Do Ghost Hunters Really Find Ghosts?

It’s that time of year when leaves turn golden, the air gets nippy, and ghosts and goblins make their Halloween appearances. For the last month, several older hotels here in Colorado have been hosting ghost-hunting parties and spooky tours. Silly fun...or are these hotels truly haunted?

I Think My House Is Haunted, Can You Help Me?

Over the years a few people have called our agency, asking if we could investigate ghosts they believe are haunting their homes. We’ll decline, explaining that we are not paranormal investigators, and we try to steer them to paranormal investigation sources that sincerely want to help people and not take advantage of their fears.

What Is a Paranormal Investigator?

ghost image on staircase Wikipedia pubdomain.jpg

Most paranormal investigators are people who are certified in parapsychology or who have studied paranormal investigations. Their goal is to help people in need, and often paranormal investigators do not accept money for their services (although they may accept donations for travel, lodging and expenses). Some paranormal investigators make money through writing books, conducting “ghost tours,” giving workshops, or even starring in TV reality shows about ghost hunters.

Tips for Hiring a Paranormal Investigator

We used to recommend people contact the National and International ParaHaunt Paranormal Family Network that gave referrals to paranormal investigators throughout the U.S.and the world, but it appears the organization no longer exists.  

However, you can check the background of the paranormal organization or investigator before you retain their services. Contact the Better Business Bureau, research the organization/person on the Internet for news stories and client referrals, review their website and contact any former clients for recommendations, or hire a private investigator to double-check the paranormal investigator’s background (especially if you’re inviting this person into your home).

 Photograph of floating spirit & spirit "orb" by William Hope, early 1900s

Photograph of floating spirit & spirit "orb" by William Hope, early 1900s

Ghost Hunting at Three Colorado Haunted Hotels

More than once I have visited the Stanley Hotel and taken its Ghost Tour. The “Stanley” is known for its Room #217, where Stephen King first began writing The Shining, later made into a movie starring Jack Nicholson.

My Digital Photos Caught “Orbs”

I took photos during these ghost tours with my digital camera, and others in the group (including the tour guide) would tell me I had captured orbs, which supposedly indicated the presence of spirits. The Paranormal Encyclopedia says that “both skeptics, and many ghost hunters, agree that photographic orbs are most often, if not always, caused by natural elements such as dust, pollen, or water vapor.” I don’t know what caused the orbs, but if I’d seen, oh, a spectral figure hovering in the photo…well, then I’d believe I’d captured evidence of a ghost.

Claims of Ghosts, But When I Visited…

I’ve visited other reported haunted hotels and buildings around Denver, Colorado, starting with the “Brown.”

 Brown Palace Hotel, Denver Colorado, 1898

Brown Palace Hotel, Denver Colorado, 1898

The Brown Palace Hotel

I’ve taken the ghost tour three times at the Brown Palace Hotel, built in 1892. Each time, the guide told us fantastic stories about ghosts and ghouls who haunt the hotel, from a long-dead string quartet that still practices their music to a ghost-like train conductor who walks through walls. I would have loved to have seen or heard one of these apparitions, but I never did. Neither did anyone else on those tours.

Although one of the tour guides swore that late one night she saw a “black mass” of vapor swirl up to the ceiling and disappear. Hmmm. 

House of Mirrors

Seven or so years ago, I was writing a novel that featured a ghost character who'd lived during the late nineteenth-century silver-boom days of Colorado. During this era, there was a famous madam, Mattie Silks, whom people claim still haunts her old living quarters in Denver (which was called the House of Mirrors).

 Mattie Silks, Denver madam, 1845-1929

Mattie Silks, Denver madam, 1845-1929

One spring afternoon, I visited the House of Mirrors, which had morphed into a bar/restaurant. The business was closed, but a friendly bartender let me in to walk around and look at spots where the madam’s ghost had been seen and heard (several people claimed to have even heard her whispering on a certain staircase). Did I see or hear any ghostly goings-on?

No, but the bartender had…

He claimed there had been plenty of spooky goings-on in the old building. He said late at night, when he's alone cleaning up, sometimes the elevator will suddenly start working, its doors opening…and no one is inside. And then there was the night when an entire shelf, along with bottles and glasses, suddenly crashed to the floor.

And another time he heard whispering and giggling on the stairs. He checked out the staircase, but no one was there.

I got goosebumps listening to his stories. He invited me to come back after the place closes one night, and to bring my co-investigator, and we were welcome to document any unexplained noises, sounds, etc.

Y’know, I think I’ll leave that one to a certified paranormal investigator…

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority from the author.

Historical Research: Download Maps, Charts and Atlases for Free

In this digital age, we're accustomed to snapping pictures with our smartphones and sending them instantly to others, but not so long ago in the history of the world, people had to draw diagrams, pictures and maps to share information. 

 English colonies, 1754   Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

English colonies, 1754 Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

Free Downloads of Historical Drawings and Maps

Boston Public Library offers free downloads of historical maps, drawings, charts and more from its Norman B. Levanthal Map Center for non-commercial purposes under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. A great resource for researching a story set during one of the eras within the collection, such as the American Revolutionary War.

If you download any of the images, the Boston Public Library asks that you provide one of the following attribution lines:

(From the Leventhal Map Center's collections:)
"Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library"

(From a separate collection (example: Richard H. Brown Revolutionary War Era Maps:)
"Map reproduction from the [NAME OF COLLECTION] collection of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library"

Sample Maps and Diagrams from the American Revolutionary War

Below are a few of maps and drawings from the American Revolutionary War, including several drawings by Paul Revere, a southwest view depiction of New York city in 1763, and a drawing for the encampment plan for British forces in 1780. 

  SW view of New York city, 1763 -  Map reproduction courtesy of the  Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

SW view of New York city, 1763 - Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

 

  Planned Boston massacre, 1770 (diagram by Paul Revere) -  Map reproduction courtesy of the  Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

Planned Boston massacre, 1770 (diagram by Paul Revere) - Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

  Drawing of plan for encampment of British forces, 1780 -  Map reproduction courtesy of the  Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

Drawing of plan for encampment of British forces, 1780 - Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library


 Ships of war, Boston 1768 (drawing by Paul Revere) -   Map reproduction courtesy of the  Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

Ships of war, Boston 1768 (drawing by Paul Revere) - Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library


Source: http://maps.bpl.org/view_collection