Sunday, September 28, 2014

#Ghost #Investigation of Virginia City, MT, Courthouse

an amateur ghost hunting guide
to Haunted Hotels
in southwest Colorado

Available now as a trade paperback from Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Also available as a Kindle e-book.

And below is an account of the investigation that launched it all!

Our #ghost #investigation of the Virginia City, MT, courthouse was a great success, plus we managed to visit and investigate several hotspots in this very haunted frontier mining town. Our team included two savvy locals, "Moonbeam Aboc" (not her real name) and Fonda Porterfield. And a shout-out to the Madison County Sheriff's Office, who gave us permission to investigate the courthouse premises.

Here are highlights:
The Courthouse
Built in 1876, site of many hangings on the front steps, disturbed by earthquakes and major fires several times.
Notable events in the investigation:
  • Interviewed several deputies and dispatch staff,  who recounted repeated paranormal activities, including footsteps, clanging and knocking, unexplained disruption of CTV during many of these events -- and turned-over pews (all of them) in courtroom in middle of night minutes after janitor cleaned room.
  • Staked out the old jail, *still* in use as holding cells, and recorded several pics with clear orbs (a first
    three pics of similar orbs
    for us), with Spirit Box confirmations describing our ongoing, on-site activity ("film," "videotape" as well as "floodlights" both when we turned on and turned off such lights, plus repeated references to "fire," burning," "flame").
  • Staked out courtroom, where many reports of apparitions and footsteps on the adjoining empty stairwell (multiple Spirit Box confirmations of the words "stairwell" and "staircase").
  • Baseline EMF readings in 150-200 mG would spike to 2,000 mG (holding cells) and 4,000 mG (courtroom) and then disappear, and tripled readings (200 --> 700 mG) on approaching line on courthouse steps where many hanging executions occurred.
  •  Two interesting EVPs, one a whispered voice that name "Moonbeam's" real name, and another was unintelligible but clearly human voices in the holding cells (still under analysis).
note "ghost ropes"
The Hanging Building
 Site of multiple lynching incident by the notorious Vigilantes of Montana in 1864.

  • Team member "Moombeam" snapped two cellphone pics back to back, first having ghost "ropes" hanging from hanging beam, second taken seconds later revealing no such thing.

morgue niche
 The Wells Fargo Steakhouse
Underneath the current premises was the original city morgue, where deceased individuals were stored in wintertime, pending enough ground thaw to bury. In same basement are reports of the well-known though enigmatic ghost of "Angry Dan."
  • Spirit Box immediately announced "Daniel" as we approached hotspot traditionally associated with "Angry Dan."

 We're still running through video footage of the investigation, but all in all, an interesting on-site experience.

The locals reported to us many paranormal anomalies as well as apparition sightings -- all events that continue to occur into the present throughout this very haunted town.

Watch for our accounts of haunted hotels of Western Colorado for the new book, beginning the second week of October. Updates on Facebook, and you can "join in" during our actual on-site investigations by following us on Twitter @writeinthethick.

On we go!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Accounts from our personal #X-Files: Living in a #Haunted House

Our latest project, investigating and writing about haunted hotels, seems a natural enough extension to our earlier experiences -- writing paranormal comedy-adventure novels. (Not to mention our involvement with the Mutual UFO Network as field investigators.)

But there's a personal side to our experience we've never shared: We lived in a haunted house for nine years.

We'd rented a 900-square-foot, two-story log cabin, which sat on ground that was the first site occupied by the frontier mining and ranching community of Doyleville, Colo. Nowadays, the only remaining evidence of that settlement are a few foundations, the original stage stop (now a storage shed), and the berm that supported the 1800s narrow-gauge railroad tracks.

A hundred years ago, most of the bustling little "town" of 2,000 residents consisted of haphazard assemblies of tents with occasional wooden false storefronts for local commerce. These days, Doyleville is a ranching community of around three dozen families scattered over a hundred square miles.

Only after our family (two adults, two little girls) had been in the two-bedroom cabin for a couple years did a neighbor mention that the first burial was on our place -- an unmarked grave. Interesting to us, but more as a historical curiosity.

It wasn't until one night, when Kym asked Mark to go downstairs and retrieve a pop from the fridge and learned he didn't want to go down the stairwell, that the two of them talked about how both sensed that spot in the house was, well, ... creepy. In fact, we both had noticed it since we'd moved in but felt too silly to mention to the other.

We shrugged it off, even laughed about our separate if coincidental impressions. But then our girls mentioned they'd each seen a man dressed in old-time clothes in the hallway near the stairwell -- and why they didn't like to go to the bathroom down that hall in the middle of the night.

That seemed a bit much for a coincidence.

On two occasions, different friends came to visit (each later confessed they were "sensitive" to paranormal phenomena) and each told us there was something in the stairwell -- a presence. One of these friends refused to come inside the cabin. In both instances, we hadn't mentioned previously our "in-house" secret.

It was time to clear the air, in a manner of speaking. So one evening we sat in the stairwell  and had a little chat with our extra resident, suggesting we all try to get along since we were all, ahem, living under the same roof. That seemed to do the trick. We felt better about it, and neither of us minded going down the stairs after that.

Did the feeling of a presence go away? No. It just felt less creepy. And by then we quit worrying about the pranks that continued to happen -- lights going on and off, the satellite TV changing channels, the water facets turning on and off. (Did we mention? The cabin wasn't old; it was built as a summer retreat just a few years prior and turned into a rental. So no old and creaky plumbing, etc.)

One odd thing that happened, though, occurred when we returned from a three-day trip. Our downstairs had a half-bath/laundry room: just a shallow sink, a toilet, and a washer/dryer. We kept the cat box on the far  side of the dryer and well away from the sink, and Kym emptied the spoiled litter into a garbage bag, returning half a minute later with fresh litter. She found the emptied cat box full of water. But the cat box was too large to fit under the faucet in that narrow little sink. No way any of us could have done the deed in so short a time.

Cute trick, Mr. Ghost.

Eventually, we needed more than two household bedrooms as the girls grew up, and we moved, not once mentioning our extra resident to the landlord.

We later learned the next two consecutive tenants lasted only six months each, and each complaining that the cabin was haunted. One even walked away from a lease and had to keep paying not to live there. In neither case had either of the tenants heard about the resident ghost ahead of time.

Finally, the landlord retired and moved in. But his wife wouldn't stay there -- too many odd and creepy things going on for an idyllic retirement, we guess.

We moved out 17 years ago, but the experience gave us an open mind. Or at least a greater level of tolerance for unannounced roommates.

In some ways, we're kind of surprised it's taken us this long to bring our journalistic talents to bear on a book about ghosts.

But here we are now: researching, investigating, and writing about ghosts. Other people's ghosts.

You can join us on our next investigation -- the notoriously haunted courthouse in the frontier mining town of Virginia City, MT, along with a stop down the street at the old morgue under a current restaurant -- by following us on Twitter. We'll be live-tweeting these and all our visits over the next few weeks.

Check for updates at our Facebook postings and Twitter feeds about the when and where.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Live-tweeting the ghost investigations for our latest book

To visit other IWSG postings, click here
As we announced in our previous post, our current work-in-progress has moved from research for a new paranormal fiction (Silverville Saga, #4) and into its own nonfiction book.

But we had no idea how deep those waters were becoming.

 * * *
First, though, this is the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop, hosted by our incomparable Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh (thanks, Cap'n!), postings shared on the first Wednesday of every month by a host of conspiratorial scribblers:

"Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"

* * *
Now back to the promised topic:

Live-Tweeting our Ghost Investigations

You could say we live in an ideal writers retreat -- 30 miles from the nearest town (pop. 5,000), surrounded on three sides by Colorado high country public land, and only three dozen families in the hundred square miles around us.

One irony is that our kids grew up thinking we lived in a really boring place. Sure they could go horseback riding, hiking, mountain-biking, or cross-country skiing -- all from our backdoor. But that was nothing special to them because it was all they knew. And they certainly didn't realize we had spent years getting to a point where we could call this home.

Another irony is that, although it's a great place to live and write, it's so isolated it makes book promotion a
logistical challenge. Once you get past the four bookstores within 60 miles, it's hundreds of miles to get to a population density with a demographic that supports much readership. And even then, plane connections to conferences or guest appearances from our place are a nightmare.

(We know, we know -- poor little us to be "trapped" in such a terrible place!)

Our promotional solution: we decided to embrace social media to expand our platform and reach, and with  ,vengeance. The plunged into this blog, our WebsiteFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google-Plus, and Goodreads as well as blog hops and tours (thank you, generous hosts!) and all the links to these various venues through our assorted author and product pages -- plus all the interconnecting RSS feeds we could muster (no telling which of the above platforms you used to reach this posting!)

But we're still just two tiny voices amid the clamoring social media throngs of other authors -- despite the accolades and awards our books have garnered.

So, back to the "deep waters" we mentioned at the beginning. Plunging once again into the deep waters of a new form of promotion, we're taking a close look at using Twitter. Since our latest project is a nonfiction of sorts -- a travelogue on haunted hotels in our region -- our newest initiative is to try live-tweeting our investigations. (Even though we early on set up a Twitter account, we soon ran out of interesting tweets while laboring away composing our fiction -- BORING!)

We've finally taken Twitter seriously, and we're hoping the nature of this project will be fun for our followers if they get to "join us" during the actual investigations. Now it's a matter of honing our thoughts into 140 character posts. And trying to find suitable Wi-Fi connections in some of the remote places we'll be visiting in coming weeks.

Wish us luck, and join us if you care, to see what ghosts we can "scare" up -- or vice versa.

Our Twitter feed is @WriteintheThick