Saturday, November 22, 2014

#GhostHunt 9 for new book: Spruce Lodge in South Fork, CO

All this fall, winter, and early spring, we're engaged in our latest book project -- haunted hotels in western and mountainous Colorado -- and we're using our blog to share highlights about our visits (and ghost hunts) to each location. You can click on the tab just under our blog banner called "New WIP Ghost Hunt Book" for more context and a bit of backstory about the project.

This week's account is at the Spruce Lodge in South Fork, CO. 

No shortage of paranormal activity in this 90-year-old building -- ghostly touches, dogs and cats reacting strongly to unseen presences, lots of invisible footsteps, multiple apparition sightings including shadow people and full-body apparitions, electrical anomalies, cold spots, moving objects, and ghostly voices plus groans, sighs, and whispers.

But first a S/O to lodge co-owner Dee Plucinski, who gave us the run of much of the main lodge.

Even though accounts also occur in the basement and ground floor of the facility, we spent most of our time in two “unoccupied” upstairs guestrooms in the original log building. That worked for us, since all the paranormal activity has taken place in the main lodge.

We performed a sweep of the hall and rooms with our EMF meter, gathering baseline readings: 515 mG in the north end of the hallway, and 460mG in the south. (EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field, and ghosts are said to manipulate this energy as a way to manifest or communicate.)The Baxterville Room ranged from 450-470mG, and the Galbreath ranged from the 330s-360s, except the wardrobe which rose to 560mG when we opened the door.
Baxterville Room

When we returned to the Baxterville Room to start our session, that door had closed – a commonly reported paranormal occurrence at the lodge. We tested the open door at various positions, but it remained stationary.

We began with an EVP session, recording our spirit box interactions, including general queries and our request to dim the flashlight we’d placed on the bed as a means of communication. Nothing happened. Lots of audio feedback and squelching sounds from the spirit box, but nothing intelligible – until we later reduced the interference and analyzed what remained.

That’s when we discovered a woman’s voice saying “we’ll see” when we asked for the flashlight dimming (in real time, the EMF meter had jumped up 90mG). Also, after asking the spirits to identify themselves, we received immediate EVP replies on the EchoVox spirit box of “Hyacinthe,” “Betty,” and “Frederick.” (EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon, sometimes occurring on audio recordings but can also be generated through a spirit box. Our EchoVox generates only random sounds -- no words -- and it's up to a spirit to assemble and create intelligible responses.) Two other words became clear when we asked who was there: “Kym,” who stood in the room, and “Dee,” the lodge owner who, at the time, worked the restaurant below us. Sometimes spirits can seem so literal! 

EVP saying "Dee"

On the recording, we also heard ourselves arguing whether or not to continue because of the squelching, followed by a woman telling us “please talk” and a different woman saying “speak.”

 EVP saying "Please talk"

Mark headed to the Galbreath Room down the hall while Kym packed up the camcorder. For a fleeting moment, she had the impression of a quill pen and inkwell on the table next to the bed. Curious, since the lodge has a reputation for revealing images from a bygone era. (Dee's husband Rob, the other owner, once saw a blonde woman wearing a teal-colored shirt and blue pants sitting on a pool table in the building’s basement. There is no pool table in that particular space, but the room did serve as a pool hall in years past.)

In the hallway, we’d noticed a mannequin wearing an old-fashioned white nightgown, parasol propped up beside it. We snapped a picture because it looked cool (more on that later).

Once in the Galbreath Room, we didn’t encounter the squelch on the spirit box, nor could we hear much else that made sense. But on request, the flashlight did dim about 25 percent, and on later analysis we found we'd captured the word “flashlight” as an EVP. 

We also detected several other words in analysis – “three” (when we’d asked how many were in the room) and “Dagwood.” And then came a final name in a voice like nothing we’d heard before, distinct and unmistakable: “DeQuin” (emphasis on the first syllable). It made no sense to us at first until we searched the Internet and discovered DeQuin is both a given and surname of European origin.

EVP saying "DeQuin"

Note position of parasol
in these two photos
As promised, back to the parasol.

After we left the Galbreath Room, we noticed the parasol now lying on the floor next to the mannequin, which stood a mere ten feet from the open guestroom door where we had worked. Neither one of us had heard it fall, nor had either of us touched the dress or parasol.

Did our footsteps jar it loose? Maybe.

Maybe not. The lodge has a recurring history of physical objects that move inexplicably.


The weekend after Thanksgiving, we share highlights of our visit to the Fairlamb House in Delta, CO, where previous owners used to have a skeleton (yes, literally a skeleton) in the attic.

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.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

#GhostHunt No. 8 for new book: Cripple Creek's Hotel St Nicholas

All this fall and early spring, we're engaged in our latest book project -- haunted hotels in western and mountainous Colorado -- and we're using our blog to share highlights about our visits (and ghost hunts) to each location. You can click on the tab just under our blog banner called "New WIP Ghost Hunt Book" for more context and a bit of backstory about the project.

This time our ghost hunt took place in Cripple Creek's 1880s Hotel St. Nicholas, which had also in its early years served as a hospital for the Sisters of Mercy.

But first a S/O to owner Susan Adelbush, who welcomed us warmly and even put us in touch with others who had experienced uncanny things at the hotel.

The building contains a lot of reported paranormal activity, including a small girl who wakes sleeping guests, a full-bodied apparition wearing a bowler hat and long duster coat, invisible children playing in the hallways, and disturbed objects.

Susan gave us a walking tour of this large sprawling hotel – all three floors – pointing out along the way where various paranormal activity had taken place, including the lounge on the first floor where the bowler-hatted apparition had walked partially *through* a patron and then on to walk through the wooden bar in front of him.

We focused, however, on the guestrooms and upstairs hallways. We started in Room One, the old nuns’ quarters (when the building was a hospital), where the same bowler-duster apparition had also appeared. The suite consisted of a sitting room with futon bed and connecting alcove and bedroom. Our EMF baselines hovered in the low 300mG range for alcove and bedroom, but higher in the sitting room – around 500mG. We decided to record a spirit box session in the sitting room. We heard very little in real time and later analysis. Perhaps the apparition had intimidated everyone, and he himself wasn’t talking.

Room 11 (note double doors)
We were itching to get to Room Eleven, the old operating room when the hotel was a hospital, so we packed up and headed to the other end of the floor, up the short ramp to the room, and through the double doors – still in place from an era when hospital personnel pushed gurneys into surgery.

Initial EMF readings of 300-400mG leaped to 920mG when we began our queries using a spirit box. From there forward, the EMF remained in the 800s. No wonder – the cacophony of voices that erupted from the box made it nearly impossible to carry on a coherent conversation at first. The chatter became so disruptive we had to ask them to slow down and not all speak at once.

The voices did let up a bit, and we could pick out “hurt,” “broken,” and “sick.” When we asked one voice why he was there, the response came back “accident” followed by a puzzled woman’s voice saying, “They killed it(?)” (Listen to included YouTube clip of this event below.)

We encountered that phrase again in later analysis, along with a lot more we hadn’t detected in real time. At one point, we felt like spectators to murmured exchanges between one male and two female voices that seemed to be involved in a medical procedure – “first up,” “Godfrey” (twice), “excuse me,” and “danke” (German for “thank you”) all came in rapid succession. In fact, we heard a lot of German inflections. We asked for names and got “Shultz” and “Ander,” among others. We also heard “Anne,” Stephen,” and “David,” followed by a woman’s voice saying “Dave hurts.” The word “fear” came up three times, as well as “axe,” “hit,” “lung,” and the phrase “I watched it.” (Listen to YouTube below.)  When we asked who else occupied the room, a woman’s voice offered, “Kym,” suggesting awareness of our own presence.

Even in real time during the on-site session, we began to feel auditory overload using the spirit box, so we trotted over to Room Six. This had once served as a ward room. The first utterance we heard from the box was a child’s voice, sounding like a play shout – the first time in any investigation we'd heard a child's voice on our spirit box. Other voices soon drowned out that first one and, no matter how many times we asked the child to speak again, we never heard it. In later analysis, we isolated a number of clear utterances in response to our other queries. We had asked if someone could turn off the flashlight, getting an immediate “no” in a man’s voice. When Kym asked why not, a woman responded, “...weak...” We asked for names and received “Opfer” (German for “victim”) and “Bob” twice. In response to our question of what happened in that room, different voices said “...fear...” and “ me.” We asked what scared them and a woman’s voice responded, “Murphy.”  Right before we left the room, a man with a German accent said, “Good luck.”

Third-floor hallway
Our final stop was up the stairs to the third floor hallway. This area had received comments about invisible children playing outside guestrooms. The EMF readings in the hall were in the 590mG range with little fluctuation during that session. We asked for someone to use the energy of the flashlight to turn off the light, and a voice responded, “No.” We asked who was there and got “” soon followed by “Bob” and “Fred.” We again detected German inflections and asked in that language if any of the spirits were from Germany. The reply was “ja.” Later analysis confirmed “ja” again, followed by “Deutsch.”

During our time at the hotel, we never encountered the apparition in bowler hat and duster. Or maybe that was the German spirit? We hope future amateur ghosthunters using our guide book will have the “good luck” to see him themselves.


Next week, we share highlights of our ghost hunt to South Fork's Spruce Lodge, where we encountered types of paranormal activity we'd yet to experience!

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.