Monday, October 29, 2007

There Are Places I Remember...

The following is a catalog of the haunted or mysterious places I have visited and sometimes investigated (to one degree or another). Most yielded no results in the short time I was on-site but for those that presented something inexplicable I have included short descriptions of my experience.
JC Penney at Midland Park Mall in Midland, TX - Built 1980 - Noises have been heard by workers and an overnight guard, including whispers and clicking of woman’s heels; the sound of someone walking on the catwalk where tires were once stored in the old automotive center. There have also been the sounds of falling or crashing items in the housewares department and the digital time clock “beeps” by itself when no one but the night guard has been there. I personally witnessed the sound of items on clothing racks being shuffled when no one was present. Kinetic manifestations include shoeboxes in the stockroom falling from the shelves where they once rested securely and, after hearing the sound of breaking glass, I turned to discover a dish, which had been resting flat upon a table, broken in half for no apparent reason. Many of the workers I interviewed were unaware of corroborative testimonies until this investigation, which implies that little to no confabulation has occurred to perpetuate these tales.
Stanton, TX: Once St. Joseph's Convent, this historic stucture was built in 1885 by Carmelite Monks. It is said that a possessed nun killed several children here, though that's likely just a colorful legend. The nun haunts the convent and the cemetery. Crying children, Lights seen turning off and on, and a priest who hung himself have all been reported, as well as the sound of weeping nuns . The convent and an academy were abandoned in 1938 when a tornado blew through. All that remains are the dormitory, ruins of other buildings, and the cemetery.
Badlands Hotel, Lajitas, TX--The Badlands Hotel at the Lajitas Resort located in the remote environs of the Big Bend park system (the least visited in the US) is said to be haunted by a scene of domestic unrest that turned deadly. Strange noises and the apparition of a battered woman have been witnessed. The resort was once an exclusive, 5-star retreat with its own airport for those who could afford to fly themselves in to experience a unique golfing experience on the Rio Grande. Sadly, I paid those rates. Had I known then that it would, in a few years, become a state-run resort that offered far cheaper rates, I may have waited. Among the things one could do when it was a first class resort was to join the archaelogical excavation of both historic and pre-columbian sites that abound.
Terlingua Ghost Town, TX--Near Lajitas is this crumbling ghost town that has been the site of several eerie encounters. Most of the buildings are adobe with the exception of the church, which is built of stone. The cemetery has twenty graves, including several infants who died in the harsh conditions here.
Museum of the Southwest - Midland, TX - One-time mansion haunted by the ghost of its former owner.
Alamo Street Theater and Restaurant - San Antonio, TX - Haunted by several unknown spirits, including “Little Eddie” and Margaret Gething (singer).
Spanish Governor’s Palace - San Antonio, TX - Haunted by the spirit of a girl who drowned in a well. Unexplained voices, lights turning off and footsteps.
Mision San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo)- San Antonio, TX - Est. 1718. Phantom re-enactments of the famous Battle at the Alamo occur as well as soldiers, emerging from the walls at night. Ghostly monks have been witnessed as well. A nightly watch of the walls where the ghosts were said to emerge was conducted with no noticeable activity.
The Menger Hotel - San Antonio, TX - Oldest hotel in San Antonio overlooks the Alamo. Haunted by the ghost of a maid and a judge. Teddy Roosevelt recruited his “Rough Riders” in the Menger’s bar. Next door is the Alamo. Many claim to see the spirits of Soldiers emerging from its walls at night. My suite overlooked the Alamo and so I had a perfect vantage from which to surveil that location. But several vigils of both the hotel and the mission yielded little of interest.
River Center Mall - San Antonio, TX - To the north of the Menger is the Alamo; to the south is the River Center Mall, all of which was once the battleground for that tragic conflict. Some say those men’s ghostly cries can still be heard in this mall.
The Missions of San Francisco, San Juan Capistrano and San Jacinto along “Mission Trail” South of San Antonio, TX - Ghostly chanting and knocking has been heard and the apparitions of padres and Indians have been seen.
La Villita (The Little Village)- San Antonio, TX - The old village of San Antonio is preserved and the historic buildings (many from territorial times) house art galleries and gift shops. The Chamade Jewelry store (504 Villita St) has witnessed spontaneous kinetic manifestations (objects moving of their own accord), arguing voices, cold spots and a woman in an apron. The River Art Gallery is home to a “Woman in White.” The Starving Artist’s Gallery has experienced shadows, objects moving, and a woman in nineteenth century attire. La Villita house, built in 1864 by Cirius Gissi, is home to the spirit of a little girl.
Marfa Lights - South, Southeast of Marfa, TX - Lights appear in the desert southeast of town without explanation. When I visited this spot, I saw only the lights from distant ranch houses, radio towers, and cars coming down the Chinati Mountains.
Monahans Sand Hills State Park - Monahans, TX - The visitor’s center, which sits atop a Native American burial site, is said to house the following phenomena: doors slamming, shadows and phantom shrieks, all of unknown origin. I was unable to detect any phenomena and the attendant on duty was unaware of said tales.
Lake Worth - Lake Worth, TX - This lake, between Lake Worth and Fort Worth, was the scene in the late sixties of the Lake Worth Monster sightings. A white, Bigfoot-like creature had been seen by locals. At the time this event transpired, this area may have been more wild but these days, the lake is a popular spot and home, industrial complexes and urban centers nearly surround the area.
Science Building - Odessa College - Haunted by the ghost of a student, male. Apparition has been seen but usually only “sensed” in a shadowy manner. A few visits were made without results and few witnesses could be found to corroborate the legend.
Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde, CO--the ghosts of Anasazi cliff dwellers are said to still perform sacred ceremonies here in this city built into the canyon wall.
Sego Canyon, UT--Aside from a cool ghost town, the canyon is also home to mysterious petroglyphs and pictograms that some believe depict visitors from other worlds.
Tucson, AZ: Haunted Hotel Congress and San Xavier Mission
Tombstone, AZ: Bird Cage Theater, Wells Fargo Bldg.
The Lodge at Cloudcroft - Cloudcroft, NM - Haunted by "Rebecca," a beautiful maid killed in a rage by a jealous logger.
Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, NM: "Miraculous" staircase built by an unknown carpenter who just showed up to build the spiral staircase without a central support and not a single nail or screw.
Roswell, NM - Do I really need to give a description? It's like the Mecca for UFOlogists.
Trinity site is where the first above ground explosion of an atomic weapon was done. It is located in the vast emptiness of New Mexico's Malpais (Sp. for bad country) region. The site is only open twice a year to visitors, ostensibly due to the radioactivity that can still be detected there. I wonder what sort of mutated 1950s B-movie cryptids can be found in its vicinity?
The vast White Sands of New Mexico have a history of legends, including those similiar to the story made up about Beaver Sands in the Oklahoma panhandle--perhaps it was the inspiration. It's proximity to nuclear test sites and missile ranges means the place has seen plenty of UFO-related activity too.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs: Said to be haunted by the ghosts of those who died during a fire. However, no one actually died in this referenced fire. But workers and guests alike have all reported multiple sightings and unexplained events. So who haunts this gracious resort? I could have cared less. They gave us a gorgeous suite overlooking the mountains and golf course. Ghosts, schmosts--it's room service time.
Hotel Boulderado - Boulder, CO - Purportedly haunted by several spirits.
The Stanley Hotel - Estes Park, CO - Steven King and its famous hauntings aside, the only thing that spooked me during my visit to the Stanley was the rude, inattentive staff. Good thing I have checked this from my list of places to visit because I doubt I will ever stay there again.
Mackey Auditorium, U. of CO - Boulder, CO - Legend states a woman was murdered by a maintenance worker and that her ghost now roams the auditorium nightly.
Pikes Peak, CO - Along the highway leading up the mountain, is a "Bigfoot Crossing" sign, erected by the Park after a rash of sightings occurred some years back.
Old House, Black Hawk, CO--An abandoned house dating back to the late 1800s. I thought I was alone in this creepy old place when I stumbled upon a couple of paranormal investigators. LOL! I didn't know the place was supposed to be haunted. I just like taking pictures of abandoned places.
The Trace - Lavonia, GA - This hotel, which was constructed in the antebellum style is purportedly haunted by the original home's owners.
“Lost Church” - Muskogee Co, OK - One room, ramshackle church purportedly built in 1927 but shows signs of massive renovation in the 60s or 70s. A few pews remain but not much else. I experienced nothing here but my associate claimed to feel a presence leaning against her leg, as if a smile child was resting there. Without having known this, she later learned a similiar experience was reported by another visitor to the church.
Boggy Depot State Park, Oklahoma--Home to bigfoot reports and a haunted cemetery. When I visited, paranormal investigators from Texas had just captured EVP of a little girl's voice near the grave a young girl.
Witch's Lake, Oklahoma city, OK--Witchy legends abound here, but none have a ring of truth. However, so very real tragedies took place over the years and might account for reported activity.
Goodrich UMC - Norman, OK - A matriarchal parishioner still haunts this church. She has been witnessed by multiple individuals, mostly in the evenings. I never saw her myself but I know several who have and trust their judgement in this matter.
The offices of the State Capital newspaper in Guthrie, OK are said to be haunted.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage/Cemetery - Oklahoma City, OK
SCU library - Oklahoma City, OK -- shadowy figures and apparitions reported by reliable witnesses when the building was vacant.
Alleyway between Kentucky and Indiana / 9th and 10th streets - Oklahoma City, OK - This is where I saw the "Grey Lady" as described in my book.
Overholser Mansion - Oklahoma City, OK -- The vague form of a woman in a light colored dress spotted, phantom music heard, and a unexplained 'touch'.
Heavener Runestone State Park, Heavener, OK--Did ancient Norse explorers visit Oklahoma? That's the mystery that remains etched in stone here.
Spiro Mounds, Spiro, OK--ancient Native American burial and ceremonial mounds with a few ghostly sightings to boot.
Territorial Governors House, Guthrie, OK--The wife of the first territorial governor died here and haunts it still, it seems.
Fort Sill - Fort Sill, OK--Ghost stories abound here. Some I will share in SS2.
Stone Lion Inn - Guthrie, OK -- Another establishment where I felt an unwelcoming presence, namely from the proprietor.
Gilcrease House - Tulsa, OK
The Skirvin Hotel - Oklahoma City, OK -- I became terribly frightened by the bill. Ch-ching!!
The Cate Center, U. of OK - Norman, OK
Avalon Theater/Tulsa Little Theater - Tulsa, OK -- Not an orb fan, but I did capture one oddly enough in the exact spot where "George" appears in the 3rd row.
County Line BBQ - Oklahoma City, OK
Wichita Mountains--Legends of Spanish miners, Mexican Gold, and Outlaw Treasure meet up with mysterious beasts and tragic ghosts in these myth-filled mountains.
Ouachita National Forest / Southeastern Oklahoma (replete with Bigfoot sightings) -- I got bit by bugs if that counts.
Brown Springs Cemetery - Brown Springs, OK - This is the cemetery where I received the strange thermal readings, as I describe in the section on Brown Springs.
An old Masonic Temple in El Reno, part of a rambling warren of rooms in the historic downtown. Mysterious cold spots and disembodied voices have been reported.
The old art deco Mercy hospital in Oklahoma City was said to be haunted by a nurse and several patients.
Old church on N. Classen in OKC, which has been several clubs (Infinity, Purgatory) over the past decade. Some claim to have heard phantom sounds.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA--many a suicide from this bridge and apparently their spirits stick around to prove it.
Alcatraz, San Francisco, CA--Who DOESN'T haunt this famous prison. I never saw anything, but you can just feel something about this place. Very sad and a little angry.
Marin County, CA--home to towering Redwood forests and Bigfoot sightings.
Boyington Oak in Mobile, AL--A wrongfully convicted man announced at his execution that, in proof of his innocence, an oak would arise from his grave....
Oakleigh Mansion--Mobile, AL--It’s been said that the beautiful front parlor room is haunted by a female ghost. There have also been reports of poltergeist-like activity around the mansion. Some of the activity includes eerie disembodied voices, phantom furniture that reportedly moves on its own and creepy shadow figures.
Mobile's Braggs-Mitchell House, haunted by the ghost of a young woman.
USS Alabama, in Mobile Bay, is said to be haunted. The ghosts of men killed in a gun turret still walk the old decks.
Ft. Gaines on Dauphin Island near Mobile, AL. Famed for the man who said "Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!" and also for phantom soldiers who still stand guard.
Church Street Cemetery in Mobile, AL -- home to both the Boyington Oak and the famous internet meme of a couple years back, the Mobile Leprechaun. While the story was laughed at in the media, one has to wonder just what they saw.
El Convento Hotel - San Juan, PR - This one-time Carmelite convent is now a hotel in the heart of Old San Juan. Said to be haunted by a grieving Spanish woman named Doña Ana. Both she and spectral nuns have been seen.
Arecibo Radio Telescope--Not far from Puerto Rico's north-central coastal town of Arecibo lies the eponymous radio telescope, famed as much for its connections to extraterrestrial contact as for its contributions to science.
El Morro and Fuerte San Geronimo - San Juan, PR - Revenants of spectral battles cling to these ancient Spanish fortresses. I have yet to witness the supernatural at El Morro but I certainly felt the weight of time. I enjoyed exploring San Geronimo more because I was the only one there. This smaller, far less well known fort guards the mouth of the lagoon in Condado. It isn't a tourist attraction like the others and sits neglected next to the Hilton Caribe hotel. Ironic: So much money and so little spent to restore the island's history.
Caribbean National Forest ("EL YUNQUE") - the birth place of the legend of the Chupacabra and tales of UFO's. I can't say I have witnessed either and it's only a 30 minute drive from my home. In fact, I can look outside my window and see the towering peak of El Yunque mtn but sadly never any lights.
Teatro Tapia, San Juan, PR-- Across from Plaza Colon, is haunted by the spirits of past performers as well as patrons.
Tibes Ceremonial Park near Ponce, PR--Ancient ceremonial plazas and villages where some claim to hear ghostly drumming and chanting late a night.
Chase Vault, Christ Church Parish Church Cemetery, Oistins, Barbados - famed for its mysterious "moving" coffins, this vault has captured imaginations for 200 years. Some claim the unusual happenings never transpired; they were a Masonic hoax.
St. Kitt's Brimstone Hill Fortress's No. 4 Barracks are also known as the "Jumbie Barracks," after the Creole word for ghost, as they are said to be haunted by the spirits of colonial soldiers.
Trinidad's Richmond Great House is a restored sugar plantation house dating back to 1766. It is rumored that one of the rooms is haunted by the ghost of the original owner’s wife.
Cathedral Santa Maria - Valencia, Espana - home to one of the reported "Holy Grail" chalices.
Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona is filled with enigmatic, DaVinci Code-esque symbols.
Spain's Canary Islands are home to the enigmatic Pirámides de Güímar, a collection of plazas and step pyramids built by persons unknown. The mystery has intrigued the likes of Thor Heyerdahl.
Sao Miguel in the Azores is home to many UFO sightings.
Atlas Mountains, Morocco--Locals tell legends of little people that dwell in the mountains.
Colloseum, Rome, Italy--Witnesses have reported residual phenomena, including the sounds of battling gladiators, roaring crows and some claim to have glimpsed apparitions.
Pantheon, Rome, Italy--The ghost of Italy's King Umberto I, who is buried in the pagan-temple-cum-church has been reported on several occasions.
Pont Marie, Paris, France--The cheating wife of a WWII French soldier threw herself from this bridge after he left her. She relieves the experience to this day.
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France--Another love story turned tragic when a spurned lover threw his beloved from the top. Her phantom shouts of "NO!" and then a blood-chilling scream have been heard now and then.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France--Some say the gargoyles come alive!
Mont St. Michele, Normandy, France--Witnesses speak of having glimpsed phantom monks and time slips that reveal the sights and sounds of battles from WWII and the Middle Ages.
Amsterdam's Dam Square, home to witch burnings of the Spanish Inquisition.
Amsterdam's Montelbaan Tower is home to a family of ghosts who once a year re-enact their terribly unsuccessful attempt to flee to the the tower for protection from an invading force.
Haunted Dover Castle sits high atop the famed white cliffs of Dover. Nearby are an ancient Saxon church and a Roman lighthouse--both haunted as well.
The London Stone, on Cannon Street, is said to hold the city's fate; should it be removed, the city would fall.
Dating to the 1690s, London's George Inn is a haunted hotspot that has been featured in works by Charles Dickens and others. Ghosts of ancient cavaliers and a more recent owner are said to haunt the pile, the latter wreaking havoc with electrical systems.
The Tower of London at night is a powerfully creepy place. I was fortunate enough to witness the Key Ceremony, a lantern lit procession of Beefeaters who dramatically lock up the Tower at night. Countless apparitions and mysterious phenomena have occurred here over the centuries.
In the English county of Kent, Leeds castle has stood for centuries. Once home to royalty, it is now a museum. But some say a spectral black hound still haunts its environs, a harbinger of doom.

Hertforshire, UK - famous for the legend of the Mowing Devil, a 17th century account of what may have been the earliest recorded Crop Circle.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Library Part 2

In addition to these great non-fiction works regarding the paranormal, I have been inspired by fiction writers as well - especially when it comes to my own fiction edeavors. The forthcoming novel, The Mound is a wholly original and fun read but I have certainly been inspired by authors such as Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child whose works include Relic, Thunderhead, and Book of the Dead. I have also always loved the blurred lines Michael Crichton created between reality and fiction in works such as Jurassic Park, Congo, Sphere, and Timeline. But going back further than these authors, I will confess to liking more than one story of Barbara Michaels (yes, you heard right)and even the old young adult series, The Three Investigators.

And if you are interested in purchasing my book on the paranormal in Oklahoma, we will have copies for sale at the Red Dirt Book festival in Shawnee, OK. You can also purchase it using the paypal link above or e-mail s t r a n g e s t a t e o k @ y a h o o . c o m [kerning expanded to prevent spam]and we can fill your order.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Library - Part 1

In case you've ever wondered... Not that you would, but still. This is part of my personal library. Some of the many books I use for research and inspiration in writing both my nonfiction and fiction works. I hope you enjoy this peek!

And if you are interested in purchasing my book on the paranormal in Oklahoma, we will have copies for sale at the Red Dirt Book festival in Shawnee, OK. You can also purchase it using the paypal link above or e-mail s t r a n g e s t a t e o k @ y a h o o . c o m [kerning expanded to prevent spam]and we can fill your order.

The Dictionary of the Esoteric - Nevill Drury
Unexplained! - Jerome Clark
Unemplained Mysteries of the 20th Century - Janet and Colin Bord
The X-Files Book of the Unexplained, Vol 2 - Jane Goldman
Mysteries of the Unexplained - Readers Digest Press, Editor Carrol C. Calkins
Earth's Mysterious Places - Reader's Digest Press
Bizarre Phenomena - Reader's Digest Press
Great Southern Mysteries - E. Randall Floyd
Hauntings - Barnes and Noble Press
Haunted New Orleans - Troy Taylor
Prominent American Ghosts - Susy Smith
Parapsychology: The Controversial Science - Richard Broughton
Ghosts: Appearances of the Dead and Cultural Transformation - R. C. Finucane
The Ghost Hunter's Guidebook - Troy Taylor
Ghostly Enconters - Frances Kermeen
Historic Haunted America - Michael Norman & Beth Scott
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts & Spirits - Rosemary Ellen Griley
Encyclopedia of Psychic Science - Nandor Fodor
Psychics, Sensitives, and Somnambules - Rodger I Anderson
Witch, Spirit, Devil - A. F. Scott
Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs - Scott Cunningham
Symbols of Native America - Heike Owusu
A dictionary of Symbols - J. E. Cirlot
Man and Beast - Reader's Digest Press
Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science - Jeff Meldrum
Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us - John Green
The Field Guide to Bigfoot... - Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe
Invisible Residents - Ivan T. Sanderson
UFO's: An INsider's View of the Official Quest for Evidence - Roy Craig
UFO's - Robert Jackson
UFO: The Continuing Enigma - Reader's Digest Press
UFO: The Complete Sightings - Barnes and Noble Press
The UFO Experience - J. Allen Hynek
MJ12 and the Riddle of Hangar 18 - Timothy Green Beckley
The Real Roswell - Philip J. Klass
The UFO Invasion - Editors: Frasier, Karr, Nickell
The Roswell Encyclopedia - Kevin D. Randle
The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects - Edward J. Ruppelt
World Roundup of UFO Sightings and Events - The Flying Saucer Review
Fair Gods and Stone Faces - Constance Irwin
Fingerprints of the Gods - Graham Hancock
The Lost Continent - L. Sprague de Camp

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Where Did Scientific Investigations Go?

This morning I caught an interesting documentary on the Travel Channel about the Ghosts of Gettysburg. This show documents the paranormal investigations of Mark Nesbitt and associates as they try to authenticate and communicate with the disquiet spirits of fallen Civil War soldiers throughout the famous battlefield.

Among the more interesting portions of the broadcast was a segment where the team's "tech guru," Scott, researches the effects of using multiple IR filters with his digital camera to screen out the daytime noise and approximate something closer to - in his opinion - nighttime, which he theorizes produces a greater likelihood of full body apparition images. The images he has produced thus far (full body civil war soldiers) are intriguing and definately require more scrutiny.

However, for every great moment there are those that give one pause...

In the same program, the psychic guides them to one spirit where the team employs the use of divining rods to communicate with the unseen spectre. But I must confess that I don't like divining rods, ouija boards, or certain meters often used by investigators. My reasons have NOTHING to do with fears of opening unchecked portals to the realms of demonic beings. If you know me at all, then you know I find that all very silly - great stuff for my fiction writing but otherwise...

No, my reason is that we have no way of knowing that the person is not influencing the outcome. In the case of this episode, there were no blind/double blind protocols employed, no control groups, no nothing even remotely scientific. All I could see was a psychic leading a dowser (who, by the way, held a death grip on the rods like you wouldn't believe - you could see her fists clench) to obvious answers of post facto questions. It was completely silly. Was it deceit? I don't know and I won't come out and say that it was without further evidence. But it causes suspicion.

In many respects, it is similiar to an episode of Ghost Hunters from last season. The team headed out to Hollywood to investigate both Charlie Chaplin's old studio (now the home to Jim Henson's works) and a supposed haunted house only 200 feet from the site of the famous Manson Family murder of Sharon Tate, et al.

While at the house, the team invites a local investigator to join them. He brings along a tool that works much like a binary ouija: true or false. Tres digital, I know. But the down side to the device, which was rather interesting to the point of creepy, was that the user had to hold the unit and depress a control button. Questions were asked and the entity would respond by making the device blink once for "yes" and twice for "no."

But how do we know that's what's really happening? There are no controls here. This is not in the least bit scientific. Later, they do manage to coax a "ghost" to decrease the ambient temperture by a significant margin, which I found impressive. Again, however, no scientific protocols were followed.

In my opinion, it's this total disregard for the scientific method that prevents quality work from surfacing. In the golden age of paranormal investigation and parapsychology, learned men and women of science took a serious interest in the phenomenon and examined it under the strictest of circumstances. Today, we have lost that desire for a hard, scientific approach. I only hope that in the future things will begin to take a turn and the days of indiscriminantly waving around gadgetry will lose its lustre.

And if you are interested in purchasing my book on the paranormal in Oklahoma, we will have copies for sale at the Red Dirt Book festival in Shawnee, OK. You can also purchase it using the paypal link above or e-mail s t r a n g e s t a t e o k @ y a h o o . c o m [kerning expanded to prevent spam]and we can fill your order.