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.

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