Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Investigating with #ZakBagans at the Museum of the Mountain West

With at least six reported violent deaths in the various buildings on the premises, it's no wonder the Museum of the Mountain West (MMW) in Montrose, Colo., is one of the most haunted locations we've investigated.

Mark, Zak, and Kym
So it's little surprise it would draw the attention of the Travel Channel's most popular and continuously long-running reality ghosthunting show, #GhostAdventures, hosted by an investigator who could only be described as ghosthunting's most famous celebrity, #ZakBagans.

But we never anticipated we'd get to meet him -- let alone have an opportunity to investigate alongside him!

But we did both.

How did this happen?
Having the Ghost Adventures team focus on this faux frontier town one mile east of Montrose was not a matter of good fortune: MMW curator Bob DeQuinze and Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators' (HPI) founder Hector Zeferino had courted execs at the Travel Channel for three years to make the visit a reality. (It didn't hurt that Hector had also conducted investigations at two other sites previously investigated by Ghost Adventures and had consulted with Zak about what to expect. We had the good fortune as well of teaming up with HPI for one of these investigations.)

By the time the Travel Channel and Ghost Adventures decided to visit the museum, our own team, Wild West Ghosts, had already conducted three investigations at the site as well, one as a joint initiative with HPI. We had our own findings and multiple documented encounters (see these links: MMW Investigation Part I and Part II) that became part of the television series' research into whether or not the museum was worth their time.

And then they invited us to be part of their on-site preliminary investigation.

Our small part
 Zak turned out to be a regular guy -- ya never know if fame will change someone's personality. But we found him friendly, a bit mischievous, and actually on the shy side. He interviewed Mark on camera about his ghosthunting class at the university (Mark's day job), the class that had participated during one of our earlier investigations. And then he offered a chance to help conduct a preliminary investigation inside the Carriage Works building at the museum.

Naturally, it was around midnight!

For those who follow our accounts, you may recall that the Carriage Works has a dark history that includes a vigilante lynching and a man kicked to death by a horse, plus a fair amount of current paranormal activity.

Zak invited us to conduct a prelim investigation in that building prior to their own team's lock-down. We hadn't placed such an opportunity on our bucket list but quickly penciled it in, so we could check it off.

After spending some time on the floor level inside the old livery building, we steered him to the stairs leading to the second floor. We'd previously obtained some intriguing responses by both KII and spirit boxes on the stair landing, so we suggested he give that area a try with his digital audio recorder.

When we encountered a cold spot on the landing, Zak called for one of the team's Mel meters, and we spent several minutes while Zak asked for interaction with whatever inhabited that area. At the point where we started to ascend the flight of stairs just above the landing, we all felt a tingling in front of us that seemed to pass through us, and Zak asked if someone (unseen, of course) was there.

Eventually, we climbed the steps up to the second level and stopped to see if we'd captured anything on the digital audio recorder. Reviewing the audio for the period of time we spent just above the landing, we listened to Zak's question asking if anyone was there, and the recorder immediately captured a clear EVP that responded, "Behind you." In other words, the landing directly behind us.

At that moment, Zak became dizzy and decided to go outside. After about ten minutes, he hadn't come back, so we returned to the first level and out the main doors, where we found Zak sitting on a bench, head in hands. He looked up and asked if we had felt anything strange while we were listening to the recording. Truth be told, guess the excitement of conducting an investigation with THE Zak Bagans made us giddy, but not dizzy, and we had to confess that we hadn't felt anything.

Later, when just the GA team returned to the Carriage Works, something more did happen and team captured a shadow figure on camera on the second floor. (See the episode for that documentation.)

Alas, it was a GA-team-only lock-down for that investigation, and we all had to wait for the airing of the episode to find out what happened to them.

Still, we did get a selfie with Zak that night, and a check-off on our bucket list. Plus they took a copy of our book and are considering some of the locales we include in our book for future investigations!

Watch the episode online at

Wild West Ghost Paranormal Investigators (that's us!) returned to the museum for an encore investigation the weekend before Halloween, armed with info the GA team shared with us about their findings not only in the Carriage Works, but also in the Empire House (the so-called Murder House) and Saloon. (Details to follow in the next post.)

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.

Until next time, happy hauntings and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Investigation: Old Bank Building, Fruita, CO

In mid-April, we had the opportunity to investigate the Old Bank Building in downtown Fruita, Colo., at the invitation of the Lithic Gallery and Bookstore, which occupies half the second floor.

Old Bank Building today
Bookstore owners Danny Rosen and Kyle Harvey sponsored a presentation about our book on haunted hotels and also invited the public to observe our investigation of the premises following the reading. About a dozen stayed on and participated.

Fortunately, we'd invited our good friends at Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators (HPI) to join us, so we were able to divide the observers into two groups.

We also had on our own team an additional seasoned guest investigator from the area, Deb Anderson. Were we ever glad she agreed to help out! Read on.

History of the Building
Postmaster Frederick S. Bruner in 1914
Courtesy of the Lower Valley Heritage Chapter, via Steve and Denise Hight, we learned that the building was erected in 1904. According to Steve and Denise, "It was designed as a business block, meaning it had three suites with their own entrances on [the ground floor], and some upstairs suites with one common entrance on South Park Square. 

"The Odd Fellows Lodge was upstairs for many years, and they shared their space with the Freemasons. The Bell Telephone switchboard was also upstairs for many years. Earlier tenants downstairs included the Fruita Post Office."

In 1905, robbers broke into the building, and dynamited the safe in the Fruita Mercantile Company downstairs. and then tried to dynamite the bank safe, Steve and Denise reported. A telephone operator in the building heard the uproar and contacted the police, but the culprits fled before getting into the safe. They were never caught.

The Investigation
Post Office in 1913
Our inquiries produced only one account of paranormal activity in the building, but it's an intriguing one. Juanita Marie Freeland writes, "My mom would always see an older lady go through our fridge and disappear. My dad moved the fridge one day and there was a small room behind a door. We would also hear a noise coming from upstairs that sounded like someone dragging something very heavy. This always happened at 3 a.m. Nobody lived directly above us. Our place was set up kind of weird and we had bars on some of our windows. This was in 1979-1981."

Her home would have been on the first floor, southeast corner of the building -- the former location of the Fruita Post Office (shown above as it looked in 1913). The dragging sounds coming from the second floor would have occurred in space now occupied by the Lithic Gallery.

Deb Anderson with sidekick "Oscar"
This account came to us after our investigation, alas. And since the location referenced in the above account is occupied by a current business, we didn't attempt to gain permission to investigate that area of the building. 

In the portions of the structure available to us (and that constituted some 5,000 square feet in six occupied and unoccupied office spaces), we didn't pick up any unexplained activity on our instruments through most of the evening. But then, at one point, Mark asked if any unseen presence could identify members of our team. The immediate responses were "Deb, "Debra," and "Debbie,"  two with a male voice and one time with a female voice. 

Deb announced she thought she heard the voice of her dead brother coming through. 

A walk-in to the investigation?

(Actually, it's not that uncommon to pick up voices that have some sort of a connection with those present during an investigation, whether or not they're connected to the premises where that  investigation occurs).

We invited Deb to take over the conversation. Below is the exchange that took place. (The stick figure you'll see on the video is our Kinect infrared camera mapping one of the other investigators -- not an entity!):

Deb's EVP conversation with deceased relatives

In the above exchange, the ghost box repeats the name, "Bub," which Deb later told us was her deceased brother's nickname. On a previous occasion, she told us she had heard him say, "Hi, Deb," but that came through only once using her own ghost box. This time we also heard someone call her "Debbie," which is what her mother called her before she died.

When Deb shared the above video clip a few days later with her two nieces (Bub's daughters), they both confirmed that the male voice sounded like their dad.

During our session using the EchoVox in the Old Bank Building, Deb was also able to successfully use our K-II electromagnetic (EMF) meter to elicit on-command responses using lights on the K-II that correspond to increased EMF. (Most paranormal investigators report that EMF disturbances accompany paranormal activity, and that's been our own experience as well.)

It's so nice when multiple instruments reinforce one another during our experiments!

After the Deb's exchange using the EchoVox and K-II, one of our observers asked if we ever got responses in other languages. Actually, we had documented responses in German at a hotel in Cripple Creek, where frontier mining operations had included immigrant German miners.

Then the guest observer at the Fruita investigation, whose name was "Cristal," asked a question in Spanish. We didn't realize it at the time, but in later analysis of the audio recording, we were surprised -- and pleased -- to discover that we captured on the EchoVox several responses to her in Spanish. [We'll add those findings to this account at a later date. Stay tuned!]

On another note, while we were conducting our investigation in one part of the bank building, our sister investigators from HPI also experienced their own activity. Using an entirely different kind of ghost box, an SB-7, that team did manage to have an entirely different interaction: They captured rude responses involving a lot of cursing. When we investigated that same space later in the evening, however, we got nothing. (Be sure to check out their findings on the
HPI Facebook page.)

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!