Sunday, September 27, 2009

Paranormal Investigtor II - Silver Terrace Cemetery (Session 1 of 2)

This past Saturday was the second class of the Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series offered by TMCC. The first session of the class involved a preliminary investigation of the Silver Terrace Cemetery in Virginia City, Nevada.

There were about 15 students signed up. We all met at the Miner's Park, a short walk away from the cemetery. Here we got our instructions from Janice Oberding, divided up into 3 groups of 5; each group having a dowser and at least one person with psychic sensitivity. We introduced ourselves to the others in our group, filled out our investigations logs and proceeded to the cemetery.

Ten cemeteries actually make up the Silver Terrace Cemetery: Masonic, Oddfellows, West End, Firemen's, Silver Terrace, Wilson and Brown, Improved Order of Redmen, Knights of Pythias, City/County, and Catholic. The population of the cemetery is at least triple the population of modern day Virginia City. It's a reminder of the towns glorious past.

Our group which consisted of Gail, her husband Scott, Karen, Mona and myself decided to head toward the Catholic section. Karen had an extra set of dowsing rods with her that she loaned to me. I have never used dowsing rods before so I was anxious to try them out. She explained that you can find or "divine" all sorts of stuff: water, metals, people, and unmarked graves. She also told me that you can communicate with spirits by framing questions in a yes/no format. As we were walking along the path leading to the Catholic cemetery, Gail (our sensitive) suddenly stopped and asked me to use the divining rods along the right side of the road where there were a few grave stones. I headed in the direction she pointed. She told me she was sensing a child spirit. As I approached the spot she had indicated the rods both began pulling in that direction. What a feeling! It was as if the rods had a mind of their own. I was instructed to ask the rods to cross once I was over the grave. I made a minor adjustment in my direction and the rods crossed. Gail asked me to "ask" if there was a spirit present, the rods crossed again. We asked if the spirit was a child. Again the rods gave an affirmitive answer. Boy? No answer. Girl? No answer. Two children? Yes. Twins? Yes. Boys? No answer. Girls? No answer. A boy and a girl? Yes. Gail took a closer look at the grave. It was pretty well hidden under a large sagebrush. She pushed the sage brush aside and found a small metal sign, probably posted by one of the restoration organizations. It listed the grave as holding twins and a date. Creepy? Yes!!

I got to play with the dowsing rods while wandering around the Catholic cemetery and "spoke" to a spirit of a man whose grave looks like it might have slid down the hill on the side of the cemetery due to seismic activity. From our questioning we determined he was Irish and he had contacted us because he was attracted to Karen (Karen has red hair and is half Irish). Maybe she reminded him of a family member (shrug).

We headed up to the Masonic section where according to Janice Oberding, there has been reports of paranormal activity. The high winds prevented us from doing any EVP work that day, so we took several more pictures before heading down to the entrance to meet up with the rest of the class.

Since the second portion of the class is going to be revealing our findings, we didn't really talk about any of the particulars of the investigation, but rather the weather conditions, and any difficulties or obstacles we encountered. Homer, one of the members of the class is an expert dowser and shared the basics of dowsing with us. It's a facinating field and if you want more information go to: the American Society of Dowsers website.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paula Is Not A Whore

Paula takes great exception to being referred to as a "tech whore". She's says that while, yes, she is addicted to paranormal gadgetry, she wouldn't necessarily sell herself for for a piece of equipment. Okay Tweaker, I won't call you a whore anymore, if you promise to stop scratching yourself every time you browse the surveillance camera aisle of the local spy shop.

Friday, September 18, 2009

GHST102 - Paranormal Investigator I

When I first signed up for the TMCC's Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series, I really didn't know what to expect. I've been on ghost tours before, usually around Halloween, when most people's curiosity in the paranormal is peaked. I've been to a few lectures and I've visited a few places online, read a book or two and explored a few local spots. I don't consider myself outlandish or weird, and if asked, I would say I am a skeptical believer in the existence of hauntings. I believe most claims can be debunked, however, my own personal experiences have led me to believe that there are some things that just cannot be explained away. Most people, upon hearing that I seek out places that might be haunted, give me a look of disbelief, followed by, "REALLY?", a nervous pause, then a change in subject. Ghost hunting has become my guilty pleasure, not discussed with most co-workers and friends. So, when I showed up for the first lecture, I was pleasantly surprised to see the class was full of like-minded individuals.

Janice Oberding, a historian, author and paranormal investigator, was the featured lecturer. She opened the class with the question: "Are there any skeptics here?" No one raised their hand. Then she asked if anyone belonged to paranormal investigation teams. Quite a few hands were raised (What?! I thought this was supposed to be a beginners class!) There were a number of very knowledgeable investigators in the class. In fact, there were only a couple of people that had not gone out on investigations. This set the tone for the rest of the afternoon's lecture, as Janice was able to discuss equipment without having to give too much explanation, and everyone there spoke "ghosthunter". Janice is really an engaging speaker and full of lots of information and lots of opinions. I liked that; she's sassy.

A few things I came away with after attending her lecture:
No one will probably ever prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that ghosts exist. I believe that. The most staunch nonbelievers will never accept any evidence, no matter how good it is. So why do we investigate? To satisfy our own curiosity.
The best ghost hunting tools are our five senses(or six, depending on who you talk to). Some investigators are absolute tech whores. I am not one of them. I own a digital camera with nightshot, a digital voice recorder and a small flashlight. Sometimes I feel those three items are too much (Hey! I only have two hands!) Most times, I even forget to bring my equipment. But really, what would a good ghost hunt be without "stuff"? I leave that to my W.I.G.S. partner, Paula. She's a tech whore. Digital cameras, IR lights, ambient thermometers, voice recorders, camcorders, K2 meters, EMF detectors, you name it, she's got it, or she wants it. Investigating with her is like a visit to Toyland; and it's time to play!
Every member of a team has a part to play. Mine is research. I love ghost stories, and I love history. Digging into the historical records of a person, place or thing makes it all come alive for me. Exploring a ghost town where people once lived, worked, loved, made babies, laughed with friends, and died fills me with a sense of wonderment of the sacredness and strength of the human condition. But that's me, others would be bored to tears perusing the internet, library and state archives for hours on end.

The lecture ended with a lot of open discussion and networking between individuals. The next class in the series will be in two parts: a daytime investigation up at Virgina City on September 19th, and a follow up class on September 26 to discuss our findings. I am looking forward to it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series

TMCC is offering a series of eight classes this Fall for the fledgling paranormal investigator, beginning this month and running through October. The series includes:
Paranormal Investigator I on Sept. 12,
Paranormal Investigator II on Sept. 19 and 26,
Psychic Ghost Hunting Tools on Sept. 22 and 29,
EVP Recording the Voices of the Dead on Oct. 3,
Downtown Virginia City Ghost Hunt on Oct. 10,
Scientific Tools to Evaluate the Paranormal on Oct. 22,
Religion and the Paranormal on Oct. 27 and the
St. Mary's Arts Center Ghost Hunt on Oct. 30.

The instructor for Paranormal Investigator I and II will be Janice Oberding: historian, author and paranormal investigator. I attended a lecture she gave about the history of the Cal-Neva Lodge. She is an interesting and knowledgeable lecturer, and for that reason I went ahead and signed up for the series. I am unfamiliar with the other instructors, but it's all good. One can never have enough knowledge or a different perspective on something already learned. Besides, there is several opportunities to investigate, and you just can't get better than that!

Humboldt City, Nevada

Here it is, the end of another beautiful summer. What better way to end the season but by spending a few days investigating a Nevada ghost town? Paula and I tossed around a few possibilites. We've been wanting to get out to Leadville, and Unionville sounded pretty good too, but in the end we settled on Humboldt City; and what a great choice it turned out to be.
Humboldt City is located some 33 miles east of Lovelock, Nevada. The town is situated in a spring fed canyon at the base of the Humboldt Range, nestled among old strands of cottonwood. Remnants of firepits, and adobe and stone buildings dot the landscape. It is a quiet oasis in the middle of the Nevada desert, and one is struck by the quietness of the place-during the day, that is.
The mining settlement of Humboldt City was founded in 1860. Within its short lifespan of 9 years, over a 1,000 silver discoveries were made in the Humboldt City area before its abandonment in 1869. Louis Barbeau was the first miner to settle in the area, having discovered valuable mineral traces. Others soon followed and during its heyday in 1863, Humboldt City had a population of around 500. An article published in the Humboldt Register, May 2, 1863, described the town as: