Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Centralia
Suggested by: Teresa Slaven
Centralia was once a small coal mining town found in Pennsylvania. Today, it is a wasteland that is nearly a ghost town with less than a dozen residents. What chased these people away is not a mystery, but it is a strange thing. In 1962, a heap of trash was set ablaze in an abandoned mine pit. This was the town's landfill and there had not been a problem with this practice. But on this particular day, a vein of anthracite coal was exposed and the fire ignited that vein. The surface flames were quickly extinguished, but unfortunately, this was a vein that crawled its way through the Earth and the fire fighters were unaware that the fire continued to burn underground. The fire burned into the coal mines and holes were drilled into the ground to figure out where the fire was burning and to determine temperature. These holes provided oxygen, and as you can imagine, the fire was fueled further. For years, residents and others tried different methods to put out the fire. They flushed the mines with water and excavated as much coal as they could. The fire continued for 20 years and then something else started to happen. The Earth started opening up with sinkholes. One young boy was almost killed. Experts believe that the only way to fix the issue would be a massive trenching operation that would cost $660 million. So the government opted to relocate the residents. The fire continues to burn under 400 acres of surface area and it continues to grow. Estimates claim that it could burn for 250 years. The town is a virtual ghost town that people are detoured around and modern maps do not include the town anymore. The fact that a city was destroyed by a fire that has continued to burn for decades below the earth, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Galileo Discovers Jupiter's Moons
In the month of January, on the 7th, in1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered four moons orbiting the planet Jupiter using a telescope he had made himself. On first observation, he thought that the planets were just a group of stars. After he watched the star cluster for a while, he realized that they were moving in a regular pattern and that movement was against the laws of nature as Galileo understood them at that time. The direction was wrong as far he was concerned. After a few weeks, he surmised that these objects were not stars, but moons that were in orbit with Jupiter. This discovery was further evidence of the Copernican theory on the universe, which stated that everything in the universe did NOT orbit the Earth. This would launch the world into modern astronomy. Today, we know Jupiter's satellites as Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto and they are referred to as the Galilean Moons in honor of their discoverer.
University of California, Berkeley (Suggested by and research assistance from Kat)
The University of California, Berkeley is a research university at its heart. Many discoveries and innovations have their origins at this university. From earthquake detection devices to nutrition to deep sea diving chemicals to prevent the bends to the Atomic Bomb to biotech and biofuels, all of these inventions were developed at UC Berkeley. The university was founded back in the 1800s and has played witness to decades of history. It is one of the top schools in America and in the world. The university has known its share of controversy and although the university most certainly does not embrace this, it is quite haunted as well. Join us as we discuss the history and hauntings of UC Berkeley.
The city of Berkeley was the territory of the Chochenyo/Huchiun band of the Ohlone people originally. They left behind shellmounds and pits in rock formations. They lived mostly along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay at the mouth of Strawberry Creek. The first Europeans to arrive and settle came with the De Anza Expedition in 1776. This expedition led to the founding of the Spanish Presidio of San Francisco at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. One of the soldiers at the Presidio was Luis Peralta. The King of Spain granted him a vast stretch of land on the east shore of San Francisco Bay for a ranch, much of which is today's City of Berkeley. The city is named after the 18th-century Anglo-Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley.
The California Gold Rush began in 1848 and brought hundreds of thousands of people to California. Henry Durant was born in Massachusetts and studied for the ministry at Yale College. He became an ordained minister, but also a headmaster. He eventually came to Oakland, California and in 1853 he founded the Contra Costa Academy, a private school for boys. Two years later, the school was chartered as the College of California. Another school known as the Agricultural, Mining and Mechanical Arts College merged with the College of California in 1868 and the University of California was founded. Durant was elected the first president of the University of California. The University's beginnings were modest to say the least. Initially there were only 10 faculty members and 40 students.
By 1873, the University had 200 students and there was a need to move to another campus at this time. They moved to a new campus in Berkeley on land adjoining Strawberry Creek. In 1882, UC Berkeley’s first sports team was established on campus and it was a rugby team. Beginning in 1891, Phoebe Apperson Hearst took the University under her wing and started funding a number of programs and buildings. Phoebe had married George Hearst, her distant cousin who was 22 years older, and gave birth to their only son, William Randolph Hearst in 1863. She also sponsored an international competition in Antwerp, Belgium in 1898 for a campus master plan. French architect Émile Bénard submitted the winning design, which was called Roma.
The backstory here is an interesting one about two powerful and rich families in the Bay area competing against each other. The Stanford Family had founded Stanford University and the Hearst Family responded by adopting the fledgling University of California and guiding it to become a world-class institute. It was a classic one-upmanship move. Emile Bénard didn't like the culture of San Francisco and he refused to revise his plan to fit the University, so he was replaced by fourth-place winner John Galen Howard. Howard became UC Berkeley's resident campus architect. He built in the Beaux-Arts Classical Style. Characteristics include flat roofs, statuary and sculptures, arched windows and doors and decorative garlands, balustrades and pilasters.
Howard designed much of the classic historic buildings on campus and most of them are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These included the Hearst Greek Theatre, the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, Doe Memorial Library, California Hall, Wheeler Hall, Le Conte Hall, Gilman Hall, Haviland Hall, Wellman Hall, Sather Gate, the Sather Tower - which was inspired by St Mark's Campanile (CAM-PA-NEE-LEE) in Venice - North Gate Hall, Dwinelle Annex, and Stephens Hall. In 1919, a southern branch of the University of California was opened in Los Angeles, which began the expansion of the University in a statewide system that now includes 10 campuses across California.
Berkeley faculty started something new on the campus in the1920s by establishing an Academic Senate, which gave them an unprecedented role in the governance of the Berkeley campus. It was described as a faculty revolt, but it is a tradition that has kept the faculty independent and outspoken. The 1930s was another time of diversity and expansion with the opening of International House. John D. Rockefeller Jr. funded the construction and soon thereafter the University of California enrolled nearly 10 percent of all international students in the United States. This was the first coeducational residence west of the Mississippi and housed men, women, foreigners, blacks and whites under one roof. It was not a popular move and many objected.
By 1942, the American Council on Education ranked UC Berkeley second only to Harvard University in the number of distinguished departments. The innovation coming out of UC Berkeley was amazing. A device to create cleaner smokestack emissions that is still used today was developed in 1907. Vitamin E was discovered in 1922. Berkeley Chemist Joel H. Hildebrand formulated a mixture of helium and oxygen for deep-sea diving that would enable divers to explore deeper than ever before without experiencing "the bends” in 1924. Using iodine to diagnose and treat hyperthyroidism was developed here as well. Nutrition Science got its start here and speaking of food, fruit cocktail was created at UC Berkeley by William Cruess. There was also the flu vaccine, plutonium produced for first time, the Atomic Bomb was developed, wetsuits were invented, the first cancer causing gene was discovered, biofuels were developed and the list goes on and on.
Eventually, Berkeley would become a scene for campus protests against the Vietnam War, but the military once had a huge influence at the University. Military training was compulsory for male undergraduates and Berkeley housed an armory for that purpose. The ROTC program was established in 1917 and the School of Military Aeronautics trained future pilots that included Jimmy Doolittle. In 1926, future fleet admiral Chester W. Nimitz established the first Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps unit at Berkeley. The military increased its presence on campus during World War II.
During the McCarthy era in 1949, the Board of Regents adopted an anti-communist loyalty oath. They required that all the faculty and student employees declare in writing that they were not members of the Communist Party. Many of the faculty formed a resistance movement and they were dismissed. The regents eventually rescinded the oath and the California Supreme Court sided with those employees who refused to sign. They were reinstated with back pay. In 1952, the University of California became an entity separate from the Berkeley campus. Each University of California campus was given autonomy and its own Chancellor. Then-president Sproul assumed presidency of the entire University of California system, and Clark Kerr became the first Chancellor of UC Berkeley.
While the University has been known for its innovations and protests, many may not know that the University harbors many spirits. Several locations are haunted. The first is the Faculty Club. These were the dorms that housed the faculty when the University first opened. The dorm is now an on-campus hotel. One of the professors, Henry Morse Stephens, lived at the Faculty Club for 20 years until his death in 1919. Supposedly, he still haunts his room because he loved the University so much. Guests report things being moved to a place where they did NOT put it when staying in that room. His apparition has been seen sitting in his favorite chair and reciting poetry. Cold spots have been felt and people see indentations on the bed by something unseen. There might be more than just a love of the school here. Stephens' life’s work was collecting more than 800 individual accounts of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He was going to create a complete archive and give it to the Bancroft Library. He died before that happened and today, his work has been lost. Could this be why he is still around in the afterlife? Maybe he feels his work is not finished or he is upset that it is lost.
The Daily Cal reported, "In 1974, the Berkeley Daily Gazette ran an article in which Noriyuki Tokuda, a visiting Japanese scholar, reported seeing Stephens’ ghost. After waking from a nap, Tokuda saw a well-dressed gentleman sitting in the chair opposite him. Then, much to Tokuda’s surprise, the man flew across the room and disappeared. The Gazette reported Tokuda as saying, 'I opened my eyes then and saw a funny picture — two heads with a body passing out of my sight and disappearing.' Later, when shown a photograph of Stephens, Tokuda confirmed a striking resemblance." Psychic Charles Peden claims that the captain of the 1920s football team is the one haunting the Faculty Club. He died of pneumonia apparently. Peden wrote of his encounter with this ghost, "In a matter of moments, I felt the energy in the room shift and I felt the presence of a spirit from the other side. After speaking with him for a moment I determined that they were connected with the 1920 football team. I thought that it was most likely the captain of the team. He informed us that he had passed due to pneumonia and then he spoke about the football team of this time period and how they were a bunch of sissies having to wear all the extra protective gear and face masks on the helmets. Even though he ripped the team a bit, he ended up the interview with a hearty 'Go Bears!”'"
Kroeber Hall houses the Anthropology Department. We can already imagine that this place would have some weird stuff going on just based on the types of artifacts housed in the building. The Hearst Museum of Anthropology is located here as well. Kat told us, "This was a story from one of my friends, and this involves her professor. While she was taking an Anthro class, the class had a chance to go into the basement level of the Anthro museum, which is normally off-limits to students who aren't working there. Before the professor went down the stairs, she was apparently praying this weird spell. One of the students asked her why, and she replied, 'Oh, I was pushed down the stairs when I was alone. When I spoke with a Native American elder, he told me to wear this necklace and say this prayer. It's to appease the spirits of Native Americans that are attached to the artifacts here.'"
One of Kat's friends had a friend that worked in the museum and she claimed that she saw dark shadows in the corners of the basement lurking and shifting around and felt cold spots when she was working there alone.
Barrington Hall is privately operated student housing, but initially it was a student housing cooperative when it opened in 1935. During the sixties, it got a reputation as a drug den and eventually riots in regards to the building caused it to shut down in September 1990. It was reopened as the privately owned student housing and residents claim that the building is haunted. Some claim that there is a spirit of a student who hung himself in the hall, now haunting it. A weird shadow figure has been seen climbing the stairs up to the third floor. This figure enters each room and stares for a bit as though checking on the students. This has led to the theory that the spirit belongs to a former third floor resident. During the riots of 1990, Juan Mendoza, a 20 year old student and resident of Barrington Hall, fell off the roof of the building and sadly died. Could he be one of the spirits as well?
Evans Hall is the Math and Stat Department building and it is one of the tallest on campus. A junior majoring in math had a very low GPA. This can be a common occurrence at Berkeley because of grade deflation. Kat said that most of the kids who go to UC Berkeley were valedictorians or top of their classes in high school and the transition into Berkeley academics can be tough. It was for this kid and he ended up committing suicide over that low GPA. When you are studying math on the basement floor of Evans Hall alone, in one of the classrooms and if you get a problem wrong, you will hear an insult that will tell you that you got the answer wrong and it will tell you the correct answer. Of course, when the student turns around to thank them/insult them back, no one is there.
The Hearst Gym is a location where Kat has felt weird and uneasy. The reason could be that in the 1960s, the remains of about 12,000 Native Americans were dug up on campus and stored in Hearst Gym under the swimming pool. The basement apparently has cabinets and drawers full of these Native American bones. The building has haunting experiences that range from flickering lights to feelings of unease to strange tapping noises. The University has tried to return the bones to their tribes of origin, but the process has been slow and arduous and it is felt that the spirits of the natives that are at unrest will be sticking around.
Then there is Sather Tower, which resembles the Campanile (CAM-PA-NEE-LEE) in Venice. This is the most famous structure on campus and has been a spot for suicide. At least until the anti-suicide bars were put up. Inside the tower are 61 bells that make up a full concert carillon with bells ranging in size from nineteen pounds to a 10,500 pound one called the Great Bear Bell. The Great Bear Bell has carvings of bears as well as the constellation of Ursa Major. It is rung once an hour. Sather Tower is the third tallest bell and clock tower in the world standing at 307 feet. It was built in 1914 and opened in 1917. The observation deck at the top is where two people committed suicide by jumping. Richard Saphir was the first to jump in 1958. He was a retired attorney who had relocated from Chicago. Instead of going to his psychiatry appointment, he climbed the tower and leapt to his death.
The other was a man named John Patterson who was a 19 year-old sophmore at the University. He jumped in 1961. It is Patterson's ghost that people claim haunts the tower. His apparition has been seen in the tower and around the grounds. In fact, a legend claims that a photographer was taking a picture of the lawn and captured a ghostly hand reaching out of the ground.
Are the spirits of former students and professors still roving the halls and campus of UC Berkeley? Is UC Berkeley haunted? That is for you to decide!
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Moment in Oddity - The Grand Grimoire
Suggested by: Michael Rogers
The Grand Grimoire was written in 1520 AD. Some know this work as the Red Dragon or the Gospel of Satan. It was discovered in the tomb of Solomon in 1750 and is written in either Biblical Hebrew or Aramaic. There was an apocryphal man named Honorius of Thebes that was attributed with the authorship of the Grand Grimoire. Some think that Pope Honorius I or Pope Honorius III were the actual Honorius of Thebes. The story goes that he was possessed by the Devil when he wrote the manuscript. Somehow, the Catholic Church came into ownership of the four part book and have it hidden in the Vatican Secret Archives. Despite the fact that the public cannot see the book, rumors abound about what it contains and many say it contains proof of demonic evocation and occult spells. And one reason why the Vatican may want it hidden is that it reputedly details the process how new popes are won over by Satan. The Grand Grimoire is used by practitioners of voodoo and they call it, Le Veritable Dragon Rouge. The term Grimoire is used for books of magic and this one is reputedly impervious to fire, cannot be cut, pierced, penetrated, torn, or in any other way damaged or destroyed. If this Red Dragon exists, the idea that the Catholic Church would hold on to the book rather than destroy it, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Ireland Joins the United Kingdom
In the month of January, on the 1st, in 1801, Ireland joins Great Britain by the Acts of Union 1800, thus creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Before these acts, Ireland was under the lordship of the same monarch as Britain, but still retained its own boundaries and laws. The Irish Parliament resisted passage of the acts. The first vote was defeated in the Irish House of Commons by 109 votes against with only 104 for. Then the bribes came into the picture via honours and peerages and the second vote passed with 158 to 115. The Irish War of Independence was started because of a desire to establish an Irish Republic and part of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom, forming the Irish Free State in 1922. Today, the United Kingdom is separated from the European continent by the North Sea and English Channel and includes the countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. England and Wales were united in 1536 and Scotland was added in 1707.
Coco Palms Resort (Suggested by: Tracy Martin)
The original Coco Palms Resort on the island of Kauai stands no more. It was demolished in 2016 and Hyatt is rebuilding a new resort in the footprint. For decades, the Coco Palms was a tropical island getaway for celebrities and people seeking a tropical location for their wedding. It also served as the setting for Elvis Presley's movie, Blue Hawaii. But long before a resort was built here, a coconut tree grove was planted and even before that, this was the seat of the island's royal family for over 600 years. The legends told in Hawaii, date back centuries and this area is rich with them because of the former royal past and burial grounds nearby. Coco Palms was believed to be haunted by spirits, maybe even ancient ones, and these hauntings will more than likely continue at the new resort. Join us as we look at the history and legends of the island of Kauai and the history and hauntings of the Coco Palms Resort!
Kauai is known as the "Garden Isle" and it is the oldest island in the island chain that makes up the Hawaiian islands. It is believed to be six million years old and was formed when the Pacific Plate came over the volcanic Hawaii hotspot. Volcanic activity formed the island. This volcanic activity led to the Hawaiian mythology of Pele who is the goddess of fire, specifically volcanoes. When people think of Kauai, they probably think of films like Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean, which have used the location because of its lush tropical foliage, gorgeous blue waters and endless expanse of white-sand beaches. But there is far more to Kauai than beautiful scenery. The island is home to some very interesting sacred sites and legends. One such legend is about a tribe of little people that lived on Kauai and they are known as the Menehune. They are said to be mythical, but there fishponds and aqueducts that have been attributed to them. It was said that the Hawaiians shunned the Menehune and they would hide in the tropical forests. They would leave the rainforests at night and build their various creations in one night like Alekoko, known as Menehune Fishpond, near Lihue.
Hawaiʻiloa is the legendary discoverer of the Hawai'ian islands. He was a Polynesian navigator and his favorite son was named Kauai, which is where the island gets its name. The name Kauai is thought to mean "place around the neck." As an aside, the dialect of Hawaiian in Kauai was different originally and there are some that still hold to that dialect, which had no K sound. It sounded more like T, so Kauai would have been Tauai. Hawai'iloa accidentally stumbled on the islands and he returned to his home to bring a group of settlers with him back to the islands. They landed on Hawai'i, which is named in his honor. This is legend and the actual reality is that Polynesians from other islands traveled here and settled.
Captain James Cook was a British explorer and navigator who was the first European to discover the islands, which he called the Sandwich Islands. This was in honor of the 6th Earl of Sandwich, George Montagu, who was his financier. Cook landed in Waimea Bay and as we have featured on a This Day in History, Captain Cook came to his ultimate demise at the hands of the Hawai'ians after taking advantage of them and allowing them to believe he was a god.
King Kamehameha reigned during the late 17th century and early 18th century. He pulled all the islands into his Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, but Kauai resisted along with Ni'ihau. *This is where Ni'ihau shells come from.* Their ruler was Kaumualiʻi and he pushed back for years. King Kamehameha twice tried to take the islands by force with a huge armada of ships and canoes and he failed both times. Kaumualiʻi finally decided that he didn't want anymore bloodshed and he conceded and became Kamehameha's vassal in 1810. He ceded the island to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi upon his death in 1824. The last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai'i was Queen Liliuokalani. She was overthrown in 1893.
The property where the Coco Palms Resort was built has a coconut grove planted from coconut tree nuts imported from Samoa by William Lindeman in 1896. It is in the Wailuā area that is near Nounou Mountain, which is also known as the "Sleeping Giant," and rises about 1200 feet. The Wailua area is culturally, spiritually and historically significant and in close proximity to three of the most important historical heiau on Kauaʻi. Heiau are temples. A heiau structure could be a small house surrounded by a wooden fence or a stonewall enclosure surrounding multiple houses or a massive open-air temple with terraces and large stone platforms. Ruling chiefs would pay homage to the Hawai'ian gods in these temples. The name Wailua is believed to mean spirits. It is near the Lihue International Airport and approximately five minutes from the town of Kapaa, which was recognized as one of “America’s Prettiest Towns” by Forbes Magazine in 2013.
The property beneath the Coco Palms Resort was the ancestral home of Kauaʻi's royalty and home to Kauaʻi's last reigning queen, Queen Deborah Kapule Kekaiha ‘akulou , in the mid-19th century. She died in 1853. It had been their home for 600 years. The developers of the resort kept this all in mind when designing the resort and it was billed as the epitome of exotic Hawaiian tiki luxury. Perhaps they should have thought a little bit harder about the fact that the legendary walk known as the King's Trail is nearby. The aliʻi spirits follow the King's Trail in the afterlife. Ali'i is the term used for nobility or kings, so these are the spirits of the royalty. The "Royal" Bell Stone is where Kauai rulers were blessed prior to their births and that is at the corner of the property. Ancient burial sites are all around the grounds and on the grounds.
This did not detract the developers and they opened the resort on January 25, 1953. The name Coco Palms refers to the coconut palm tree groves. There were 24 rooms with two guests and four employees. The Wedding Chapel on property was donated by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to Coco Palms in the mid-1950s after using it in the film Miss Sadie Thompson, which starred Rita Hayworth. Grace Guslander became manager and the resort grew under her leadership to 416 rooms by the mid-1970s. She also kept the coconut grove expanding as she hosted akua, which means replenishment, ceremonies that entailed plnting new coconut trees. This opportunity was offered to celebrities and notable people like Hawaiian Olympic swimming champion, Duke Kahanamoku, the von Trapp Family Singers, Bing Crosby and the Prince and Princess of Japan.
Something that also helped the expansion and popularity of the resort was the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii, which was filmed at the resort in 1961. Elvis fell in love with Hawaii and he stayed at the resort many times, in the same bungalow, number 56. It was a small little suite with a front room, one bedroom and a bathroom that had a shell sink. Outside was a lava rock shower that used to be screened by a bamboo fence. In the movie, he gets married at the resort and Coco Palms soon became a popular place for couples to get married. They did about 500 ceremonies a year. The ceremonial torch lighting ceremony that was the "Call to Feast" and took place every night at 7:30pm was featured in the film as well. There was also a scene featuring conch shell blowing as a greeting. Throughout the movie Elvis and many lei-draped women danced on the beach, surfed and ran among the resort’s coconut groves.
By 1984, the number of rooms at the resort was reduced to 393. In August 1985, Wailua Associates acquired the resort from the Guslander/Amfac group. Things went well for the resort until September 11, 1992, when Hurricane Iniki struck the island of Kauaʻi and closed the resort for good. Hurricane Iniki caused $1.2 billion in damage. The property stood vacant as the rainforest and jungle took the property back a fire on July 4, 2014 damaged the resort further. A long planned demolition finally commenced in June of 2016 with plans for Hyatt to build a new resort to open in the first quarter of 2018. Before the demolition, developers Chad Waters and Tyler Greene with Coco Palms Hui, LLC tried to save as many relics of the former resort as they could. These include the first footprint, the original square footage and site plan and they are doing this through selective demolition. Greene said, "Our mantra on this has been to honor the past and celebrate the future." The total renovation is projected to cost $135 million and the new Hyatt will have 331 rooms, 32 bungalows, three restaurants, banquet facilities and more on a 46 acre lot of land. There are plans for a community center featuring the area’s native culture, history and arts.
We discussed earlier the ancient burial grounds and sacred spots near the resort property and how that might effect the energy in the area. The property was very creepy before it was demolished and stood abandoned for many years. Tours were offered and we have a link in the show notes to a video if you want to see it pre-demolition. Stories of the hotel being haunted date back to when it was a popular resort. As we mentioned, Elvis liked to stay in Bungalow 56 and it is here where his apparition had been seen after his death in 1977. No one saw his spirit after the hurricane damaged the resort. The interesting thing though is that his bungalow was untouched. As for other ghosts connected to the resort, we could find nothing. But there are other supernatural and strange creatures connected to this area meaning that they will likely still be around after the rebuild. One of those creatures is the kupua, which is basically a Hawaiian goblin. They play tricks on people. This seems relatively tame, but not all kupua are nice. Kauai's most famous kupua is Akua-pehu-ale. He is known to have a taste for human flesh and even ate some of his own followers.
Some of you may have heard of Hawaii's Night Marchers. They are named for what they do and that is march. That marching is usually accompanied by ghostly drum beats. These ghostly appartitions travel in bands and appear to be carrying ancient weaponry and wearing helmuts and cloaks. They are seen on all the Hawai'ian islands and in Kauai they are seen at Hanapepe. *Fun fact: The buildings featured in Lilo and Stitch were taken from Hanapepe.* These Night Marchers are also said to carry torches raised high and to say olis, which are chants. They are very rarely seen during the day, which is why they are referred to as Night Marchers. They float a few inches off the ground and sometimes leave mysterious footprints after they have passed. Some say they are here to avenge their deaths and other people claim they are searching methodically for an entrance into the afterlife.
High-ranking ali'i (ruler) spirits are seen walking the King's Trail. They are occasionally mistaken as Night Marchers, but they are usually seen as individuals. They are thought to be restless spirits looking to reclaim their rightful territory. Now, if you happen to see a ghostly procession of Night Marchers, what should you do? Do not interrupt the procession! And try not to rest your eyes on them and crouch low so that you will not be seen. Even play dead. Because if you are seen or they catch you watching them, a grim fate awaits you. Their glance is reputed to be deadly.
Another ghost tale we heard that originates in Kauai is connected to Chiefess Kamakahella Middle School near Lihue. This queen ruled from 1770-1794. She married the ruler of Ni'ihau and so it was at this time that Kauai and Ni'ihau came under rule together. Their son was Kaumualiʻi. A train used to pass through where the school is located and it is said that a lady in white has been seen as though she is waiting for the train to arrive. The story goes that this woman used to wait at the track every day for the train. One day she fell onto the track and was hit by the train.
Are the Night Marchers real or just legend? Was the former Coco Palms Resort haunted? Could the new Hyatt resort be haunted when it opens? That is for you to decide!
A great video by Michael Rivero of the ruins before demolition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmwE6xsDKEs
Friday, January 20, 2017
Moment in Oddity - The Tootsie Roll Tale
Tootsie Rolls have been a loved candy for decades, particularly when it comes to American troops. It was during World War I that the defense department started shipping the candies in rations. They were perfect because they didn't melt like chocolate, but were soft and chewy. They also were unaffected by cold or rough handling. They also could be used to save lives. The Korean War was raging in November of 1950 when a combat team made up of British commandos, South Korean Policemen and United States soldiers and Marines numbering 15,000 was pinned down by ten divisions of the Chinese Communist Army that totaled 120,000 men. The area where they were trapped was near a mountain reservoir named Chang Jin and the temperatures there ranged from minus five degrees below zero in the day to minus thirty-five degrees below zero at night. The men were freezing and their jeep batteries froze and split. The ground was so frozen that no encampments could be built for the artillery. Blood plasma was frozen, as was the morphine. And even worse, so were the rations. The men began to starve and high command wrote them off as a loss knowing the situation was hopeless. The Marines sent a final request to be resupplied with 60mm mortar ammo. They were nearly out and the mortars were the only thing holding back the Chinese. The code for 60mm mortar ammo was "Tootsie Rolls." Whoever passed the request on or whomever filled it, sent the tootsie rolls rather than the ammo. Imagine how discouraged the Marines were when they opened the crates that had fallen from the sky by parachute, expecting to find ammo and instead finding candy. But then they realized that they could eat the Tootsie Rools and it gave them much needed energy. They also realized as they chewed the candy that it was very pliable and when exposed to the freezing air, it hardened. It was the perfect putty, if you will, to repair leaks in radiators and gas tanks and plug bullet holes in fuel drums. They managed to push to the sea on the energy of the candy. They suffered 9,000 casualties in that fight, with 3,000 men dying. Survivors credited Tootsie Rolls for their survival. The fact that Tootsie Rolls helped save the lives of so many men, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Submarine NAUTILUS is Launched
In the month of January, on the 21st, in 1954, the NAUTILUS, which is the first commissioned nuclear submarine, launches. A group of scientists and engineers at the Naval Reactors Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission developed a nuclear propulsion plant. Based on successful tests there, Congress authorized construction of the world's first nuclear powered submarine in July of 1951. President Harry S. Truman laid the keel at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut on June 14, 1952. It would take eighteen months for construction to complete on the submarine. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower broke the traditional bottle of champagne across NAUTILUS' bow on that 21st day in January. A year later, the first Commanding Officer, Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, ordered all lines cast off and sent the famous message, "Underway On Nuclear Power." NAUTILUS would go on to shatter speed and distance records. In 1958, NAUTILUS accomplished the impossible by reaching the geographic North Pole. NAUTILUS was decommissioned in 1980 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982. Today, she is a submarine museum in Groton, Connecticut and is visited by 250,000 visitors a year.
Haunted Virginia City (Suggested by Tara Williams-Case, Jeni Justine, Pamela Ennis and Anna Frias)
The Virginia City National Landmark is one of the nation’s largest historic districts and includes over five hundred buildings dating to the time of the great bonanzas, from 1859 to 1880. John Mackay was an industrialist who formed a partnership with three other Irishmen and operated silver mines on the Comstock Lode. They hit it big in 1873 when they discovered the “Big Bonanza.” That find built Virginia City and kept it on the map for the next two centuries. On this episode we are joined by three listeners: Tara Williams-Case, paranormal investigator with P.R.O.O.F. Paranormal Anna Frias and case manager for Pacific Coast Watch Pam Ennis. We discuss the history and hauntings of the Suicide Table, Silver Queen, Bucket of Blood Saloon, St. Mary's Art and Retreat Center and the Mackay Mansion.
Suicide Table - The Suicide Table can be found at the Delta Saloon. This is a former Faro table that was converted into a '21' table. It is supposedly responsible for causing three people to commit suicide. The first was a man named Black Jake. He lost $70,000 in one evening and he shot himself. The second guy is unknown, but the legend claims that he ran the table for one night. Then he started losing and couldn't pay off his losses. His solution was to commit suicide. The table was put into storage until one dark and stormy night. A miner stumbled in drunk. He had lost everything in another gambling hall save for a gold ring on his finger. He walked up to the table that had been changed over to a '21' table and he needed to win back his money. He pulled the ring from his finger and slammed in on the table up against a five dollar gold piece. The risk was worth it as he won the hand. And then he won the next and the next. By morning he had won over $86,000 in cash, a team of horses and interest in a gold mine. The owner of the table is the one who lost all that and well, he was the third suicide.
Silver Queen - The Silver Queen Hotel was built in 1876.
A prostitute named Rosie is said to have committed suicide by slashing her wrists in the bathtub of Room 11 and now her spirit wanders the hotel, banging on doors. She generally chooses rooms occupied by men. Guests and employees also describe loud noises at night and tapping on the walls. There are voices in unoccupied rooms and disembodied footsteps on wooden floors. The issue with that is that the hotel is carpeted. And the noises that are heard usually occur when guests are staying all alone in the hotel. One guest said, “We tiptoed down the long hall and descended a few steps toward Room 11. There was a heavy feeling at that end of the hall. At one point a growl was heard by the door. I decided to go midway down the hall from my room. As I stood there, suddenly I felt and heard a figure running quickly towards me. It made me take steps back and gasp…The incident happened in repetition.”
San Diego Rosey wrote on TripAdvisor in 2009: "My husband and I just celebrated our twenty year anniversary and we decided we wanted a little adventure. We both had watched the shows on TV that featured the Silver Queen Hotel in Virginia City and remembered that the programs said that the place was haunted so we made mid-week reservation for a stop-over between Vegas and Reno. We got a room above the bar, facing the street. Upon arriving we found the room was very old fashion, comfortable and we felt like we were in the times of the old west. After our long drive up from Las Vegas we were tired and decided to take forty winks before dinner. During our nap we heard voices of a family, a couple of kids and a woman. We thought nothing of it. We woke, had a great Chinese meal in town, took a stroll up and down the wooden-plank walkways and played at two local casino/bars. Although this was the first time we stayed the night in Virginia City, as in previous visits, we enjoyed ourselves and found the locals very friendly. We walked back across the street, found the Silver Queens bar closed, so after a walk through Silver Queen’s hallways (which were completely quiet and empty and all room’s dark) we returned to our room at midnight. It wasn’t fifteen minutes after our head hit the pillows when things started happening. We both heard a loud clunk followed by footsteps up and down our hall. Unremarkable perhaps, except as far as we could tell, no one on our floor was awake and the footsteps were clearly on a wood floor and every inch of the hotel is thickly carpeted. I made my husband leave the light on in our room. Voices, door creaking and a repeat of footsteps continued to keep us awake, yet every time we opened the door the hall was empty and quiet. At about 3:30PM things seemed to quiet down. Taking pity on my poor husband, I got up and turned off our bedroom light. He fell asleep minutes later. I continued to lay awake; the blanket over my head. My last memory before sleep finally found me was of loud boots stomping down the hall, a bang on our door and the door knob jiggling. I didn’t get-up to answer the door. We left early the next morning.. before breakfast. Later that day, while eating breakfast in Reno, I called the Silver Queen and spoke to Karen, the hotel’s pleasant bar tender and hotel reservationist. I wanted to let her know that “yes,” like other before us, “we now believe their hotel is haunted.” After hearing about the continued footsteps and door creaking, etc., she told us we were the ONLY people on our floor. I asked about the family that we heard while napping. This seemed to really surprise her. She said that the only child that had been in the hotel the day before was the grandchild of the owner and that child was two—far too young for the voices we heard so very clearly. Would I stay at the Silver Queen again? Well… it’s been about five days since I was there and I’m still a little freaked-out, however, yes. I got the adventure I hoped for, a wonderful story to tell and a very memorable anniversary!"
St. Mary's Art and Retreat Center - St. Mary's Art and Retreat Center was originally a Catholic hospital that opened its doors in 1879. It was four floors with 36 rooms that could care for up to 70 patients and was called St. Mary Louise Hospital. It was managed by the Sisters of Charity and Bishop Patrick Manogue after Marie Louise Mackay purchased the land and donated it to them. All types of sick people were cared for at the hospital. People suffering from one of the many epidemics, gun shot victims, injured miners and even the mentally ill. The hospital was closed after 18 years in 1897. The government turned it into a county hospital to replace the previous one that had burned to the ground. That hospital ran until 1940 when it was closed. It sat empty for 24 years and fell into disrepair. It was decided in 1964 to level it with a wrecking ball. Father Meinecke suggested that the building be turned into an art center.
There are hauntings here. During the time of the hospital, one of the mentally ill patients knocked over a lamp, which started a fire. A nun ran to save him and unfortunately, they both died. Another version of the story claims that the nun died under mysterious circumstances. Whatever was the real cause of her demise, she is now known as the White Nun and haunts the building. She is seen most frequently looking out of one of the third-story windows. She's also seen in room 11, which was the hospital’s former chapel. Her apparition walks up and down the halls, as though she is still checking on patients. She is seen dressed in all-white and she is considered a friendly entity. Others died at the hospital, one of whom may have been a polio-stricken boy. His spirit is seen residually standing at the top of stairs wearing iron leg braces and looking tentative about going down the stairs.
Another residual haunting is a horse-drawn hearse, driving up to a door of the former hospital building as if to collect and carry away the corpses of the dead. No sounds are heard other than the horses snorting. Another spirit appears as a heavy-set woman who smells like violets. She is usually seen in one of the kitchens. An apparition of a man in a wheelchair is also seen and he appears confused.
Bucket of Blood Saloon - The Bucket of Blood Saloon was built in 1876, when the town was rebuilding after the great fire of 1875. Nearly a thousand structures had been destroyed by that fire. The saloon was little more than the size of a one car garage. The Boston Saloon was located behind and under the Bucket of Blood. It was accessed via some stairs and this was only discovered and excavated in 1997.
The McBride family bought the Bucket of Blood in 1931 and has owned it since then. Prohibition had just been repealed and the Great Depression was getting under way. Versal McBride expanded the bar from the small 12 stool bar it started as to the tourist attraction it is today. The bar passed onto his son Donald who was very active in the town and helped establish the early form of the Chamber of Commerce. He also helped organize Bonanza Days, which was a three-day celebration that brought the stars of the television show Bonanza into Virginia City. In 1998, the saloon passed on to Donald's sons.
Don hasn't completely let go of the saloon in the afterlife. He passed away in 2006 and many believe that his ghost haunts the establishment.
Mackay Mansion - The Mackay Mansion is a three story Victorian mansion built in 1859 by a young mine superintendent named George Hearst. It is built in the Italianate style. He used it as a home and the mining office. Hearst had invested $400 in the Comstock mines and he made a fortune. He eventually left Virginia City as a millionaire. The mansion was then bought by John Mackay and is named for him. The mansion has always been owned and occupied. There is a beautiful hand-carved staircase which leads down to the living room, kitchen and parlor.
The mansion is full of spirits. Four distinct ones that have been reported are:
A Little Girl Dressed in White: This entity has appeared to many whom have slept in these bedrooms. Johnny Depp saw this apparition while staying here during his filming of “Dead Man.”
An Elderly Female: She appears to float around and “linger” in favorite spots on the 2nd floor. Perhaps she is a former lady of the house?
A Former Colonel: This apparition chooses to sit in the kitchen as his favorite way to pass the time. Long after his death, his presence remains, and has been felt by many psychics.
A Focused, Conscientious Woman: This apparition (possibly a servant) seems to keep herself busy, making never-ending trips up and down the staircase ... in a vain attempt to complete her chores?
Virginia City is an old city with a violent history. We've heard now several first hand accounts of haunting experiences in this city. Are these locations harboring spirits from the past? Is Virginia City haunted? That is for you to decide!
Monday, January 16, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Pedro Mountains Mummy
In episode 175, we featured the little people tribes in America. Though many believe these tribes to just be legend, there was a discovery in 1932 that adds credence to the stories. Two men, Cecil Main and Frank Carr, were digging for gold in the San Pedro Mountains near Casper, Wyoming. They had been using pick axes and shovels to work a rich vein of gold and they were continuously being frustrated by just more and more rock. They decided to dynamite a section of the mountain to make the work go faster. The explosion revealed a cave that was 15 feet long and four feet high. The men explored the small cave and they discovered a 14" fully formed humanoid mummy. It appeared to be male and was sitting in a cross-legged position on a ledge. It was described as looking like an old man with a low and flat forehead, flat nose, heavy-lidded eyes and a wide mouth. Fingernails could clearly be made out and the head had a pliable jelly-like substance on top. Anthropologists declared it a hoax, but when they studied the mummy, they were shocked at what they found. X-rays revealed a manlike skeleton and it appeared he had been killed by a blow to the head that smashed part of the skull and damaged the spine. The jelly-like substance on top of the head was brain matter. They also found a mouth full of pointy canines. They estimated the skeleton belonged to a man 65 years old. The story gets a little murky here. Some stories say the exams were performed by the American Museum of Natural History and certified genuine by the Anthropology Department of Harvard University. Other stories claim the University of Wyoming conducted the research and found the body was that of a diseased child.The Pedro Mountains Mummy made its way into sideshows and then was purchased by a Casper businessman named Ivan T. Goodman. New York businessman Leonard Walder took ownership of the mummy after Goodman died. Walder died in the 1980s and the mummy has never been seen again, which certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Rio de Janeiro Discovered and Named
In the month of January, in 1502, Portuguese explorers landed at Guanabara Bay on the coast of South America and named it Rio de Janeiro. The name means River of January. The bay forms the opening of a river and so that is how Brazil's second largest city got its name. The French wanted to make a play for the area and so in 1565, two years of bloody battles began. Five hundred French colonists already occupied Villegagnon Island in Guanabara Bay under the leadership of Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon, so they had a strategic position to invade. The French lost and were debarred from the city. To protect from further invasions, the city was moved to a safer position on a hill, which was later named as Castle Hill. In 1568, a medieval citadel was laid out and sugarcane was planted all around the settlement. In 1660, the town became a seat of government and by 1763, the colonial capitol was transferred to Rio de Janeiro. In 1889, the city officially became the capitol of the republic of Brazil.
German Castle at Castle Park (Suggested by Becki Sturgeon)
Western Michigan was once an area of vast dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan. Mature forests attracted the timber industry in the early 1800s and during the Victorian era, the beauty attracted people to come live. One of those people was a German immigrant and he brought his love and inspiration of German castles to an area outside of Holland, Michigan, along Lake Michigan. He built a small replica of a German castle for his family. Castle Park developed around the castle as cottages were built for vacationers. The Castle became an Inn and now serves as a community center. And it would seem that one of the original family members chooses to hang out here in the afterlife. There are also some interesting legends related to this area of Lake Michigan. Join us for the history and hauntings of the German Castle at Castle Park.
The logging industry came to this area of Western Michigan in the early 1800s to harvest the vast forests and mill the trees into lumber. This lumber was shipped across Lake Michigan to Chicago via schooner to help build the city of Chicago. The trees were almost completely harvested and soon the area was just barren dunes. By the mid 1800s, the forests were regrowing and families started visiting on vacations. A Vermont militiaman received a land grant after the War of 1812 and this patch of land on Lake Michigan was that property. Edward J. Harrington purchased the property in 1863, then sold it to the Turner family who plated it for sale. Mr. Turner died and his widow remarried and no longer wanted the land. It then passed through the hands of six other owners before Emil Peiler bought it and sold it to Michael Schwartz.
Michael Schwartz was a German immigrant who came to America to escape Prussian militarism in the 1800s. He settled in Chicago and began buying properties. He soon was a very successful and very wealthy man. He moved to Michigan where he found a prime piece of real estate on Lake Michigan that was beautiful and isolated. He decided to build his family a German feudal castle and he did that in 1890. It was three stories and very Victorian. He felt like this estate would protect he and his wife and their 6 daughters and 2 sons from a corrupt and uncivilized world. Unfortunately, the kids were not crazy about moving away from city life. They were very unhappy and within two years, the family was moving out of their castle. They built a home in nearby Holland and never returned to the castle. It seems like a rather abrupt move and many have wondered why.
In 1893, Reverend John H. Parr was headmaster for the Chicago Prepartory School and he had taken a group of students on an outing to Macatawa Beach on Lake Michigan. The group happened upon the German Castle. Rev. Parr fell in love with the castle and bought it, opening it the following year as a summer camp for boys and girls. Parents would come to pick up their children and they would hang out for a while enjoying the area. This happened so often that soon the property was more of a family summer camp. The Parr Family saw how things were going and in 1896 the camp was closed and the castle was refurbished as an inn. They added rooms, expanded the sunrooms and built a lobby. The inn was not enough for the demand; however, and the Parrs started selling lots around the castle for families to build cottages. This came to be known as the Castle Club and the whole property was called Castle Park. It was a two day car drive from Chicago.
A hotel brochure from 1908 read, "Castle Park is a 40 acre tract, 1 & 1/2 miles south of Macatawa dock. The "Castle" is only a three minute walk from Lake Michigan, which has a hard beach with shallow water, giving superb bathing and boating. Here can be found real country life, steamer excursions to other resorts along the lake, visits to adjacent peach orchards, picnics on the magnificent beach and in the woods, tramps though fine forests, climbing wooded hills, tennis courts, free golf links and, above all, a delightful home atmosphere and good table. Several cottages are in the Park, most of the occupants eating at the Castle table. The average population of the Park in July and August is about 60. Board with room, per week, for one in room is $8.00 - two for $13.00. Board alone $5.00. Special rate to families."
Reverend Parr had a nephew named Carter Pennell Brown. He arrived at the castle from Chicago via Lake Michigan. During the passage, a horrible storm hit and steamship was lashed about. Carter's parents tied his baby buggy to a handrail in their steamship cabin. Carter loved the property and by the time he was twelve, he was working for uncle. His main duty was driving the wagon to the steamship dock at Macatawa. In 1917, the Parrs decided to retire and Carter, who was now twenty-three, took over Castle Park. He married his childhood sweetheart, Marion Wilke. The Carters planted the ivy that covers much of the castle and engaged in a large expansion of the castle and property. First, they doubled the capacity of the inn and added multiple fireplaces. They also built more cottages.
In 1922, a Greek ampitheater was built in a nearby natural dell and it hosted hundreds of plays and the annual "Castle Caper," which was a musical. Castle Park had its own depot where the electric cars of the interurban railroad would stop between Holland and Saugatuck. The interurban railway was an electric railway that featured streetcar-like light electric self-propelled railcars. By the year 1915, America had 15,500 miles of interurban railways. An interesting stat is that interurban railways were the fifth-largest industry in the United States at the height of their use. The Castle Park line brought electricity to the castle and cottages. The railway closed in 1926 and most of them were done in the United States by 1930. Extra amenities like a clay court tennis courts and a 9-hole golf course were added. They also started the Castle Park Amateur Horse Show. A Meeting House was built in 1958 for services. It was said of Carter, "Castle Park...its panache and its many pleasurable aspects are the direct result of Carter Pennell Brown's lifetime dedication. With the help of his delightful wife, he has given Castle Park its life and its spirit."
A former visitor said of the property, "I remember very well-manicured gardens around it during the late-60s and up to the late-70s. Herb gardens, boxwood hedges, etc. all gave a very English idea to what I now understand was supposed to be a Germanic castle. A wing to the castle had been added decades ago in order to accommodate the needs of the inn. The interior of the castle had some vestiges of being Victorian in nature. Much of it had been modified as large dining rooms, kitchens, etc. I visited the castle last year and found that the addition had been removed and the castle's exterior restored. The super English pub in the lower level appears to also have been restored."
During the sixties, Ambrose Holford was a professor of fine arts at the University of Tennessee. He was also a Castle Park cottage owner. He brought a large group of his most talented students up to the Castle to serve as the waiters and pixies, which was what they called the waitresses. The waiters lived in The Shack and the waitresses lived in the Hen House. These groups would put together incredible musicals and talent shows at the amphitheater. It was very Dirty Dancing-esque. In 1985, the eighty residents of the summer cottages at Castle Park decided to buy the castle and the inn was closed. The castle was restored to the original Victorian design and the additions were removed. The German Castle now serves as a library and bingo hall for summer residents of Castle Park. It is a private property and not open to the public and owned by the Castle Park Association.
There is a history of supernatural manifestations on the property. One of Michael Schwartz's daughters managed to get away to the nearby city of Holland at some point and she met a boy. As it goes with these stories, she fell madly in love, but her father forbade her having anything to do with any boy, especially this one in Holland. So the couple met secretly one night and eloped. Schwartz heard about it and tracked them down on the road, shotgun in hand. He threatened the couple and the daughter returned to the castle with her father and he locked her in one of the rooms. The heartbroken girl wept bitterly and glanced longingly out her window. She had lost the love of her life. The family was only here for two years, but somehow that daughter's emotions left an imprint on the castle. People claim to see the ghostly apparition of a female looking forlornly out a window of the castle.
One of the interesting things about the area where Castle Park is located is that it is along one side of a mysterious phenomenon known as the Lake Michigan Triangle. This Triangle's three points hit Manitowoc in Wisconsin, Ludington, Michigan across from that city and south to Benton Harbor, Michigan. Nearly 40 aircraft have just disappeared over this region. One of those was Northwest Flight 2501, which left New York in June of 1950 heading to Minneapolis and disappeared near Benton Harbor. Extensive searches turned up nothing. Not one piece of wreckage. A Soviet trainer jet disappeared during an air show near the triangle. People have evaporated into thin air as well. In April of 1937, the freighter O.M. McFarland was sailing towards Port Washington in Wisconsin with Captain George Donnor at the helm. He decided to retire to his cabin for bit. The ship soon passed through the Lake Michigan Triangle. The Captain had not returned from his nap by 6pm, so a crew member went to wake him. There was no answer to his repeated knocks. He tried the door handle and found it to be locked. Fearing that the Captain might be in distress, he got other crew members and they busted open the door. The Captain was not in his cabin. He was nowhere to be found on the ship. He had just disappeared. There are also numerous UFO sightings over the Triangle. So many in fact, that the FAA created a special lake reporting service to keep track of them all.
A little further north is the city of Muskegon and there is an African American legend told here about a Hoodoo Man. A family discovered that their woodpile had been raided in the middle of the night. As if that was not bad enough, whomever the thief was, he had relieved his bowels all over the spot where the woodpile had been. A nice little calling card, if you will. The family was irate and they called out a local Hoodoo man to help them catch the culprit. He arrived with a long nail and he stick the pointed end into the fecal matter. He then drove the nail into a nearby tree. He informed the family that they would soon know who the thief was because his intestines would be completely backed up and would remain so until the nail was removed from the tree. After a couple days, a local hospital had a man show up who was complaining of the worst constipation he had ever had and it was only getting worse. He was given a room. The family was satisfied that they had found their robber and that he had been punished enough, so they went to pull the nail from the tree. The problem was, someone had cut down the tree and dragged it off, and so it was impossible for the family to pull the nail from the tree. The wood-napper died a very painful death.
There are many legends in Michigan just as there are in every state in America. Is there something weird going on around and in Lake Michigan? Is Castle Park on the western shores of Michigan haunted? Is the German Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Moment in Oddity - The Little People of America
There are creatures described in the oral traditions of Native Americans that tell of tiny people eaters. These are little people that stood between 20 inches to three feet tall. These legends would seem to match up with European lore about fairies and leprechauns, but these tales date back before Europeans ever arrived in America. To the Shoshone Indians of Wyoming, this small race of people were known as the Nimerigar. These were an aggressive people who shot poison arrows from their tiny bows. It was said that they would kill their own if they were unable to be an active part of their community due to illness. The Comanche had the Nunupi, which were described as small bi-pedal humanoids with large heads and long arms. Some had long hair and some had no hair. They were described as mischievous. The Cherokee had the Yumwi and the Hawaiians have the Menehune. All of these little people are similar in attitudes and appearance. Were these just legends? Were these some kind of spirit as some native tribes believed? Were these Star People from the heavens? It would be easy to pass these stories off as legends, but skeletons of these little people have been found in several places in America. Cochocton, Ohio had a burial ground with numerous remains of a race of people measuring under three feet. Another graveyard in Coffee County, Tennessee held the remains of reputedly thousands of little people. A whole race of little people is unique, but the fact that they no longer exist, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Pol Pot Overthrown
In the month of January in 1979, Vietnamese troops seize the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and this topples the Khmer Rouge and the dictator Pol Pot. He had organized the Khmer Rouge in the Cambodian jungle in the 1960s. Their goal was to foment a Communist revolution. And if that meant killing people, they were willing to do so. They gained control of a third of the country by 1970 with the help of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. The United States bombed the Cambodian territory in 1973 and the power vacuum left behind was captured by the Khmer Rouge and by 1975 the pro-U.S. regime was overthrown and Pol Pot was in control. Pol Pot and his thugs spread like a cancer across Cambodia and killed two million Cambodians from 1975 to 1979. Intellectuals were killed. Skilled workers were killed. Anyone with glasses or a watch were killed. These atrocities are known today as the Killing Fields. It would take until 2009 for the first genocide trials to start.
Santa Maria Inn (Suggested by: Elliot Gladstone of Entwined Podcast)
Santa Maria is a town that lies strategically halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. This makes it an attractive stop over point for travelers. The Santa Maria Inn is a central coastal historical landmark that has provided accommodation for business people, tourists and celebrities for nearly one hundred years. Those celebrities include Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino and Jean Harlow. Other guests that have stayed here, have never left and remain after death. The hotel is reputedly haunted by several spirits and gives enough creeps that some people never want to stay again. One of those people is Elliot Gladstone of the Entwined Podcast and he joins us to talk about the history, hauntings and his experiences at the Santa Maria Inn.
Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to come to the Santa Maria area and they found the native Chumash tribe already there. The Spanish set up missions and two of them, San Luis Obispo founded in 1772, and La Purisima Concepcion, founded in 1787, bordered the Santa Maria Valley. These mission lands would be made available for private ownership after the Mexican War of Independence. Santa Maria was originally called Grangerville and then Central City and was founded by four men: Rudolph Cook, John Thornburgh, Isaac Fesler and Isaac Miller. These four men donated strips of land where their properties adjoined to lay out Central City in 1874. In 1882, the name was changed to Santa Maria because the town's mail kept ending up in Central City, Colorado. Huge fires ripped through in 1883 and 1884, but the town thrived as the Pacific Coast Railroad continued to bring in business. The turn of the 20th century brought oil discovery and the Santa Maria Valley would have produced $640 million worth of oil by the 1950s.
Frank J. McCoy was an American born in Ireland. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and moved to San Francisco in 1900. He came to the Santa Maria Valley in 1901 looking for work and he found it at the Union Sugar Plant. The plant extracted sucrose from sugar beets. A whole company town sprang up around the facility called Betteravia, which refers to the French word for beet root. About 350 lived there until the 1950s when the sugar company decided renting out homes was not something they were interested in doing anymore and by the 1960s most of the buildings had been razed in Betteravia. Atlas Obscura reports that "the site still boasts two enormous hermetically sealed silos, a more or less intact refinery building, and a towering furnace stack." McCoy left the company in 1916 after he noticed that the area really needed a hotel.
He built the original Santa Maria Inn, which only had 24 rooms at the time, in 1917. The property had highway frontage, so it was perfect for travelers. Each of the rooms had its own bath, which was a real luxury. McCoy planted gardens around the humble hotel and many of those original plantings are still a part of the Rose Garden today. Every room was supplied with fresh flowers every day. The main areas were decorated with McCoy's collection of copperware, pewter and artwork by California artists. In 1928, he expanded the hotel to 85 rooms. The Tap Room was designed by Edgar Cheesewright and added in 1941. This bar captured the atmosphere of an old English pub with peg plank wooden floors and rich wormwood paneling.
The rich and famous flocked to the hotel. Hollywood legends like Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplain, Rudolph Valentino, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford and Bob Hope all stayed here and many of the rooms are marked with stars and indicate which celebrity had once stayed in the room. Sports stars like Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio and the rich and political like Richard Nixon, William Randolph Hearst and Herbert Hoover also stayed here.
The hotel went to a nephew after McCoy's death and he added more rooms, a coffee shop and a swimming pool. By the 1970s things were going poorly and the inn closed. Highway 101 and faster cars that could travel farther in one trip had taken their toll. The inn was vandalized and antiques were stolen. It reopened in 1981 under new ownership and in 1984 the six story tower was added. The hotel thrives today with 164 rooms and boasts that it has the "comfort and style of the English countryside." The hotel has something else that is anything, but comforting and that are ghosts. The Santa Maria Inn is reputedly home to many ghosts, each coming from a very different walk of life.
The first ghost that has been reported belongs to the Hollywood silent film hunk, Rudolph Valentino. Valentino was known as the "Latin Lover." He was born in Italy in 1895 as Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguella. He was a poor student and a never-do-well. The family finally shipped him off to America to learn to be a man. He worked odd jobs in New York until he met and befriended a beautiful heiress. He found himself embroiled in scandal when this woman divorced her husband. She went on to kill her ex-husband. The whole situation degraded him and he changed his name to various parts of Rudolph Valentino and moved to Hollywood. He acted in the theater, while working odd jobs once again, which may have included some gigolo type work. He definitely worked as an exhibition dancer and we're not exactly sure what that meant.
He got bit parts in several movies, usually as a villain because he was darker complected. In 1921, he starred in "The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse," which was a critical success. It was the first film to make 1,000,000 at the box office and is the 6th best selling silent movie of all time. The silent film "The Sheik" would make him a huge star and he made more commercial movies after that gaining a rabid female following. Jack Dempsey said of Valentino, "He was the most virile and masculine of men. The women were like flies to a honeypot. He could never shake them off, anywhere he went. What a lovely, lucky guy." He was married twice and the second had to be annulled after it was discovered he was not divorced from his first wife, with whom he never consummated the marriage because she batted for our team. He eventually remarried the second wife,but they eventually divorced. He was heavily in debt and lived a hard life, which led to him having multiple ulcers in his stomach. Eventually, these ulcers perforated in 1926 and he lingered in excruciating pain for a little over a week, dying at the age of 31. Ten thousand people tried to attend his funeral.
During his Hollywood career, he stayed at the Santa Maria Inn in Room 221. He has been seen lying on the bed in the room and his indentation on the top of the covers is clearly seen. His favorite tactic seems to be knocking on doors, particularly of Room 221. We read several accounts of people being awakened by knocking on the door, some of them as negative reviews about the hotel where people are completely unaware that they may have experienced something supernatural. Elliot experienced this type of haunting during one of his stays.
The second most seen and experienced ghost at the inn belongs to a sea captain. His apparition dates back almost top the time of the hotel initially being built. The legend is that he was having an affair and his mistress murdered him. He is apparently attached to Room 210, so perhaps he was murdered in that room. He haunts other areas as well though. Activity felt in other areas that may be connected to him are icy chills in rooms. This is also something Elliot experienced. The gardens and cellars have activity, disembodied footsteps are heard, doors open and close on their own and a piano plays by itself. Unexplained perfume smells are also reported. A balloon once followed a housekeeper around, even following her downstairs.
The ghost of a woman known as Peppy has also been reported. This one we are not so sure about because she came through as a channeled spirit by a medium, which can be quite dubious. She claimed to be friends with the Hearsts and that she would stay at the Hearst Castle on occasion. She apparently was a cocaine addict and she died of an overdose. An Assistant Manager at the hotel claimed that the curtains in room 216 sometimes billow by themselves, even when the windows were closed. He also said that one could feel The Captain all around the inn.
TripAdvisor Reviews: "Stayed in the Jacuzzi Suite. Wouldn't have it any other way. Gorgeous Suite with Bay Window, Nice Views, Fireplace, Bedroom, Kitchenette, and Master Bath. Had to nosey around the 'haunted' rooms (older part of Hotel) where Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities have stayed. Saw a few 'strange' things happen like a vending machine working on its own and a fork and knife appear out of nowhere. We found it too funny rather than scary. Must say if there are ghost, they are very friendly."
"I have found out that Rudolph Valentino, a film star from the 20's, used to stay at the Inn regularly...and still does. He stayed in a room on the same floor that I stayed in when I went to the Inn in 2003. There have been numerous reports of similar experiences as mine. Apparently, it is said that Rudolph loves to lie down on the beds and that was what I felt when my body was held down on the bed by an unexplained pressure. There have also been accounts of Mr. Valentino sitting at the head of the bed."
After reading about experiences people have had and hearing from Elliot about his experiences, someone we know and trust, it really would seem that something strange is going on at this hotel. Does Rudolph Valentino's spirit remain in a room where he once stayed even though he died elsewhere? Does the ghost of a former sea captain still roam about in the afterlife? Is the Santa Maria Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!
Friday, January 6, 2017
Moment in Oddity - The Legend of Tamarlane's Curse
Suggested by: Michael Rogers
An expedition led by Tashmuhammed Kari-Niyazov and Mikhail Gerasimov began excavations in the Gur-Emir in June of 1941. The goal was to open the tomb of Tamerlane the Great. The only problem was, such a deed would unlock a curse. The men hoped to prove that this actually was the tomb of Tamerlane. They discovered remains of much of the family and then on June 19th, the heavy stone was removed from Tamerlane's tomb. Muslim clerics and local residents tried to stop the process. A scent was released with the opening of the tomb and people declared that it was the curse escaping, but the truth was that it was just the scent of the embalming oils. World War II was already underway, but many believe that it was not a coincidence that Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union without a declaration of war only two days after the tomb was opened. To back up the theory that the invasion was spurred by the curse, the Battle of Stalingrad was won by the Soviets and was a turning point in the war and this came a month after Stalin ordered the return of the remains of Tamerlane and his dynasty. They were buried again with full honors. Was a curse really at play during World War II? We'll never know, but the theory certainly is odd!
Haunted Deadwood (Suggested by Lindsay Heisel and Karri Roling)
Deadwood, South Dakota was a rough and tumble mining camp at its beginnings, but it soon became a bustling city built on the wealth of the gold found nearby. Western luminaries visited and are buried here. Natural disasters and destructive fires ravaged the city on several occasions, but like the little city that could, Deadwood always bounced back. Prohibition and outlawing gambling did not stop some of the illegal activities and opium dens, gambling halls, saloons and brothels thrived. Despite the city moving forward into the modern world, Deadwood is forever a permanent fixture in the lore of the American West. Many historic buildings still exist and Mt. Moriah Cemetery holds the remains of many famous western legends. The buildings and cemetery hold more than just history, spirits reputedly haunt many locations in Deadwood. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Deadwood, South Dakota!
In April of 1868, ownership of the Black Hills was signed over to the Lakota Sioux Nation via the Fort Laramie Treaty. As was the case with all U.S. Government and native tribes, that ownership would not last long. particularly when gold was discovered. The last major gold rush would come to the Black Hills in 1874. An expedition arrived in the area led by General George Armstrong Custer who was tasked with finding a good location for a fort. Two Prospectors came along and they discovered gold at French Creek, near the future Custer in South Dakota. Prospectors rushed for their chance to find some gold. Eventually, more gold was found in a nearby gulch and tents filled the sloped hills. The gulch was given the name Deadwood Gulch because the trees that covered the hillsides were dead pines. A town quickly grew up and in April of 1876, the city of Deadwood was officially laid out.
|Photo Courtesy of Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs|
Al Swearengen arrived in Deadwood in May 1876. He was great at running entertainment businesses, but he was a horrible man to women. He was married and divorced three times and all three women accused him of abuse. Within a week of arriving, Swearengen had set up a temporary dance hall. That hall was replaced with the Cricket Saloon. Prize fights between miners were set up here in a 5' x 5' space. On April 7, 1877, Swearengen opened the Gem Variety Theater, which was considered a very fine entertainment establishment. Performers ranged from singers and dancers to comedians and prize fights continued here as well. The theater provided a different type of entertainment as well. The main purpose was to serve as a brothel and it was one that no woman would want to ply her trade within. It gained a reputation for the debasement of women, which is not surprising considering that Swearengen was a wife beater.
Al Swearengen had a devious way of attracting women to come work for him. He would put out word to eastern hotels that he had a great opportunity for women to work as stage performers at the theater. He would buy a one-way ticket for interested women. It was only when they arrived that they realized that the kind of performing expected of them was not acting. They had no way to get home and they were stranded. They either worked for Swearengen or they were thrown into the street. They would be forced to dance with men for a dime and there were little curtained rooms behind the main theater for other forms of entertainment. The women were routinely beaten and many of the desperate ones committed suicide. It wasn't just Swearengen that beat them. The bouncers and Dan Doherty, the general manager, all participated in brutalizing the ladies. The girls were referred to as the Gem's "Painted Ladies." The Gem Theater and Saloon was a brutal place and bullets would fly. One of the prostitutes named Tricksie shot a man who beat her, in the head. He didn't die and a doctor stuck a probe in his head to figure out how he survived. He died thirty minutes later.
E.B. Farnum was a businessman and he was elected the town’s first mayor. He and the commissioners drew up the first city charter and established the town limits in 1876. Seth Bullock would become another well known resident of Deadwood and he arrived in August of 1876. He and a partner, Solomon “Sol” Star, opened Star and Bullock Hardware. They sold mining equipment, lumber and other supplies. Eventually Bullock would become Marshal and he and Swearengen would have multiple run-ins. The two men drew an imaginary line down the middle of Main Street. This is when the term "Badlands" came into use and that was left for Swearengen to run, while Marshal Bullock controlled upper Main Street. Bullock was a man that commanded respect and it was said that he had such "piercing gray eyes that his gaze could stop fights."
Bullock and Teddy Roosevelt were very good friends and when Teddy Roosevelt was elected Vice-President, he appointed Bullock as the first Forest Supervisor of the Black Hills Reserve. *Fun fact: 30 miners held a strike at the Keets Mine. The miners said they wouldn't budge until they got back pay. They were violating property rights and Marshall Bullock was tasked with taking care of the problem. He was very resourceful and bought sulfur in Chinatown. He lit it up and dropped it into the mine's air shafts. The miners came out sputtering and surrendered to the sheriff and his deputies. This may be one of the first uses of tear gas.*
The Gem Theater and Saloon caught fire in 1879, but was quickly repaired. On September 26th of that year, a fire rages through Deadwood destroying over 300 buildings and leaving 2,000 people homeless. A bakery on Sherman Street is where the fire originated. It took the citizens six months to rebuild and they decided to use more brick than wood this time around. The fire starts in a bakery on Sherman Street and quickly spreads through the boom town. Citizens rebuild the town in six months, replacing most of the wooden buildings with brick and stone structures.The Gem burned down again and was once again rebuilt. A third devastating fire in 1899 would finish the gem for good and Swearengen would leave town. He would end up murdered in Denver. The local paper referred to the Gem as a place of "harrowing tales of iniquity, shame and wretchedness; of lives wrecked and fortunes sacrificed; of vice unhindered and esteem forfeited, have been related of the place, and it is known of a verity that they have not all been groundless." Although it had been a place of entertainment for the miners and considered one of the finest theaters around, the press would continue to refer to the Gem as the "ever-lasting shame of Deadwood." The Mineral Palace Casino stands on the location today.
In 1894, Bullock and his partner Star would decide to try their hands at running a hotel. They wanted their place to be classy and upscale.They built it along Main Street, but it burned down shortly thereafter. They decided to rebuild, but in a better location. They chose to build their new place up and over a large, fireproof store and warehouse built in 1876, which had already survived two previous fires. The Bullock Hotel opened in 1896. It was built from pink and white sandstone in the Italianate style with a tin roof and there are three stories with 64 rooms. The rooms were steam heated and each floor had a bathroom. There was a parlor and library and the first floor featured a restaurant serving luxurious tastes. The downstairs was carpeted in red velvet and adorned with fine oak and fir wood trim. Brass chandeliers hung from the ceilings and there was a beautiful Steinway grand piano. Guest rooms had iron and brass beds with furniture made of oak. Future renovations would change the rooms from 64 to 28 as each had its own bathroom added and the actual rooms were expanded.
The hotel passed through various hands, but held onto the original furnishings until 1976 when the owners at that time, the Ayers family, decided to sell and they auctioned off the furniture. The Bullock was refurbished to its former glory in 1990. Many of the historic properties were bought up and refurbished at this time. The Historical Bullock Properties Company also bought the Homestake Mansion ( B& B), the Town Hall, which is now an inn, the Branch House and the Franklin Hotel. Gambling was brought to town and the revenue was used to renovate everything.
The Bullock is reputedly haunted by Seth Bullock. Bullock loved the hotel and died there in 1919 in room 211. Staff and guests both claim to have had paranormal experiences. The front desk keeps track of all the stories. The hallways on both the second and third floor have a heavy feeling and staff claim that if they are idle for too long that things start to move about and that they get a feeling that they are being watched. Showers turn off and on by themselves. Pictures taken in Room 211 show a white vapory mist above the bed sometimes. Bullock seems to be angry about slot machines in the lobby. The man who supervised the installation, stayed overnight in the hotel. Or at least, he tried to stay. In the middle of the night, he was awakened by a violent shaking from something he could not see. He was so terrified that he ran from the hotel and he would not stay there any longer. A female teller at the gambling check-in cage turned her back and her drink was thrown across the room and crashed to the floor. Children were taken in during a cholera outbreak and several succumbed to the disease. They are heard running the halls and like to arrange change by denomination. The hotel was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
A reviewer on TripAdvisor wrote, "Before we stayed at this hotel I read about most of the "paranormal" activity. I honestly do not believe in this and thought it would a fun place to stay. After my stay at the Bullock Hotel, I am now a believer! I was standing outside the door to our room (305) and I heard a male voice whisper to me, "CAN YOU HEAR ME?" I turned around and no one was on the floor but me! I freaked out! Needless to say, I didn't sleep much the last night we were there. When we returned home and developed pics, I do have a "mysterious blur" next to the Seth Bullock picture on the 3rd floor. The staff is AWESOME and very friendly and helpful! We love Deadwood and hope to return someday, but I think I may opt to sleep somewhere else simply because it totally freaks me out!"
The Lawrence County government decided that another boot hill cemetery needed to be built. In 1878, this cemetery was laid out by Deadwood's Masons, higher up on the hillside of a rough mountain top. This is a classic Victorian cemetery set in the northern Black Hills. They named it Mount Moriah Cemetery because in Masonic literature there is a line that reads, "Bury him on the hill west of Mount Moriah." Also, the Bible and Jewish Torah served as inspiration and that is represented in the road names in the cemetery. The cemetery gateway has several symbols on it representing the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Freemasonry, and the Star of David. Around 3,700 people are buried here. There is a mass grave for eleven men killed in a fire at a boarding house near the lumber mill where they worked and there is a children's section because so many died from typhus, cholera and small pox outbreaks. In 1879, Colorado Charlie Utter supervised as Wild Bill's remains were moved to a new burial site at Mount Moriah. Calamity Jane returned to Deadwood in 1903 and died in August. She was buried next to Wild Bill Hickok. Seth Bullock is buried in Plot 99. It is on a high trail to White Rocks above Mount Moriah. (There is a $1 entrance fee.) *Fun Fact: The American flag flies here 24 hours a day based on tradition.*
|Photo courtesy of Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs|
|Photo courtesy of Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs|
People who enter the cemetery immediately feel as though they are being watched. Two female employees were locking up one night and did their standard walk through to make sure that no one was left in the cemetery. They saw a couple of shadows and when they investigated to see what was causing the shadows, they found nothing. Full bodied apparitions of Chinese workers have been seen in the Chinese section of the cemetery. The interesting thing about this is that nearly all of the Chinese bodies were disinterred and shipped off to China for burial due to religious reasons. The front gates open and close on their own at times. Voices have been heard in the cemetery and sometimes it is multiple voices that seem to be carrying on a conversation.
Harris Franklin arrived in America as a poor Jewish boy and he died a multi-millionaire. He came to South Dakota with the Black Hills Gold Rush and made Deadwood his home. He opened up a successful liquor store and then became a prosperous cattleman. He was one of the most prominent in the west owning up to 30,000 head at one time. He built many things that modernized the town from a bank to a chlorination works to a smelter. Franklin heavily financed the building of the Franklin Hotel in 1903 and it bears his name. It was four-stories with 80 rooms.
Harris and Anna Franklin built a lavish turreted Victorian mansion in Deadwood on Van Buren Street in 1892. Deadwood had never seen a house like this at the time. It had indoor plumbing, electricity and a telephone. The mansion was bought later by the Adams family and is known as the Adams House. W.E. Adams died of a stroke in the house. His wife claimed that his spirit was still in the house and she would hear him walking on the second floor. When she left the house, she left everything in it and it sat empty of people for 50 years. It became a bed and breakfast and then a museum that can be toured. There are haunted tours in October. Visitors and employees have seen a rocking chair rock on its own. A shadow figure that appears to be male has been seen standing at an upstairs window. Disembodied footsteps and voices have been heard throughout the house.
The woman who became the director of the museum, Mary Kopco, in 1995, lived next to the Adams House and she claimed to see a thin man pacing on the second floor. She thought about calling the police to report an intruder, but decided to investigate herself. She found the house empty. The doors and windows were locked up tight. Another night, she arrived at the house and saw a light on inside. She figured an employee had left it on. She entered with a couple of visiting family members and they all heard footsteps coming from upstairs. They checked the house and found no one there. One Christmas, a tree that was decorated in Mrs. Adams room would have all the ornaments removed and laying on the floor in the morning when employees would open up the museum.
The Fairmont Hotel opened in 1895 as a Victorian Brothel, Bar and Gaming Hall. Ron Russo bought the building in 1989 and renovated the hotel. It is not a hotel anymore, but a casino with a restaurant and tours are offered. Dead Files, Ghost Adventures and Ghost Lab both featured this location and there seems to be several spirits here. Amy Allan and Steve DiSchiavi of The Dead Files experienced paranormal activity when they investigated, particularly on the third floor. There was a spirit they identified as "Grumpy Man." It is thought that this is the spirit of a man named Henry whose girlfriend died of syphilis in the brothel. Another prostitute named Maggie threw herself from a third floor window when her boyfriend left her. People are touched by unseen entities on this floor as well. An apparition of a man in a black frock coat and top hat has been seen by patrons in the bar area. And the spirit of a young boy has been seen too near the Oyster Bay Restaurant. The original Saloon No. 10 where Wild Bill Hickok was shot is right next door. The chair he was sitting in is on display down Main Street at a re-creation of the saloon called Old Style Saloon No. 10.
Deadwood is a window into the wild west past of America. It had it all here from a gold rush to gambling to brothels to gunfights. That spirit carries on today as do some of the spirits from that era. Is the town of Deadwood haunted? That is for you to decide!