Friday, December 19, 2014

#GhostHunt #13: The Bross Hotel in Paonia, CO

The account this week from our paranormal investigations for the new book takes place at the Bross Hotel in Paonia, Colo.

The Bross Hotel B&B
But first a S/O to owner Linda Lentz, who gave us the tour of her charming three-story B&B. 

W.T. and Laura Bross oversaw the construction of the hotel in 1905, which they ran until the 1830s. Their son Otto took it over and would remain on the premises even after he sold it and until he died in 1959. 

The hotel has experienced quite a lot of paranormal activity in the basement and on all three above-ground floors of the hotel through the years, including repeated sightings of both Laura and Otto as well as regular poltergeist activity, with disturbed bed covers and even the fall to the floor of a large dining room mirror moly-bolted to the wall! (This occurred in the 1990s after a former innkeeper had made disparaging remarks about "Mother" Bross. The proprietor certainly didn't repeat that mistake.)

The mirror that fell to the floor
Our investigation at the Bross included several tantalizing anomalies.

We first took EMF readings in the dining room near the infamous mirror. Baseline meter output hovered steadily around 270 mG but climbed dramatically to over 400 mG in field strength near the north end of the mirror frame. (EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field, and ghosts are said to manipulate this energy as a way to manifest or communicate.)

But goings and comings in this public space interrupted us from recording any useful EVPs during our visit. (EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon, soft whisperings or voices that sometimes occur at almost inaudible levels on audio recordings but can also be generated through a spirit box.)

From there, we headed to the second floor and to Room No. 2, the “English/Ghost Room,” or Otto’s room. We began by setting up a video camera on a tripod to record movement in the room. We also shot a number of still photographs with our digital camera – but not for long. Within a few minutes, the newly installed batteries in both the SLR camera and camcorder drained, forcing us to replace them. (Rapidly depleting batteries are a common cited phenomenon in haunted locations, where ghosts may draw down such energy as a way to manifest or communicate.)

Rm 2 -- the "English/Ghost Room"
While the recharged video camera ran, Mark scoped the room with the EMF meter while Kym recorded voices using a spirit box.  It soon became apparent that the voice recordings corresponded to Mark’s changing locations within the room. When he stood by the video camera, the spirit box declared “videotape” twice, announced the word “film” twice when he started taking photos, and even mentioned “fan” while he aimed his camera at the ceiling fan above the bed. 

In all, the spirit box emitted forty words during a fifteen-minute session, including two references to “staircase” (just beyond the open bedroom door), “bed” twice (the room’s largest feature), “room” twice, and also both “electric” and “electricity.” (This was a novel feature for an early 1900s hotel, and many early guests remarked on the amenity in those early days.)

We’ve run the spirit box in other locales with very little response, but here the instrument was a chatterbox, with roughly 25 percent of the words specifically describing objects or activity related to the real-time investigation.

The box also mentioned “shower,” and when we opened the attached bathroom door, the baseline EMF
readings of 120 mG jumped to 450 mG in field strength. However, we received no other correlating events in that room.

We repeatedly asked if "Mother" Bross or any other entities were present in the room but received no direct replies. Our video recordings yielded identified anomalies, and our attempts at recovering EVPs also turned up nothing. We also detected no temperature fluctuations or cold spots.

Lobby stairway wraps
around a bronze sculpture
of a faux elevator
Sometimes the ghosts just don't come out and play on cue! (By contrast, another paranormal team had investigated the hotel a few weeks prior to our own visit, and that group reported interactions with both Laura and W.T. Bross. Over a period of two days, the team also established communication with Otto, his wife, and son Billy.)

But the punchline for us came just before leaving.

We packed up and smoothed out the few wrinkles created on the bedspread from our equipment. As we headed downstairs, Linda called out that we should retrieve the tourist literature on the vanity by the bed, and we about-faced and reentered the room. 

To our surprise, the left side of the bedspread looked crumpled, like someone had been sitting there. In fact, it looked exactly like the print of someone’s fanny, and very much in keeping with one former innkeeper’s repeated observations in this and other rooms in the hotel.  Definitely not the way we left it seconds before. We were so stunned, we didn't even take a picture before straightening the spread (a mistake we wouldn't make again!)

When we mentioned the disarrayed bed once we retreated downstairs, the owner merely smiled.
* * *
We're going to interrupt the accounts of our paranormal investigations for the weekend between Christmas and New Year's. (BTW, happy holidays, all!)  

But the following weekend, we'll share highlights of our visit to the Vintage Inn B&B in Gunnison, Colo., where we discover ghosts who seem polite and even tell us they're happy with their current accommodations!

Don't forget you can follow along during our investigations as we live-tweet from Twitter @writeinthethick. You can check out our Facebook page for updates about dates and times. And you can subscribe to our YouTube "Ghost Hunt Findings" channel to see our constantly expanding collection of video clips from our various investigations.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

#GhostHunt No. 12: the Beaumont Hotel in Ouray, CO

Our account this week from our paranormal investigations for the new book takes place at the Beaumont Hotel & Spa in Ouray, CO.

Note Queen Anne Victorian architecture
But first a S/O to co-owner Jennifer Leaver, who gave us a tour of this lovely building and filled us in about various hotspots along the way. Thanks, Jen!

Built in 1886 of bricks fired from the mud of local hot springs, the Beaumont began as an enterprise to entertain railroad and mining investors to the area during the gold and silver rush. And through the years, it has accumulated an impressive array of paranormal occurrences, including full-bodied apparitions, mysterious aromas of tobacco smoke and perfume in various rooms and halls, as well as lots of poltergeist activity.

Since our on-site visit occurred during off-season, we had access to most of the hotel. We’d asked Jen which rooms had the most promising paranormal activity to launch our investigation, and she told us she felt hard-pressed to name a room that didn't have such reports!

Room 304
But she recommended we start in Room 304, where the bathtub had mysteriously filled late one night for unsuspecting and surprised guests. Before having a chance to set up our equipment, we both caught a whiff of tobacco smoke close to the door of this “unoccupied” room. (The whole facility is non-smoking.) At first we thought we might have smelled the coffeemaker. But on closer inspection, that wasn’t the source. The odor was clearly tobacco. We took a step backwards and neither of us could smell the aroma. We stepped forward and it had disappeared altogether, only to return a moment later. What an intriguing beginning, and consistent with accounts by other guests and staff throughout the hotel.

We bee-lined toward the infamous bathroom and hovered our EMF meter over the claw-footed tub. Baseline readings registered 530mG. (EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field, and ghosts are said to manipulate this energy as a way to manifest or communicate.) The rest of the suite fell in much the same range: 520mG in the bedroom and 560mG over the bed, which had a wooden four-poster frame. 

Next we set up the camcorder, audio digital recorder, and EchoVox spirit box to see if we could capture any EVPs. (EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon, sometimes occurring on audio recordings but can also be generated through a spirit box. Our EchoVox generates only random sounds -- no words -- and it's up to a spirit to assemble and create intelligible responses.) In real time, we heard a number of single words, including “tobacco” and “smoke.” Guess the entities wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the aromas they had manifested for our benefit.

EVP confirming ghostly smells we detected

We retrieved the flashlight and invited any spirits in the room to use that energy to communicate. Almost immediately, the flashlight flickered multiple times and then almost dimmed out – twice! – which we documented on video. We felt excited by this two-way conversation involving targeted questions and flashlight replies and consider the phenomenon one of the hallmarks of this investigation.

Room 304's impressive flashlight interaction 

Our later analysis of the audio-only recording gave nothing new, but the EchoVox replay revealed “babble” and “birthday,” followed by a coughing sound (the smoking habit of one of the local ghosts?)

We next set up in the second-floor spa, a whole suite of rooms showing EMF ranges of 510-560mG. The foyer seemed the most convenient location to stage our equipment. We’d had such great luck with the flashlight already, we repeated that experiment – but the flashlight refused to come on at first. Mark stepped into the hallway with the light, and reentered the spa to try it again. This time it came on; simultaneously the EchoVox announced, “It works.” On our request, the flashlight flickered twice more. And again, our camcorder captured all this.
Later analysis of the EchoVox offered nothing additional to our findings, nor did the audio-only session we conducted.

Lobby staircase
Our final investigation took place in the Luella Lounge, where our EMF registered a fairly steady 520mG throughout -- except when we decided to go for broke by setting up the flashlight once more. This time the light fluttered only slightly, but more impressive during those flickers, the EMF shot up past 970mG. During paranormal investigations, the dimming of the light at the same time as the electromagnetic flux confirms a ghost drawing on flashlight energy as a way to manifest or make contact.

Then, without warning, the EMF dropped to baseline. It seemed like the ghosts had gotten bored with us.

In the meantime, we’d left our EchoVox running, but heard nothing definitive, then nor during later analysis. 

On the outside chance the spirit or entities had returned, we switched on our audio-only recorder. We didn’t have high hopes of capturing anything with the bar’s refrigerator humming in the background. Nevertheless, we analyzed the recording when we returned home and found an EVP of “Jim” when we’d asked for a name. 

 Audio-only EVP in Luella Lounge

Ghostly smoke aromas, on-request flashlight winks, and solid EVPs – we couldn’t have asked for more during this on-site investigation.

* * *
 Next week, we share highlights of our visit to the Bross Hotel in Paonia, CO, where we witness a ghostly fanny print on a freshly made bed!

Don't forget you can follow along during our investigations as we live-tweet from Twitter @writeinthethick. You can check out our Facebook page for updates about dates and times. And you can subscribe to our YouTube "Ghost Hunt Findings" channel to see video clips from our investigations.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

#GhostHunt No. 11: the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte, CO

This week's account of paranormal investigations for our new book takes place at the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte, CO, flanking the mountains on the western edge of the San Luis Valley.

Note old Spanish Territorial architecture
But first a S/O to the Whitehead family, who own and personally operate the hotel -- Steve, lodging manager; Kodi, the hotel's sommelier; and Regan, the establishment's five-star chef

The Windsor Hotel, built in 1874, has the rowdy history of many frontier mining towns and, in this case, the suicide of Maud Heinz in 1906, which has resulted in a persistent haunting. In addition, guests and staff report inexplicable noises and a variety of poltergeist activity.

Even though co-owner Steve Whitehead told us he’d witnessed little paranormal activity himself within the hotel, our own experience in upstairs rooms began almost immediately. In fact, we captured one of our favorite EVPs from all our audio recordings for this project. (EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon, where spirits communicate through audio recordings or else through means of sounds generated on a spirit box.)

We made a straight path to Room 209 – where Maud, the building’s famous suicide-ghost, resides – and followed our routine of first taking EMF readings. (EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field, and ghosts are said to manipulate this energy as a way to manifest or communicate.) That room showed 500mg throughout most of the space and 580s over the bed, with surges up to 740 over the north central section of the mattress. This puzzled us since the bed consisted of black walnut frames – nothing metallic to interfere or create false readings.

After setting up the video camera, we started the EchoVox spirit box. (Our EchoVox generates only random sounds -- no words -- and it's up to a spirit to assemble and create intelligible responses.) The real-time session produced lots of babbling, with one coherent word when we asked if the entities preferred the term spirits or ghosts. A man’s voice clearly replied, “Ghosts.” That word repeated itself several times throughout our investigation, possibly to make sure we got the message straight. (We made a similar query at the Fairlamb House B&B and received a similar response – at least we now have confirmations at different sites of the “PC” term to use these days!)

We brought out the flashlight and addressed Maud, asking her to use that energy to communicate. The device wouldn’t turn on. We tried it again and the light remained steady. We left the flashlight on for several minutes before Mark picked up the unit to click off, and it winked and then dimmed in his hand. Time to get a new flashlight? Maybe not, keep reading.

Contact with "Maud" using flashlight

In the meantime, the EchoVox continued to spit out many single-syllable sounds. We tend to discount these because they’re too easy to misinterpret. We shut it off and began an audio-only recording session. Mark asked if someone was manipulating the flashlight – never hurts to ask. Of course, we couldn't hear any potential EVP response until we analyzed the recording later.

And now for that exciting EVP we mentioned earlier. In playback, we heard Mark’s question, followed by an immediate reply of … wait for it … “yes” in a woman’s voice! (Remember that this occurred in Maud’s room.) The event may not sound too impressive, but getting a voice using nothing but an audio-only tape recording is gold during paranormal investigations, ranking just below an apparition on videotape. Our recording produced one of the clearest EVPs from an audio-only session we’d captured to date. 

EVP confirming ghostly interaction with "Maud"

That event excited us to analyze the EchoVox session. To our surprise (in real time, we didn’t think we’d captured much at all), the recording revealed several intelligible phrases just after we turned on the spirit box. They included spirits saying, “Here it is” and “Wait please.” Coinciding with the flashlight episode, we also recorded “[something]’s broke.” We couldn’t quite make out that first word. All these statements came in a man’s voice – ironic, since our audio-only session recorded a woman’s voice. 

EchoVox spirit box
Luckily, we managed to capture the flashlight episode on both separate video and audio recordings.

The investigation continued across the hall in Room 210, where housekeeping had reported moving clothes hangers and electrical anomalies. EMF baselines produced readings of 530-590mG around the room, with the bed showing 630-670mG (bedsprings?) 

The real-time EchoVox greeted us with “Hi, Kym.” When we asked how many spirits joined us in the room, we heard an unequivocal “two.” The flashlight performed perfectly this time – but also without results. 

During later analysis, we had what sounded like another audio-only EVP, but we couldn’t tease out the words. On the EchoVox recording, we again heard what we'd heard during the real-time investigation: the same woman's greeting, “Hi, Kym,” but adding the word “Lucy” to our request for who was with us. When we asked for further communication, a man’s voice answered, “Did we?” But when we'd asked for any flashlight manipulation, a woman’s voice told us, “I’m so sorry.” Finally, we asked if they had any questions for us and heard, “Hold on, Mark (woman’s voice), Kym (man’s voice).” 

EVP of ghosts directly addressing us

We did hold on but, alas, no one offered anything further. Couldn’t really complain, though – the investigation had already yielded very productive results.

* * *
Next week, we share highlights of our visit to Ouray's Beaumont Hotel, where it was hard to find a room that did *not* have paranormal activity!

Don't forget you can follow along during our investigations as we live-tweet from Twitter @writeinthethick. You can check out our Facebook page for updates about dates and times. And you can subscribe to our YouTube "Ghost Hunt Findings" channel to see video clips from our investigations.