GOLD HILL, Nev. (KOLO) -halloween is the one night of the year when…if only for entertainment…many of us test the border between our world and the afterlife. but for some people it’s a year-round quest and one they take very seriously.
They go by the name Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters. One of several such groups in our area, they may be the oldest and you’d be surprised at how busy they are. They have other professions–real day jobs–but this is their avocation.
“Seventeen years ago I would have told people I was a credit manager not a ghost hunter,” says founder Jeadene Solberg. “Now the very first thing I say is ‘I’m a paranormal investigator. What do you do?’ I’m proud of what we do.”
They’re dead serious. They’re not in it for the thrills. If fact Solberg admits she’s something of a scardy cat. “When I come into the dark it’s still a challenge for me. But I do it all the time.”
We first met them years ago, looking for a Halloween story that was more than trick or treating or phony scare-my-please haunted houses. They go looking for the real thing. We’ve been joining them this time of year ever since. That quest has taken us to some of the state’s most historic structures, the kind of places, you half expect to be greeted by a ghost.
And–though I’m still a self-professed skeptic (To their credit they don’t seem to mind) I fully admit in their company I’ve seen, heard and experienced things I can’t explain.
My skepticism rose a couple of notches this year when they proposed the location for their investigation. The old Cabin in the Sky restaurant in Gold Hill is hardly where you’d expect to find a haunting. Neighboring buildings date back a century or more. The only thing remarkable about this building is it was owned and built by Nevada brothel owner Joe Conforte and, but for the apparent small bedroom behind the kitchen with a discreet rear entrance, you’d be hard pressed to find any obvious link to the man.
But the building is being converted into a museum, a project the Ghost Hunters support. They’ve spent a lot of time in here and Solberg says looks can be deceiving.
“It’s very active in here.”
They bring different talents and techniques to the investigation. I’m coaxed into trying my hand at the divining rods, but honestly my skepticism remains intact.
I listen in audio isolation to a device that–like a poorly tuned radio–feeds me snippets of sound, a word or two at a time, as they ask questions I can’t hear. Again I remain skeptical.
More intriguing are the techniques that produce results I can see and hear. We pick up several EVP’s–electronic voice phenomenon. Faint whispers usually. If we’re hearing from the other side it would help if they spoke up and–on occasion–they seem to, but not this time. It’s nothing like the very loud booming sounds we captured in the darkened, deserted mess hall in the old state prison a few years ago.
On video captured by static infrared cameras, we see what are called orbs, moving pinpoints of light. Even among paranormal investigators they are controversial and in another setting could be potentially dismissed as dust motes or tiny insects. Here that explanation doesn’t seem to work.
But we’re most intrigued by the images produced by a device called an SLS camera or meter, which shows people as thermal–in color– and electromagnetic images, as stick figures.
In the dark at the old state prison for instance it captured the both images of two team members, but also seemed to detect two other entities with no thermal signature. We encountered the same at the Cabin in the Sky and, as sometimes happens, the electromagnetic image even seemed to respond to suggestion.
My rational side seeks an explanation one that doesn’t require the presence of spirits, but comes up empty. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here. but if it’s not, then what is it? I remain a skeptic, but one without an answer. It is admittedly, again puzzling and a little spooky.
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