Do ghosts roam the halls of Minot State University’s Old Main or Hartnett Hall?
For years, students and professors have reported spooky occurrences that didn’t have an easy explanation, said art professor Bill Harbort.
Maybe someone felt a touch on their back when no one was behind them or saw a “shadow man” gliding across space.
The persistent stories were one of the reasons why Harbort and Robert Kibler, chair of the English and foreign languages department decided to invite the Paranormal Investigators of North Dakota to go ghost hunting last summer.
Wendy Kimble, the lead investigator of the Minot based group, said the team set up their equipment at Hartnett Hall toward the end of May and beginning of June and then also investigated rumored activity in Old Main at the end of July and early August.
Their investigation was part of the preparation for a Campus and Community Dialogue on “Ghosts and the Paranormal: Real or Fantasy?” held on Wednesday, the night before Halloween.
Harbort, who said he has never had any ghostly experiences himself, said the professors thought the topic was perfect for the night before Halloween and, as usual with the Campus and Community Dialogues series, they wanted to present both sides of a debate and give the audience a chance to make up their own minds.
In an interview before the presentation, Kimble said the investigation turned up lots of activity.
During a “spirit box” session at Hartnett Hall, Kimble said one of the team members reported that she felt something stroking the back of her hair during the session.
That was one of several different experiences that investigators reported.
The ghost hunters use equipment that measure variances in the environment such as unexplained temperature variations or electromagnetic activity in an area. They also use camera systems that record unexpected movement.
Hartnett Hall was damaged by a fire a number of years ago.
Kimble said two different people, who hadn’t previously been aware of the fire beforehand, reported smelling damp wood and smoke at Hartnett during the investigation.
There were other reports that a “shadow man” walked in front of some of the investigators at Hartnett and there was an “orb” that moved across Aleshire Theater while the team was there.
Old Main had less activity than Hartnett Hall did during the investigations.
Kimble said other stories have been told about the ghosts of a man who looks like “Colonel Sanders,” the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a small child that is playing with a ball at Minot State.
Kimble said she is not aware of any deaths that occurred in Hartnett Hall, but said the ghosts could always be connected to deaths that occurred on the site where Minot State was later built.
The First Lutheran Church Cemetery is located directly east of Minot State University and is also the resting place of many of the area’s earliest settlers.
Harbort said he and some of the other professors he has talked with are “on the fence” about the ghost stories.
Others take the skeptic’s position.
Perhaps the smell of smoke at Hartnett Hall could be explained by lingering soot left behind in the air ducts at Hartnett, Harbort suggested.
If a door suddenly slammed shut, maybe it was because a window was left cracked open or a door stop gave out.
But Harbort said some of the odd occurrences didn’t seem to have obvious explanations.
Harbort said he was told that a former security guard could tell lots of stories about unexplained occurrences that happened at Hartnett Hall.
Kimble said the Paranormal Investigators group, which also includes Roger Allard, Stephanie Pinkey, and Brian Huntzinger, also makes every effort to “debunk” ghost stories and seek out the logical explanation first.
But they have also investigated potential hauntings at a lot of places in the area that seem to be unusually active.
Kimble said the Taube Museum of Art in downtown Minot is probably the most spiritually active place they have investigated.
There seems to be a spiritual imprint or residual energy left behind by a long ago banker going down to the basement every night to check on the bank deposit box, said Kimble.
Kimble and her fellow investigators have also investigated at other active locations such as the old armory in Williston and at Fort Totten. Kimble said the Billings County Museum in Medora is also very active.
Kimble has long been interested in the paranormal. “I’ve felt and seen spirits since I was a small child,” said Kimble. There could be a lot of explanations for ghostly activity for those who believe, like an imprint left behind by a long ago banker or spirits with unfinished business or attachments to those left behind.
“Your loved ones are always with you,” said Kimble. “They’re checking on you.”
She said she believes that everyone is born with the ability to be intuitive and can develop that ability so they too can make contact with ghosts.
“If you continue to work with those abilities, I think everybody has it in them to pick up on spirits,” said Kimble.
The Paranormal Investigators of North Dakota can be reached via their Facebook page and through their account on Instagram.
There are several other paranormal investigator groups based in other cities across the state.