Tuesday, July 18, 2017
HGB Ep. 212 - Preston Castle
Moment in Oddity - The Taos Hum
Taos, New Mexico is nestled in the middle of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The city has a long history that is culturally and spiritually rich. Many claim that the town itself is quite mystical and one of the features that backs up this claim is a phenomenon known as the "Taos Hum." Some even call this the "mountain song." Ancient lore from the area claims that the land itself is creating the sound as a way to reset the pattern of harmony like a harmonic convergence. Waterfalls cascade down the peak of El Salto and tribal peoples have considered it to be a holy mountain offering its singing waters. Caves behind the waterfalls catch the noise of the cascading water and then echo that sound. A famous healer known as Giovanni Maria Agostini Justiniani visited El Salto in the 1800s and he wrote that he heard the singing waters of the mountain and this included seven distinct notes on the musical scale. Only about 2% of the population can detect the low frequency humming sound and for those who don't believe that the mountain is singing, there are a variety of explanations put forward that include it being residue from secret experiments at nearby Los Alamos, New Mexico, electromagnetic vibrations emitted by Taos Mountain, alien spacecraft or top secret military planes. Whatever is causing it, people who can hear it either claim that it gives them peace or drives them nuts by disturbing sleep and causing headaches and nosebleeds. In 1993, some of the most prestigious research institutes in the nation sent scientists to figure out what was causing the noise. Despite all those big brains and state-of-the-art equipment, they were unable to find the source of the noise and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Ida B. Wells Born
In the month of July, on the 16th, in 1862, Ida B. Wells was born to slaves in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Wells was a fearless anti-lynching crusader, suffragist, women's rights advocate, journalist, and speaker. When she was only 14 years-old, her parents and a sibling were killed by a Yellow Fever epidemic. She took over responsibility for raising her remaining five siblings by becoming a teacher. She managed to attend Rust College and she moved to Memphis to help an aunt finish raising her youngest sisters. It would be in the city of Memphis where her fight for gender and racial justice would begin and the scene would be aboard a train. Long before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, Ida did so on a train in 1884. Plessy v. Ferguson had not yet happened, but racial segregation was already taking place. And even though the Civil Rights Act became law in 1875 and banned discrimination on the basis of race, creed, or color, in theaters, hotels and public transportation, railroad companies were racially segregating their cars. Wells was sitting in the ladies car when a white man came up to her and demanded that she give her seat to him. She refused, so the conductor came and told her to move to the crowded smoking car, which was where black passengers were forced to ride. Wells describes what happened in her own words, "I refused, saying that the forward car [closest to the locomotive] was a smoker, and as I was in the ladies' car, I proposed to stay. . . [The conductor] tried to drag me out of the seat, but the moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand. I had braced my feet against the seat in front and was holding to the back, and as he had already been badly bitten he didn't try it again by himself. He went forward and got the baggageman and another man to help him and of course they succeeded in dragging me out." Wells was kicked off the train and she hired an attorney to sue the railroad. She won at first, but an appeal at the Supreme Court overturned the ruling. After that, she worked tirelessly to overturn injustices against women and people of color. She died on March 25, 1931 and is buried at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.
Preston Castle (Suggested by listener Pam Ennis)
Perched on a hill above the town of Ione in California is a menacing and haunting castle-like structure that once was a reform school. The Preston Castle was an ambitious plan to get juvenile deliquents to become contributing members of the community. But as was the case with so many of these types of places that were built in the late 1800s and run through the early 1900s, abuse, overcrowding and death were commonplace. The emotional residue of this location seems to have led to haunting experiences. Pam Ennis, Case Manger for Pacific Coast Spirit Watch, joins us to share the history and some of her paranormal experiences at Preston Castle.
This area was inhabited by the Sierra Miwok People originally. They are a hunter/gatherer group that are known for their basket construction. Coyote is their ancestor and creator god and the Miwok are said to have the most extensive record of legends and myths of all native peoples in California. Ione was founded when the Gold Rush brought miners and explorers to California. The town became a supply center and miners dubbed it Bedbug. No one is sure exactly how it got the name Ione, but the most common tale that is told is that a prospector Thomas Brown named it around 1849 after one of the heroines in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's drama "The Last Days of Pompeii." Even after the gold rush was over, the town continued to grow and prosper.
The land where Preston Castle sits was once owned by the Ione Coal & Iron Company. They donated 100 acres of the original 230 acre parcel to the Preston School of Industry that was established by the California Legislature. The rest of the land was sold for $30 per acre. The cornerstone of the main administrative building was laid on December 23, 1890. The architecture is done in the Romanesque Revival style and sandstone bricks made at San Quentin and Folsom prisons were used in the construction. When completed, there were over seventy rooms that included dorms, a dining room, laundry, kitchen, pantry, furnace room, storerooms, reading room, library, a school room and bathrooms.
On June 13, 1894, the first wards were accepted at the Preston School of Industry, but the official open was on July 1, 1894. The next year, a water wheel called a Pelton Wheel was installed and the building had electricity. The Preston School of Industry closed in 1960 and the building remained vacant and falling into disrepair until 2001. The Preston Castle Foundation received a fifty-year lease for the property at that time and then ownership in 2014. The Preston Castle has also been named a California State Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
During the time it was open, abuse and death occurred. Forms of punishment ranged from loss of privileges to isolation to starvation to public paddling and lashings. There are 17 men buried in the cemetery on the property. Most died from diseases like Yellow Fever and Consumption, but one was shot during an escape attempt. Samuel Goins was a convicted burglar and he arrived at Preston School in July 1918. He tried to escape several times and it was during his third attempt that Preston guard John Kelly shot Samuel in the back. A female died on the property and her name was Anna Corbin. She was the head housekeeper and her body was found raped and beaten to death in the basement.
The Preston Castle not only looks creepy, it has some haunting stories connected to it. There are reports of slamming doors, cold spots and full-bodied apparitions. EVPs and disembodied screams have been recorded as well. The spirit of the murdered Anna Corbin is one of the most often seen at Preston Castle. The cemetery is reputedly haunted and much of the activity in the building are thought to be mostly residual.
Preston Castle has a bleak history that has left a psychical residue that seems to feed the supernatural. Or is it just human nature for us to enter a dark and old building and feel as though spirits are at unrest? Is Preston Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!