Friday, September 25, 2015

The very haunted Va City, MT, Opera House

Most ghost hunters (so the locals claim) overlook one of the most paranormally active locales in this frontier western mining town -- the Opera House.

Va City Opera House
(This is part two of a three-part series on our investigations in Virginia City in July 2015. If you missed part one, where we encounter the "little girl ghost" in the costume shop, click here.)

The Opera House gives vaudeville and melodrama performances for visiting tourists throughout the summer, and the residents have preserved or restored the building to its former glory. But some of the best shows take place backstage: the paranormal ones, that is.

Laura Long, who manages the costume shop and also participates on stage as a player, invited us to continue our investigation of the premises inside the Opera House itself. What a great space! The theater holds wonderful Old West charm and must look much the same as it did during Virginia City's rowdier late 1800s heyday.

The Opera House cremona, said to have
hundreds of orbs surround it when it was
returned after renovations.
Nestled at the front of the stage and next to the seating rests a renovated cremona in the orchestra pit. (A cremona is a kind of organ attached to various drums and flutes and once used in the Opera House to accompany silent movies back in the early 1900s.) In fact, other players had told us on the previous night that the organ had been shipped to specialists several years ago to make it functional again. Upon return to the theater, a flood of visible orbs crowded around the cremona, as though the cherished organ needed their protection and oversight.

The stage inside
the Opera House
We decided to start our investigation, however, backstage behind the curtains between the men's and women's dressing rooms. This is the site of the appearance of *another* little girl ghost on the premises. The one reported in the costume shop (named "Hannah," as our investigation revealed) has been described as having blond hair. But accounts of the separate apparition often seen backstage in the Opera House seems to have black hair.

We were eager to see if we'd have as much luck in contacting this second little girl. We set up the camcorder and conducted a session with flashlight, digital recorder, and spirit box. We captured no audio-only EVP with our digital recorder. (EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomena, a theory that ghosts can manipulate electronic instruments to produce verbal communications.) Nor did we have a response to our request to dim or turn off the flashlight.

But we did have success with our EchoVox spirit box, which produced an interactive conversation during that session. Among the multiple EVP we captured in the following video clip, listen in particular for the response just past the one-minute time stamp. Mark asks about the little girl and receives an almost immediate reply in a man's voice saying, "Yes, she's little," followed by a young girl's voice that might be saying, "I am."

An EVP conversation backstage at the Opera House

It's not uncommon for EVP to occur at a more rapid rate than normal speech. So notice how clipped many of the names sound after we asked those unseen presences to identify themselves. Our spirit box can also produce what's called a "Mode Burst" -- a concentrated blast of random sounds that allows spirits to create not only words but sometimes sentences. Among the many we later slowed down and parsed from the Mode Burst were two included in the above video clip -- one that sounds to us like "No big [two unclear syllables] anyway" in a woman's voice and then "We're doing okay" in a deep drawling man's voice.

We found ourselves at first skeptical about someone using the expression "Okay" back in the 1880s, but a little research uncovered that the word actually reached national prominence as early as the 1840s. So maybe it fits after all. Of course, we didn't have a chance to parse and isolate this EVP until weeks afterwards, so we didn't have the opportunity at the time of the investigation to ask the speaker when he lived. Maybe next time we visit the Opera House.

We moved to the front of the stage, next to the cremona, and conducted a second EVP session with the spirit box since the invisible "locals" seemed so chatty.

 Multiple EVP, intelligent & residual

Notice in the above video how the first part includes a recognition of our presence, and even answers some of our questions about the cremona -- are they, indeed, guarding it; and who is doing so? We get one answer of "Gustaf" (or Gustave). Lots of frontier mining towns filled with German and Slavic immigrants,and Virginia City had its share. Gustaf is a plausible response.

The second part of this video includes the raw footage from another "Burst Mode" with our spirit box. Although, as mentioned, the device generates only random sounds (no words), this time we captured EVP of not only words but also phrases and even sentences.

After presenting the raw footage, we isolate and extract a number of EVP that are either Class A (clear to understand) or Class B (most listeners -- but not all -- agree on what's said). We captured more than those we include from this Burst, but we considered several of these to be Class C (something's going on, but we can't definitively determine what is said). We suspect all of these EVP are residual. Yes, there are recurring themes (notice the same woman's voice repeatedly reassuring others that some unnamed event is "for the best" in various ways). We also included EVP saying, "Desperate," "Hide," and "Upset." We wish we knew what traumatic event this was all about!

The final capture we included was of a man's voice saying, "Walk this way." This EVP occurred at the very edge of the stage next to the theater seating and sounds to us like someone is stuck repeating the duties of an usher. We take this as a likely example of a residual haunting.

All in all, the time spent in the Opera House left us with the conclusion the locals are right: This building is one very haunted location.

Next time, we conclude the three-part series of our investigation in Virginia City, this time recounting our midnight investigation at the community's Boot Hill cemetery, site of the graves of five men lynched by 1860s vigilantes. The spirits are still not quiet.

* * *
We're still having as much fun analyzing the results of our ongoing investigations as we did conducting the investigations over the past year for our book, WILD WEST GHOSTS.

There are puzzling experiences and encounters aplenty out there, and you just may want to pick up a copy of the book for either your own armchair musings or else as a guide for some of your own expeditions into the fascinating world of the paranormal.

You can buy the book as either an e-read or a trade paperback. Visit our Website for the links.

In the meantime, happy hunting!