Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Haunted Mill


The Haunted Mill

(This is a non-fiction account of my second official ghost hunt)

I watched the angry red scratch appear on Tom’s skin. It was as if someone—who wasn’t there—was raking him with a wide fingernail on his low back. I looked at his back after Tom said his skin was burning. I pulled up the back of his shirt to check it out. He motioned to an area in his lumbar region and I saw a fingernail-wide bright red scratch about one inch long. I thought it might be nothing—at first. Then I watched as the scratch moved up his back to the length of six or seven inches. I saw it happening and it chilled me to the bone.

Watching the scratch appear was the strangest, and also one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen. There was something invisible in the room with us that was able to affect Tom physically. It wasn’t the first time a member of the Wasatch Paranormal Investigation team had been scratched by some “thing,” and it wouldn’t be the last.

There was much more to come on my second official paranormal investigation, which took place on Saturday night, March 7 at the Baron Woolen Mill in Brigham City, Utah. We were there for about five hours, and left around 1:00 AM. We were all cold and exhausted at the end, but I wonder what it would be like to be there during the so-called “dead time” around 3:00 AM.

The room we were in when the scratching occurred was the “ash room,” sometimes referred to as “the rape room.” A woman was raped and murdered in the mill, and it is thought that she was killed in the “ash room,” which is a small square chamber behind the old boiler in the dank basement. Not a place you ever want to go into. The murder was said to have been covered-up by some in the town and we assume that the murderer was an important man, or at least a man with connections. Is the dead woman's spirit lingering there and still wanting justice? At least two other people died there as well, a boy and a man who fell to his death. Why the other spirits are there . . . well no one knows for sure.

The mill is the scariest place I’ve ever been, and since I have a crazy fascination with ghosts and put them in most of my novels and short stories, I’m probably going to return there someday for another dose of paranormal madness. It fuels my fires, no dout.

How did I end up there? I was invited on the investigation by Tom Carr, the co-founder of Wasatch Paranormal Investigators (WPI), who also does the internet radio show, http://www.asprn.com/rhl.html of which I’ve been a guest a couple of times. I’ve been on one hunt before with Tom and his crew, but this one was amazing. My co-worker and close friend, Zabrina came along (she went with me last time), and it was great to get to share this adventure with her. She’s a “sensitive” and is more attuned to energies in places than I am. She felt bad vibes, among other things, from the moment we arrived at the haunted mill. Even the office out front, which was our so-called safe-room where we set up, did not feel safe to Zabrina. I completely agreed.

Tom and the crew (Doug, Russ, Jessica, Staci, and Monica) gave us a tour of the vast crumbling and garbage-strewn industrial structures with old rusting machines, broken windows, and decaying wooden floors. The mill was in operation for over a hundred years making wool blankets and such, but was shut down in about 1996.

Joining WPI that night were several interesting guests. Besides my friend, the always fun Zabrina, there was Cat (Cathlene Smith), author of the paranormal novel Slivers of Reality http://www.sliversofreality.com/, and her friend (?), who I didn’t get a chance to chat with. Our guest of honor was Heather Joseph-Witham a PhD professor of folklore at Otis College of Art and Design who flew in from L.A. for the investigation. Dr. Joseph-Witham, or Heather to her cool ghost hunting friends, has been on the TV show Myth Busters several times as the expert folklorist. I can see why the Myth Busters guys love her on the show. She’s got a great energy about her and it was fun to have dinner with her beforehand. Of course we ate at a haunted restaurant, J&D’s in Brigham City, which has a former manager who haunts the place. Many staff have seen his ghost and he hates ALL servers. The ghost enjoys tormenting them after hours by throwing dishes off shelves, glaring at them from a booth where he used to sit and other mischief. The new staff usually have a scary encounter with him that causes them to run out of the restaurant screaming, and sometimes quit.

Anyway, after dinner we drove off into the night to the Baron Woolen Mill and started the investigation in utter darkness—our flashlights making tiny dents in the thick shadows. It was bitterly cold and the place smelled of decay, pigeons, and rancid oil. Most of the windows were broken, many were boarded up, and the whole place had a sinister, oppressive feel.

The apparent attack on Tom was the most intense moment, but we had a couple of encounters where our K2 meters, which are EMF detectors (electromagnetic field detectors) were going off. The K2’s have a green light on them and some red lights that only go off when there is a spike in the electromagnetic field around it. The K2’s were going off when we asked questions, but otherwise, they had no reaction as we walked around the place—which has no electricity in the old buildings.

When using the K2’s we would ask something like: “any spirits who want to communicate with us please touch the green light and make the red lights light up.” Whenever we asked something like that, the meter would usually go wild. We’d say tap it once for yes, twice for no. Then we’d proceed to have yes and no “conversations” with the spirit or sprits that were there. At one point in the sheep-shearing building in the back, I felt like I was communicating with Billie, a boy who was killed at the mill when he was dragged into a huge machine (pictured on my Facebook page—link below), but he left after a few minutes and the EMF detector went blank again.

Overall, the night was not as active as some of the investigations they’ve had before. In the past they’d seen full-bodied apparitions of men, women, and a young boy—probably Billie. Team members have been slapped, had their hair pulled, been pushed, scratched, touched, and spoken to by invisible entities. The mill is filled with many restless ghosts, or the infamous creatures Tom has joked about in the past: paranormal ninjas.

The nearly five-hour investigation was quite an experience for me, and I’ve barely described it in this post. Suffice it to say that I feel very strongly that there are several ghosts in the mill.

Tom was attacked twice that night. Not that long after the first time he was scratched he felt the same burning pain again. I looked under his shirt and saw a three-pronged scratch begin and then go down his back in front of my eyes, as if whatever was attacking him was doing so as I held up his shirt shining a light on his skin. Something, or someone, really does not like Tom and let him know very clearly he was not welcome.

Tom and I both, as well as a few others, felt a terrible fear come over us suddenly during our time in the “ash room,” but not while the scratching was happening. It was after the first attack. I had to “man-up” and keep my cool. Tom made a comment at the same moment I felt the fear and later we discussed it. He said it took everything he had to not run out of that room—which is totally unusual for him. I felt the same way he did, experiencing the fear in a very visceral way. Regardless of what we were feeling, we stayed put, hoping something more interesting would happen. (Yep, we’re nuts). It was not a pleasant experience at all being in the ash room. We kept waiting for something else to happen, but in the end, the only thing that could be physically seen by everyone were the two scratches that appeared on Tom’s back. I was quite happy to leave the ash room and take a break after that.

We went back in later, did more K2 and EVP work (EVP=electronic voice phenomena). EVP’s are disembodied voices that appear on recording devices and are thought to be spirits trying to communicate. Sometimes you can only hear them when you listen to the recording with headphones and boost the volume. We would ask questions like: “Did you work at the mill?” and wait for 30 seconds in silence. The K2’s would often go off after a question, but we never heard an audible voice.

The digital recordings will have to be reviewed to see if we caught anything. Tom and the crew have caught a ton of amazing EVP’s in the past, and I wonder what they’ll get this time. I still have to review the recording I made with Tom’s recorder.

I’m very thankful to have been invited to attend the investigation. It was quite an experience and fueled my already overactive imagination. The thrill of apparently being able to communicate with spirits on the K2 meter and watching a supernatural event like the scratching attacks on Tom were totally amazing.

If you want to learn more go to Tom Carr’s website, http://wasatchparanormal.com/ and look at the pictures, scary EVP’s, and get his excellent ghost hunting book, Talking to Yourself in the Dark. I’m reading it now and think it’s a perfect “how to” manual for would be paranormal investigators. I’ll be posting a review of his book later this week.

The whole experience at the haunted mill was incredible. Not all of the spirits there felt malevolent to me. I’m certain that some of them are just lost souls who’ve stayed behind instead of passing into the light. I’ll never forget my first investigation at the Baron Woolen Mill. The best part about it was sharing the experience with my new friends, the living ones . . . and of course . . . the dead.

View the pictures on the public Facebook link here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=197576&id=583339135&l=5bb809d977

Paul Genesse
Author of The Golden Cord (an epic fantasy novel about a haunted young man trying to survive and save his people in a harsh, unforgiving world)


Jen said...

Wow! That sounds like a really intense but very cool experience. I was totally freaked out the entire time I read your post, but equally curious and excited as well. I have never heard of people getting physically touched/harmed by ghosts/spirits so that was creepy...esp since you watched it happen!! Thanks for sharing! :) I'm looking forward to (hopefully) reading more about your future adventures. Also, I'm going to try to convince Daniel to go with me to that haunted restaurant. We'll see how that goes!!!!

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