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My Travels With the GhosthuntersTim King Salem-News.com
I believe that a good percentage of things described as paranormal activity can indeed be explained via scientific means. But even if the percentage that can't be explained is only five or ten percent, that is still a large number and that has my attention."
(INDEPENDENCE) - During my time on this earth as a reporter I've frequently diverted from the mainstream crowd to pursue subjects that were more on the edge. One example would be the hundreds of hours I have spent accompanying ghosthunters to haunted locations.
I have had a few hair raising experiences over the years, but I stick closely to my role as the observer and I have no particular sensitivity to the paranormal. Unfortunately, I think I am too anxious and interested and that does not help. A friend on an investigation once asked, "What will you do if one really shows for us tonight?"
My answer... "I'll focus my lens, adjust the iris, and try my best to get in close."
Over the years I have visited location after location, often with a paranormal researcher or a whole team of them. One investigation was at the Speakeasy Steak House in Independence, Oregon. This old river town can hardly conceal its otherworldly activity and if there was ever a competition for Oregon's most haunted town, Independence would surely be at least a strong contender.
The business has been closed and locked up for a long time now, and I can only wonder if the ghosts actually ran the people out of the door.
The Speakeasy investigation spanned three adjacent weekends, and the story below is something I wrote at the time. My friends Todd and Martina Baker from the Pacific Paranormal Society nwpprs.com took the photo of the ectoplasm over myself and the owner of the establishment. Through unusual circumstances, this photo was "documented" with my video camera, read on...
The Speakeasy Ghosts
Saturday night was the second point in a continuing investigation at the Speakeasy Restaurant in Independence, Oregon. It was an interesting and enlightening experience to say the least, and it was the second weekend in a row that I visited the historic 1889 establishment in an attempt to determine the source of a number of odd sounds, feelings and manifestations that are noted with an increased frequency as of late.
The Speakeasy Restaurant is housed in a picturesque old building (The J.S. Cooper Building) that has stood over Independence for 114 years. Its structure is brick and it has the feeling of a building that was intended to last over a long span of time.
On this visit our time was spent in the upstairs area accessible only by a locked, outdoor entrance. This is the main area that seems to be the most active part of the building in regard to haunting sounds and the like. Having said that, it should be pointed out that there is not that much contrast; all three levels of the building have plenty of activity.
During the restoration of the building one of the most shocking events, and almost certainly the only "violent" one, occurred when one of the heavily-weighted mannequins located in the second-floor somehow flew forward into the window shattering it and sending shards of glass crashing onto the sidewalk below. This easily could have killed someone beneath had they been walking directly below the window. As always, the upstairs area, accessible only through one door, was locked and totally unoccupied. At least by any living persons.
Last weekend Cathy Duncan, Adrienne Duncan and Ginny Peterson from the Trails End Paranormal Society joined my wife and research partner Bonnie King and myself in round one of the investigation. They noted energy readings in different areas with their EMF detector, fluctuations in room temperature with a spot thermometer, and they had apparent good success using dousing rods to trace sources of energy. One area emitted particularly strong kinetic energy near a brick wall in the basement.
Last night I learned that a murder occurred in that basement about twenty years ago. This crime should be relatively easy to pin down, as I am told that numerous people presently living in the community remember it. Many stories related to me by the owner tend to come from the elder residents of Independence, and some come from people who simply eat at the restaurant. I have found a high degree of corroborating information in these stories and each step seems to put the complicated puzzle further into perspective.
In addition to this investigation, information on the entities in question also comes from a number of other sources, and probably will continue to as long as the restaurant remains open and the town's old-timers come to visit. I believe that a good percentage of things described as paranormal activity can indeed be explained via scientific means. But even if the percentage that can't be explained is only five or ten percent, that is still a large number and that has my attention.
Last night I brought a completely different group of researchers to the building: Christina Bennett is an Archaeologist from West Salem who specializes in recording EVP, (Electric Voice Phenomena) Martina DeLude is a psychic from the Portland area who with her significant other R. Todd Baker, head the group Pacific Paranormal Research Society. I was directed to them by NW Ghost Author Jefferson Davis from his faraway post in Afghanistan.
On this most recent trip, I attempted to record audio through the use of a broadcast-quality wireless microphone. I am not convinced that it means anything, but that mic sure recorded some funny interference if that is indeed what it was. Much of it is probably nothing but there was no object within the restaurant that could have caused the sounds. A blender being used at changing speeds and starting and stopping frequently could have caused it, but the place was closed and locked up. Quite a few times it sounds like someone could be trying to talk and it is picking it up.
The thing that makes the Speakeasy story so noteworthy though, is that it doesn't host a ghost, it hosts several different ghosts. And in these somewhat rare cases according to investigators, one particular ghost will be the most pronounced and 'in charge' in the ghost line up or pecking order. I'll bet you didn't know it worked like that? I was a shocked by it, but then it is only one of many things I've been shocked by recently in relation to this story.
My overall goal here is to help understand what it takes to cause these spirits to 'move on' if that is indeed the answer to their situation. I understand that some ghosts never move on, and that the older a place, the more haunted it can be. This is particularly true in Europe and other continuously settled regions of the world. But most spirits receive no form of counseling and I am told that this is sometimes all it takes.
The investigation culminated with Martina taking a photo of what is described as an "Ectoplasm" looming over me as I recorded the strange audio in the building. My pro video camera was rolling when the picture flashed, and without shutting it down, I walked it over to Martina's camera and the image was instantly visible. This is what aired on KATU Channel-2 News, which is my former employer. It was an interesting and sad experience because according to both teams of investigators, at least one of the spirits is that of a child, one who died probably more than one hundred years ago. Another is desctribed as the spirit of a young woman who was murdered. One male ghost at the building is described as kind and caring, while the ghost of an older male there is believed to be more hostile.
I'll try to bring you more of these experiences as we enter the final days toward Halloween. On Tuesday, look for my story about devil worshippers on the Oregon coast.
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