yet quaint little spot to spend some family time on the lanes, or some grown-up time in the on-site bar.  While many of the online reviews mention its a little shabby, perhaps a tad outdated...many counterbalance those claims that its a great value for what it is and it surely evokes a sense of nostalgia for many.  For me, the fact that its known to be haunted is enough for me!

Staff call the resident ghost 'Amy,' and believe that she was an equestrienne who was killed by falling off her horse way back in the first half of the 20th century when the area was all farmland...way before even Father Mahoney purchased the property for use with his Boys' Haven, a home for orphaned boys.

Amy is said to make herself known through a number of different ghostly phenomena, such as giving one waitress a hard time by undoing all her hard work getting the tables ready for the next day.  Amy is also blamed for equipment malfunctions, lights turning themselves on and off, and the sounds of machines running well after all power has been shut off for the night.  A few times, Amy has made her presence known visually.  A young employee working the snack bar witnessed a dark shadow walk by a doorway, followed by the sounds of someone opening the walk-in cooler.  A female employee stated that she's also seen Amy a few times, always in the bar area, and always out of the corner of her eye.  Unfortunately, she disappears before a good description of her can be assessed.

If you'd like to learn more about Amy, definitely check out Parker's book, but if you're in the area, take an evening trip down to the lanes.  Come for the ghost stories, but stay for a quick, affordable game in a cozy, haunted bowling alley!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Utah's Haunted Train Depot

Welcome to another installment of Haunted America!  Utah isn't generally known on a national level for its ghosts, but there are still plenty of wonderful legends and hauntings to go around...such as these stories from the Denver and Rio Grande Western Train Depot, located in Salt Lake City.

Commonly referred to as just the Rio Grande Train Depot, construction for this depot was completed in 1910 by architect Henry Schlacks, and for many years, was the main rail line in and out of Salt Lake City.  In fact, it is noted that many celebrities came through this station, as well as scores of LDS missionaries, and even more soldiers on their way to and from Fort Douglas during WWI and WWII.  However, as personal automobiles replaced the train as the preferred method of travel, the station's usefulness steadily declined.  It did act as the area's Amtrak station from 1986 through 1999, but even then, its career as a train depot was nearly at an end.  The building was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and was purchased by the state two years later.

In 1981, the Utah State Historical Society moved into the building and to this day, the old depot houses its many offices and facilities.  It also houses a couple of ghost stories!

Since the 1940s, sightings of what has been dubbed the Purple Lady have been reported at the depot, most often near the current cafe and mezzanine areas.  Legend tells that this lady was accompanying her fiance to the depot to see him off during his enlistment in either the First or Second World War.  The two allegedly got into an argument, breaking off their engagement, and a ring was flung or fell onto the tracks.  As the young lady went to retrieve the ring, she was struck and killed by an incoming train.

The most detailed sighting of the Purple Lady was recorded in 1992 by a staff member with the Utah State Historical Society.  While in the women's restroom near the cafe, she noticed a woman with black hair, wearing a purple sequined dress, sitting on the couch in the lounge area.  The woman apparently appeared very angry, and ran out of the bathroom before disappearing from view.  Her footsteps have also been reported throughout the northern section of the building.

The Purple Lady is not alone, however.  Another ghost is reported as being a man who was killed during the construction of a nearby train tunnel.  While it is not usually noted how this particular ghost makes its presence known, he is dubbed the Tunnel Ghost. 

All Aboard!  Rio Grande Depot Turns 100 This Year!
Prairie Ghosts

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Movie Roundup

With my boyfriend being out of town this week, I've had plenty of time to catch up on some spooky movies!  All of these are available through Netflix streaming.  Let me know if you've seen any of these and what you thought of them! Oh, and if none of these films are doing it for ya, iHorror has compiled a list of the best, most underrated horror films on Netflix right now!

1. Nightbreed (1990)---What a weird movie. In this tale, a young man is haunted by dreams of a place where monsters are forgiven; a place called Midian. He finds out the hard way that Midian is a real place, and he must accept his role in its very existence. Apparently this wasn't originally well-received, but over the years it gained somewhat of a cult following, and then a director's cut was released which made it a little more bearable.  I liked it, though!  It was unique, if not a little predictable, and one of those movies where you ultimately decide that the bad guys aren't necessarily who you think they should be.  It was a nice little story, with some comedy thrown in, and I appreciate the folklore behind the short story on which its based.  It's not the best film I've ever seen, but it was entertaining enough for a night in by myself.

2. Tales From the Darkside: The Movie (1990)---In order to prevent being cooked and eaten by a crazy Deborah Harry, a young boy relates three different spooky tales in this anthology series.  I've seen parts of this one before, but realized I've never seen the whole movie from start to finish. You've got three of two of revenge (in a way) and one love story, all with rather creepy endings.  Again, not the best thing ever, but an enjoyable way to kill some time with an array of famous actors!

3. The Houses October Built (2014)---I'm not big on found footage movies, but I really did enjoy this one! Five friends rent an RV and take a road trip in search of the spookiest haunted house attraction they can find.  Things get progressively weirder until they find what they're searching for...and much more.  I love Halloween and everything to do with Halloween, so the concept, with its mock-documentary style was really quite interesting...and will definitely make me re-think hitting up the haunted houses this coming October, lol.  The best part of the movie, however, was that it opened with a vintage commercial for the tri-state's own Camden Park's haunted house ride!

4. Black Sabbath (1964)---I absolutely adore my vintage horror, but this anthology was somewhat of a miss for me.  The first story, which involved a nurse being haunted by the ghost of an elderly woman, was one of the freakiest things I've ever seen, but the second two stories were just sort of blah for me.  I quickly lost interest and only half-heartedly watched while occupied with other things.  It did have Boris Karloff in it, which made it all worthwhile, though.  I'd definitely recommend this for the lovers of the classic horror tales.

5. The Babadook (2014)---I've heard a lot of people talking about this one for awhile now, so I decided it was time I watched it for myself.  I wasn't disappointed; in fact, this was probably my favorite movie watched this week.  I loved how even though the monster was pretty darn spooky, this film relied more on psychological horror than in-your-face blood and gore.  The symbolism for what the monster represented is also quite interesting.  As an interesting side note:  At one point, the mother in the film is staying up late watching television...and the movie Black Sabbath that I also watched this week is playing!

*Looking for another reason to LOVE horror flicks all-year round?  Read my article on Cinematic Research!*

Friday, May 15, 2015

Seven Lives to Go?

It's been awhile since I've really done a Friday Night Funny post! I'm not ready to make it a weekly thing, but I can't help sharing some paranormal humor once in awhile, especially when its this freakin' adorable!  There has been a lot of negativity as of late in the paranormal community and even in the world as a whole.  I've actually left several Facebook groups this month alone because I've been so sick of seeing people fight over silly things, letting their egos get in the way, and backstabbing the crud out of others in the community. General d-baggery is at an all-time high and its hurting the integrity of paranormal study.

Sometimes we all need to just take a deep breath and chill out with some precious lil' kitty pictures!  The paranormal community is filled with wonderful, caring people who will overcome this short period of negativity with no problem, though. Unlike this little guy, we've only got one life---live it to its fullest and make it count!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Paranormal Challenges 2015

Hey everyone!  I had enough responses on Facebook to go through with piecing together some type of monthly Paranormal Challenge!  If you missed that post, the basic idea is this:  Each month I'll post a different challenge and an example of how I completed that task.  If you choose to participate, you have an entire month to complete the challenge, then post your results, thoughts, etc. in the appropriate Facebook thread. 

These challenges are meant to be short, fun activities designed to get us thinking about and researching the paranormal investigation field.  They are meant to help us practice our investigation skills and hopefully become better investigators, no matter what our current level of expertise. 

Throughout the month, I'll be posting  articles and information that will be related to the challenge and perhaps will give you some inspiration and some ideas on how to complete it. This information will also help explain why this particular topic and challenge are important to paranormal research. You won't need any special equipment or skills to complete these challenges, and there really won't be too many (if ANY) set rules---do as many of the challenges as you like and complete them anyway you see fit---creative thinking is another vital skill for investigators, after all.  I'll be posting more information about each challenge, both here and on Facebook each month and if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas for future challenges, please let me know. 

As of right now, there are no prizes, but if we get enough people interested I'll definitely see what I can do about sending out some small gifts, or at least certificates saying you've completed the challenges! Here's a quick run-down of the challenges I've come up with---subject to change.

Paranormal Challenges 2015/2016:

June:  Observational Listening
For this first exercise, I'm going to have you sit and observe for a set length of time, probably somewhere between 5-10 minutes.  I want you to simply LISTEN. Write down EVERY little sound you hear! This exercise is designed to help you practice your observational listening skills, identify background sounds, and practice documenting, all skills used during EVP sessions.  More info to come!

July:  Make Your Own Ghost Photo
Use whatever means you want to 'create' your own ghost photo, then let us know how you did it! This challenge is to share our knowledge about the many, many false positives and downright hoaxes that can be mistaken for a paranormal photo.  Feel free to use apps, Photoshop, long exposure times, etc. If you don't have access to camera equipment, feel free to find and post an example you've found online---just be sure to give credit where credit is due!

August: Preserving the Past
This month I want you to interview someone, preferably older than you, about a paranormal experience they had, or their thoughts about a local haunted location.  If you'd like, you can videotape or audio record the interview.  Throughout the month, I'll be posting a few interview questions that you might want to use. This challenge isn't meant to analyze or debunk these claims, but rather to practice interviewing skills, finding the right questions to ask during the interview, and of course, preserving oral history for future generations.

September: Investigation Critique
Pick a documentary or television show that features a paranormal investigation team or individual investigators investigating a haunting.  Write THREE positives about what you're seeing.  Now write THREE things you would have changed or done differently. Only constructive criticism, please.

October:  Field Trip Time!
I know October is a VERY, VERY busy month for many in the paranormal community, but if you get the chance, I want to use this month to do a little field trip. I want you to visit your local historical society, genealogy library, state archives, county courthouse, etc....any place where historical research can be conducted.  You don't actually have to research anything if you don't want...but I want you to be able to locate your local sources for historical information and familiarize yourself with the resources available therein.  If you are unable to get out to complete this task, see if you can find any completely awesome sources for information ONLINE.

November: Get Educated!
There are a LOT of FREE courses/classes out there that can be of benefit to the paranormal investigator, both in your community and online.  I want you to find and share at least one course that you personally feel is of value.  Some places to look might be edX, Coursera, Open2Study, etc.  Bonus points if you actually sign up and take the course!

December: Random Acts of Paranormal Kindness
December is a time where people start becoming really aware and interested in community service and helping those less fortunate.  I'll be posting some ideas how you as an individual, as a family, or as a team can add a paranormal twist to your community service, be it on a large scale, or simply through small, everyday things you can do to brighten someone's day. 

January: Paranormal Book Club
I want you to read ANY non-fiction book of your choosing dealing with some aspect of the paranormal or paranormal research.  Give us a brief synopsis of the book and whether or not you recommend it.  If possible, try to get some of your friends/colleagues to read the same book and organize some type of book club-type discussion.

February: Ghost Apps
There are a lot of different apps out there geared toward the paranormal investigator...many of which, unfortunately are actually 'for entertainment use only.' But, there are some decent apps that a paranormal researcher may find useful.  Find and research at least one paranormal-related app.  Feel free to download it and try it out for yourself, especially if its FREE!  Let us know what you find out---could it be potentially useful in paranormal investigation, or is it simply a toy?

*Again, there will be more information about each of these topics when they're presented at the beginning of each month.  Hopefully after the first one is posted and everyone gets a feel for how the setup will go, it'll make more sense and go smoothly.  I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with for these projects! Thank you so much to everyone who has expressed an interest!*

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Weird Art Wednesday: Patricia Piccinini

If you've been anywhere on the internet in the past ten years, chances are you've seen this photo (or a version of it) used to illustrate any number of hoaxes, including those about Russian/Nazi animal-human hybrid experiments, a new form of cryptozoological creature, and my favorite---the result of a Muslim girl choosing to listen to pop music over reading her Qur'an and being transformed by an angry Allah. You can even choose this image from the menu of one of the many ghost app programs to insert into your own photographs. 

So, most sane people realize that there is nothing 'paranormal' about this creature, although it will still pop up from time to time on paranormal Facebook pages, with someone gullible enough to try passing it off as 'real' and plenty of opinions backing it up.  But, if its not really the product of a vengeful God or even of bestiality...what the heck IS IT?

It's a sculpture by artist Patricia Piccinini!  It is part of a larger installation known as The Leather Landscape (2003), which was exhibited in "We Are Family" at the Venice Biennal. Piccinini is known for her strange, often almost grotesque-looking humanoid sculptures that represent a simple, yet at the same time, complex relationship between humans, animals, and the ethical questions of medical technology.  Made from silicon, polyurethane, human hair, etc., these creatures aren't meant to represent something ugly, nor despised...which is unfortunately what many of her creations have been used to illustrate in so many different hoaxes.

The Multi-Species Salon
Biennale 2003
Piccinini's Website

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Clothespin Grave

It's let's make it a Tombstone Tuesday!  Instead of the usual 'ghost story' or haunted location, let's just take a look at a VERY interesting symbol of one Vermont man's lasting legacy!

W. Jack Crowell was born on August 6, 1924.  He made his career in the clothespin industry; in fact, he owned the National Clothespin Factory of Montpelier, Vermont. The National Clothespin Factory opened in 1906 and continued manufacturing wooden clothespins until 2009, making it the LAST American company to do so. 

Apparently, Jack really loved his job, because when he died on October 20, 1996 his family erected in his honor a giant clothespin tombstone!  It is said that original plans for the tombstone were to include an actual spring so that children visiting the grave could play on the marker, just like a see-saw!  Although there is unfortunately no playing on the tombstone allowed, many people still flock to the Middlesex Center Cemetery each year to view the unusual tombstone. 

Vermont Deadline

Monday, May 11, 2015

Eiffel Tower Ghost

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France was constructed as the entrance gate to the 1889 World's Fair.  Built by Gustave Eiffel, this Iron Lady stands 1063 feet above the city and has become one of the most famous landmarks in the world.  However, it almost ended up in the scrap pile.  Built as a temporary structure for the fair, plans were made to tear the tower down, but in 1909 a group of citizens realized its importance as a radiotelegraph tower and convinced the city to keep it. The Iron Lady went on to play a key role in communications during the First World War.

Today, over 700 million people visit the tower annually to sightsee and dine in the on-site restaurant.  Unfortunately, some come for a different reason.  To date, approximately 400 people have committed suicide at the Eiffel Tower.  Behind poisoning and hanging, jumping off the iconic landmark is the third most popular way to off yourself in France.  The first suicide on record, however, actually WAS a hanging.  A 23 year old man hanged himself from one of the beams on July 15th, 1898.  There have also been some rather strange accidents, including the death of Franz Reichelt, who on February 4th, 1912 stepped off the tower wearing a strange, homemade parachute.  The chute obviously failed and the stunt was captured on film.  Since the 1960s, added safety measures have been implemented in an effort to curb the appeal of suicides.  Modern security fences, cameras, and safety netting have drastically lowered the suicide rate, but an occasional determined soul still slips through, including a young female student in 2009 and a British man in 2012.

With the reputation of being one of the most appealing suicide spots in all of Europe, if not the world, its no wonder that the Eiffel Tower has picked up a reputation for being haunted.  However, the ghost of the Eiffel Tower has nothing to do with suicide!

As legend goes, a young couple met one evening at their favorite romantic spot atop the tower.  The gentleman had come to propose---the young lady had come to end the relationship.  Enraged at being dumped, the man either pushed or threw the young woman off the side of the tower to her death.  To this day, visitors to the spot can hear the girl giggling, then the giggling turning to an argumentative plea, then finally to screams as her grisly death is trapped in time to repeat itself over and over.

*If a trip to Paris isn't in your near future, you can always visit Ohio's Kings Island amusement park!  It's replica Eiffel Tower is haunted by a ghost dubbed Tower Johnny!*

Paris 365 Days
Eiffel Tower Facts

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ghosts of the Portsmouth, Ohio Public Library

From Spongefan
The main branch of the Portsmouth, Ohio Public Library may be one of the most beautiful libraries in the tri-state...and it may also be one of the most haunted.

The current library, which sits on Gallia Street in downtown Portsmouth, was built in the early 1900s.  In 1902, local resident Henry Lorberg appealed to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to donate toward the building of a new library facility for the area.  A $50,000 donation by Carnegie that year resulted in the beautiful building of today, which opened on February 1, 1906.  It was built in the classic Carnegie style by the architectural firm of Richards, McCarty and and Bulford.  In order to keep up with the demand of the growing needs of the community, additions were constructed in 1971 and 1995. A massive genealogy and local history section make this stunning library a wonderful place for the paranormal researcher to conduct historic research, and one could spend hours poring over all the resources the library has to offer. As an added bonus, one might also actually encounter a ghost while visiting!

According to local legends, the library is haunted by two different ghosts.  The first is a woman named Grace.  History isn't clear as to whether Grace was an employee or patron of the library, but the story goes that she fell of the library balcony and was killed.  This section is now closed to the public, but Grace's ghost has still been seen wandering the area.  The second ghost to call the library home is a homeless man who frequented the library before HIS death, and possibly even died there in recent history.  His ghost can be seen wandering among the stacks.

Both Grace and the homeless gentleman seem to prefer the original 1906 section of the building, avoiding the newer wings.  Together they seem to be responsible for any number of strange activity which goes on there, particularly turning lights on and off and stacking books in strange ways.

Forgotten Ohio
Library Homepage

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Phantom Hitchhiker of Baraboo, Wisconsin

BaraBOO, (emphasis on the BOO is mine) Wisconsin is a strange place filled with many supernatural tales, but the one that caught my attention is the Phantom Hitchhiker of Highway 12.  I just can't resist a good phantom hitchhiker story!

Highway 12 dates back to at least 1917 when it was known as WIS 12.  With the 1926 US highway system in place, the road kept the same numerical designation and basically the same path.  In 1993, the section of highway through Wisconsin was named the Iron Brigade Memorial Highway in honor of a Civil War Union unit from the area.

But its another type of soldier that the stretch of Highway 12 through Baraboo in Sauk County is noted for...

For years, drivers have reported a man wearing what appears to be a green army jacket from the 1960s and blue jeans walking down the road.  In most reports, this man is said to have a dark beard, and long, greasy black hair.  Drivers will pass him, not paying too much attention to the scraggly man, but then are overwhelmed when after traveling for about a mile down the road, they see the SAME guy, still walking down the side of the highway.  How could this man have gotten ahead of them so quickly when no other cars have gone by?  Some brave souls have attempted to give the man a ride, but find that he vanishes from sight before he reaches their car.

This particular section of highway has undergone some changes and upgrades in the past year, with more scheduled for the coming years, yet that doesn't seem to have deterred the phantom hitchhiker from making his presence know.  The Baraboo Tours Facebook page reported that a sighting was reported on November 7, 2011 by a truck driver.  The driver spotted the man about 9:45 pm near Ski-Hi Road.  He was spotted again by the S-curve near Skillet Creek.

Another witness shared HIS story, in which he gave an excellent physical description of the man, and pointed out that he saw the man for the first time near the airport on the east side of the road and again near the S curve between the cemetery and the trailer park. Although many have tried to find the phantom hitchhiker, no one has yet been able to explain who he is or why he is haunting this particular stretch of road.

Eyewitness Account of a Man Believed to be the Phantom Hitchhiker
Investigation by Unexplained Research
Baraboo Tours Facebook
Wisconsin is Strange, but Baraboo is Bizarre!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Three Ghostesses

Inspiration for my blog comes from a variety of places, some of which probably wouldn't normally strike you as a source for ghostly fodder. For example, today's blog is just a simple little poem.  It's an old English nursery rhyme that I found included in my son's book, A Treasury of Mother Goose, illustrated by Hilda Offen.  The poem itself is credited to an anonymous author, but there are plenty of wonderful illustrations for it out there! I chose the one to your left as my personal favorite.


Three little ghostesses,
Sitting on postesses,
Eating buttered toastesses,
Greasing their fistesses,
Up to their wristesses.
Oh, what beastesses
To make such feastesses!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Spectral History of Washington's Carnation Cemetery

The old Tolt Cemetery, commonly referred to as the Carnation Cemetery, is located in King County, Washington.  According to a local citizen named Isabel Jones, the cemetery dates back to 1905 when Frederick B. Bagwell donated the land which is now the northern section of the cemetery.  Bagwell headed up the cemetery association, which was entirely comprised of Masons.  However, the cemetery was open to everyone.  The following year, however, the International Order of Oddfellows started their own cemetery association and their own cemetery, located directly across the road, to the south of Tolt Cemetery.

Eventually, though, the two separate cemeteries would combine.  In 1957, the Oddfellows took control of the northern half, and it remained in their possession until the mid-1990s when the city officially took over.  Over the 2 acres of land that make up the Carnation Cemetery, there are several burials that pre-date the 1905 origin.  These burials were relocated from nearby Pleasant Hill Cemetery when the new cemetery was established.

Today, the Carnation Cemetery is still an active place---active with paranormal activity!  There are numerous mentions of this location being haunted, and it seems like each mention contains a different laundry list of strange and unusual activity experienced by visitors.  Here are just a few of the many things experienced in this historically haunted cemetery!

*Apparition of a woman in a white dress, sometimes accompanied by a young boy
*Visitors experiencing physical pain with no apparent cause
*Indistinguishable apparitions seen in the peripheral vision
*EVPs saying 'no' and 'help me'
*Shortness of breath
*Whispers and disembodied footsteps
*Feelings of being watched or not alone
*Movement of pinwheels on graves with no apparent wind or other cause

Investigation by Northwest Paranormal Investigations
Visit by Shawn and Rachelle

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Following the Deer

One of the latest trends in 'paranormal photography' is the trail-cam capture photo and if you've been on any type of paranormal-related social media in the last year, you've probably come across this photo of a little girl, barefoot and in a nightgown, wandering through the forest while one deer cautiously glances at her, and another stares directly into the camera.  Why don't the deer run off? What is this child even doing out there in the first place? And, why does everything look so darn creepy?

Many have tried to say that the answer to those questions is simply that this little girl is a ghost! And hey, why not?  With all the other creepy trail-cam shots featuring 'ghosts,' including the one below of another ghostly little girl, that's a plausible explanation, right?

Well, like the other trail-cam shots I've analyzed on this blog, this one also falls into the non-paranormal category.  But, unlike those others, this one isn't a flat-out hoax, either!  It's actually a work of art!  The name of this particular shot is "runaway surveillance still 6" and is part of a 2012 photography series by Chicago-area artist, William Harper! This series features several different shots of the little girl among the deer, but the entire series, collectively known as following the deer feature a wide variety of somewhat strange woodland scenarios, including several adults frolicking in the forest nude. More information on William Harper and this series of photos, partially sponsored by the Illinois Art Council, can be found at the following link. *William Harper Photography*

Still the reigning ghost girl champ!

Trail Cam Craziness
Skinwalker Hoax (Still from the movie, Xtro)
Jersey Devil/Demon Chases Deer
Ghost App Girl Hoax

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Review for Gateway Ghosts and Local Legends

Title: Gateway Ghosts and Local Legends
Authors: Lori and Ron Coffey
Published: 2009 by Fairy Ring Press
Purchase Information:  Available at Jerry's Restaurant in Mt. Sterling, or through the authors' website
Website: Gateway Paranormal Society

Frequent readers to my blog and Facebook page have probably heard me talk about how my boyfriend works for the Kentucky State Police (we're still living in WV, though!) and how his work requires him to travel over a good portion of the state fairly regularly.  On a recent trip to the Mount Sterling area, he and a co-worker stopped for lunch at a little diner called Jerry's....and found this book sitting on the counter!

I am a complete sucker for small-run books on local ghost stories, and this book is the perfect example.  Over the course of 137 pages, the authors (who are paranormal investigators with Gateway Paranormal Society) delve into the ghosts, folklore, UFO and even monster sightings of the area around Mount Sterling...a swath of land where the Eastern Kentucky hills give way to the flatter plains of the west. And seriously...who could have guessed that this area would have SO MUCH paranormal history?!

Reading through these tales was an enjoyable experience, but Gateway Ghosts is definitely one of those books intended for the person who doesn't want to be bogged down with a lot of extraneous detail and history--- each entry was short and to the point.  Although there were several minor editing errors, for the most part it was well-written in a very simplistic, straightforward style.  A large, easy-to-read font makes this book ideal for younger readers interested in local ghost-lore as well as anyone who simply has a short attention span!

I learned so much from reading this book, and now have a list of topics that I want to research further.  It really is packed with some great anecdotes, first-hand accounts, and good, ol' fashioned spooky stories that would be difficult to find anywhere else. I tend to really enjoy books that delve a little more into the history behind suspected haunts, but I appreciate  getting back to the basics when it is as well done as it was here.   Beautiful black and white photos and illustrations only add to the appeal of this little book.  If you'd like to get a copy, they are being sold through the authors' website, listed above.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Liekkio--A Finnish Fright Bite

Omens of Death: The Liekkio, by sombrefeline
Have you ever heard of the Finnish ghost called a Liekkio or Liekko?

According to Peter Haining's Dictionary of Ghostlore, the Liekkio is the spirit of a child who was secretly buried in the woods.  Often these children were the result of unwanted pregnancies, abuse and neglect, and even....murder.  I can't help but think that Hansel and Gretel came pretty darn close to becoming a couple of Liekkios themselves!

Liekkio means 'flaming one,' and that is exactly how these spirits are said to manifest.  Much like the willow-o'-the wisp and the Jack o' Lantern, the Liekkio manifests as a dancing flame which lures travelers away to danger, and in some versions of the story, lures them to Tuonela, the Finnish realm of the dead.  Seeing the Liekkio, whether you choose to follow it or not, is often regarded as a death omen, and the area in which they are seen is surely to be the spot of an upcoming death.

Today, the same explanation for willow-o-the-wisp (and the many other similar ghost lights seen throughout the world) is given for liekkios---swamp gas!  Swamp gas is caused by the breaking down of organic matter in areas that are persistently wet.  So the next time you're hiking through one of Finland's swampy forests and see a dancing flame luring you off your path, just ignore it and keep going!  While it might not actually be a real GHOST, it might just lure you off into a dangerous area of the forest, filled with snakes, bugs, and other swamp-related hazards.

 What Causes Willow-o-the-Wisps?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Happy Paranormal Day!

Happy Paranormal Day!

Seriously, its a real least, its as real as the other bizarre holidays this month, such as Lost Sock Memorial Day!  Paranormal Day might not be well recognized, but its an opportunity for lovers of the strange and unusual to band together and share our love with those around us!  It is a day to bring much needed recognition and validity to field of paranormal research, as well. There are numerous ways to celebrate this wonderful holiday and to get you started, I've included eight simple spooky activities, perfect for today or ANY day really!  Join me over on Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page and let me know how you're celebrating.

1. Watch a spooky, ghost-themed movie...but not necessarily a horror flick.  There are so many good movies out there that feature ghosts and other paranormal elements, many of which can be watched for FREE on Youtube, or through popular streaming services, such as Netflix.  To get you started, you can check out my article on Paranormal Investigation Movies.  If movies aren't really what you're in the mood for, you can watch a few episodes of your favorite paranormal television show, instead.  And...if you are of legal age and are so inclined, you can check out my blogs for DRINKING GAMES of two popular series, Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.

2. Read a book!  Fiction or non-fiction, its your choice...just make sure there are some elements of the paranormal in there somewhere! If you have a Kindle, there are plenty of awesome choices out there for FREE download from Amazon.  You can check out my recommendations HERE, or go to my Book Reviews page for plenty of non-fiction choices, mostly featuring tri-state area haunts.

3. Tell ghost stories.  Get together with friends and families over a bonfire or in front of the fireplace and see who can tell the creepiest story.  See if you can guess which stories are made up...and which ones are completely TRUE!  You can even turn it into a game---several years ago, my friends and I got together to play a game called 100 Candles.  It's an old Japanese ghost story game in which 100 candles are lit.  The guests take turns telling ghost stories, blowing out a candle at the conclusion of each tale.  When all 100 candles are blown out, it is said that the darkness around you will be filled with all 100 ghosts from the tales.  You'll probably get bored well before reaching 100 stories, but its a fun opportunity to get together with friends, pig out, and have fun.

4. Visit a haunted location!  Many historical places open to the public have at least one or two ghost stories attached.  Eat dinner at a haunted restaurant, tour a haunted museum, stay the night in a haunted hotel, bowl a game at your favorite haunted bowling alley, take in a show at a haunted theater, or simply take a leisurely drive down a haunted road. Read up on the haunted history of your chosen spot, then keep your eyes and ears open for anything strange.  Don't forget to bring your camera and take lots of pictures---you never know who might show up in your shots.

5. Do a little paranormal investigating for yourself!  Don't belong to a problem.  There are plenty of locations that offer public ghost hunts, such as Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and the WV State Penitentiary.  Can't afford the big name pay-to-play locations?  Also not a problem!  Just grab a few friends, a camera and a cheap voice recorder and check out any local haunted hot spots, such as cemeteries or parks.  Just make sure you get permission to be there and practice good behavior.  You can read my article on Outdoor Investigation Tips to give you some ideas.

6. Get a psychic reading. Whether or not you believe that anyone has the ability to tell the future, its always a little fun to see how eerily accurate (or totally off-base) your reading can be.

7. Are you more of a studious type?  Get educated!  Take a class related to the paranormal field, such as genealogy or photography...there are some great FREE choices online, but you can also find one local to your area.  You can also take Fiona Broome's FREE Ghosts 101 class, which comes with a certificate of completion.  Don't have the time to commit to an actual class?  Youtube is full of wonderful lectures from a variety of speakers on a variety of paranormal topics. I've even found a few TEDx videos dealing with paranormal topics, such as a talk by Jeff Belanger on haunted places!

8. Turn Paranormal Day into a Day of Service.  Way back when I first heard of Paranormal Day (I believe about 8-9 years ago) it was being touted as a day of service, a way for the paranormal community to not only recognize the field as a legit field of study, but as a way to give back to the community.  This is a perfect opportunity to volunteer as a team, or individually, and give it a paranormal spin!  Do you have a historic cemetery nearby that could use some work?  Get with the owner to see what can be down about mowing, trimming, cleaning up debris, etc.  However, don't undertake any preservation work or cleaning of tombstones unless you are properly trained to do so.  If there is a historic building near you, check with the owners to see if there is anything you can do to help.  Again, light yard work, such as mowing and trimming, might be needed, but perhaps they need volunteers to help with historic tours, cleaning up inside, or office work. You can also make a monetary donation to these types of locations for their upkeep, if that's more your style.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Ghosts of Lewisburg's John Wesley Methodist Church

Photo by Chuck and Alice Riecks
Also known as the First Methodist Church, the John Wesley Methodist Church in Lewisburg, West Virginia is one of the oldest brick churches in the state.  Construction began on what is now E. Foster Street in 1820 under the direction of John Weir.  Major renovations were undertaken by notable mason and architect John Dunn in 1835, giving the church a new vestibule, indoor staircase, and office space. Unfortunately, between the time when the church was originally built and when it was renovated, there was a tragic death involving a young girl who was a member of the congregation. 

Although the cause of death is not given, local legend states that visitors to the church have noticed the little girl, about ten years old, seemingly FLOATING high above the ground, her braids and dress flapping in the breeze.  The reason the child appears to be floating is that when she was alive, the staircase to the upper slave balcony of the church was located outside the building. The 1835 renovations, which included an indoor staircase, made the outdoor one obsolete and it was eventually removed. In life, it was said that the young girl enjoyed sitting on the top stair, bouncing her ball as she looked down.  It is this phantom sound of her bouncing ball that draws the witness' eyes up to the young girl seemingly suspended in mid-air, waiting on a staircase that has been gone for over 100 years.

The death of a young church member wouldn't be the only tragedy the church would face in its history...and it wouldn't even be the only tragedy that would result in paranormal activity!

Prior to the Civil War, the Methodist Church was split on a national level over the issue of slavery.  The congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church remained in the building, while the Methodist Episcopal Church South faction moved into a new facility across the town.  The two factions would eventually reunited after the war, building a new church.  According to information from the National Register of Historic Places, the John Wesley building was then given or sold to the freed Blacks who were once relegated to only worshiping in its upper balcony.   However, before that happened, the John Wesley Methodist Church had to survive the war.

During the Civil War, the church found itself literally in the middle of the May 23, 1862 Battle of Lewisburg.  During the fighting, a cannonball struck the church, and the resulting damage can still be seen today. After the fighting had died down, the church was used as a makeshift hospital building for the wounded and dying soldiers on both sides.  The second ghostly legend from this church involves a young soldier who was mortally wounded.  For whatever reason, instead of receiving medical treatment inside the church, the young soldier was said to have crawled into some bushes on the side of the building, hiding from the enemy troops.  He died before anyone found him and today, the energy of his tragic death seems to have left a lasting impression.  The area on the side of the church is shrouded in an unearthly darkness...a darkness so deep that it seems to swallow up anyone who enters.  Those who do enter, however, report overwhelming feelings of sadness and melancholy, almost as if they are feeling what the young soldier felt as he lay dying all alone.

*Information on the ghost stories associated with this location came from the book, Haunted Lewisburg West Virginia, by Nancy Richmond, Tammy Workman, and Misty Murray Walkup.*  

National Register Application

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kentucky's Lake Monsters

With my boyfriend working for the Kentucky State Police and traveling all over the Bluegrass State, I've found myself focusing a lot of my reading and research on Kentucky legends and ghost stories.  Through that research, I've stumbled upon not one, but TWO different Kentucky lake monster stories!  Now, Kentucky definitely isn't a state that I would normally associate with a high concentration of aquatic cryptids...but these two stories certainly suggest something strange is going on in those waters!

The Lake Linville Monster--Rockcastle County

The first lake monster I ran across comes from the far western part of the state, in Rockcastle County.  Close by to the haunted Aunt Polly House lies Lake Linville.  Lake Linville is a man-made lake created in 1968 by the construction of the earthen Renfro Dam.  At a maximum depth of only 36 feet and an average depth of 16 feet, it doesn't necessarily seem like the ideal home for a large, unusual beast...but try telling that to the locals!

There are various references and comments made in passing about what exactly lurks in these waters, if anything (some feel that the sightings are merely trash and other debris littering the lake), but sadly to say, the most detailed information comes from a Topix post, started in September 2008, warning people to stay away from Lake Linville.  The poster relates a personal story about a bluish green snake-like creature with a long neck and a long tail and a head the size of a basketball that attacked his canoe, breaking it in half and leaving him for dead in the water.  While many mocked the authenticity of this encounter, several others came forward with similar, if not less dramatic, encounters.  Well...except for ONE post.  A poster relates a fairly horrifying tale from when she was a little girl and the lake was first being created.  Could it be the origin of today's sightings?  Here's a portion of her story in her own words:

"ONe afternoon, we decided to take a hike in the woods after our picnic and we had been gone for about an hour when we heard the helicopters.

There were three of them and one was huge, the size of an Army helicoptor or something. We stayed in the woods and watched as men with guns got out.

Mom was afraid and made us all hide. The next thing I knew, a large crate, big enough to hold a car was brought off of one of the helicopters. Then six men with guns who were wearing black masks opened it. I was astounded and almost screamed as a huge, black snail looking thing came out. It seemed to be looking at the men and one of the men yelled, "Go!" real loud and then the thing swished into the water.

The men went back to the helicopter where two more crates were taken off and two more of the slug like animals were let go. All of a sudden the men with the guns began to back up and we saw that one of the giant snail like things was scooting towards them. That's when we heard the shots."

Sid Calk Lake--Mt. Sterling Area

From Calk Lake's Facebook
This second lake monster tale only recently caught my attention while reading the book Gateway Ghosts and Other Local Legends by Lori and Ron Coffey.  Sid Calk Lake, located in the Mt. Sterling area, is a private fishing lake named for Sidney Johnson Calk, a local resident who died on October 16, 1975 at the age of 85.  As a private lake, membership is required to partake in the excellent fishing, picnic opportunities, and corn hole tournaments!  Today, the lake seems like a fun place to relax and partake in outdoor recreational activities, but it became a scene of horror during the summer of 1967.

The first sighting of the Calk Lake monster was witnessed by three men out doing some night fishing.  When their boat got caught on some debris, one of the men jumped out to help untangle it.  He thought he was standing on a submersed log...until the 'log' coiled up, splashed around and swam away!  The light of the full moon illuminated what was estimated to be a snake or snake-like creature as big as a telephone pole.

Several days after that sighting another fisherman was thrilled to have caught a pretty big bass...but as he was reeling it in, a snake with a head as large as a trashcan snatched it off his line and swam away with it. The final sighting came later that summer when a young boy spotted the creature, describing it as being 'long as a house,' and as 'big around as a man.'  A few glimpses were caught here and there, but just as mysteriously as it showed up, the Calk Lake Monster disappeared for good.

Article by Ron Coffey on the Calk Lake Monster