Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Museum of Mountain West prelim para investigation

The West is full of violent history -- a fair share of it paranormal -- and the Museum of the Mountain West is an active contributor to the phenomenon. The location contains two documented murders (one by lynching and one by gunshot) and two additional deaths (one by heart attack and one from a kick by a horse!) within various buildings on the premises. But that's not all. Read on.

Museum of the Mountain West
In anticipation of a full investigation scheduled right before Halloween, we visited this recreated frontier town just outside Montrose, CO, reconnoitering reported paranormal hot spots and collecting accounts of paranormal encounters by museum staff and visitors.

The site is home to multiple relocated historical buildings and over a half million artifacts and antiques. And if ever there was a case to be made for magical contagion, the  Museum of the Mountain West ranks near the top.

The museum is brain child to former Colorado state archaeologist Richard Fike, who has collected Old West memorabilia all his life. (For an interview with Fike and a non-paranormal video tour of the museum, see this TouristTrekker YouTube feature.) Founded in 2002, the museum focuses on restored buildings and objects from the 1880s to the 1930s, some artifacts even dating to the 1400s.

Museum curator Bob DeQuinze gave us a private tour of the paranormal side of things at the faux frontier town. (He also serves as the facility's wedding planner -- the museum offers weddings in a historic, relocated Lutheran church.)

Here are a few candidate hot spots for our upcoming investigation:

"Ghost" clock
The Saloon
Along one wall next to the billiard table, an antique clock sits atop an upright piano. But the clock has never worked -- except for the three days after a visitor died of a heart attack in front of the piano. The clock ran until her burial.

Bob also once saw an apparition walk past the saloon window one night after the facility was closed. He ran outside to look for a trespasser, but no one was there.

And investigators from our good friends at Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators carried on intelligent conversations in the saloon by asking the light fixtures to blink on and off. (See archival videos of HPI's investigation of the museum here.)

The Dry Goods Store
Bob recounted that the Dry Goods Store one time developed an unsettling aroma near the display of antique clothing. Searches to identify the source of the smell proved fruitless, but when Bob and his wife were on a trip to the Denver area, they visited a psychic who told them the museum was displaying undergarments owned by a very proper Victorian woman who felt unhappy at having her private clothing publicly on view. The psychic told him the spirit had created the aroma to discourage visitors from invading her privacy. Once those garments were hidden, the odor disappeared. Bob also related one couple captured in real time as he observed a picture of the spirit, dressed in Victorian garb. (We had no such luck on the afternoon we were there.)

The 1895 Carriage House Works
Site of an early-day lynching
One hot spot of particular interest to us is the Carriage House Works. Richard Fike had this building moved from Delta, CO, to the site in the early 2000s, preserving and restoring the building to resemble its original design. In the early days, enraged townsfolk had lynched a Tabagauche Ute from the rafters of the building after he had mistreated a local prostitute. In that same building, another man died after a horse kicked him while unhitching a team. Modern-day restorers have installed electric illumination inside the Carriage Works, and these lights often come on in the middle of the night, which staff have to routinely return after hours to switch off.

And during their investigation, HPI captured a remarkable video on the second floor of this building, where an amorphous shape half emerges from an antique mirror (see the aforementioned link to HPI.)

 Definitely a building high on our own list when we visit for our own investigation!

Railroad Section House
The 1882 Section House was dismantled and moved in from Olathe, CO, in 2006, and had originally served as a bunkhouse for Denver & Rio Grande Railroad workers. Wraiths team member Egan had visited the museum on another occasion and told us to check out the Railroad Section House, where she had sensed an unfriendly energy near a certain antique brake-light lantern. (Egan has proven to be a bit of a "ghost magnet" on some of our earlier investigations, notably the one to Norwood. See that account here.)

When we received our paranormal tour, Bob pointed out the same lantern and recounted how another visitor had seen an apparition hovering near this lantern, an unfriendly sort who told him the lantern was his!

The "Empire" House
The Empire House
This recent addition to the museum is a home built in Empire architecture style and was site to a gun-related homicide. HPI had investigated this building before it was moved, and we'll be interested to see if the house brings with it any remnants of that former violence.

Certainly, many locations and objects on the premises seem to have retained some sense of magical contagion.

Bob pointed out spots where three different "lady ghosts" have manifested to visitors in various locations at the museum, as well as the recurring pull of a slot machine after hours.

Should prove an interesting investigation.

Why the delay until October for our own inquiry? Wraiths team members Mark and Chris will  offer an Honors course this fall at Western State Colorado University entitled "Are Ghosts Real?" It'll be a chance to train the next generation of ghost hunters in how to think critically and conduct careful investigations as they document and learn to conservatively interpret their findings. Plus, what a great way to spend the weekend before Halloween! (But more on this Wraiths course project in a later article.)

We're still having as much fun documenting current and ongoing investigations as we did conducting the investigations 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 that book for either armchair musings or else as a guide for 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 links.

In the meantime, happy hunting!