Ghost Adventures – Nopeming Sanatorium – S10E07

image For our next outing, we’re off to Duluth, Minnesota to investigate the Nopeming Sanatorium which served as a tuberculosis ward during the heavy epidemics. As the story always goes, a trip to the sanatorium was a last ditch effort for the patients who rarely got better. Most would end up taking a final ride through the body chute on a sad trip to the crematorium. And as with just about every sanatorium, there are plenty of stories about patient deaths and their suffering, including a murder- suicide that took place on Mother’s Day and bars that had to cover the windows because patients chose to commit suicide rather than live with a wasting disease.

While the building looked quite impressive in it’s early days, the place is a rotting mess just waiting for the right time to crumble in on itself. The tunnel walls for the crematorium are showing some severe signs of distress with huge cracks and bowing concrete. Sadly, vandals have smashed in most of the windows and absolutely littered the place with trash. Pretty unfortunate state of affairs really.

We are also told that this area was home to the Native Americans and they used the land to heal their own sick and wounded. One of the members of the local tribe says the spirits have learned to travel on the wind and he can feel that cold air around him as he looks around the building.

As we get a history of the building, the death toll, and some of the horrible treatments – like removing lungs, we end up down in the tunnels that lead to the crematorium. This has been blocked off due to vandalism, but Billy, Jay and Aaron clear away the barricades and have a look inside. It’s creepy for the fact the whole thing is going to collapse. The concrete walls have split and look like they might break any minute now. Billy heads down the tunnel alone and wouldn’t you know it, his camera goes dead and he’s plunged into total darkness. While trying to light up the area with his flash, he captures what looks to be the outline of a figure on the wall. Was this just his shadow or perhaps something else?

After this quick look around they get the full investigation underway. Aaron is sent down to the crematorium where he feels a lot of heavy energy. Considering how ruined and destroyed the room looks, it’s not hard to feel a sense of dread down there. However, there are no voices, shadows or anything else to be captured.

Zak and Billy look around the upper floors where they get some sort of stick figure to show up for just a second on the Kinect camera. Zak also says there are light anomalies and orbs flying around so spirit energy must be present. As they continue to look around the rooms, Zak says he sees a woman reach out to him and ask for help. Quick on his feet, Zak breaks out the spirit box and gets gibberish that he feels is the word" help" while Billy says someone is tapping on his arm. So is there a patient still trapped asking for help to get out of this terrible place?

As the investigation continues, there are multiple bangs like the sound of door closing or people banging on the walls. They are heavy metallic bangs. Interesting noises, but again, it’s a broken down building that is clearly sinking into the earth itself. How do we know these sounds aren’t normal for a decaying building? Old buildings make strange noises, we can’t just jump to the conclusion they are paranormal.

Toward the end of the investigation Zak has a bad moment as he feels he’s being grabbed and pulled by something unseen. It is something unseen all right, wires hanging from the ceiling. He gets himself tangled and as we watch the slow motion replay, the wires wrap around his leg. While this was certainly funny and shows Zak can lose his cool quite easily, you have to admit, you’d soil yourself too if you were in the dark and got wrapped up like that. Zak isn’t quite the fearless warrior he pretends to be, but at least he had a real reason to panic this time.

So in the end, what sort of evidence do we have here? We have bangs, which are odd, but can just easily be the building sinking. There is nothing to suggest these are paranormal bangs. Put you cameras in there overnight, turn a bunch of lights on and see if you get the same noises. Besides the bangs we have the shadow figure captured by Billy. Certainly interesting, but are we absolutely, beyond any doubt, sure that’s not a reflection or shadow cast by Billy himself? And as far as the orbs go, let’s be real. I am always convinced those are just bugs flying around, it is an open building ya know. Besides, when you slow the footage down it looks like those orbs have wings. And despite what Zak says, bugs can change directions on a dime and fly at 90 degree angles.

While this place is creepy as hell and looks like the scene from the worst horror movie you can imagine, I don’t feel the captured any real evidence to support the paranormal claims. The shadow is the only interesting piece, but considering how easy it is to take a bad picture and say there is a mist or a figure or a shadow, it’s hardly enough.

While the patient stories may be real and building is wonderfully creepy, it’s a wide stretch to say it’s haunted.

If you want to learn more and see more photos, check out Substreet.org. There is some pretty sweet stuff over there.

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Ghost Adventures – Sallie House – S10E06

image For this outing, we’re off to Atchison, Kansas to investigate the Sallie House, a house that is believed to be haunted, yet no one seems to know why. The previous owners (they used to live there 20 years ago) claim they dealt with an angry spirit for two years and were finally forced to leave. During that time they saw apparitions and Tony was scratched multiple times. When they left the house another owner took over and it’s "rumored" that she dabbled in the occult and was said to perform rituals down in the basement. This same rumor continues to be perpetuated by the Sallie House Tour Guide and she even goes so far as to say the dark, black smudge on the floor is where the pentagram used to be.

All right, let’s just hold up for a second. First, these are nothing but rumors. This sounds like the type of story kids would tell each other after the broke in to improve their machismo and scare other kids. Second, there is no evidence to support any of the "satanic" details that are being thrown around. Nor is there any evidence to support that the stain on the floor is anything more than a stain on the floor. As we later find out, the basement has mold problems. Clearly it’s damp and that may well just be a water stain. Third, there is a tour guide? Tour guide means money. Money means you’re running a business. In order to keep the business running you need to make sure you have visitors. Clearly you won’t have visitors unless you can come up with a really good haunted story about the place.

Does anyone else feel this whole investigation is a bit suspicious right out of the gate? Yeah, this whole thing feels like a scam before we open the front door. But we’ll put that aside for the moment and see what sort of evidence is collected.

Zak talks to several people in town and they all agree the Sallie house is haunted, yet none of them can really explain why. If there were Satanic rituals, those would have happened after Tony Pickman left the place. A police officer tells the story of coming to the house and meeting Peter James who claimed the house wanted the officer to leave. Again, there is no reasoning behind the haunting, but then we go with the old standby of Indian burial ground.

Tony, the previous owner, claims he was scratched multiple times in the two years he lived in the house. He says pictures would be turned upside down and his mind was filled with thoughts of violence and murder. He even admits to having thoughts of slitting his wife’s throat. Ok, so clearly this isn’t a bought of depression or some sort of reaction to a mix of drugs or perhaps some sort of reaction to the toxic mold growing in the basement. This must be the work of the demonic.

Before the actual investigation begins, Zak convinces Tony to come back to the house, even though both he and his wife have sword never to return. That didn’t take much coaxing did it? But that’s not all, they’ve brought in a psychic to give her impressions of the house. As soon as they all enter the house, the psychic says she feels the presence of a little girl, the same girl that Tony felt was trying to communicate with him.

True to form, a moment or two later, Jay is complaining of being scratched and a burning sensation on his arm. After a mad dash to remove his jacket we see the most minute of red spots of his arm. Oh no, a demon ate through the sleeve of his coat! Quick, the psychic needs to grab her head and appear to faint as to prove the distressing nature of the entity. Which she does.

But moments later, she’s fine as they all stand in the basement and a comment is made she’s standing on the "pentagram". This is most certainly another cue and they all begin to claim they feel ill and overwhelmed and something isn’t right. To build up the tension, the psychic then "faints" and in the commotion touches Tony, who then grabs the back of his head as thought something has grabbed him. Then we have the claim of a welt showing up at the base of his neck. Honestly, this entire sequence seems orchestrated – and quite poorly at that.

But with the actors out of the way, it’s time for the investigation. Things start off with Zak using his tricked out Kinect device that mysteriously crashes. Oh no, a device running Windows 8 has crashed? That’s totally unpossible!! This is followed by 3 knocks which is surely a sign of demonic forces mocking the holy trinity.

As they keep investigating, or rather as they keep soiling themselves at every noise the house makes, a camera captures a stuffed toy lean at an angle and tip to the side. But listen to how Jay describes the event. According to him, the doll is rocking wildly and spinning all around. Um, no sir. It tipped to the side and then started to fall back. Now, I admit, it’s pretty weird, but look at the doll. It’s completely floppy and far from rigid. Are you telling me there is no possible way it could have just tipped over on it’s own because gravity finally got the better of it?

But again, just listen to the exaggerated description of what happened. Despite what Jay says, the doll didn’t go flying around the room, it wasn’t spinning, it didn’t rock back and forth and defy the laws of physics. It slowly tipped over. And it should also come as no surprise that Zak finds and orb and labels it spirit energy. He’s sees those all the time now. So we have a faulty Windows device, a saggy doll and dust particles. It da work of da debil!

The investigation continues with Aaron and Jay down in the basement with a Tesla radio. This is supposed to pick up vibrations in the house. They even defy all common sense and sit right of the black mold, also know as a pentagram. And guess what? Nothing happens. But when Jay goes into the crawlspace, the radio starts to make noise. It’s not really indicative of anything, but if something makes noise in the dark, it must signal the paranormal.

Zak and Billy hang out in the living room and play with the Paranormal Puck. As they type questions, they get answers that make them cringe. The device again says "Satan". It said this back at the hotel when Billy was getting set up. It only has a dictionary of 5,000 words, so how could it possibly choose Satan?

Also, when asked who moved the bear, they get the answers Monica and Paula. We have no idea who these two are, but clearly this answer is important! We also get clued in to the fact that the house conveys a lot of noises. Aaron hits a pipe and it sounds like piano keys playing. This just proves sounds can come in and make it seem like the events are happening in the house that aren’t true.

But let’s get to the big finale, when Zak goes into the basement and then into the crawlspace. He claims to hear a female voice, panics and in typical fashion damn near pushes Aaron out of the way to make his escape. Based on this, Zak is utterly convinced there is a dark portal in the basement.

So in the end we have some seriously dodgy evidence and far too many things that make me feel like this whole event was set up to generate business for their house tours. A bear tipping over is not paranormal. Neither is a black smudge on the floor. Neither is faux fainting and clinging to some idea about Indian burial grounds. The house creaks and has some terrible plumbing. It has all sorts of rumors about the demonic that have no basis in truth. And all is this has something to do with a little girl? Even if not, there is supposed to be some big, dark, scary portal to hell in the basement? Interesting how Zak is now talking about portals while Nick’s show is all about searching for portals to the other side.

Of course none of that makes this story true. This entire episode looks and feels phony.

Hmm, just did a quick search on Sallie House and what do we find? Books, tours and audio CDs for sale. Clearly it’s in their best interest to keep the haunted stories going otherwise the revenue stream dries up. These guys are making money on a house they lived in 20 years ago? How very interesting. Judge for yourself, type in Sallie House in Google and go the first link. Tell me what you see. If you’re making a living off claiming your house is haunted, I find that a bit dubious, but that’s just me.

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Ghost Adventures – The Bell Witch Caves – S10E05

imageHere we are for the first episode of Ghost Adventures without Nick as part of the action. Nick has decided to step away, perhaps to focus on his new show Ghost Stalkers or perhaps to spent time with wife and family. The reason for the departure seems to have an air of mystery about it so it makes me wonder.

Anyway, the site for this investigation of the Bell Witch Caves which is supposedly the first haunting where a spiritual entity actually killed someone. The story of the Bell Witch has been told many times through such movies as A Haunting and the Blair Witch Project. But the question is, does this story have any truth? Did some sort of spiritual energy actually kill John Bell and does that energy still linger on the property?

If you ask Walter Kirby, current owner of the Bell Witch Cave, he certainly believes the story. But then again, why wouldn’t he? If he said the whole thing was a fake or just rumor, then no would pay to come visit his scary caves now would they?

But financial reasons aside, what sort of evidence do we have here to support an evil spirit haunting the Bell family?

The story goes back to 1817 where a letter describes  "There was no Angel, it was a demon in the house. Folks sat in the room reading the Bible to wait for the witch ghost." Betsy Bell was supposedly the main target of the attack but it was John Bell who actually died. It is believed the witch poisoned John as the family found a bottle of black liquid next to his bed. There was also a claim of a voice saying, "I gave old Jack a big dose of that last night which fixed ‘em."

So you may ask, just what was the cause of all this upheaval in the Bell home? Well, that remains a bit of mystery, but there is some thought that Drewry Bell and his friend Corbin Hall dug up a skull from an Indian burial ground and brought it home. It seems to me when you can’t come up with anything else, you go to the standby of the Indian burial ground story. There was no swindling of land, or murder, or suicide, or death from lost love, or gunplay at the hands of a crazy man. It’s the *rumor* of digging up a skull.

To lay the groundwork, Zak and Aaron head to the home of Drewry Bell and hear footsteps walking around. It’s an old house that no one lives in so those clearly couldn’t be anything related to animals or vermin. They break out the spirit box and get the words, "Indian" and "careful" and while these words are spoken, the whole house shakes. They need these pieces to help sell the Indian burial ground angle. We don’t feel or see the house shake or hear some mighty boom and have to take their word for it.

To kick off the investigation, Zak gets a visit from William Porter, a direct descendant of the William Porter that supposedly wrapped the witch in a blanket and tried to burn her in a fire. He agrees to head down into the caves, which supposedly have a connection to the Indian burial ground. William agrees to go in by himself while Jay plays infrasound waves which are very low frequency. William hears rocks falling all around him and Zak believes they capture shadow figures on camera. They even feel they pick up the sound of a pig grunting. It is believed the Bell’s saw twisted and distorted animals which foretold the witch’s arrival.

As Zak and the rest of the team investigate, Billy feels sadness and tremendous pain in his back. They feel a "Chief" is watching them and that their energy is drained. On the FLIR, they pick up energy and strange shapes around Aaron which they feel are related to the Indians. They look like massive blobs to me, but people see what they want to see.

The groups split up with Billy and Jay heading to the gravesite of John Bell while Zak and Aaron head to where some remains where found, brought into the cave and were supposedly stolen. As you might expect, they believe them to be Indian remains. No proof, just a feeling. Jay and Billy get no responses at the gravesite, but Zak feels he sees balls of light and hears the words, "here I come" as he asks for the energy to show itself. Zak is quite fixated on the balls of light these days. They seem to be the answer to everything these days.

It should come as no surprise that Zak feels they have compelling and almost overwhelming evidence to support the story of the Bell Witch. I don’t think that’s what they came away with. They heard rocks in a cave, that’s not paranormal. Their personal feelings of sadness and losing energy don’t mean much to me. You can convince yourself of anything, just look at Ghost Stalkers. They may have captured some voices, but I’m terribly suspect of that sort of thing these days. It’s so easy to capture voices off in the distant or someone talking when they shouldn’t be. And it’s not like you can’t whisper and say, "oh listen, a voice from beyond!" And if this witch is so damn dangerous and blood thirsty you would expect a little more fire, brimstone and fury no? I mean seriously, what did they capture?

And let’s jump all the way to the original evidence. Let’s not forget the time period where demons were blamed for every ill that happened. Mental illness was a demon. Getting sick was the devil’s work. Spoiled crops were a curse. So to be honest, the original story has the same hysteria associated with it that caused all the problems in Salem. It’s really hard to believe that this story is anything more than simple superstition and paranoia.

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Expedition Unknown – World’s 8th Wonder – S01E03

imageFor this episode, Josh is off to find treasure of a different kind. He’s not merely looking for an idol, a cup or even a treasure chest. For this excursion, he’s looking for an entire room. Yes, there was a room called, "The Amber Room" that was part of the castle for Catherine I. It was an awe inspiring, albeit a little gaudy, room covered in Amber, precious stones and gold. And not just some little closet sized thing either, but a massive banquet room. Clearly there are no small rooms in a castle.

Rumor has it, the Nazi’s invaded the Soviet Union and took over the Amber Room. They showed it off to high level officials and used it flaunt the wealth of their empire. When the Allies came to get them in the 1940’s the Nazi’s completely dismantled the room and the contents disappears. Rumor has it the amber and jewels were peeled off the walls, stored in crates, shipped out by train and stored underground in a secret location. Josh is out to see sort of leads he can discover about this missing treasure.

There are several possible locations the treasure could have been taken to. The first is the old German palace itself, which now lies in ruins. Josh heads to Kaliningrad Castle which still has a series of unexplored tunnels underneath where the castle once stood. The castle was leveled during 1945, but it might be possible the treasure is locked underground. After a bit of negotiation, Josh heads down there and has a bit of a look around. There is a lot of area to cover and he’s not even close to being equipped for the job. But while there, he talks to a man in charge of excavating the site and they have already found numerous relics. Nothing along the lines of the Amber Room, but it does show there are artifacts down there.

Next up, Josh is off to Berlin to check into the theory of the crates being shipped off in the middle of the night by train. It appears there were 6 extra railroad cars, but when these cars reached their destination, they were empty. So where did their contents go? Well, that is the question and one theory is they ended up in some bunkers hidden away in a nearby forest. Oh, this sound good, and sinister, and scary.

Josh heads out to the forest and indeed finds some of the very bunkers he was told about. They are overgrown, filled with junk and water, but they could easily hide that which people don’t want to be found. After a bit of a trudge in the murky water, Josh realizes he’s nowhere near equipped to go looking around this unstable area and moves onto the next location.

A CIA informant tells Josh about a letter he found which details four trucks worth of crates that were only transported by night, but have no official description. These unknown items may have been carted off to the tunnels of Deutschneudorf. Without delay, Josh is once again hot on the trail and who do you reckon he meets up with? Why the mayor of Deutschneudorf of course. And not only is he willing to discuss this Amber Room with Josh, he’s hot on the trail of it himself! They mayor has a full blown excavation going on.

The mayor explains that he has documents and tips the crates that contain the contents of the Amber Room are hidden down in the tunnels of an old factory. The factory in question was built on top of some silver mines and it was known to take in shipments by rail. It is believed the crates were taken down a secret entrance and buried deep in the old mine tunnels so it couldn’t be bombed or stolen. Josh heads on down and discovers some amazing chambers and intricate stone work. Clearly this is not your average silver mine. These rooms had some other purpose while under the control of the Nazi’s.

But as Josh, the mayor and the translator push ever forward, they discover the going to be flooded and unstable. They get to a point where perhaps the beams aren’t quite up to the challenge of supporting the weight of the world on their rotting shoulders. It’s a hasty retreat by all back to the surface.

Josh doesn’t come away with the treasure, but it seems like there are at least three plausible locations for where the treasure of the Amber Room may have gone. More work needs to be done in each one to make it safe to explore. But it goes to show that there are plenty of secret locations under ground and that when it comes to treasure and the Nazi’s, those items could be hiding anywhere and until they’re discovered, it’s well worth looking and following up on each clue. Rare artifacts and paintings are showing up all the time, it may just be a matter of time until the crates containing the Amber Room surface in the most unusual of locations.

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