Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Underground - Reno Nevada

Back in March of this year, my friend Paul Lindermuth of the Nevada Paranormal Institute was contacted by Chris Cady, a local hypnotist currently performing at the Reno Underground. It seems that Chris and his backstage crew had been experiencing some strange occurrences such as voices, footsteps heard from empty areas of the set and dark figures moving in their peripheral vision. Chris himself experienced the feeling of a presence behind him during one of his performances. These sort of things were happening with enough frequency that Chris wanted a team to come in and rule out paranormal activity.  NPI invited members of the Reno Paranormal Meetup Group to investigate the Underground theatre. The plan was to set up audio and visual surveillance overnight, do some EVP work and then go back and collect the equipment the next day.

The Pioneer Theater/Auditorium, now called the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, was built in 1967 and opened in 1968. A quick Internet search produced little about the history of this particular parcel of land prior to the 1960s. However, going further back in time, the history of this area gets very interesting.

Myron Charles Lake (Feb. 1828-June 20, 1884) was a hotel-keeper/entrepreneur, best known for his temper and ruthless business acumen. Present day Reno began as a toll bridge and road owned by Myron Lake. Lake's Crossing provided the only connection between Virginia City and the California Trail. Lake petitioned for and won from Nevada's Territorial legislature a ten-year exclusive franchise to operate his toll bridge and road at that location. Soon after, he deeded land to the Central Pacific Railroad to build a railway and depot, ensuring his absolute control of traffic through the region. With profits from his enterprise, Lake purchased additional land surrounding his bridge. The present day Riverside Casino sits on the site of the hotel Lake operated, while the Pioneer Theatre reportedly sits where Lake had his livery stable and barn. Lake was not well liked, due to his total disregard for others. In garnering his riches he made enemies, lots of them. He fought to control his crossing and the community that grew up around it by whatever means possible. His temper extended to his family, and his wife divorced him on the grounds of domestic battery and cruelty. Is it possible that the spirit of a controlling tyrant would still linger, still attempting to control his holding? Who knows, but we wanted to find out.

Around 10 people showed up for the investigation including members of Nevada Paranormal Institute, W.I.G.S., and the Sierra Psychic Academy. Since Chris had reported feeling a presence during his performance, it was decided that video and audio equipment should be set up backstage and the entire show filmed. Which meant of course, we got to see the show. If you have never gone to a hypnotist show, do so. Go see Chris Cady's show. It's hilarious. After the show, Chris put on a spoon bending demonstration, inviting everyone to give it a try. Mine did not bend; didn't even warm up. Obviously I have the psychic abilities of an amoeba.

After the audience had dispersed, we set up cameras in the auditorium and back passage ways. Along with the cameras in the backstage area and Chris' dressing room, these would run overnight. We then began our EVP session.

I grabbed my dowsing rods and headed to the back passageway behind the seating area with Paul. Immediately I got a "hit" along the back wall. I had to question this because I didn't know what was on the other side: a room? a terminating wall? electrical circuitry? As we walked along the passage, I got another hit to my right, near Paul. Whatever kept pulling my rods stayed very close to Paul. Paul had no electronic gadgetry on him other then a hand held camcorder. It was interesting that whenever Paul moved, the source of attraction moved with him; if he stopped, it stopped. Amazingly, when Ron (one of the psychics on the team) approached us from the other end of the passage, my rods swung wildly in the opposite direction, as if moving away from him. When I posed the question if "it" liked Ron, the answer was no. When I asked if "it" liked Paul the rods swung to the affirmative. We tried this several times, and the answers were always the same, with the rods continually moving away from Ron.

With the dowsing rods, I got some disturbing hits in a small storage area backstage. Whenever there was a male present, the rods responded very weakly; and when asked if "it" was afraid of men, the rods swung yes. Yet, when there were only females in the area, the rods reacted strong, almost violent. When asked if "it" hated women, the rods swung yes-violently yes. Later, upon reviewing the audio data of the area, at one point I am speaking. I tell whoever may be there that I am feeling unwelcome and that I am leaving; to which I receive a response: one word- "Bye". Hmm.

There were hours and hours of video to review and thankfully I was not the one doing the reviewing. A few weeks after our investigation, we all gathered to talk about our experience. Paul brought some interesting video footage. The camera in Chris Cady's dressing room moved 4 times during the night. Just small shifts to the side. The other cameras outside showed that no one entered the room during that time, and no other camera moved. Other members of the investigation team caught some interesting audio data and everyone pretty much had personal experiences to share.
This investigation was the first time I got to work with NPI and the Reno Paranormal Group. It was great fun and I learned a lot of technical stuff from Paul, whose arsenal of video equipment rivals anything seen on TV.

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