Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ghost Hunt Field Trip: Downtown Virginia City

What would school be without a field trip? As a part of the Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series, we have been scheduled for 2 field trips in Virginia City, Nevada. The first one was on October 10. The next one is scheduled for October 30, the night before Halloween.

There were probably about 45-50 people signed up for our first field trip. We all met at the Silver Queen Saloon where we we were divided into groups of 7-9, including a tech specialist and a psychic. There were seven in our group: Mona, Jill, Kelly, Cheryl, Paula, myself, and our psychic, Pride. Originally our team included Karen and Gail from the ongoing class, but an emergency prevented them from coming. Gail was to have been our tech specialist, but because most of our group had already been on investigations, we figured we could just wing it. Paula was not slated for our team, but since we were short, we jumped on getting her switched to our team. It wouldn't have been the same without my girl, Paula.

Before heading out to our first destination, Pride asked that we stop for a second and envision the color blue for positive energy and protection for the evening. Once done we proceeded to our first stop: the Comstock's Firemen's Museum. We were met by Kim, storekeeper and fellow paranormal investigator. She gave us a quick history of the building, pointing out areas where she has picked up activity in the past. I asked Jill, our most seasoned investigator what would be her protocol upon first entering a building. She told me that her team would do a sweep with temperature and EMF readings before proceeding with any other investigation. Pretty much standard for any team I have talked with. Well, since this wasn't a formal investigation, we pretty much scattered around the room and did our own thing, taking pictures and video, while the sensitives in the group attempted to pick up on any energy. The digital portion of the upstairs was pretty much contaminated with everyone walking around, talking and laughing (that would be me...I really have to practice quietness). A few cold spots were picked up, personally, I think we were picking up a draft from the stairwell. We headed downstairs and spent a little more time down there. Pride, our psychic, picked up on some spirit energy, which he "gathered" in and let everyone feel. I picked up an unusual piece of audio while  down there, I need to isolate and amplify it before calling it an EVP, though.

When we left the Firemen's Museum, Pride again had us gather in a circle while he checked to see if we had any residual spirit energy hanging onto us. He said he would be "feeling" us all throughout the night. My reponse to that? You don't want to know.

Our second stop, and one of the most interesting of the night was the Mark Twain Bookstore. The bookstore has been owned by the same family since the 1950's. The current owner of the bookstore admitted that while he personally has never had any paranormal experiences there, his mother had always refused to be downstairs by herself. He explained that the entire downstairs area takes up what was originally 3 separate businesses back in the late 1800s: a merchantile, a stable, and the basement vault area of the Bank of San Francisco. He also pointed out that there are the skeletal remains of what has been determined to be a Native American man back in the furthest corner of the bank vault area. Since no local tribe has stepped forward to repatriate the remains, his family has become the caretakers of the skeleton. He took us down into the downstairs area and allowed us free roam of the 3 areas.

In the merchantile area, Pride picked up on some male energy from a chair that was hanging above our heads. Kelly picked up on some energy coming from an old baby buggy. I got nothing on either audio or visual in this area.

The stables still have the original stalls with horses names written on the walls. Pride picked up the energy of a large, not too bright man down there, possibly a stable hand. Cheryl picked on the name of "John". As we walked around to the bank vault area, she spotted the name written on the wall separating the 2 areas. While in the stable area, Pride again picked up some energy off an old barber chair. Mona captured some audio in this area; she emailed me a clip- it sounds like Native chant of some sort, but it's really hard to make out. It was really dusty in this area, so if you see orbs in my pictures, trust me, it's dust. While I was shooting a picture of Pride getting an energy reading off an old mortar and pestle, I caught a shadow across his arm. Later, I was able to determine the shadow coming from someone else's arm in the edge of the picture.

Paula, Mona and I all caught something on audio while back in the vault area. We have been comparing sound clips and we all agree, the first portion of the voice says, "Turn out the light", followed by more whispering and then the word, "door" or "dark". Hmm. Paula also caught some light anomalies while filming the vault (I think it's insects). If interested in viewing the clip, Paula uploaded it to her MySpace page at: www.myspace.com/w_i_g_s  One discovery left me a little disturbed about the place. While back near the skeletal remains, I noticed someone had left a cloth containing a bundle of sage and an eagle feather. As any Native will tell you, an eagle feather is never placed underground... it's like sacrilege. Obviously someone has been playing with things they know nothing about.

After a short dinner break, our group headed to the Mark Twain Territorial Enterprise Museum. An interesting fact shared by the owner of the Mark Twain bookstore is that Samuel Clemens was never in the present newspaper building. The Territorial Enterprise newspaper was bought by Joseph Goodman in 1859 and opened up on the corner of A St. and Sutton. Later, when C St. became the main street in town, the newspaper was moved to the current location. Samuel Clemens came out west at the invitation of his brother Orion, and worked for the newspaper from 1862 until 1864. He then headed to San Francisco. The upper floors of the newspaper building were destroyed by fire in 1875, nine years after Clemens had left Virginia City. The present day building was built in 1876. However, the original press equipment and Samuel Clemens writing desk were not destroyed, and remain intact.

As we descended down into the basement, Cheryl had a negative impact upon seeing the stuffed animal heads on the walls. She opted out of the investigation and returned upstairs.While we were down stairs among the printing equipment, Pride picked up on some child-sized energy. A child spirit? an elemental spirit of some sort? Don't know. I got nothing on visual, I thought I had gotten something on audio, but once I amplified the clip, I determined it to be the noise of a camera flashing. Pride picked up on some sort of energy near Mark Twain's desk, he thought maybe it was coming from an old wooden peg leg. As I bent down to take a closer look at it, I caught a distinct odor of decay. I can't say it came from the fake leg, though. There might have been a dead mouse in the wall for all I know. It was an interesting visit with a lot of history with the old printing presses. After leaving the newspaper, we got another "psychic feel up" from Pride and moved on to our next location.

The Julia Bulette Red Light Museum was a real let down...in oh so many ways. There was no one present to give us any history on the building, the whole area had a neglected air about it, and dust covered everything. Reading the large sign at the bottom of the stair leading into the museum, we discovered that this place has no association with Julia Bulette at all. Apparently, sometime back in the 1950s someone decided to share their disturbing collection of strange and unusual items from brothels, opium dens, and doctors offices from the late 1800s with the public, hence the name: Red Light Museum. I didn't get any audio or visual from this sad little room, and I was glad to be moving on. After leaving this spot, I willing allowed Pride to check my field.

Our final stop for the night was the Silver Queen Hotel. The entrance to the hotel is from the main street and up a narrow, steep stairway. Once on top of the landing, a short hallway leads to the rooms. One thing we noticed right off, the Silver Queen Hotel has a room 13; not usually found in hotels, even modern ones. Room 11 is purportedly haunted by a woman who committed suicide by slicing her wrists while in the bathtub. This room had been rented for our investigation purposes, so we were able to go in and get some audio and visual footage. While in room 11, Pride picked up on the energy of a woman, however, not the woman who had committed suicide. I caught some whispering on my digital recorder, but I ruled it out as Paula and Jill discussing Jill's cool "Toys R Us" night vision video recorder. (I swear Paula was salivating).

A few of us decided to check out the third floor of the Silver Queen as well. One thing that was noticed by everyone of us: the back of the hotel had a "heavy" feeling about it. Pride asked us what we thought of that, and I wanted to know why he was asking us, him being the psychic and all. It's like that old joke about running into a psychic and asking him how you're doing. Okay, so the humor wasn't appreciated.

We were getting a lot of noise contamination from the fundraising party at Piper's Opera House down the street, however, Paula picked up some really strange noise we haven't been able to distinguish. I want to say it's a motorcycle gearing down, except it sounds like it's coming from right between Paula and I. I asked Paula how her Chinese dinner was sitting and she loudly denied any personal body noises. SHEESH. Just because I've mistakenly accused her in the past... Pride picked up a negative energy spirit while we were on the third floor, he described it as a small man, dressed in a dapper fashion that preyed on hotel guests as they slept.

We finished the investigation of the Silver Queen and headed over to Piper's Opera House to meet up with the other groups. The fundraiser was still going on, so the entire class headed back to the Silver Queen to end the night with a short debriefing. The psychics announced that they would be available afterward if anyone felt something or someone had attached to them. According to Pride, something had attached to me. I felt fine. No Klingons here. I chose not to be cleansed, although that didn't prevent the psychic types from feeling up my aura. Mona, Paula and I stuck around to make sure Cheryl was recovered from her, what would you call it, psychic injury? Pride did some sort of energy work on her with good results.

Things I learned? Well for one, I need to keep quiet and really try to remain aware of my surroundings. Two, if we were to do this again, I would say that the psychics need to go into an area seperate from the rest. Three, an initial sweep of an area prior to investigating is important. Four, any audio work needs to be done seperately. And finally, a team needs a lead person. Someone to keep everything and everyone on task. Otherwise, people have a tendency to wander around and forget the focus of what they are doing, and I only speak for myself in this. I had a great time, I loved the group I was with, and I am pretty "psyched" for our next field trip.

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