Thursday, May 28, 2020

HGB Ep. 338 - Old Tailem Town

Moment in Oddity - Solid Gold Buddha Discovered
Suggested by: Jannae McCabe

Buddhism is a religion that has been practiced all over the world for centuries. It is based on the teachings of Buddha who was actually a man born into royalty and wealth. He went off to find the meaning of life and ended up renouncing his former life and becoming a poor monk. To honor Buddha, many statues have been made and placed at various sites. Some are large and others are tiny. One of the largest is a 9 foot tall, 5.5 ton statue known as the Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon. Today, it sits on an altar at the temple of Wat Traimit, Bangkok, Thailand. Scholars believe it was made in India and features an egg-shaped head that is the style from the 13th and 14th century and has long earlobes representing his royal birth. A flame at the top of its head represents spiritual energy. For many years before arriving at this temple, the statue, which was covered in stucco, sat outside underneath a tin roof. In 1955, it was decided to move the Buddha inside of a new building in Bangkok. Unfortunately, during the process, the Buddha was dropped and that is when an amazing discovery took place. The Buddha was not made from stucco. The stucco had been placed on the exterior probably to hide what the Buddha was actually crafted from and that was 18-karat solid gold. This all happened near the 2,500 year anniversary of Buddha's death and followers believed this was a miracle. Miracle or not, finding solid gold hidden beneath a stucco exterior, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Relief of Mafeking

In the month of May, on the 16th, in 1900, Mafeking was relieved. The Siege of Mafeking started in October of 1899 and lasted for 217 days. Mafeking was a town in South Africa and this battle took place during the Second Boer War. The Second Boer was fought between the British Empire and the independent Boer states of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. They wanted to break free of British influence in South Africa. The real fight was over diamonds and gold found in the Boer states. The son of the British prime minister was in the town during the siege, which made it even more prominent. The British commander was Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, whom everyone referred to as B-P, and he had 2,000 men under him. The Boers had the upper hand and cut off the railways lines into the town. They hoped to starve out the British troops and the 7,500 black Africans in the town. Many of the Africans tried to flee the town, but they were either shot or captured and flogged and sent back. By the beginning of May, word was received that a British flying column would be coming. The Boers made a final push to take the town on May 12th led by Officer Sarel Eloff. He pushed in, but had some of his men retreat whom he shot. He was overtaken and surrendered and remarkably, Colonel B-P invited Eloff to dinner. The British relief arrived on May 16th and the siege was ended. The British had been having a tough time during the Boer War and this lifted the spirits of the British and Colonel B-P was declared a hero.

Old Tailem Town (Suggested by: Jenni Watt)

South Australia is said to be the most haunted state in Australia and within that state is said to be one of the most haunted locations, Old Tailem Town Pioneer Village. This is a unique, man-made village in Tailem Bend that is a compilation of buildings, old cars, antiques and artifacts. There is so much history reflected in these elements, but there is something else as well. Spiritual energy radiates from the buildings and many visitors have stories of unexplained experiences. Add to this that this is a favorite spot for paranormal investigators and it's not hard to believe that there may be hauntings going on here. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Old Tailem Town.

South Australia wasn't colonized until 1836 and when it was founded, it was the first area not settled as a penal colony. This was a free state. We featured Kangaroo Island on a previous episode and this was the first area in South Australia settled by Europeans and it was the Dutch who first mapped the coastal area. But indigineous people had been here for over 20,000 years and the Kaurna people were here when the settlers came. They had called this Tarndanyangga, which means "place of the red kangaroo." Tailem Bend is about an hour east of Adelaide and is thought to have gotten its name from the Ngarrindjeri word "Thealem," which means bend. Donald Gollan was one of the first settlers here and he had name his property "Taleam" probably inspired by the Aboriginal word. The town of Tailem Bend grew once the south line railway was laid through the area in 1886. The town was incorporated in 1887. This became a heavily agricultural area. It would be here that the Old Tailem Town Pioneer Village would be set up.

Old Tailem Town is Australia's largest pioneer village and was founded in 1982. Now you might be wondering how a village could be described as "pioneer" when it was founded fairly recently. That would be because many of the 116 buildings here date back to pioneer times and the town is supposed to reflect life in the mid-1800s through to the mid-1900s. This really does have an old feel with dirt streets and posts for tying off your horse. Similar to Old Town Spring in Texas that we featured in Ep. 254, these buildings were moved to this one location from many different places. A man named Peter Squires wanted to build a ghost town, but he wanted it to be authentic with REAL old buildings. Many of these buildings are over 100 years old, with the oldest dating back to 1895, and they are filled with antiques. Many people claim that they are full of ghosts as well. There are stories of people being touched by things they cannot see and sometimes people do see these things and they appear as shadow figures. As if spirits don't make things creepy enough, these buildings are full of mannequins too. We should also point out since we like to start by researching the actual land, that there were seven deaths on the property before it became the pioneer village.

Wonderview Theater

Wonderview is the name of the old cinema in the town. It's built from yellow clapboard with a corrugated tin roof. And it's important to point out this distinction because the corrugated tin roof is an Australian icon. THIS is the number one indicator that you are looking at an Australia home or building...minus the whole actually being in Australia thing. And well, you know we need to dive down that rabbit hole! The corrugated metal roof was invented by British architect and engineer Henry Palmer. This material was made from hot-dipped galvanized iron that was then cold rolled to make the grooves. This gave the material more strength and obviously helps protect against wet weather as the water rolls off of it. It wouldn't be until the 1880s that Australia would start using it in home construction. Corrugated metal was easy, fast and cheap to fabricate. And resisted corrosion. The tin roof is said to be "the building material that made the bush." And now let's crawl out of the hole and check out this theater. This is a small theater with seating for maybe 50 people, an old film projector and a fairly small screen, about the size of some of your big screen smart televisions.

The Bent Elbow Hotel

The Bent Elbow Hotel not only has a corrugated roof, but the outer walls are also covered in the corrugated tin. This was originally a personal home that was fairly large. The bathroom has old fixtures and bear claw tub. There is a bar set-up inside and several dining areas. Alison has done some mirror scrying in this location and she said one time she was in here investigating with a girl and when she looked in the mirror, she saw a man that she described as having high cheek bones, a mustache and a part down the middle of his hair. She was so scared by seeing this face covering over her own reflection that she ran out of the hotel crying. Three weeks later, another group was investigating the Emporium and they saw a man look in the window that matched the description of this man perfectly. No one had told them of the mirror incident before that. The Emporium is right next door to the hotel. Children have been heard laughing in here, as well as the sound of disembodied footsteps.

The School

The school is fairly small as well with individual desks. Adelaide Haunted Horizons decided to do an experiment in here with a ghost box and it was really cool. Here is the link to the video: Alison and another guide named Ash decided to play teachers. They each help a small cane and they said they were going to ask some mathematical questions of the spirits. If they got the wrong answers, they were going to cane one of the guests on the hand. They asked what 1 + 1 equaled and the spirit box said five, so they gave the guest a little swat on the hand. They asked 2 + 2 and the box said four, then they asked 3 + 3 and it said six. Then they tried 4 + 4. This one took a little bit, but clear as day, the box says eight. Then they switched to the alphabet and asked for the fourth letter of the alphabet and they got the answer "D."

Bells Emporium

This place is creepy as hell, just full of old things and lots of mannequins. As a matter of fact, Alison claimed that she has had mannequins thrown at her when she is in the building. She told Amy's Crypt that it is her least favorite building on the property. She dislikes going inside to investigate. The Emporium is not just one long store brought from another property, it is actually three separate homes that Peter knocked the walls out of and put together, so they now make one long store. Alison believes that the hauntings going on with the Emporium are actually connected to one of the homes and not the property. That energy is negative and seems to have an abusive quality to it with the male spirit haunting the building and not liking women. Amy set up three EMF detectors in here and the middle lit up to red when she asked the spirit to light it up to red. It continued to go off several times, lighting up to red. Later, you could hear footsteps in a further room. You could hear them several times. And then there were many loud bangs and some tapping. Of course, there could have been an animal or something making those noises, but the footsteps were intriguing.

The Church

The Advertiser ran an article featuring an interview with Alison Oborn who is a paranormal researcher and co-founded South Australia's Paranormal Field Investigators team and runs Haunted Horizons Ghost Tours. Once when they were investigating Old Tailem Town she saw shadowy figures inside the church at the pioneer village and she saw a full-bodied apparition while giving a tour. The spirit came in through one of the doors and she watched it walk through the church. Alison says that this building is the most active on the property. On another tour, she had a woman take on the persona of a small child. Alison did some research on the property and found out that a small child, aged five, did drown on the property in 1919. Could this have been the child that this woman seemed to be possessed by? On another occasion, guests saw the figure of a small child in one of the doorways. Alison has taken to calling the child Ian.

This church is the Wolseley Methodist Church that was established in 1900. The inside is not very big and there are two rooms. There is the main sanctuary and then a back storage room. The pews are simple wooden slat pews and there is a small table that serves as an altar and a pulpit with a male mannequin standing in it. One issue that might be contributing to the hauntings here is that there is a cemetery next to the church, but it isn't real. Meaning no bodies are buried here. But the headstones are real and were moved from their former burials.

A local news station went on the tour one evening with a group and captured some interesting things on camera while in the church. Alison told the group that people have seen a male apparition in the church. Either this spirit or someone else messed with a couple people in the group. One was a woman with long blonde hair. She started to get visibly uncomfortable and claimed that she felt something touching her hair. Her boyfriend, who was sitting next to her, put his arm around her shoulders. And then there is a bang and the boyfriend moves his arm quickly as though something hit it or the chair behind them. A little after that, another guy in the group had something grab at his arm and he jumped back and said that he felt something very cold touching his arm forcibly. This guy had been a skeptic, but he said he wasn't skeptical after that.

Amy's Crypt set up some tools in the church during her investigation. One of them is a music box that gets triggered in a similar way as a REM pod and Amy describes it as being a motion sensor. The music box began to play and light up. She asked the spirit to step away from it and about 30 seconds after that it stopped for a moment and their ovelisk said the word "Students." The schoolhouse is right next to the church. Then the music box started up again, but it played in a stuttered kind of way, turning off and on repeatedly. For the music box to stutter in this way, it means that something is stepping in front of it and then back or crossing back and forth repeatedly. We envision a ghost being fascinated by this gadget and playing with it. Maybe a child? The group also had a REM pod that started going off after the music box. The ovelisk also said the word "pray," which seems relevant since this is a church. They placed a flashlight on the altar and it lit up about halfway through their investigation and stayed lit. There were some knocking and tappings too. One thing we definitely noticed was that the spirit or spirits were not what we would call interactive. They never responded to requests.

I watched another video recorded about eight years ago during a ghost tour that Alsion was leading. She was telling the group about a weird ball of light that had appeared and moved about the church. All of a sudden there a tiny light anomaly that appeared to be floating around Alison's head. It wasn't the kind of light that a flashlight would throw. It was misshapen and had a luminescent look to it. It lasted for just maybe 15 seconds. Another video made during a tour has several of the guests saying that they are feeling cold spots and then everyone gasps and jumps and looks to the back of the church indicating to us that they are having a shared, audible experience. It sounded like somebody was coming into the church. And then it happens again a few minutes later and it definitely sounds like somebody opening the door. Then someone felt their hair being touched. During another tour, a man in one of the pews is filmed jumping as though startled and when asked what happens, he claims that something hit his hand so that it bounced off the pew in front of him and when they replayed the tape, you would definitely see his hand that was just dangling, suddenly flinging forward and he seemed legitimately startled.

There are many other buildings here from a Blacksmith Shop to an Auto Repair Shop to a bank to undertaker and other out buildings. Not many of these buildings have haunts connected to them. There are spirits that seems to roam the streets all over like one that people have taken to calling Ted. There are incidents that happen on the streets too like a tour guest who was scratched on the neck leaving behind visible marks.

Deanna Turner-Reid tells of her experience at Old Tailem Town on the Adelaide Haunted Horizon website, "During our visit to Tailem Town on Saturday night (hosted by the fabulous team from Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons) my partner and I split from the main group and went with Anna to start investigating the Church. Not too long after we started my partner Adam had the sensation that his airways were being cut off. He started coughing and his voice went scratchy. The feeling soon subsided and we continued on our investigation. A little time later Anna and I both saw a dark solid figure in the backroom of the church. A little time later I saw at the back of the church a tall dark figure but only the waist up. Definitely a male build and in the same area as a dark figure was seen on Easter weekend. I looked directly at ‘him’ and when i turned my torch on… he was gone. Sometime later when Alison went looking for her car keys, I joined her on a walk around the town to try and find them. We heard footsteps several times, voices, and even a whistle as if calling a dog. I also had the feeling that there was someone walking towards us and as if I had to move out of the way or I’d walk into them. Then sometime later again when we were all in the church. We were talking about the dark figure in the back of the church and whether it was an angry spirit or not when I started getting extremely hot, and started feeling very angry toward…s everyone and a feeling of disdain towards them. When my partner asked me if I heard the noise behind us and everyone was talking about it I had the strong feeling that I wanted to tell them all that they were a ‘bunch of ****ing idiots” which is certainly not in my nature or something that I would normally feel in that sort of situation. It took leaving the church for the feeling to go away."

Many claim that this old man-made pioneer town is the most haunted location in South Australia. Is Old Tailem Town haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Adelaide's Haunted Horizons:

Thursday, May 21, 2020

HGB Ep. 337 - French Lick and West Baden Springs Resorts

Moment in Oddity - Fake Hero Dog
Suggested by: Darren Koch

Dogs are great aren't they? They are loyal companions and smart too! Maybe too smart sometimes. Back in the early 1900s in Paris, there was a really clever Newfoundland. These are really big dogs, so it's not hard to believe that a Newfoundland could pluck a child from a river to save him or her from drowning. And that's just what happened on a particular day in 1908. This dog heard the cries of a child who had fallen into the Seine and was drowning. He jumped a hedge and plunged into the water and pulled the child to the shore. The child's grateful parents rewarded the dog with a nice juicy beefsteak. Two days after this amazing rescue, another child had fallen into the river and was drowning. The Newfoundland was off to the rescue once again and was rewarded with another beefsteak. A few days later, another child had fallen into the river and thankfully, the brave dog conducted another rescue. The people of the town were concerned at this point. This was not normal to have so many children falling into the river this close together. They assumed that a criminal was pushing the children, so they set up a sting to catch the culprit and they were shocked when they caught him. It was the dog! He figured out after the first rescue that a drowning child pulled from the river equaled a beefsteak. When he saw a child near the river, he would push the child in and then promptly rescue him or her. A hero dog that turns out to be a fake because he is causing the emergency, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - American Airlines Flight 191 Crashes

In the month of May, on the 25th, in 1979, the worst domestic air crash in U.S. history occurred. This was American Airlines Flight 191 that had taken off from Chicago-O’Hare International airport heading for its destination in Los Angeles. The plane was a DC-10 with 271 souls aboard. Flight 191 took off in its usual way and was banking into its takeoff rotation when the left engine separated from the left wing. This separation sliced into hydraulic fluid lines and as the engine flew over the top of the wing and back down to the runway, it damaged the left wing. This caused the plane to be unbalanced and it inverted with the wings past the vertical position and the nose dipped below the horizon. The plane crashed down into a field about a half-mile from the runway. This killed on 271 people on board the plane and also two people in a nearby trailer park. An investigation revealed that the engine had undergone some recent maintenance and the use of forklift to hold the engine and then return it back to its position on the wing had caused damage that resulted in the engine breaking away during takeoff. It took 32 years before a permanent memorial was made and a sixth grade class from Decatur Classical School in Chicago raised the money in 2009. The memorial was dedicated in 2011 and features the names of the victims on interlocking bricks on a 2-foot high concave wall. Last year, 2019, a special remembrance ceremony was held because it was the 40th anniversary of this tragic crash.

French Lick and West Baden Springs Resorts (Suggested by: Danielle Daniels)

When it comes to gorgeous hotels, the French Lick Springs Resort is at the top of the list and is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Indiana. Just a mile away is an even more impressive resort, the West Baden Springs Resort. This hotel was once considered one of the eighth wonders of the world. Both of these resorts shared mineral springs that were believed to have healing qualities and they both are considered two of the most haunted locations in Indiana. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the French Lick and West Baden Springs Resorts!

French Lick is a town in southern Indiana that became well known for its mineral springs. The town was originally called Salt Spring and it started as a French trading post. The name eventually changed to French Lick most likely because this had started out as a French property and there were mineral licks nearby. Apparently, back at that time, French Lick didn't have the same giggle-inducing effect. *Fun Fact: This is Larry Bird's home town* Just as was the case for Manitou Springs that was the topic of our last episode, a doctor came through the area and realized the benefits of the mineral springs there. His name was Dr. William Bowles and in 1845, he built the French Lick Springs Hotel. This original hotel was made from wood and stood three stories. He attracted hundreds of people to come from all around to partake of the healing waters of the nearby springs. In 1897, everything almost went bust when the springs dried up in a drought. Then a fire burned down the Hotel Windsor on the property.

The French Lick Hotel that stands today was built by Mayor Tom Taggart. He bought the property with a small group of investors in 1901. He put yellow French Lick brick over the wood frame. There are several architectural styles represented here with the main hotel being the Free Classic subtype of Queen Anne Victorian. There are also 19th and 20th century Revival Italian Renaissance stylings and the golf shop is a Craftsman bungalow. Architect W. Homer Floyd designed the hotel. The foundation is limestone with brick, wood, asphalt, terra cotta and metal for the walls and roof. The main building is built in a T-shape with 471 rooms. One step inside the two-story lobby and you are mesmerized. The word "gorgeous" barely does it justice. There were originally Victorian influences, but these were exchanged for the Italian Renaissance and the floors are Italian marble mosaic. There are several structural pillars and pilasters that are painted either white or painted to look like marble. There are ceiling beams embellished with dentils and modillions. Much of this dates back to a renovation done in 1911.

There is so much to the property with the main hotel building and other outbuildings and gardens, that it took 95 pages for the National Park Service to describe everything. The hotel also has a golf course that was originally designed by Donald Ross. There was a wood framed casino and bowling alley that have been demolished. Taggart was able to bring more people to the resort after convincing the Monon Railroad to build a track that made daily runs from Chicago right to the hotel. There was also a trolley line added and Taggart is responsible for bringing electricity to French Lick. He also started his own mineral springs water bottling company he called Pluto Spring and began distributing the French Lick spring water nationally. They were shipping 450 car loads on the rail lines every year. One of the taglines of the Pluto water as "When Nature Won't...Pluto Will" describing its laxative affect. There are several springs in the area and each seems to have its own mix of elements reflected in its name. For example, the Lithia Spring contains lithium oxide. *Fun Fact: Chef Louis Perrin created the first tomato juice drink in 1917 when the resort ran out of oranges and couldn't serve orange juice.*

Diane has never golfed, but Kelly used to go with her dad many times. One of the things that French Lick became well-known for is golf. Taggart hired golf course architect Tom Bendelow to design the resort's first championship golf course. They named it Springs Valley Golf Links Course and it was completed in 1910. Seven years later, golf architect Donald Ross built the second course here and it was called French Lick Springs Golf Course. This is most commonly referred to as The Hill Course. In 1924, the PGA Championship was held at this course.

We like to talk about the Roaring Twenties, at least until Covid -19 hit, and the hotel had it's own roaring feel during that decade with guests like the Rockefellers, the Studebakers sports legends, the Vanderbilts, movie stars like Lana Turner and gangsters all staying at the hotel. Before there was a Las Vegas, illegal gambling was going on in the Springs area. Taggart didn't like gambling, but he enjoyed the benefits he received from it and he protected it. Taggart died in 1929 and his son Thomas D. Taggart, Jr. took over and kept things going. The French Lick Springs Hotel rose to prominence in the 1930s when Taggart Jr. became the Democratic National Chairman and in 1931, the hotel hosted the Democratic Governor’s Conference. It would be here that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would drum up support for the party’s presidential nomination and he was elected in 1932. Taggart Jr. also hosted President Truman and his wife at the hotel.

The French Lick Hotel was sold on Nov. 29, 1946 to a syndicate out of New York City. Not long after this, the police raided the hotel and shut down the illegal gambling. This was called the Derby Weekend Raid on illegal gambling. The derby part referred to the Kentucky Derby and guests arrived back to the hotel after the festivities to find the hotel chained and padlocked. The Sheraton Corporation bought French Lick in 1955 and they remodeled, so they could target convention business. The changes they made were ugly to say the least as they covered the beautiful mosaic floors with black and white linoleum square tiles and carpet. The ornate plaster cornices were covered up too. Sheraton sold the property in 1979 to the Cox Hotel Corporation of New York. And this would be the case for years with the hotel changing ownership over and over. There would be a time in the 1980s when villas were added as part of timeshare packages.

Thankfully, Luther James had the winning bid at an auction of French Lick in 1991. He launched a restoration shortly thereafter to return the hotel to its glory days and updated all the guest rooms. When he was nearly done, he sold it to the Boykin Lodging Group in 1997 and they finished the refurbishment. The next ownership would begin in 2005, but we'll wait to tell you about that because this same person bought the West Baden Springs Resort at the same time and we haven't told you about that hotel yet. This hotel was built in 1850 by Dr. John Lane and is about a mile away from the French Lick Resort. The West Baden was originally called the Mile Lick Inn and it served the same purpose of bringing people to come bathe in and drink the healing mineral water of the springs. The name was later changed to West Baden Springs after the famous mineral springs in Wiesbaden, Germany. Dr. Lane sold the property to Lee W. Sinclair in 1888. Sinclair made several additions including a couple of golf courses, ball field, a church, opera house and double-decker horse and bicycle track. On the inner part of the track, Sinclair added a baseball field and tennis courts.

The grand hotel that stands today with the world's largest free-span dome was not the original hotel. That burned to the ground in 1901, so Sinclair built this better one and modeled it after spas found in Europe with the help of architect Harrison Albright of West Virginia. Because of that spectacular dome, this has been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Incredibly, the hotel and dome were built in less than a year using techniques that were used to build suspension bridges. That dome wasn't the only big thing about the West Baden. The fireplace in the lobby could burn 14-foot logs inside and there was a 220-foot diameter atrium. *Fun Fact: That atrium was large enough to host the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus one year.* (1918 train fire in Hammond, Indiana.) The hotel opened for business in 1902. Major league baseball teams would train here and the Chicago Cubs did that on their two runs to winning the World Series in 1907 and 1908. And my, how long it took to get back to that. Perhaps they should've trained there all along.

Lee Sinclair died in 1916 and the business passed on to his daughter, Lillian, and her husband . The hotel was leased to the military as a hospital during World War I. Lillian and her husband did some renovations after this that cost more than they expected and in 1923 they sold the hotel to Ed Ballard. And while the French Lick Resort was maneuvered deftly by Taggart Jr. through the Great Depression, the same would not happen for the West Baden. When the Stock Market crashed in 1929, the hotel emptied out almost overnight. Ballard was draining money fast and wanted to unload the property, which is just what he did. He sold the grand hotel to the Jesuits, the Society for Jesus, for...$1. The turned the hotel into a seminary and removed many of the elegant embellishments, including the four Moorish towers. They called the seminary the West Baden College and it would stay that way until 1962 when the Jesuits abandoned the property and it sat empty until 1966 when a Michigan couple bought the property and donated it to the Northwood Institute, a private college. They operated until 1985 and sold to a real estate developer who shortly thereafter declared bankruptcy and this left the property in limbo for years with litigation.

Even though the West Baden Resort managed to get listed on the National Historic Landmark register, there was no one taking care of it and the elements hit it hard. Things became so unsafe that the public was banned from entering starting in 1989 and by 1991, a portion of the exterior wall had collapsed. There was a real danger of demolition, but Indiana Landmarks stepped in to save the property and they managed to stabilize it enough to attract buyers. Minnesota Investment Partners would be that next buyer in 1994 and they optioned it to Grand Casinos Inc. But it wouldn't be until 2005, that the French Lick and West Baden would come together under joint ownership and both be developed back into the gorgeous properties that they are today. Bill and Gayle Cook and their son Carl under their partnership Cook Group, Inc. bought both properties and they invested multi-millions of dollars to renovate. This endeavor had actually started earlier when Indiana Landmarks initially started the stabilization. The Cooks funded that with $2 million.

Gambling was legal at this point and the French Lick got the last casino license in the state of Indiana. The French Lick reopened in 2006 with the addition of the French Lick Casino. The Hill Course was also refurbished and reopened and in 2007, the restoration of the West Baden Resort was completed. In 2014, trolley service was brought back and runs between the two hotels. After $600 million, the hotels are back to their former glory and it would seem that several of the spirits from that glorious past are still hanging around the property. Both of these resorts are reputedly haunted.

Before we get into that though, you know we like to talk about legends and there is one connected to the West Baden that is a bit of a mystery. The story goes that the giant medallion that is at the center of the dome when you look up, is not just a pretty embellishment. This was actually a bandstand that could go up and down. At least, that is according to some older folks who claimed to have witnessed the medallion going up and down with the help of cables and that indeed, there would be a band that was playing on that bandstand. The Springs Valley Herald looked into the claims of this descending bandstand in 1981 and they concluded that there was no way that this medallion could function that way. So what's the truth to this mystery? Did the medallion at the center of the world's eighth wonder have the ability to go up and down? There is no photographic evidence. Carl Cook investigated the claims during renovations and he found a lot of steel that was very solidily attached. There are mirrors that go all around the inner part of the medallion that are part of a light show that dates back to 1917. Before renovations, those mirrors had turned black and so it's possible that people thought they were chairs for a bandstand. But what about the eyewitnesses. Diane listened to their stories and they seemed pretty certain of what they had seen. So I guess we'll just have to leave that mystery up to you guys to decide. One thing we know for sure though is that there are angels painted up above the medallion and they watch over the atrium even though nobody can actually see them. We think they are pretty creepy. We have several pictures of them up on Instagram.

Now for the ghosts! We'll start at the French Lick Hotel. Hellanormal Investigations did an investigation at the French Lick Resort about three months ago. They had an EMF detector like ours and a spirit box that did have a few words and phrases, but it's so hard to tell if this is legit or just words and songs coming over the radio. They also had something that looked similar to a REM pod that would light green for yes, red for no and pulse blue while it waited for EMF flares. Twice when they asked if Thomas Taggart was with them, it lit up red. While we're not sure we would say they captured evidence, their chance of interacting with Taggart is a possibility according to many witnesses. He loved this hotel and that seems to be something that holds spirits to a location. It also seems to either be love of a location or tragedy at a location.

Taggart seems to like hanging out at the service elevator. The scent of tobacco is smelled near the elevator, which is attributed to him, and Taggart runs the elevator sometimes. He'll stop it on floors that haven't been called and sometimes buttons will light up on their own. People claim to see a mist near the elevator too. Strangely, witnesses have claimed to see Taggart riding a horse in the ballroom or down hallways. The ballroom has the residual sound of parties heard. A former African-American bellhop appears as a full-bodied apparition near his former work station. When guests see him and then ask about him, they will point to him in old hotel photos. Employees claim that they get phone calls from the sixth floor with no one on the other end. It is this floor that is said to be the most haunted. There are cold spots here, shadow figures and disembodied laughter. A woman killed herself on her wedding night in a room on the sixth floor and in that room is a red stain that appears in the bathtub and the cleaning staff has a hard time removing it, only to have it reappear later. Room 521 has a spirit that scatters clothing around and turns on the shower.

Ed wrote on the Ghosts of America website, "My wife and I stayed one night on the 4th floor around four years ago in May 2014. We were unfamiliar with the hotel and its reputation. A friend gave us the trip as a getaway golf outing. That night I awoke in the middle of the night (around 1 or 2 am) and heard sobbing coming from the bathroom. I figured it was Elaine, but I couldn't guess why. After a few minutes of this she reached up to the toilet stool handle and began jiggling it. Metal on porcelain makes a very distinctive sound. The room was semi-dark, the bathroom darker, and the water-closet pitch dark. I got up and went to the bathroom to ask what was wrong. I looked around the corner to the water-closet and spoke ''Elaine?'' There was no response. The sobs and noise had stopped when I got out of bed. I went back to bed and slowly reached across the mattress and found that my wife was still sleeping on the bed. I didn't get back up. I decided that I am a Christian and that if something was to happen, I was confident that all would be okay. Then I went back to sleep until morning."

The West Baden Resort is full of haunts. The crash of the Stock Market caused some people to commit suicide at the resort. There are those who claim to see residual scenes of people jumping from the higher floors. Connected to this is some evidence that has been captured over the years. There is an EVP that was captured of a female voice saying, "He's gone, it's gone." Another EVP captured a man saying, "I've lost everything." There is a female apparition that is seen in the atrium wearing a period dress that is quite elaborate. The second and third floors are said to have the most activity. There are green orbs of light that have been seen and there is an apparition of a man wearing a bowler hat that has been seen. His clothing is said to date from the early 1900s. Disembodied footsteps are heard in the hallways and guests claim to have something knock on their doors, but when they open the door, there is no one and nothing there. Shadow figures have been seen in the basement at night. And most troubling, some guests claim that they have been pushed.

Brenda wrote of her stay at the West Baden Resort on Ghosts of America website, "My husband and I just stayed a couple of nights at the West Baden Resort. The hotel is absolutely beautiful, and we really enjoyed our stay. There is an elevator right off the atrium lobby just down from where you check in. This appears to be an original elevator of the hotel. It has glass windows that overlook the dome. On several occasions when we reached the 6th floor the door would open, and there would be an overwhelming smell of roses that hit you as soon as you stepped off. There was no denying the smell, but as soon as you turned to go down the hallway towards the room the smell would disappear. I didn't think much of it at first, but this happened every time we would go to or get off this particular elevator. This only occurred in the evening hours. Never during the day. We never had this happen on any of the other elevators. We finally asked one of the staff if they had anyone else notice this, and she herself had. She indicated that one of the former owners wife had passed away, and she would always bathe in the evening and always had rose petals in her bath water. We never felt threatened or scared at the hotel, but we definitely believe there are spirits roaming the halls of this, which I will call 'the 8th wonder of the world.'"

Don wrote on the same website, "My nephew and I were walking on the lawn by the swimming pool last autumn about 10:30 pm and I had the strangest feeling and turned about and saw the shadow of a very old gentleman standing by one of the trees when we approached him he vanished. A very moving experience that neither frightened myself or my nephew but one we continue to ponder."

Apparently, there are spirits of some of the Jesuits still here too. Judith wrote, "I saw my first ghost at the West Baden Hotel when it was still Northwood Institute of Indiana. I had awakened from a deep sleep to see a figure that looked like a monk in a long robe with the hood up. The next day my roommate and I asked our security guard, Will, who was a local resident, if he had ever heard a story of one of the Jesuits having died of anything other than natural causes. The Jesuits had a college there before NI, and some are buried on the property in the little cemetery on the hill. He said there was a story of one of the Jesuits falling down the steps and breaking his neck. Our room was right by the stairs. Other than that I was never afraid my two years living there. In fact I never wanted to leave. I continued to come back and stay at the French Lick Resort and go on over fifty tours of WBS at its worst and now at its best. When the renovations on the hotel were still going on I took my daughter and two friends on a 'ghost hunting tour' on Halloween in 2002. I made the reservation for the last tour, so we would be there at midnight. While on the tour I was asked by my daughter to tell my college story. After I finished the story, one of the 'ghost hunters' said, 'ahhh, the monk.' I was really surprised because I had never heard of anyone else saying they had seen the monk. After the tour we stopped to use the restroom before leaving. We entered to see a young boy in the women's restroom, a few young people were asking questions. As they did, the lights overhead went on and off in response to the questions. They thought they were talking to Lillian Sinclair. I went on another tour in 2005 in the daytime. As we were leaving, we stopped by the restroom. As I told the story to my friend, Michele, she opened the door confidently, but as she stepped in some of the lights went out, and she hightailed it out of there, almost knocking me down. At the French Lick Springs Hotel when they were doing their renovations in 2005, my daughter's boyfriend got off on the wrong floor, and it was one that was closed off for construction. He said he saw a little boy by himself. He tried to talk to the boy, but he turned and ran away."

A hotel worker claimed to have a weird experience, "I work at the West Baden Hotel as a cleaner. After being there for a few weeks, I was cleaning the library up wiping tables when I noticed out of the corner of my eyes something moving. Out of the middle window a rocking chair was rocking on its own. Among all the other ones that were dead still across the porch; it just kept going. Wind was barely even blowing, and no one was on the porch recently. I wanted a better look, so I walked around the other side of the room losing my line of sight with it passing the first window. Then in my head thinking 'is it just gonna stop?' I looked out the 2nd window, and it has stopped. Dead stopped. Freaked me out. I made my way to exit out of one of the doors again and looked back to see if it would move again. All the sudden, one of the wall lamps started flickering faintly next to that window, and I felt my body shudder from the waist up accompanied with goose bumps. Oh god. It drove me out of there walking very fast toward the safety of the atrium. This was around 12 noon fall of this year."

Ed wrote, "I visited the hotel about 2 years ago along with my wife and daughter. My wife and I were admiring the prints of the angels (smaller copies of the paintings found inside the dome) in the main hallway. Suddenly my wife says ''stop it! ''. I turned to see her circling around with a confused look. She told me that someone had strongly tugged on her ponytail. At the time of the tugging I was standing at the other end of the row of pictures and our daughter was at least 10 feet away in a lounge chair--both of us well out of reach!"

The elevator here seems to be haunted too. Anonymous wrote, "My husband and I stayed at the West Baden Springs hotel... It's absolutely gorgeous and the service is fantastic. I told my husband that I thought the hotel was haunted. After he did the historic tour he came back and said that ghost trackers visit the hotel every year - confirming my suspicion. When we left yesterday the elevator stopped on the first floor but the door would not open. We were pressing various buttons and nothing happened... All the sudden the elevator went to the second floor - the door never opened and than by itself went back down to the first floor."

Tabitha wrote, "Two years ago my mother, myself, my daughter, and a friend of ours were staying at west Baden hotel. My daughter was 8 years old at the time and she reports seeing a full body apparition leaning over our friend it was about 5:30 am. My daughter was trying to figure out at first who was in the room. The ghost that she saw was a woman dressed in ''old time'' clothes just leaning over and looking at our friend my daughter didn't realize what she was seeing until the woman disappeared. My mother was the only other person awake and was around the corner when she came from around the corner the ''lady'' disappeared. My mom and daughter left the room and my daughter then told my mom what she had seen. I would like to add that they left me sleeping in the room!! Actually my daughter wasn't ever really afraid and after two years still tells the same story not changing anything. She now watches ghost hunters and would like taps to investigate."

There are many ghost stories connected to both of these resorts. They are gorgeous properties. Are the French Lick and West Baden Resorts haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

HGB Ep. 336 - Haunted Manitou Springs

Moment in Oddity - Fernand Arbelot Gravesite
Suggested by: Mike Streibel

In Episode 256 featuring Haunted Cemeteries 9, we covered the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. We completely missed one very interesting burial and unfortunately, there is not much known about the man who is buried there. His name was Fernand Arbelot and he was said to be an artist, architect and musician. Belgian sculptor Adolphe Wansart made this sculpture and it features Arbelot lying down on his back with his arms raised holding a replica of his wife's face and head. Legend claims that it was his desire to always be able to see her face. Due to environmental impact, her face is now streaked with what looks like tears. The monument is really kinda creepy. The memorial also features the following lines, "They were filled with wonder at the beautiful voyage, Which carried them until the end of life." Arbelot never got to see the monument as he died four years before it was completed in 1946. He had been in Paris while it was under Nazi occupation at the time and was in his early sixties and no one knows what took his life. The idea that a man so loved his wife that he wanted to gaze into her face for all eternity is touching, but to actually have that sculpted atop your burial, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Adolf Eichmann Captured

In the month of May, on the 23rd in 1960, Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was captured. Eichmann joined the Nazi's elite SS in 1932 and he rose through the ranks quickly and once Germany annexed Austria in 1938, he was assigned the duty of ridding Vienna of all its Jews. He facilitated this through a deportation center and after he was successful there, he moved onto Prague. By 1942, Hermann Goring was masterminding the "final solution of the Jewish question" and Eichmann was put in charge of coordinating the effort. He was in charge of identifying and transporting millions of Jews to Nazi death camps. After the war, Eichmann was brought in by U.S. troops, but he escaped from the prison camp and made his way to Argentina. Agents of Mossad were tipped off about his location and they kidnapped him and took him to Israel, knowing that Argentina would not extradite him. His trial would be the first to ever be televised. He was found guilty, sentenced to die and he was hanged on May 31, 1962.

Manitou Springs (Suggested by: Stacy Skelton)

Manitou Springs is a touristy town found south of Denver in Colorado that became popular in the 1890s as a health resort, with its clean mountain air and mineral springs. This was a sacred area to the Native American tribes there. Many of them believed this was a gateway to the other side. There are so many interesting legends and ghost stories connected to this town that it's hard not to believe that they might have been right. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of Manitou Springs, Colorado!

The name Manitou Springs itself just screams supernatural. Manitou means "spirit" in Native American. Aashaa monetoo means good spirit, while otshee monetoo means bad spirit. The Algonquian used Gitchie Manitou for the "Great Spirit." So it is reasonable to assume that the natural mineral springs found here must have meant something spiritual to the Native Americans who bathed in the healing waters. There are legends that the Native Americans believed that there was a vortex here. Manitou Springs is located south of Denver, just outside of Colorado Springs. Dr. Edwin James is the person credited with bringing attention to the mineral springs, outside of the Native American community, and eventually the very people who named these springs and treated them as sacred were run off. The first white man to write about the springs though was explorer Stephen Harriman Long in 1820. In 1868, men like General William J. Palmer and Dr. William A. Bell were visiting and making plans to build a resort. People from various backgrounds were flocking to the area in the 1890s. These included doctors, nurses, celebrities, tourists and tubercular patients. They built there homes in the valley here and many of them are still around today. There is so much history in this one area that it is one of the country's largest registered historic districts. 

Our listener Stacy had suggested Manitou Springs back in 2018. She wrote, "I live in Longmont, CO and grew up in (technically) Colo Springs on the far west side of the Garden of the Gods and 1 block from Manitou Springs. I LOVE the local history and would suggest a possible broadcast about Manitou Springs. It was sure creepy back in the 70’s when I was hanging out there and has certainly maintained that aura. My brother and I believe that our family home was haunted- or something otherworldly was going on there. My parents built it on a beautiful hilltop among the red rocks and overlooking Manitou. Over the years we guessed it was an ancient Native American sacred site due to the amazing views and occasional springs that would temporarily burst forth around the property.  No doubt we were probably offending someone or something...!  I remember lots of ghost stories about various Manitou Springs locations circulating while I was in high school. Manitou Springs was a Native American meeting/trading center as well as a western mecca for wealthy eastern vacationers to 'take the waters.' I’m sure the intersection of those cultural opposites would make for some colorful tales!" Stacy is right! This town is full of haunts and fun stories. The first one we want to start with would have made a great Moment in Oddity, but when we found a ghost attached to it, we decided it needed to be part of this episode.

Emma Crawford and the Coffin Races

Emma Crawford was a musical prodigy who could play multiple instruments and started practicing almost from the moment she could walk. But that is not why Emma Crawford is a well known person around Manitou Springs. Emma is famously known as the Ghost of Red Mountain and every year, the town hosts coffin races in her honor. Emma was born on March 24, 1863, in Massachusetts to a music teacher who started her daughter early on the piano. It has been said of Emma that she "liked no play thing better than to sit on the piano cover and to listen to her mother practicing Beethoven’s sonatas." By her teens, she was playing every piece of music composed by the great masters and not only played the piano, but also the mandolin, cello, viola and violin. We hear about these musical prodigies often, but Emma's story was the first in which we heard her talent credited to something supernatural. Upon Emma's death, the local paper, the Colorado City Iris wrote that Emma "is said to have acquired her remarkable masterly control of the piano from spirit instruction and is said to have never taken a lesson at mortal hands in her life." Was that true? Well, the Crawfords were Spiritualists.

While Emma seemed to be supernaturally talented with the music, she was not gifted in the area of health. She had been a sick child and that is how she ended up in Manitou Springs. Her mother had heard of the curative mineral springs there and the crisp mountain air was said to be good for the lungs. And Emma needed that air because she had tuberculosis. So Emma and her mother arrived in 1889 and rented a small frame house with a gable roof and bay windows. Emma lived on into adulthood and became engaged to William Hildebrand, an engineer from New York who was helping to build the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad. While he worked, she would go hiking on Red Mountain to build her lung strength. She loved that mountain and nicknamed it "Red Chief," in honor of American Indians and she told her fiance that she wanted to be buried there beneath a pinion pine tree on the mountain when she died. Legend claims that she tied a scarf to that tree and that she had met her Native American spirit guide up there. Emma died shortly thereafter on December 4, 1891. Her funeral was held four days later led by Reverend A.R. Kieffer, the rector of Grace Episcopal Church, who followed the desires of the Society of Progressive Spiritualists of Colorado Springs. Emma’s mother played some melodies on the piano that were described as "sweet" and "weird."

Emma's gray casket with silver handles was taken by hearse to the base of Red Mountain and twelve pallbearers carried her casket to the top of the mountain. She was buried under a tree there and her grave was covered with rocks. The burial was not deep and that would prove to be a problem. A bad rainstorm caused the mountain to break away and Emma's coffin went sliding down the mountain. Her burial was moved to Crystal Valley Cemetery and she remains there today. At least in body. Her spirit is said to have remained on Red Mountain and she continues to haunt there. And Manitou Springs honors her in a very unique way. Every year they host the Emma Crawford Wake and Coffin Races. A bunch of teams compete against each other in these races. There are five members on each team, they build a coffin, decorate it, dress in costumes with one of them impersonating Emma and four team members push the coffin in the race.

The Craftwood Inn

The Craftwood Inn was built in 1912 by Roland Bautwell in the English Country Tudor style. Bautwell was a jack of all trades working as a photographer, a coppersmith, an architect and builder. This was not a hotel when Bautwell owned it. He used it as his coppermith shop and called it Craftwood Shops. Some cool carryovers can still be found in the hotel. These are the fireplace hood and a couple of lamps. The Craftwood transformed into a restaurant in 1940 that was a real hotspot and boasted patrons like Lawrence Welk, Cary Grant, Bing Crosby and Liberace. The Craftwood was then renovated to become a hotel in 1988. During this renovation a door that had been sealed shut was opened and some really interesting stuff was found. There were old photographic plates, a mirror, metal works and engravings. It was almost as if the opening of that door set free an old pioneer spirit. This presence has been experienced by guests who feel it roaming the halls.

A former waitress at the Craftwood named Karen Deeds said, "There's definitely, absolutely, positively something there. I don't see it, but I feel it and most of the people who have worked here over the years have had some sort of experience with it. Our chef, who's 300 pounds, is totally afraid of this ghost. Everyone who feels it says it's friendly but if I need to go up by the attic alone, I run. There's two flights of stairs and I come down without touching a stair. I get goose bumps from the tips of by toes to the top of my head and I can't stop it. My heart rate goes up. It's intense. One night, everyone was feeling it. We have five phone lines and they were all lit up but there was no one there. We're all trying to shut them off and they wouldn't go off. Everyone was looking over their shoulders all night."

Onaledge Bed and Breakfast

Roland Bautwell built this beautiful Arts & Crafts style estate also in 1912 as well. This is where he lived. Frank Yount became the next owner of the property. He was a millionaire who made his money in oil and a greenstone quarry. He used the house as a guesthouse for his other house, The Rockledge Estate. Eventually the Onaledge became a Bed and Breakfast and from my searching, it seems to be permanently closed at this time. The main sitting area has a fireplace with several exposed wood ceiling beams running along the ceiling. The dining room was gorgeous with a full wooden ceiling and fireplace that looks like it belongs in a mountain lodge. 

Brett Maddox had been an Executive Director of the property, he told the Huffpost, "The Onaledge House is the one that has the greatest amount of activity and the most interest. We have anywhere from five to I’ve heard as many as a dozen entities down there. The common threads are a little boy in a little blue suit, the lady in a pastel Victorian dress and there’s the older gentlemen, as someone described to me as ‘wearing a jacket and a puffy tie,’ and I get the visual of a smoking jacket and an ascot tie, and from time to time you will smell pipe tobacco in there."

A former housekeeper shared her experiences with Odd Inns, "I was working as a housekeeper. One of my jobs was cleaning the Onaledge Bed and Breakfast in Manitou Springs. I was told by several Manitou Springs residents about the 'Ghost of Stu,' who resided at the Onaledge. Stu was a happy ghost. I was skeptical of Stu's existence. That is, until one day when Stu made himself known to me in a most peculier way. He whistled a tune, but I can't recall what it was, only that it didn't scare me. It just sort of startled me and I stopped dead in my tracks. The following week when I returned to Onaledge I had my second, and what would turn out to be my last, meeting with Stu. As I was mopping the kitchen floor, all of the sudden my bucket of mop water was kicked over and the contents were spread across the floor. It didn't take me long to realize it was Stu and I high-tailed it out of their. I jumped in my car as quickly as I could and never returned. I don't know if Stu finished mopping the kitchen or not. To this day I am believer in Stu. From what I understand, Stu died in the house in the 1930s from tuberculosis. The owners of Onaledge claim to have had several experiences with Stu as well. Stu appeared on their daughter's wedding photo. They also claim that Stu liked to whistle when they were in the house. I have been told that Stu is one of many ghosts in Manitou Springs. But not all of them are as carefree as Stu."

The Avenue Hotel 

The Avenue Hotel, which is located at 711 Manitou Avenue is a Queen Ann style Victorian B&B that started off as a hotel built in 1886. The hotel started as two stories and eventually became three stories and features a beautiful fireplace made from the unique green sandstone from the area. This location later became a boarding house, apartment building, a lodge and then a private residence. Grays Avenue Hotels bought the property in 1984 and renovated it into the Bed and Breakfast and it was the first in Manitou Springs. The B&B is currently owned by Innkeepers Gwenn David and Randy Hodges. Former Innkeeper, Kevin Abney claims that the place is haunted and he has heard several unusual stories from guests. He said, "This old house has lots of odd noises. Several guests have expressed different events. The most noted was a long term guest that said every time his girlfriend came over the tapestry in his room would fall off the wall. We also had a local ghost hunter come and do his thing here for a book he is writing. He said we have one lady ghost that spends most of her time in the kitchen but travels all over the B&B. He said she was a friendly ghost and that she wants people to be comfortable. He felt because of her strong desire to comfort that she may have been a previous innkeeper. This was built as a railroad hotel in 1886 so who knows. Manitou has a big reputation on its ghostly reputation and it is just an over all wonderful place to visit." Other investigators claim to have found that a young boy and girl spirit are here as well as a former coachman who had worked at the hotel.

Briarhurst Manor

The name really matches the look of this place. Briarhurst Manor seems like it would be right at home in a country glen, perhaps in the UK. This is a beautiful Tudor manor house built from the red rocks that are found here. The location was perfectly chosen as it offers views of the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. This original home here was built by Dr. William Bell for himself and his wife Cara and construction was completed in 1876. The doctor was from London and he decided to move to the West after visiting to conduct lectures. He initially worked for the railroad as a photographer and that is where he met General William Palmer. As you heard earlier in the episode, these two men would found Manitou Springs and turn it into a health resort town. They also established the Denver to Rio Grande Railroad. Dr. Bell and Cara had four children and they were becoming very wealthy as they invested in more businesses. But tragedy struck for the Bells in 1886 when their house burned to the ground. They decided to move back to England, but eventually returned and rebuilt their home and that is what stands on the site today. They went bigger and more decorative with this one and it is fun to wander around the manor to find all the unique elements that include gargoyle rain drains outside and a bubbling brook inside. The interior was constructed from carved wood - the staircase is gorgeous with carved inlays and banisters - and featured a schoolroom, library and conservatory.

The Bells lived here until 1920 when they returned to England for good and a son named Archibald was left in charge and he eventually sold it. The manor then had a bit of a sordid period where it served as a bar and brothel. Vida and Robert Ellison bought the house next and filled it with their collection of Southwest Indian artifacts that included Native American mummies that were stored in the basement. You know, the cellar were the fruit and other dried goods were kept. An RV park wanted to demolish the house later, but it was saved by a restaurateur. This house was a social center in its heyday and today it continues to be a place that hosts social events like weddings and parties. The restaurant that is located here features the finest in Colorado Cuisine with wonderful views, surrounded by gardens.

The manor also features ghosts. There are many stories from both employees and guests and they have been telling them for years. The most amazing one came out of a presentation that had 100 in attendance. Nearly everyone in the room watched as a vase flew off of a table across the room and breaking apart. There was no one near the vase, so it was not thrown or hit by a living human. When the second floor underwent a complete remodel, it was also wired with a security system. One evening, the system went off and the police showed up to search the manor. They found no sign that anyone had broken inside and no one was inside, but the motion sensors definitely revealed that something had been traveling through the rooms. The strangest stories claim that there is a female skeleton that floats through the garden. There are no reports of malevolent activity, more mischievous. Silverware spins on plates and one night when a manager was locking up, she had a weird experience with the lights. She turned them off as she made her way to the front parlor. When she got to the parlor, all the lights turned back on by themselves. What makes this really weird is that the lights are on different circuits and it would take ten different people working in unison to make that happen.

The Bell children had a playroom in the attic and people still hear children up there playing. There is laughter and the sound of running. When Ghost Hunter's investigated, they captured an EVP of a child's voice. A red-haired girl's apparition has been seen playing on the front lawn with a ball and she is wearing period clothing with a bonnet on her head. Another interaction with a child-sized ghost happened during a renovation in 1973. A contractor came in the early morning hours and found dusty white footprints the size of a child's shoe with high heel and pointed toe similar to something worn in the Victorian era. It was as though a child had walked through the plaster dust and left the footprints, but the house was locked up tight, so it was not a living child.

A TV station joined a paranormal investigation group named PURE around eight years ago to investigate the manor. The video features an EMF detector going off, a flashlight turning on by itself and the sound of a glass breaking. When the group went to see what caused the crash, they found broken glass on the bar next to the wine glasses, but no broken glass. As the reporter tells the story, he says that a team member thought he saw a hand near the bar at the time that the sound of the broken glass was heard. The reporter's camera that had a fully charged battery went dead at the same time as they heard the breaking glass. Erik Wright, a local historian, claims that in 2008 he had a weird experience. He said, "I had something come up next to me when I was in the office. It kind of grabbed a hold of me and pulled me down the hallway." People claim that the spirits seen here belong to Cara Bell and her daughter Hyacinth.

Miramont Castle

The land where Miramont Castle is located was owned by a company run by Manitou Springs founder General William Palmer. The company owned it from 1871 to 1882 and sold it to the city of Manitou. But even before that, the property reputedly belonged to an infamous character named Colonel John Chivington. You may recognize that name if you know the history of the Sand Creek Massacre. This guy was an ordained Methodist pastor who lead his U.S. Army troops against what he described as a revolt by Indian foes. Congress' Joint Committee on the Conduct of War described it as such, "As to Colonel Chivington, your committee can hardly find fitting terms to describe his conduct. Wearing the uniform of the United States, which should be the emblem of justice and humanity; holding the important position of commander of a military district, and therefore having the honor of the government to that extent in his keeping, he deliberately planned and executed a foul and dastardly massacre which would have disgraced the veriest savage among those who were the victims of his cruelty. Having full knowledge of their friendly character, having himself been instrumental to some extent in placing them in their position of fancied security, he took advantage of their inapprehension and defenseless condition to gratify the worst passions that ever cursed the heart of man. It is thought by some that desire for political preferment prompted him to this cowardly act; that he supposed that by pandering to the inflamed passions of an excited population he could recommend himself to their regard and consideration." Chivington apparently owned this plot of land from 1862 to 1867. The massacre took place in 1864.

The land was eventually purchased by Father Jean Baptist Francolon and he decided to build a grand home for himself and his mother here. And this place is certainly grand stretching out over 14,000 square feet and four stories. This castle is really unique in that it features nine different styles of architecture. These include Byzantine, English Tudor Revival, shingle-style Queen Anne, domestic Elizabethan, Flemish stepped gables, Venetian Ogree, Moorish, half-timber Chateau and Romanesque. Construction was started in 1895 and completed in 1896 and was designed by the Father himself. He loved architecture and that is why so many elements were incorporated. He contracted the Gillis Brothers, Archie and Angus, to build it along with William Frizzell who quarried the native green sandstone from which the castle was built. This is the only place where you can find that and it looks much like red stone, but it has green incorporated in it, which is sometimes hard to see.

The east section of the castle was added in 1897. The castle had indoor plumbing and electricity, which was very unique at the time, and the walls were two feet thick. The interior doors feature archways and there is rich wood trim throughout. The name Miramont means "look at the mountain." Eventually the Sisters of Mercy joined Father Francolon in starting a tuberculosis sanitarium here called Montcalm Sanitarium where they offered good food, fresh clean air and relaxation. TB huts were used throughout the property and they still have one there on display. When TB was eradicated, the Sisters of Mercy used Miramont Castle as a high-end boarding house. This ran from 1928 to 1946. The castle is today owned by the Manitou Springs Historical Society and they offer historical tours of the museum and special teas in their tea room. There are many different artifacts here including antique firefighting equipment, Victorian furniture, an exhibit on the Nuremburg Trials and other military memorabilia.

Miramont Castle hosts a re-enactment wake for Emma Crawford and it is an opportunity to share Victorian grieving customs. That's very appealing to us, but even more appealing is that this castle is reputedly haunted by up to ten spirits. Two of those ghosts are said to belong to a couple dressed in Victorian era garb who have been seen coming down the main staircase. There is a little girl spirit who hangs out in the gift shop near the porcelain dolls and one day a cashier saw her holding one of the dolls and when she told the little girl to put down the doll and go get her mother, she simply disappeared. Another spirit is said to belong to a nun who is rumored to have hung herself in the castle. She tied a noose to a radiator and threw herself out the window. Interestingly, her spirit usually shows up missing the head.

There is a creepy antique doll room up on the fourth floor and the disembodied voice of a little girl has been heard in this area. Jennifer Walters, an employee at the castle, told Fox 21 News in 2014 about an experience she had in a guest room that has, get this, sixteen walls. She was flipping off lights in the hallway and she noticed a figure standing outside of a door to this room that has a window in it. At first she thought it was a board member or even her husband and she looked again and noticed that it was a gentlemen with dark hair and a red and white checkered work shirt that she did not recognize. The reporter she was telling the story to asked what she did then and she said she just kept on walking down the hallway. She said she has never gotten a bad vibe from anything there.

Employees tell stories of mopping floors and when they turn around, they find items sitting in the middle of the floor that they had just cleaned. Made beds are rumpled by something not seen. Two spirits belonging to nuns who had worked here are said to wander the halls and there are also claims that a Native American spirit has been seen on the property.

Manitou Springs seems to have an innate spiritual essence to it and clearly the Native Americans in the area believed that. Are these locations in Manitou Springs haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

HGB Ep. 335 - St. Albans Sanatorium

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Moment in Oddity - Oran Asa Pruitt Falls Out of Plane Into Cemetery
Suggested by: Mike Streibel

We've all had that nightmare where you are falling through the sky, but imagine if it was not a nightmare. This is what happened to Oran Asa Pruitt in 1956. He and his wife Blandene Smith were newlyweds who had met while working at a hotel together in North Carolina. They arrived at the Charlotte Airport on June 13, 1956 with plans to leave on their honeymoon, but they had not prepared properly and they arrived late. They could not board their flight, but were given another one leaving at 5:44pm for Asheville. They got the last two seats aboard a Piedmont N45V, a DC3, known as the "Tidewater Pacemaker." The airplane was piloted by Captain Baxter Slaughter and experienced a tragedy in the skies over Shelby, N.C. as it cruised at 6,500 feet. Blandene was not feeling well and so Oran got up to get her some water. He found the lavatory door at the rear of the plane locked, so he tried the other door back there, which happened to be a cabin door. The Purser felt the change in pressure and went to the cockpit to get the co-pilot to help him with closing the door. They found a terrified woman trapped in the lavatory because she needed to walk past the open door to return to her seat. The two men locked arms to form a chain and pulled the woman to safety, but they couldn't close the door. The plane continued on to Asheville. When it landed and people started investigating, they found heel marks on the side of the plane indicating that Mr. Pruitt had hung on for a while. Witnesses in the area where he eventually landed, reported hearing his screaming. He was more than likely alive for most of the fall. The place where Pruitt's fall ended was ironically Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Cleveland County. To memorialize the fall, a small monument was placed in the spot where Pruitt landed. He was buried at another cemetery. He was the first Piedmont passenger to die in their eight years of prior service. No one knows why Pruitt opened that door. Was it an accident, was he drunk or had a fight he was having with his wife caused him to act in a drastic way? Whatever the case may be, a man falling out of a plane and landing in a cemetery, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Penny Black Stamp is Issued

In the month of May, on the 6th, in 1840, the Penny Black was issued. The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp to be used by a public postal system. The name came from the fact that the background of the stamp was black and it cost a penny, thus the Penny Black. The face of the stamp featured a profile of Queen Victoria, which was engraved by Charles Heath and his son Frederick. They based their design on a sketch done by Henry Corbould inspired by an 1834 cameo-like head made of Queen Victoria by William Wyon. The stamp was embellished in the corners with Maltese crosses with solar discs radiating out in the center. The Penny Black made it possible to mail things at a flat rate rather than the usual where the recipient paid upon delivery. The stamp was only used for a year because it was hard to see the red cancellation stamp over the black and people were able to re-use the stamps. In February 1841, the Penny Black became the Penny Red and black ink was used to cancel them, which was harder to remove and thus the stamps weren't re-used.

St. Albans Sanatorium (Suggested by: Whitney Zahar)

St. Albans Sanatorium, in Virginia, started out as a Lutheran Boys School before becoming a psychiatric infirmary. As was the case with so many hospitals for the mentally ill, this one started out with promising expectations that unraveled into crowded conditions and abusive treatments. There were deaths and suicides. There is so much paranormal activity at this location, that many refer to this as one of the most haunted places on the East Coast. Join us, and our listener Whitney Zahar, as we delve into the history and haunts of the St. Albans Sanatorium!

Radford, Virginia is located in the Shenandoah Valley and was named for Dr. John B. Radford, but that name wasn't the original. This town had been Lovely Mount and started with a few settlers and stayed a small village until the railroad was built and the town grew. Once the depot was established, the name was changed in 1891. Radford was a railroad town and then it became a hotbed for manufacturing with creameries, preserve plants, piping plants and an ice company. This is where the St. Albans Sanatorium would be built. But before that, the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain would take place in Dublin, Virginia, which was just a few miles away. The ridge that St. Albans would call home proved to be the perfect spot from which the Union could fire off artillery on the Confederate forces of Brigadier General Albert G. Jenkins. This battle finally went to hand-to-hand combat and was fiercely fought for about an hour, ending with the Confederates retreating. Jenkins died later from a wound he received during the battle. The Union had 688 casualties while the Confederate's had 538, some of whom were killed by a fire that broke out on the battlefield.

St. Albans Sanatorium was originally meant to be a Lutheran Boys School and was built in 1892. George W. Miles was the Headmaster and his goal was to help the students to grow to be "future southern gentlemen." The high standards caused a lot of hazing and this inevitably ended up with suicides and even some homicides. The school eventually closed in 1905. Dr. John C. King bought the building for $500 of his own money, plus $16,000 in borrowed funds. He renovated the buildings to become a sanatorium and opened it on January 15, 1916. There were 56 acres and like many other sanatoriums and asylums, this was its own community with a farm, dairy herd, chickens and much more.

Patient numbers increased and by 1945, the hospital had treated 6509 patients. St. Albans eventually became a fully recognized hospital in 1960 and in the 1980s it became a private, full service psychiatric hospital. The hospital eventually relocated to new buildings and the property went to the Radford University Foundation in 2004. The oldest building was slated for demolition in 2007, but was saved by a group of concerned citizens. The next owner of the property was Tim Gregory and he transformed the place into the Research and Enlightenment Center. St. Albans was then opened for tours and that is what it does today, also hosting overnight paranormal investigations.

There is a lot of paranormal activity reported here and Whitney Zahar shared some cool experiences. Is St. Albans Sanatorium haunted? That is for you to decide!