Tag Archives: haunted

Top Haunted Sites of 2018

This may have been the most difficult collection I’ve had to put together so far.  This list of the Top 10 coolest haunted locations I visited in 2018 could’ve easily been a top 20 or 25 without any fall off in quality (I’m considering doing a video of a larger countdown, so subscribe to my YouTube here so you won’t miss it).  So, keep an eye open for other notable mentions throughout.  What are the criteria?  It’s a combination of these three categories:

  1. the location is famously haunted (bucket list trips)
  2. exceptionally unique stories or history associated with the place and
  3. Did we experience any paranormal activity on site?

bucktownpubEvery location mentioned on this list is a place I’ve visited for the very first time in 2018.  Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the release of “Voices from the Chicago Grave,” I’ve made it a point to revisit every location covered in the book.  This is an ongoing process, but it was great to see places like the Bucktown Pub (pictured right), the Frank Nitti suicide location, the Grimes sisters site, Mount Carmel Cemetery, investigate the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre location and more alongside Illinois archeologist Dan Melone and/or Wendy Lynn Staats of the “See You on the Other Side” podcast.  Keep following us on Instagram @WhatsYourGhostStory to continue visiting and investigating the most haunted locations in America!

10  Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, New Orleans, LA
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There may be no more paranormal an experience than joining the paranormal rock group Sunspot on the road, which I did for the first time in 2018.  After a show, we swung through the oldest bar in the South.  Built around 1770, this building was likely owned by pirate and Battle of New Orleans hero Jean Lafitte, his brother or a close accomplice.  Whatever the ownership provenance, it’s very likely that Lafitte did business here and knowing Lafitte, it wasn’t on the up-and-up.  It’s one thing to read tales of a dark, masculine presence in the building, observing the room from a shadowy corner, as is the most frequent claim, it’s another for a member of the staff to show you a picture of the shadow figure on their phone, which is what we were treated to.

9  Coral Castle, Homestead, FL
Quickly moving from the historically haunted to the roadside attraction oddity, I visited a site so unusual, there are many believers think the place was built by aliens, or at least with the help of alien technology.  I can go on about the place, but who can tell the story better than the show “Ancient Aliens”?  The segment even end with a classic Georgio-style, “I’m not saying it was aliens…” line.

I will say, the place is downright impressive and captivating whether you are into the theory that this entire structure was built by hand by a single, somewhat frail man or that the man was an alien.  Either sounds just a probable.  Also, not mentioned in the AA segment, two people claimed to spy on some of the construction and claimed the massive pieces were moved by sound!

museum-of-the-weird-austinI should give an odd shout out to the Museum of the Weird in Austin, TX, which houses tons of fascinating exhibits and, in fact, is so weird that Johnny Depp lived next door at one point.  The main highlight is the “Minnesota Ice Man,” an alleged Bigfoot corpse kept preserved on ice since the late ‘60s.

8  Hale’s Bar Dam, Guild, TN
Hale’s Bar Dam is a big, imposing structure with a very long and dark history.  Even before construction, the Native Americans of the area considered the area cursed, or at the very least too dangerous to tread on.  A hydroelectric dam was constructed over these dangerous waters in the early 1900s and the death toll rose quickly.  Construction never really stopped due to the constant need for repairs caused by building on unsteady ground.  Sadly, the deaths continued as well.  Use of the dam was discontinued in 1968, but the power station remains, haunted by any number of people who died here.

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The location was featured on an episode of “Ghost Adventures.”  That particular episode was perhaps most notable due to the location getting hit by a tornado during production.  However, they did also capture a compelling human form moving around on thermal camera.  We got a private tour of the structure by someone who had some wild personal experiences.  Be sure to click on the image to the left to see a video from our visit.

7  Elmwood Cemetery, Centralia, IL
elmwood-cemetery-violin-annie2One of my favorite investigations of the year took place at the Southern Illinois Cemetery of Elmwood, where a legend surrounds a beautiful monument to H. Annie Marshall, better known as “Violin Annie.”  The legends around Violin Annie are more plentiful than the facts. The basics are that this gravesite belongs to a girl who died tragically young. In life, quite clearly, she played the violin. Speaking on the legends, there are countless tales of hearing violin music waft through this cemetery at all hours. The uniqueness of this monument, plus its easy access (near the front of the cemetery, just two dozen feet from the access road), makes it an easy candidate for urban legends. Does that mean the area isn’t haunted? Of course not. The restless adventures of “Violin Annie” may very well be legit. It’s also possible that thousands of people over the years, visiting this site, hoping to hear violin music, have impacted the area, imbuing it with a psychic residue from the living. If Annie’s consciousness is here, we brought a trigger item in the form of violinist Wendy Lynn Staats to play songs and simple scales to see if we could coax a musical call and response. With several cameras rolling and even more microphones scattered around the area, it will take some time to dig though all the recordings, but our fingers are crossed!

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Full Spectrum video still of Wendy Lynn Staats playing violin at “Violin Annie’s” gravesite.

6  Sanatorium Hill, Madison, WI
This location is one I feel I’ve just scratched the surface on.  The grounds of Sanatarium Hill claim all sorts of paranormal phenomenon, including physical contact in the form of hair pulling.  To get the full story, check out the video below.  Other haunted institutional locations visited this year include Knoxville’s Lakeshore Mental Asylum, Elgin Mental Health Center & the Green County Asylum in Monroe, WI.

5  Robert the Doll locations, Key West, FL
robert-the-doll-key_westDipping as far as we could possibly dip into the Florida Keys, we found ourselves at the home of Ernest Hemingway’s six-toed cats and a doll that can move on its own. “Robert the Doll” has been a story so sensational, it’s no surprise that people assume the movie “Child’s Play” was based on this legend. In 1904 a young Eugene Otto was given a doll in a navy uniform.  It did not take long before this doll began terrorizing the family, especially little Eugene.  Massacring his other toys, and flipping his furniture over, the parents were understandably suspicious, however even they heard voices and laughing coming from Eugene’s room that were not his own.  Eventually the doll was banished to the attic, where it remained peacefully for decades. Currently the doll itself is on display at Fort East Martello Museum where it apparently does not like being on display.  If you are bold enough to take a picture of Robert without first asking his permission, legend has it that you will be besieged by extreme misfortune.  There is a nearby wall of the museum covered with letters addressed to the doll from people desperately asking Robert’s forgiveness.

keywestcemeteryI was in Key West with family.  My parents have both been exceptionally supportive of my unorthodox line of work.  They’ve attended paranormal conferences to watch me speak and my mom even joined for an exploration of Bachelor’s Grove and was pinched by an unseen hand in the process. They were all for visiting the museum until we took a ghost tour that lead us past the home where the events took place. Upon hearing the full story, I was no longer asked, “Hey, do you wanna check out that museum today?”  I had previously been vague, offering only that there was a “famous, haunted doll on display.”  Not wanting to push them or, honestly, expose myself to something truly negative (just in case), we never visited Robert. However, by total luck and coincidence, we did take a walk through the Key West eugeneottograveCemetery and, coincidentally (again), I stumbled across the grave of Eugene Otto!  I was able to conduct an EVP session at his grave site. While nothing came of it, I do always urge investors to try poking around at all locations associated with the tale you’re investigating, not just the main target. Travel Tip: you can now rent out the room where Robert was banished for decades as the Otto house is now a B&B.

4  Bell Witch Cave, Adams, TN
bellwitchcave-hauntedComing straight off the bucket list is a MUCH fabled tale of “America’s most well-documented haunting,” as it’s always called.  The story of the Bell Witch is too vast and spectacular to fully cover in a blurb, but I will tease that it involves a curse, mythical creature, disembodied voices, an intensely violent invisible entity, a homicide blamed on a ghost and some of the paranormal activity was even witnessed by a man who would become president.  You’d think this would be so rich a story that it would make for a great movie.  Well, they tried.  Wendy and I visited the location, then watched the movie before then shooting a new episode of “A Ghost Hunter Watches.”  Check that out below:

3  Seider Oaks & Shoal Creek, Austin, TX
shaol-creek-seider-oaks-haunted-austinMost of the time I find an incredible location with a colorful story… the type of place where I’m dying to find some paranormal evidence, that’s exactly where I’ll find nothing at all.  This was not the case at the darkly impacted Shoal Creek in Austin, Texas.  A Native American massacre of a settler family in 1839 could be enough to generate some paranormal activity, but this area was also the site of skirmishes and battles through the years and countless unmarked burials.  When the banks of the creek flood, taking with it lose dirt, it is not uncommon for more and more human remains to be unearthed.  A recent flood unearthed the remains of a solider who served with General Custer.  There are also multiple tales of gold being hidden in this area by criminals who were apprehended before being able to reclaim their hidden loot.  Might their spirits be the ones still occupying the area, keeping their gold hidden?  Shadow figures are seen in the area and disembodied voices are heard.  Visiting the site in the middle of the afternoon with Mike & Wendy from Sunspot and our local contact Vic Hidalgo, I tried an EVP burst session (a shorter EVP session, reviewing the recording on the spot) and it did not take long before voices did appear in the recording.  It was not clear what was said, but the presence of voices that were not own own was unmistakable.  Another trip to Austin to investigate further is already planned for the spring.

Speaking of Austin, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time at the haunted and historic Driskill Hotel and we were able to see the amazing sight that is upwards of a million bats emerging from under a bridge at sunset.  See video of the bats here.

2  Old South Pittsburg Hospital, South Pittsburg, TN
After meeting the proprietor of the “OSPH” at the Haunted America Paranormal Conference in Alton, Il, we headed down to check out the abandoned, haunted hospital.  After hearing claims of creatures crawling up the walls, our guard was high.  Indeed, simply walking into the structure, a feeling of nervousness set in immediately… very possibly a psychic impression, moreso than intimidation.  “See You on the Other Side” hosts Mike & Wendy heard a shuffling sound in a room followed by a growl.  I followed the sound of scratching on a hallway wall around a corner, onto the ceiling, then back down a wall to the floor.  Thinking I was chasing a scurrying mouse, I stomped on the ground to see if I could make it come out from hiding.  Instead a loud phantom footstep landed behind me, letting me know I didn’t know what I was dealing with.

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We ended up setting up ghost hunting gear in a hallway where people have observed an 8 foot tall shadow figure.  Using an array of cameras including a full spectrum camera, we filmed a music video, hoping to elicit a response from the music.  I don’t think we got anything in the process, but not all experiments end up paying off.  Still, we got a fun video out of it!

senabaugh-tunnel-hauntedAnother location, rife with urban legend-y glory that really deserves to be somewhere on this list is the Sensabaugh Tunnel in Church Hill, TN.  There will be a video of this location coming out later this year, as Wendy and I went out looking for children ghosts in this remote, spooky locale.

1  Horsman Ridge Cemetery, Shelby County, IL (Also called Tower Hill Cemetery, Williamsburg Hill & Ridge Cemetery)
horsmancemetery-haunted-illinoisAre you ever caught in the difficult situation, trying to decide, “Do I want to look for a ghost, a UFO or a crypid today?  Maybe I wanna look into a place that has ties to the ultra creepy phenomena of Black-eyed children.  Well, you’re in luck!  This is the one-stop shop!  Down in very rural and very remote southern Illinois, at the end of a dead end gravel road on the top of a wooded hill is Shelby County’s pioneer cemetery.  When it comes to cryptids, the threat of coming across a werewolf-like creature (better known as an up-right canine in cryptid circles) would be enough, but there is also a winged dragon-like creature seen flying over the area.  As long as you’re looking to the skies for dragons, you might as well keep an eye open for UFOs as well while as lights have been spotted in the skies and cows have been mutilated here.  Indeed, the unnerving black-eyed children have been spotted here and occasionally appear after the fact on video recordings.  That said, the ghostly encounters here probably get the adrenaline pumping the most:  An elderly man charges out from the woods, seemingly ready to attack you, but he vanishes moments before striking!  Wendy and I spent a couple of hours here, but had no experiences ourselves.  This is a place I definitely want to visit again and spend a lot more time on site.  Unlike many outdoor locations, this cemetery is so remote there is no fear of audio interference from a neighboring house or school, nor is there a blanket of traffic noise interfering with EVP recording.

ridgecemetery-haunted-illinois

Upon putting this list together, one thing became clear…. This list is impossible to create the year.  There are too many wonderful locations to cover.  The Wonder Bar in Madison, WI should be on this list.  The Old Slave House in Equality, IL should be on this list.  The Brown Hotel in Louisville, the Red Wood Room in San Francisco, the Palace Restaurant in Sault Ste Marie, MI, the Sutter Home Vineyards in Napa, CA…..they call belong on this list.  So, stay tuned to our YouTube as we do a top 20+ countdown.  This year was so spectacular because of the support of so many amazing people.  What really made 2018 amazing was all the support from Dan Melone, Mike Huberty, Jordan Murphy, Allison Journlin, Lisa Van Buskirk, Chuck “C.E.” Martin, Vic Hidalgo, Kathleen Wickes, Chelsea Duke, my parents and my partner in life and in the field, Wendy Lynn Staats.

I do have to take a quick moment to thank everyone who organizes paranormal conferences and to encourage everyone else to attend them!  It’s a tremendous opportunity to meet people with similar “out there” interests and a great place to share information and theories! They played a big role in our 2018.

2019 promises haunted excursions in Hawaii, a return to searching for rebobs in Napa Valley and trips from New York to Los Angeles.  Happy New Year to one and all.


Dillinger, the Chicago Mob & Some Good Drinks at Madison’s Wonder Bar

The haunted Wonder Bar, with a deep mafia history in Madison, WI.

The haunted Wonder Bar, with a deep mafia history in Madison, WI.

Locked in time, this location opened as Eddie’s Wonder Bar in 1929.  Though the name changed a few times over the years, the building is once again the Wonder Bar.  Perhaps it is the fact that this building is so unchanged that has lead it to be a comfortable location for its regulars to remain after death.

It is certainly worth noting that many of the original ‘regulars’ were people of ill repute.  The restaurant was opened by Eddie Touhy.  He was the only Touhy brother out of six who was not a known criminal.  The “Terrible Touhy” brothers gang started as bootleggers who first supplied booze to Capone’s gang.  Once Capone wanted to take over their operation, a full war battle out, the famed “Beer Wars.”  The same year the Wonder Bar opened, one of his brothers, Joseph, was gunned down by Capone gunmen.  By this time, other brothers, John (Capone again, 1927) & James (by police, 1917) had already met their end by bullets.

The notice reads "Closed by order of the National Prohibition Act" haunted Wonder Bar Madison

The notice reads “Closed by order of the National Prohibition Act”

While Eddie was not considered a criminal himself, it would be surprising if he kept his nose clean entirely, with such powerful brothers Roger and Tommy “the Human Bomb” still in power.  In addition to bootlegging, Roger enjoyed installing gambling in local saloons.  Was Madison’s Wonder Bar one of them?  It’s worth looking into further.  It is generally accepted that this was a safe house for John Dillinger as his crime spree dotted the Midwest.

Wendy Lynn Staats descends the staircase to explore some of the mysteries in the Wonder Bar basement. Madison haunted

Wendy Lynn Staats descends the staircase to explore some of the mysteries in the Wonder Bar basement.

Current employees freely share paranormal stories – things they’ve heard, things they’ve experienced.  Wendy Lynn Staats, Mike Huberty & I were lucky enough to get an impromptu tour of the basement and it’s mysterious tunnels.  Legend has it that at least one of the tunnels reaches Lake Monona.  However, being a quarter mile from shore and that lake not easily connecting to and larger water ways, I’m unsure of the benefit here, unless they were shipping booze out to other lake front taverns.  It is worth noting that the distance from the back door to a nearby rail line is barely over 100 feet, so perhaps this was a way to keep the booze flowing from Chicago to Madison & beyond.

Claims of shootouts here have been unverified so far, but research is continuing.  If nothing more, an archeological study of the building, rail line & Olin Park (situated between Wonder Bar & Lake Monona) would be fascinating.

Whatever the reason, hauntings here are continued and regular.  Objects move by themselves, including heavy chairs.  A man in a trench coat has been observed & footsteps are regularly heard throughout the building.  An oft-repeated legend claims that a murder victim’s body is walled up within the 2nd story fireplace, leading to some of the activity.


History and Hauntings of Sault Ste. Marie

PalaceSaloonHaunted1PalaceSaloonHaunted2What about the beautiful town of Sault Ste Marie, MI?  Is it haunted?  If it’s appearing on this site, the odds are, yes.  Michigan’s oldest town (founded in 1668!) and site of the Michigan ParaCon, Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced “Soo Saint Marie”) has some haunted locations. We’ll start right where we get most of our food while we’re on location, the 1903-built Palace Saloon.  This restaurant has activity throughout the building including activity from the basement to the top floor, but most notably, a man in black seen sitting in one of the booths (pictured above).  See a video I shot of employees talking about the hauntings with Mike, Wendy and Allison from the “See You on the Other Side” podcast.

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Also, we got a tip about a number of haunted sites outside of Sault Ste Marie that might still be occupied by active Native American spirits.  These were given to us by a member of the Sault tribe while saying the locations are very active and paranormal occurrences are ongoing.  Here are the locations we need to research more before returning for a number of full investigations:

Sugar Island – Just 4 miles and a ferry ride away from the town center, this is a 49 square mile island with a population of under 700 people and is considered an ancestral homeland to the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians while also being important to the Ojibwe.  It was once in consideration (in 1945) to be the HQ of the United Nations.

MissionHillCemeteryMichiganMission Hill – about 22 miles west is the township of Brimley / Bay Mills and its secluded (click on the map to see just how isolated it is) and active Mission Hill Cemetery.  This location is known for its abundant ghost lights and disembodied voices.  This is possibly primarily a native American burial site.  Due to its seclusion, there has not been a lot reported on it, historical or paranormal.

Green Sky Hill – As tends to be the case with Native American legends, so much oral tradition is just that – only oral, not recorded in print.  We were told to look into Green Sky Hill, about 100 south, in the main “mitten” of Michigan.  Indeed, there is a book titled “Legends of Green Sky Hill” and categorized as “North American Indian Legends,” but the book was published in 1959 and little else can be found online.  A journey into the world of used books may be needed to understand this site.

Charlevoix – in the same area as Green Sky Hill is the town of Charlevoix.  Like all of this region, inhabitation dates into prehistory by tribes of this region and, as the name indicates, French explorers in the 1700s.  More modern establishments sprang up in the mid 1850s and by today we have a very old town with lots of ghost stories, particularly the Weathervane Restaurant that boasts three different ghosts who make their presence visually known.  One specter moves objects… big objects… like slamming heavy doors and even rolling a large banquet table from one room to the next.

Wolverine Hotel – Also near Charlevoix is the town of Boyne City, which boasts the Wolverine Hotel (pictured below, more recently known as the Dilworth Inn), a grand hotel from 1912.  Unfortunately, I could not find any tales of hauntings at this site, nor could I even find if this location is open for business.  Still, the fact that we were informed that this is a place to look into, tells us to pay attention.  So, we’ll keep our eyes open for this site and others!

DilworthInn

Locations within Sault Ste Marie that are reportedly haunted include the Soo Brewing Company, Antlers Restaurant, Museum Ship Valley Camp, Ramada Ojibway Plaza, The Satisfied Frog Pub, which is located just across the street from the Palace Saloon.

More than anything, this article is a call to action for anyone out there.  Do you have tips on interesting history, folklore or your very own personal ghost stories about these locations?  Please let me know in the comments.  Hopefully we can arrange a separate journey to the northern edge of America to further investigate these sites.


Haunted Woods? Indian Burial Grounds? Urban Legends Galore on Sanatorium Hill, Madison, WI

This is a first look at a location I’ve wanted to explore for a while now.  Sanatorium Hill (aka Lake View Sanatorium, now Dane County Health and Human Services) lived up to my hopes as a fun place to explore.  Next step is doing a LOT more research, including hearing more about YOUR stories of the place, followed by, of course, actual ghost hunting!


Haunted Road Trip: Tucson to Madison (Part 1)

ParanormalRoadTripMap

One of my personal favorite videos I’ve ever put out involved how to take a haunted road trip from LA to Vegas.  This year, I set my sights a little bigger and covered a lot more distance, this time taking a trip from Tucson, AZ to Madison, WI, with Wendy Lynn Staats, drummer and violin player for the rock band, Sunspot.  They’re a group that features a lot of songs with paranormal or geek culture themes.  If interested, check out some drone footage I shot of the band here:

Tucson, AZ itself has some great haunted sites, but perhaps, as a Chicagoan, none stand out more than the place that lead to the (temporary) downfall of John Dillinger’s crew.  The Congress Hotel had to serve as a temporary landing spot for the gang of outlaws as the house they rented was not yet ready for them.

Hotel Congress 1934One early morning, fire broke out and the gang, like everyone else, was forced to stand on the street to watch fire envelop the hotel.  Knowing they had some precious cargo inside, a firefighter was convinced to go retrieve their luggage.  In appreciation, the firefighter was given a significant tip.  The following day, the firefighter in question happened to see a photo in True Detective Magazine of the generous tippers.  Within two days the entire crew was arrested, setting the stage for one of the most famous and clever prison breaks in history, that being the escape in the warden’s car in Crowne Point, IN that is described in detail in “Voices from the Chicago Grave.”  (further reading on John Dillinger’s time in Tucson here)

The Hotel Congress boasts many old time amenities and a whole slew of ghosts who continue to make their presence known.  There’s a maid in one of the halls, a cowboy in the basement, a war vet barfly who continues to tell stories to anyone within earshot and the second floor offers a variety of haunted rooms including the positive (room 220, long time resident still hanging around) and the very negative (suicide deaths leading to hauntings in rooms 214 & 242).

No time to stop for the night this time around, so we headed due north toward the tiny, remote town of Snowflake, Arizona.  Snowflake is famous for one thing and one thing only – this is the site of the most famous UFO abduction case in history.  It was here at the in 1975 that Travis Walton and six fellow loggers encountered a UFO.  Walton ventured from their truck and ended up getting abducted.  He was gone for five days.  The story may be familiar as it’s the basis for the feature film “Fire in the Sky” (trailer below).

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, where Walton was working, is enormous.  We drove in total darkness for a disorientingly long amount of time.  I had designs on finding the exact location where the UFO encounter happened to try to take some readings, as I’ve heard that there’s still a radioactive signature here.  However, I did not plan for the forest being nearly 3 million acres.  The next best option, which is really a goldmine when getting to the bottom of local lore, was finding a local bar to talk to the regulars.  We passed one or two small dives that appeared to be closed for the night before finally locating a restaurant/bar that was open.

Sadly, this venue didn’t quite have the local flavor I was hoping for as it appeared to cater to time share ‘owners.’  Still, the place had to be staffed by locals who knew all about the tales, right?  I mean, after the most famous UFO story since Roswell, have there been other sightings?  Do other UFOlogists swing through often to see the place for themselves?  What about Bigfoot sightings?  There tends to be a correlation between places with a lot of sasquatch sightings and UFO activity.  With so much woodlands, I can imagine all sorts of cryptid sightings!

“So, do you know about the UFO history of this area?” I asked our bartender.

“You mean, like Area 51?” She responded.

“Um, no,” the smile leaving my face.  “Just down the road from here was the most famous UFO abduction case in the world.  There was a big Hollywood film made about it.”

“Oh,” she said before turning around to dry glasses.

ElRancho“Oh?”  Just “oh?”  I will never understand how there wasn’t a string of follow-up questions to my statement.  I guess I’m a researcher and others are not.   ….but still!  A Hollywood movie was made based on events in your town and you have zero interest?  A UFO plucked a dude off of your sleepy street and you’re not interested?

Clearly, we were barking up the wrong tree and we had a lot of miles left to drive.  Our camp for the night was just over the border in the beautiful town of Gallup, New Mexico.

Gallup’s picturesque landscapes made the town a natural fit for countless movies over the years, particularly westerns.  However, it’s here that one of my favorite movies of all time, Kirk Douglas’s “Ace in the Hole” was filmed.

All of those crew members and movie stars had to sleep somewhere while in town and where better than a hotel opened by Roy Griffith, the brother of the legendary director DW (“Birth of a Nation,” “Intolerance”)?  Today, the El Rancho Hotel is considered one of the most haunted locations along Route 66.

ElRancho3The two-floor lobby with the wrap-around balcony proudly displays vintage, signed black and white photos of the stars of yester-year who once stayed there.  Some rooms even display names on them, presumably honoring past residents.  It’s in this upper lobby where people have heard phantom conversations, singular voices, footsteps and laughter.

Among individual rooms, the bridal suite claims the most activity, but neighboring rooms also report objects moving on their own, doors opening by unseen hands and the unwelcome wake up call of the curtains flying open on their own at the crack of dawn.  Apparently a long gone crew member doesn’t want to miss their call time.

A glance around different travel or review sites also recounts tales of unexplainable phenomena in the John Wayne room and the Susan Hayward room.

ElRancho2

By lunchtime we had made it to another location that is intimately associated with a Hollywood production…..and meth.  Yep, Albuquerque!  Perhaps no law enforcement agency takes stopping the spread of meth more seriously than the town where the movie “Breaking Bad” is set.  For the 18+ crowd, ya gotta check out the Candy Lady, a candy store that sells X-rated sweets.  No haunting here, but this is one of the ‘weird’ trip highlights.

HighNoon

HighNoon2We, however, had our sights set on margaritas and the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon and they delivered!  The building itself has to be one of the oldest still existing structures in the United States as it was first built in the 1750s.  The building has long reported the presence of a woman in white in the Santos room (pictured to the right, note the saint statues in the alcoves), but the current owners have been feeling more and more unsettled.  Something isn’t right here.  That’s what led them to reach out for help in the form of Travel Channel’s “The Dead Files.” (read more on that here). Clever marketing ploy or legit paranormal drama, we had a lunch that more than hit the spot.

Bellies full of great food, we took a little walk before jumping back on the road.  In the process, we got a look at the Covered Wagon, a store that contains a ridiculous amount of Chile Ristras (bunches of hanging chili peppers, picture below) and the legend of a ghost named Scarlett, a prostitute who was murdered on the site when the building was a brothel.  She was allegedly stabbed by a fellow ‘working girl’ and died of blood loss before help could arrive.  Due to the clandestine nature of the building, there are no official records to confirm or deny that this crime took place.  Whatever the origin, the building and the immediate surrounding area seems to be visited by a female presence, who is not always clothed.  You heard me.

CoveredWagon

In the same square is the La Placita Dining Rooms (picture below).  The business itself has been in operation since 1935 while the building itself went up sometime prior to 1880 (some sites claim 1706 as the building date).  We talked with one member of the wait staff who confirmed that he had coworkers with paranormal stories but he himself had yet to experience anything of note.

LaPlacita

According to various web sites, there are four known ghosts here, but only two or three are ever identified.  One is the ghost of a little girl who appears as a reflection in the women’s room mirrors while the other is a visage of a woman in full bridal gown seen descending the stairs.  The most unique and perhaps common visual anomaly is a fog or a mist that appears hovering over tables and lingers for a time before again vanishing.  Is this another specter attempting to form?  Perhaps time will tell.

Tune in next month for the next installment of the weird and haunted road trip, which will include infamous and ya-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it sites in Texas and Kansas!

CaddyRanch2


Haunted Glendale, CA – Brand Park & Cemetery

BrandParkCemetery4You’ve gotta love a mountain hike that leads to a mostly hidden cemetery! Glendale, CA’s “first family,” the Brands, started a pet cemetery that they themselves began laying themselves to rest in. The nearby family home, library and this cemetery all claim some level of paranormal activity. There are reports of occult activity at the cemetery, though that’s always a red flag for urban legends to me.

Oddly enough, the modern history of this area dates back to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago where Missouri realtor Leslie Brand and his wife visited and were immediately taken by the East India Pavilion.

BrandParkCemetery9Just a year later he purchased the small community of Glendale (click on the map image to the right to open the GoogleMap of the location) with hopes of further developing the community and also crafting his perfect, East India-inspired family home.  The home, situated at the base of the Verdugo Mountains was named “The Lookout” in Indian, or Miradero.  Interestingly, the land he purchased is still outlined and named “Miradero” on GoogleMaps.

The East Indian style home, nicknamed “The Castle,” built in 1904 quickly became the social hot spot of Glendale.  When Leslie died in 1925, he donated much of the Miradero land to the city of Glendale, specifically to be used as a library and park.  This library was finally opened some 31 years later and continues to operate to this day.  The park, with baseball diamonds, is in heavy use.

Sadly, like all too many possibly haunted cemeteries, this one has a history of desecration.  Single graves were unearthed on separate occasions with bones of the deceased being scattered about the grounds and skulls stolen.  One of the skulls belonged to Miradero architect Nathaniel Dryden.

BrandParkCemeteryParking in one of the main parking lots, walking up the paved Brand Park Drive, keeping Miradero on your right, gaining altitude as you reach the Verdugo Mountain range, you’ll eventually reach a T intersection.  In front of you, you’ll find decaying stars to nowhere (pictured left).  It’s eerily similar to the present date site of Altadena’s Cobb Estate.

Bear left at the t-intersection and you will soon find the fenced-off Brand Family cemetery, which contains several conventional graves as well as the remarkable pyramid-shaped grave of Leslie Brand.

The trails into the mountains behind the estate still boast scores of ruins from a bygone time.  The photo below shows  Brand Cemetery as seen from a nearby mountain ridge (note the pyramid in the lower right corner), along with

BrandParkCemetery8 Below is another stairway to nowhere, deeper within the mountains.  While there seems to be a large amount of infrastructure, including old, decaying roads, power line supports and building foundations, researching historical topographical maps to not show any buildings whatsoever.  Perhaps these buildings were not built with any official permitting as Brand kept these grounds private, even hidden from civic meddling, as he was a powerful force in Glendale.  Unfortunately, this makes dating and identifying buildings in this area quite difficult.  Event the cemetery, which has to have started in the early 1920s or earlier doesn’t appear on these maps until 1967.

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The most concrete paranormal activity takes place in the library itself where Leslie Brand understandably continues to spend time in his dream home.  If that’s a conscious haunting or that of the residual variety remains to be seem as encounters seem to be too fleeting to gleam much information from.

Due to the terrible grave desecration that happened at the family cemetery, one would understand the place being under close surveillance as much as you would understand if there is some amount of unrest here.  I do believe that paranormal investigation at this site is important as much as I feel that it’s important to do this investigation the “right way.”  Respect the land, the rules and honor the family that helped build Glendale.BrandParkCemetery6

For continued, much more in-depth reading into the history of this site & the brand family themselves, check out a great KCET article here.


Seeking Location to Investigate in So. Cal

Hello!  I’ve been traveling a lot and am in the process of getting some videos ready to share with you.  First though, I need your help.  I’m calling on you, ghost story fans to help me find the perfect location to do an extensive investigation on with a small group of people.  Some of them are people you’ve seen in my videos before, some are brand new additions.

We’ll be filming in the Los Angeles area, but if LA and Hollywood are one thing, they are crowded!  If they’re something else, they’re loud!  So, I’m looking to find a location outside of the heart of LA.  A place we could get permission to have the run of the place.  It would be a single night overnight investigation.  I’m looking for a place that is actively and heavily haunted.  It doesn’t have to be a place where people see full apparitions or a place where people get physically confronted, though those would be okay for me too…. Sorry team, but just a place where the activity seems to be interesting and ongoing.  If you have a personal experience there, we might be able to get you even more involved with the project, if you’d like.

Here’s a rough map showing where I’m looking.  The red locations are potentially good target areas where the blue area is likely locations I’d avoid.  So, I’m looking at a pretty big area.  From Hidden Hills to Rancho Cucamonga, from the massive Angeles National Forest to further south than this map shows, really.

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It can be a private residence, a public place or a company.  We just need permission to conduct this one-night investigation.  We’re not trying to do anything sneaky here.

If you know of a place within a more populated (blue) area, but you think the building is quiet and isolated enough that we could do an investigation without sound contamination, I’d be all for it.  I even have a wish list for places In these areas:

  1. The Hollymont house just north of Hollywood Blvd
  2. Themla Todd’s Café and the house she died in, Castillo del Mar
  3. The Warner Pacific Theatre, one of my favorite buildings in LA, one I’ve never set foot in because it’s been restricted since the earthquake in ’89.  I’d love to get in there and try to make contact with one of the original Warner Brothers.

So, if you have leads on any interesting haunted location in any of the cities listed, please drop me a line with any info you may have, the history, alleged hauntings, if you know who I should contact and, maybe most importantly – if YOU have a personal experience there!


Chicago Ghost Conference

By: Connor Bright

Finally putting my feet up and relaxing after an awesome and VERY busy weekend at the Chicago Ghost Conference!

This was my 3rd year attending the show, which this year was super close to Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery! As Scott and I were driving to the Chicago Gaelic Park (where the ghost con was), I checked my Time Hop app and learned that it was also the anniversary of my first visit to the cemetery. So that was a fun little coincidence!

As always the Conference was A LOT of fun! A great place to see old friends and meet the new faces of the Chicago paranormal community!

Scott was there promoting his documentary on the La Crosse river drownings with Jay Bachochin (check it out here) as well as selling copies of his book Voices From the Chicago Grave (get it here)

I mostly came for the booze….just kidding! I got to sit with the talented and beautiful Virginia Madsen! Star of too many movies to name here, but mostly at the ghost con because of her work in “Candyman” and “A Haunting in Connecticut.” She is AWESOME and I am really looking forward to seeing her and Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy” this Christmas!

The show is run by Ursula Bielski, who is a wonderful and amazing woman with a CRAZY amount of knowledge on all things paranormal! She’s the best, Google her!

We got in a little too late (and I was a little too tired) for any of the Friday night activities….but we made sure we were well rested and prepared for Saturday!!

Saturday Scott lead a panel on urban legends in Chicago which was ENTIRELY full of AMAZING blonde ladies! From right to left: Ursula Bielski, Mary Marshall, Liz Nygard, and Virginia Madsen.

I…..mostly took selfies and tried to get everyone to join the Instagram Cult!

After day one of the conference, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the costume party!!! Which was “Come-as-your-favorite-dead-Chicago-resident” themed. Also, it was at Chet’s Melody Lounge, right across the street from Resurrection Cemetery (home to Chicago’s most famous ghost, the aptly named “Resurrection Mary”).

I’m not going to lie, I thought Scott and I would have the most clever costumes…Black and white John Dillinger and Anna Sage (the woman in ORANGE, not red)

But then freaking Dave Schrader and Jeff Belanger show up as MRS. O’LEARY AND HER COW!! (The same cow that started the Great Chicago Fire) They just deserve all of the awards for that! All of them!!

We danced the night away and I did my best Janis Joplin impression on karaoke (which do me a favor and if you have video…delete it, okay? lol).

Sunday got off to a slow start, for obvious reasons! But once I picked out a good enough outfit to hide that my skin was still kinda grey….the ball got rolling and it was a lot of fun!

Some very FANTASTIC speakers, such as the brilliant Mary Marshall (you have to love a strong woman like her in the paranormal field)

We all gave interviews with Shadows on the Wall Paranormal Radio (who are awesome dudes and you should check them out!).

And I promise I’m not just saying that because they wanted to talk to me WITHOUT Scott! (That doesn’t happen much, since we’re a team)

We had a GREAT time as always at the Chicago Ghost Conference! We learned a lot of new things and heard all of the latest on the paranormal in Chicagoland and the rest of the county! It’s always a good thing to get back to your roots and catch up with old and new friends at the most friendly ghost convention around!!

Since I apparently can’t take a picture unless it’s a selfie, I have two people to thank for all of these!

Thank you, Kenneth Munyer of Midnight Paranormal Society! You take a darn great black and white photo (and sweet colored ones too!)

And thank you Jay for letting me borrow your pictures, check out his group the Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators, currently on the trail of Bigfoot!

Until Next Year!


Surviving (and ENJOYING) Jury Duty in Downtown LA!

I recently had the experience of having to do jury duty and…. had a great time!  I am one of those “lucky” people who have actually gotten called for jury duty three times in the last three years.  Yes, I have gotten out of it in the past with legitimate reasons I was unable to serve.  This time, however, I gave it a go.  Okay, I did try to get out of it a few times until it got to the point that trying to get out of jury duty was more of a nuisance than actually serving jury duty.
So, to show off the bright spots of jury duty and to provide you with a jury duty survival guide, I wanted to create this post.  If you’re on this site, I imagine you are interested in ghost stories, local history, crime history, Los Angeles and visiting museums.  If you keep an eye on these themes, then serving jury duty is downright exciting!  I know that sounds like BS, but stay with me here.

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The first part of jury duty and truly the only part that most people experience is being in the “jury pool.”  It’s just a big waiting room full of people hanging out.  Honestly, is that so bad?  Most people keep themselves busy with their iPads, phones, laptops, etc.  There is Wi-Fi, so it’s not a bad way to get some work done.  I, on the other hand, did a lot of reading.  I got deep into a fascinating book on the Prohibition era that deserve its own blog entry.  However, if you are serving jury duty in downtown LA, I would strongly suggest reading “A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption & LA’s Scandalous Coming of Age.”  This amazing book covers the frequently lawless and corrupt age of life in Los Angeles, a town that was growing faster than its infrastructure was ready for. The book covers topics like the Castaic Damn disaster and Clara Bow’s blackmail case.
Back to jury duty.  Each day you get a 90-minute lunch.  That’s crazy!  What’s more crazy is that most people stay local or even eat in the building.  In 90 minutes, you can walk to a lot of great places, taking a nice tour in the process.

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 photo 20150507_121159_zpsu7jdkx7v.jpgAfter giving quite a few tours and frequently losing tour members to Mr. Churro, I decided that this was finally my time to check the place out.  Leaving 210 W. Temple (pictured, top with the white Pico House building visible on the far right) and walking North up Spring Street, you get a lot of great views of the Pueblo de Los Angeles area (pictured directly above).  This is our destination and also where the city of Los Angeles was born.  On your left, you walk past the largest cement military memorial in all of America, a tribute to the Mormon Battalion and the site of Fort Moore (pictured right).
 photo 20150507_120952_zpsazqueuok.jpgCrossing the next overpass gives you a great perspective on exactly how much of the original Moore Hill (specifically the land that was Moore Hill Cemetery) was dug out to make room for the 101 freeway.  Yes, in a tale straight from the movie Poltergeist, a cemetery was moved (said bodies are now located in Rosedale Cemetery in the West Adams neighborhood, by the way).  Yes, there was a school (that crazy stainless steel building) that was built on a former cemetery and yes, that is a haunted building.  Bodies from the original cemetery were found on this site from the original cemetery as recently as 2009.
Continuing down Spring, you’ll eventually make a right at the corner of Spring and Ord.  This is the site where, not all that long ago really, LA was gripped by the possibility that huge quantities of buried treasure was hidden underground throughout LA.  Who put this treasure here?  A now extinct species of 6 foot tall reptiles, of course (this is a true and strange footnote in LA’s already strange enough history).

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Now turning the corner and heading through Chinatown, you get a nice look at the ornate dragons that keep watch over the neighborhood before walking a couple more blocks to Olivera Street.
 photo 20150507_122756_zpsrsl8r5gx.jpgGetting here has only taken about 15-20 minutes out of the 90 minute lunch, so there’s even time to visit the free Old Plaza Fire House museum (pictured left, with City Hall in the background on the right edge of frame), which is really not much of a museum, but you do get to enter one of the original fire stations in LA and see some of the vintage fire fighting gear and impressive photos of the LAFD in action through the years.
To read more about this haunted history of the Pueblo de Los Angeles including Pico House, the Avila Adobe (also a free location to visit) and La Gondoloria Resuaturant, check out my article here.
I grabbed my lunch to go (it did live up to the hype) and walked back to and past the courthouse building to have lunch in LA’s Grand Park.  It’s no Grant Park in Chicago or Central Park in New York, but the city has done a lot to create a gorgeous, large park right in the middle of this portion of the city.  In addition to a nice aesthetic, there are exhibits worth viewing including quotes and pictures from survivors the Armenian Genocide (pictured below, right with City Hall looming in the center of the image and the criminal courts building on the left).
 photo IMG_2695_zps5skjclan.jpgDay 1 ended with me actually getting assigned to a case.  Though most cases are only 1-2 days, this one was estimated to take 6 days if I was selected to the jury.  This was not a lock as I was one of about 50 people to make it to this stage.

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Day 2

My second day of jury duty started around 11am or so and after just 60 minutes of jury duty, it was time for my 90 minute lunch.  It’s amazing anything gets done, really.

Unfortunately, on this day it was raining, so I decided to see what fun I could have in the building. Unfortunately there is no top floor observation deck, but I did find a museum-caliber display covering both the 17th and 18th floor of the building. It’s amazing!
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The displays are floor-to-ceiling and do cover every lady square inch of the walls on the two floors. The display is a timeline of crime in LA (technically, it’s about the district attorney’s office, since we are on the floor the D.A. is on).

 photo 20150508_124844_zpsm7rham6o.jpgThe perspective is interesting, looking at the history of Los Angeles as it relates to crime, from the 1871 Chinese Massacre through the Griffith J. Griffith attempted murder case in 1903, the 1910 LA Times building bombing, Bugsy and Mickey’s Mafia control in the ’30s, the career-ruining Pantages trials the Manson Family trial, through the modern age of the LA Riots and the OJ trial.  Among the more well-known stories are some tremendous events that today are largely forgotten.
Did you know that there were sea battles just a few miles beyond the Santa Monica Pier between authorities and floating casinos?  It’s a saga that went on for years and somehow we haven’t seen a movie based on these events yet(?).  Tony Stralla’s name appears on these walls a couple of times.  Before he went on to create the Stardust Casino on the Vegas strip, he was a prohibition-era bootlegger and casino operator in the soutland.

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This location also ties in beautifully with the afore-mentioned book, “A Bright and Guilty Place,” as pretty much every event covered in the book also appears on these walls, as well as personalities like Dave Clark (an LA City prosecutor who got his hands dirty and bloody more than once) and Burton Fitts.
LA’s DA office is about to move to another building, so this exhibit will not be here forever, so whether or not you have jury duty, this is a public building, so make sure you make time soon to go up and walk these halls.
Another must-do in this area is check out the observation deck on the LA City Hall building located just across the street from the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, named after the first female lawyer on the west coast.
 photo dd5f032c-321b-439a-8a36-385a14e11d60_zpsni4d9tzn.jpgJury duty or not, this location offers some of the best views of downtown LA and is a must visit.  Sadly, the view towards the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory is frequently obscured by smog and other larger buildings in the area block some other ideal sites, but it’s still well worth the visit.  West Hollywood, the Brewery artists lofts and, much closer Broadway and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  This is specifically a way to handle jury duty here in downtown LA, but when it comes down to it, no matter where you are, you can find an interesting way to entertain yourself.  Turn it into an opportunity.  How often do you have 90 minutes to kill away from home?  We’re always in a rush nowadays and you can use this time to your personal benefit.  The fact that you’re also pridefully doing your duty as a US citizen…. also a nice perk.

A History of Rock n’ Hauntings at Barney’s Beanery

images-1_zpsa5b8e183Barney’s Beanery has a special place in Hollywood and Rock ‘n Roll history. A loud restaurant with walls full of signs, memorabilia, lunch boxes, and car parts, Barney’s has earned its reputation as a place where celebrities can go to blend in or stand out. The well worn bar stools have been graced by Marilyn Monroe and peed upon by Jim Morrison.

In 1920 John “Barney” Anthony decided to open up a restaurant using the chili recipe he perfected as a navy cook during World War I. In 1927 Barney’s relocated to a new location alongside famous route 66 and the legend was born! The Beanery still stands and Anthony’s chili remains a menu staple!

url-3_zpsc7c1057dBarney’s Beanery has seen thousands of people walk through its doors, from the classy Rita Hayworth, to the Rebel Without A Cause star himself, James Dean. Rumor his it that Barney’s was the site of the last supper for Dean, the night before his tragic accident.

The outlandish writer/director, Quentin Tarantino, supposedly wrote Pulp Fiction while sitting at one of the booths. Perhaps the same booth that Janis Joplin ate her last meal, before heading back to the Landmark Motor Hotel where she was staying. The iconic voice was a regular at the Beanery before her heroin and booze addiction ended her life on October 4th, 1970.

Jim_Morrison_zps2caabf28Around the same time as Joplin, another rock and roll Idol used Barney’s as his local watering hole.  Jim Morrison of The Doors would come in to drink after recording over at The Doors Workshop just a bit father down Santa Monica Blvd. That is, until one night in the mid-1960s when Morrison was inspired to stand on the bar and relieve himself.  The decadent singer was immediately escorted out and not welcomed back. However, now there is a plaque on the bar honoring the Beanery’s connection to Morrison, installed after Morrison’s sudden death in France in 1971.

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Barney’s Beanery, like many a well-loved bar before it, is not without it’s ghosts, be they passed on patrons or something else entirely. The staff is friendly and even open to sharing a few stories if it’s not too busy.

One of the Beanery’s local spooks is an entity known as “The Man in Black.” With a description to match his name, the spectre is often seen standing by the ladies restroom, which at one point in time was part of a gambling and billiards room. Some people associate this Man in Black with a 1973 murder that took place in the restaurant. On September 15th of that year 25 year-old Leonard Taylor shot and killed Robert Rush, the 34 year-old bartender, over a game of pool. This documented murder has led to the belief that The Man in Black is Rush’s spirit, still watching over games.

Screenshot2014-06-08at54441PM_zps6fa3529cFemale employees at this restaurant will feel a touch on their back as if someone is trying to walk behind them, only to turn and realize the walkway is empty.  It is worth noting that among the famous patrons that once frequented this establishment is Erroll Flynn, who is as remembered for his acting work as he is for his large sexual appetite. The mischievous spirits at Barney’s Beanery are known to pull ponytails, and push open the swinging kitchen doors so that they rock wildly on their hinges. Occasionally the staff has heard a great “whooshing’ sound, almost like a strong wind, indoors, without even a breeze.

With almost 100 years of history under its belt, Barney’s Beanery has seen just about everything. It is no surprise that it is home to some paranormal entities as well. Even if you don’t believe the ghost stories, one thing is for certain, if you want to see a Hollywood staple and love a busy atmosphere, Barney’s is a MUST! The history isn’t just printed on the back of the menu, it’s hanging on the walls, and felt in every inch of the building.