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.

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