Thursday, April 15, 2021

HGB Ep. 381 - Tri-County Truck Stop

 Our sponsor for this episode is Wooga's June's Journey: The Lost Diaries Podcast. Check it out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast and anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Moment in Oddity - Two Kings Eat Themselves to Death

Have you heard of the two kings who ate themselves to death? Many are aware that there was a time when kings had official food tasters. These poor people were not there to make sure the food tasted good, they were tasting the food to make sure it wasn't poisoned. But what to do when the food isn't technically poisoned and yet could kill the king? King Henry I of England found out. This man absolutely loved sea lamprey. First thing you need to know about these fish is that they are tough enough to have survived four extinction events. They are also known as the Vampire Fish. They feed in the ocean by latching onto other fish and sucking their blood and other bodily fluids. They need to be cleaned really well before eating and even then, we wouldn't risk it. But King Henry didn't care. He stuffed himself full of sea lamprey one night in 1135 and soon was dead from food poisoning. Our other unlucky king was King Adolf Frederick who ruled Sweden in the 18th century. This guy didn't know when to stop when he was eating fine food. On February 12, 1771, he ate a meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring, cabbage soup and slammed it down with some champagne. Then came dessert, which was semla. This rich dessert is a bun filled with hot milk and marzipan, which is a mixture of ground almonds and sugar. King Frederick had 14 servings of that and his intestines said no sir! He apparently died a very painful death. Two kings eating themselves to death, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Beer Flows Again

In the month of April, on the 7th, in 1933, beer was sold again in 19 of the 48 states and the District of Columbia. This was the day that beer flowed again! And for that, Kelly and I are grateful because we have become quite the craft beer connoisseurs. But there was a time when no alcohol flowed in America because of Prohibition. This banning of alcohol had lasted thirteen years, but President Roosevelt had made a campaign promise to get rid of Prohibition and after he was elected, he did just that on March 22, 1933. And at one minute after midnight on April 7th  train whistles, sirens and fire alarms went off across the East Coast signaling that 3.2% beer could be made, sold and consumed. As a matter of fact, Pabst Brewing Co. was one of the first to fire up their brewery again and employees and onlookers cheered as they loaded cases and barrels of beer onto trucks. In some cities, crowds gathered outside bars, twelve deep. Two cases of beer were delivered to the White House aboard a truck that had a sign on the outside reading, "President Roosevelt, the first real beer is yours."

Tri-County Truck Stop

Route 66 was once known as the "Main Street of America" and is still affectionately referred to as the Mother Road. It's hard to believe this highway was once thriving with a host of businesses because now many of those businesses are closed and abandoned. One of these locations was The Diamonds, which started as a fruit stand, then became a restaurant and eventually a truck stop named the Tri-County Truck Stop that also had rooms to rent. The location is now closed and abandoned except for on certain nights when ghost hunts are offered. Many claim that this is the most haunted truck stop in the Midwest and perhaps even in the country. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of The Diamonds!

Hey Kelly, get your kicks on... (That was written by Marine Captain Bobby Fuller and first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946.) Route 66 winds its way through eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. It is fitting that we are featuring a stop along Route 66 in the month of April because it was in this month that two businessmen came up with the idea of naming the new route from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66. John T. Woodruff was from Springfield, Missouri and Cy Avery was from Oklahoma and so Springfield has been recognized as the birthplace of the infamous Mother Road. Route 66 would officially be established on November 11, 1926. When the highway was finished, it covered 2,448 miles. This was not only an original highway in the U.S. Highway System, it was the path to a better life for many people as they migrated west during the Dust Bowl. This also helped people living in rural areas to get their crops to market. And since the road was mostly flat, much of the commerce via trucks preferred to travel it. Life was good for business along Route 66, but by 1985 it was removed from the Highway System. Parts have been designated a National Scenic Byway and in 2026, Route 66 will celebrate its centennial. 

There are literally hundreds of ghost stories connected to Route 66 and many books have been published featuring those. For example, the town of Quapaw in Oklahoma is the first town you will hit when driving out of Kansas into Oklahoma. This city is known as America's Hay Capital and has spook lights that have been seen, particularly by truckers driving at night and that has lead to some claiming that this stretch of Route 66 is cursed. That's not the only ghost light along Route 66. The Joplin ghost light is seen near the Missouri-Oklahoma border. Truckers claim to see this ball of light on clear nights and it seems to dance on the horizon. The light has been seen for decades and cars have been parking along Oklahoma's East 50 Road to get the best glimpse of the ghosts light since the 1960s.

Along this road in Missouri, The Diamonds was founded. The Diamonds was located in Villa Ridge Missouri about 40 miles west of St. Louis, right off of Hwy 44. Villa Ridge was founded in 1889 with the establishment of a post office. The name is pretty simple. There is a ridge nearby and villa means town. The Diamonds started as a fruit and veggie stand that eventually became a restaurant owned by Spencer Groof, a young law student with big dreams. The name for the restaurant came from its design, a baseball diamond. This would become the Eating Place and the Meeting Place with over 75 employees and the nickname "The Old Reliable Eating Place." There were three U-shaped lunch counters serving up great American fare like hamburgers and pot roast. Groof owned the property across the street as well and he put in a Phillips 66 gasoline station and twenty-five cabins that he rented overnight. The Diamonds was open 24 hours and business was great, serving over a million people a year, until 1948 when a fire destroyed the building. This did not deter Groof. He rebuilt with an art deco architectural style and the place did even better with lots of celebrities stopping in for the food. These celebrities included Al Capone, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. The Interstate System caused Route 66 to get less and less traffic and once it was decommissioned, The Diamonds decided they needed to move and they did so two miles east in 1967.

Another restaurant moved in called the Tri-County Restaurant and Truck Stop in 1970. Truckers were still using Route 66 and they were the main customers until other truck stops were built along the Interstate and pulled them away. Since the truck stop was 24 hours, it started attracting late night eaters like the bar crowd who would show up in the wee hours of the morning for food. To make more money, the truck stop decided to renovate the second floor into hotel rooms and offered overnight rentals and showers. The takers were mainly women plying sex and random hitchhikers. This crowd brought crime and violence with them. In September of 2006, the truck stop closed its doors for good.

The location hasn't been left abandoned though. Paranormal investigators have been visiting since then and they have found plenty of evidence to back-up the stories that employees and patrons had been sharing for years. There were claims that objects like salt and pepper shakers would levitate and sometimes even move from one table to another. The appliances in the kitchen would turn themselves on and off. People were touched by things that they couldn't see. And sometimes they would see those things that touched them in the form of shadow figures or full-bodied apparitions. There were claims of weird sounds and disembodied voices. Probably the weirdest and maybe even most horrifying claim is that children have claimed to see a bloody monster on the stairs. Some have even described that this monster, which is more than likely a man, has a knife and that it climbs the stairs to the second floor where there is a woman that it stabs and kills. We're not sure why this has only been witnessed by children, but how horrible. And blood was actually found on the wall after the children reported the sighting.

A full-bodied apparition of a man would be seen in the dining room area wearing khaki pants and a checkered shirt and a shadow figure has climbed up the stairs from the basement and gone into the kitchen area.  Another spirit has been named George and he likes to get friendly with the ladies by stroking their arms or patting them on the back, which we hope is just the back and not the backside.  Most former employees claim that the basement and second floor are the places with the most activity and were to be avoided as much as possible.

The investigative group Paranormal Task Force were the first group to investigate the truck stop. They did so back in August of 2006 and it didn't take long for them to realize that they were not the only ones in the building. A coffee pot flew across the room and crashed to the floor. Greg Myers, the President of the group, said, "On the first night, we were setting up a camera on the second floor. I was holding a door shut, and something was trying to open it from the other side—we were actually fighting back and forth." That wasn't the only thing thrown at the group. A light bulb was thrown at them as well. Greg asked aloud if the group was welcome and a bunch of pots and pans banged and rattled and they caught this on audio that you can hear at their website: https://www.paranormaltaskforce.com/tricounty_evp.html They also managed to capture on video a blue phosphorescent anomaly and they saw a full-bodied apparition of a man wearing a flannel shirt in the men's bathroom. They have a bunch of EVP that they have captured inside the truck stop. One of the best features a very loud and clear Class A EVP saying "Help, save me."

Activity continued throughout the night for the Paranormal Task Force and they reported many similar experiences as the former employees. The investigators heard disembodied voices and whispers and they were touched by the spirits. There was a loud banging noise like a door being slammed shut three times. That number three makes this even more unnerving. There were multiple EMF spikes and anomalies. And that spirit that has been seen in the dining room with the khaki pants was seen in the men's bathroom by an investigator. This was actually the brother of the owner and he claimed that he heard a dragging or growling noise in the hallway as he stood at the urinal. A translucent male apparition wearing a red flannel shirt and khaki pants walked in and then disappeared. He was so shocked by what he was seeing, he didn't even notice that he had turned and was peeing on the floor. 

An investigator also managed to capture a white mist in a photograph while in a downstairs bathroom. Investigators on the second floor watched a piece of paper turn itself over. Cold spots were felt throughout the building. The nasty smell of decaying flesh would happen occasionally on the second floor. The investigators felt like they were being watched wherever they went. Their equipment would be turned off and then turned back on randomly. And two pennies dated 1957 and 1969 were tossed on the floor while some investigators were conducting an EVP session on the second floor.

Dan Terry sent me his book "Missouri Shadows" and in it, he details his experience joining the Paranormal Task Force on this initial investigation. Before going, he interviewed a former employee and she told him that something would watch her every time she went down into the basement. Once when she was in the restroom, something prevented her from opening the door. she also would hear growling in the basement. She also had her hair pulled so hard that it unraveled her braid. Dan experienced much of what we described in this first investigation. The group returned a few weeks later and a really terrifying thing happened. An old knife on the floor was thrown at them. Now that would be enough to get me to leave. The group returned again and witnessed an orb cross the room and disappear into a wall. When investigators asked the spirits to make themselves known, the pipes started to rattle. A rock was thrown against a back wall too. Dan saw a shadow figure and when he blocked its path, it passed right over his head. He reported that a psychic claimed that a woman was murdered in the basement, killing her unborn child and that she, the child and the murderer were all down in the basement. 

An investigator named Tim told Dan that he had been slapped and shoved so hard that he would've fallen over if he hadn't been up against a wall. Dan also shared the story of a man named Stephen. His brother Kevin was hired to do security after the truck stop closed and he lived in a trailer on the property. Both Stephen and Kevin had worked at the truck stop in the 1980s and 1990s. They had experienced George the ghost in the bathroom while working there. One night, Kevin invited Stephen to come over because he felt there was another ghost at the truck stop other than George and this one was violent. Stephen said he wasn't afraid and he marched inside. They heard a voice yell, "Get out!" Stephen ran downstairs because he thought someone was down there. He found no one. Then he went upstairs and opened a door. Immediately after he pushed it open, the door pushed back against him. He forced the door open again and it slammed against him. He left, but did return later and his brother asked him to lock the back door. Stephen again heard a loud voice yell, "Get out!" and he was done visiting the place. 

Dan was told by another worker named Tina of a time when she was stocking cans in the pantry, putting everything in a certain order. She got called away for a minute. When she returned, the cans were all mixed up. The ghosts would play with the buffet according to Tina. They left the hot food alone, but moved the cold stuff all around. Tina never went to the bathroom alone and she hated the basement. She once went down there for a smoke and some fellow employees locked the door. She pounded on the door and something grabbed her arm and squeezed. She never went into the basement again. Another employee named Daniel witnessed a child's ball bounce down the stairs and he heard a child's laughter. He thought it belonged to a little girl. There was no child upstairs.

The strangest claim is that a black panther has been seen in the basement. Where this could have come from, nobody knows and we aren't sure if black panthers would have even been in this area. Maybe someone had kept one there at one time? Outside of the truck stop and down the road a bit, people claim to pick up a hitchhiker who asks to be taken to the truck stop and then he disappears. And people who live near the former truck stop claim that spirit activity spills over to their houses.

Stephen Wagner wrote "The Phantom of the Truck Stop" for Liveabout.com, "The life of a long-haul trucker is a difficult one. Long, tedious hours on the road, away from family for days or even weeks at a time. As Mike L. explains, they also witness many weird and incredible things on their interstate travels. Yet Mike was not prepared for what he experienced one summer night at a tiny truck stop in the middle of nowhere... hardly the place where one would expect a ghost - if that's what it was. This is Mike's story....

I am an over-the-road truck driver and I drive across all of the lower-48 states. I see some unusual things from time to time, but nothing compares to what I encountered in Palestine, Arkansas in mid-June of 2011.

I was on a long haul from Detroit, Michigan to Houston, Texas. This was day three of my trip and I was beginning to run out of driving hours for the day. I noticed a truck stop/gas station on the side of I-40, pulled off and decided to call it a night. I was running ahead of schedule, so I was going to have myself a long, fourteen-hour break instead of the usual ten.

THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

Off the bat, I didn't like the area but had no other choice. The bathrooms were unkempt and had enough graffiti on the walls to classify itself as an inner-city truck stop, even though I was practically in the middle of nowhere. It was also a small shop, with parking for only a dozen trucks. After washing up, I purchased a new work knife, some hot food and headed out to my truck.

I sat in the captain's chair and listened to the radio while I ate my dinner with the windows down, letting in the dry wind. The Mississippi River had just begun flooding, but there hadn't been any rain in over a week. The surrounding area was beginning to look like Nevada more than Arkansas.

I finished my meal and cleaned up a bit. I slid out of the seat and onto the pavement as a gust of warm wind hit me. I strolled over to the dumpster, tossed my garbage inside and began slowly walking back to my truck. I fished out a filterless cigarette and leaned against the bug-splattered side of my truck and lit it with my lighter. I enjoyed the smoke as I watched the sun set below the horizon. A few more trucks had backed into spots. I spotted one guy walking out of the store with a bottle of beer in his hand, looking around nervously as he quickly strode over to his truck. The life of a trucker. Something interesting and new every day. Risking his job over one, lousy beer.

I climbed back into the cab of the truck, dropped back into the sleeper berth, changed into a pair of pajamas and lay down to get some rest. I didn't bother setting an alarm. I felt sleep creep over me and accepted it as I drifted off into dreamworld.

JOLTED AWAKE

I awoke with the cab of the truck rocking violently, knocking the bottle of water I had placed on my "nightstand" over onto the floor. I sat straight up, fully awake and pressed the button on the truck's radio/alarm. It was shortly after three in the morning. I reached down and grabbed the bottle of water that had fallen, twisted the cap off and took a few deep gulps before wondering what had rocked my truck so violently. Then I remembered: the wind. I settled back down, got my heart rate back below a hundred and lay my head down on the pillow. The truck rocked again, knocking my ashtray over that I had set in the cup holder and once again tossing my water bottle onto the floor.

I flipped on the overhead light, slid on my shoes and grabbed another cigarette from my pack. I opened the curtains, sat in the captain's chair and shut off the sleeper light. I opened the door and noticed that it had cooled down considerably. I shut off the truck, pocketed the keys and climbed down onto the pavement to look around.

At this time of night, the truck stop only had lights around the gasoline pumps, and their light could not reach the truck parking area. I looked around a moment, lit my cigarette... and then noticed something. The wind had stopped blowing. I wondered what had caused my truck to rock so violently. Earthquake maybe? I knew that a few had been reported around Memphis, and I was probably close enough to have felt a tremor, but that rocking motion did not feel like an earthquake. It felt like the wind hitting the side of my truck with a strong gust.

THE APPARITION

Curiously and cautiously, I walked around the front of my truck to the passenger side and looked down the length of my trailer. I noticed movement. Low to the ground, about four feet. Not fast. I used my keys to unlock the passenger-side door, jumped up and grabbed my large flashlight from an overhead storage compartment. I climbed back down and closed and locked the door.

I clicked on the light and shined it down the side of my trailer. There was a young girl standing off into the field about ten feet behind my truck, but when I looked harder, she wasn't there.

Well, like I said earlier, truck drivers see something new every day. This was certainly new. I began to walk toward the rear of my truck, scanning the field with my flashlight for any trace of the girl I had just seen. When I reached the back, there was no trace. It must have been a trick of the eyes. Heck, I haven't even fully awakened yet. I glanced over my shoulder. There were no cars at the pumps and the clerk definitely hadn't noticed me.

I felt "the call of the wild" coming on and didn't feel much like walking into the store wearing my pajamas. I was in the middle of nowhere and no one could see me, so I figured no harm, no foul. I stood at the rear of the trailer and did my business, looking around for that girl again (also hoping that she wasn't hiding behind something and watching me do this).

TOYED WITH

I put everything away and walked to the driver's side of my truck toward the cab. I took the last couple of puffs off my cigarette and flung it into the parking lot, used my keys to unlock the truck and popped the door open. Just as I planted my foot on the fairing, I heard a distinct giggle. A girl's giggle. I stepped back down and shined the flashlight around. Nothing.

"This is getting kind of creepy," I said aloud.

"He heard me," a small girl's voice answered back.

I jumped backward away from my truck. The voice had come from inside the cab! Something was wrong. I had the entire truck locked up while I was walking around. There was no way that someone could have gotten in without breaking a window. Steeling myself for what was going to be an uncomfortable encounter at the least, I took a step up on the fairing and leaned my head into the truck.

"Is anyone in here?" I asked. I hit the switch to turn on the sleeper berth light. I climbed in. I put a knee on the seat and peered into the sleeper berth.

"Goodnight," a soft voice said, which seemed to emanate from all around me. I flinched as I heard the word and felt a cold chill run through my body. I slid off the seat and stood up in the cab, bumping my temple off the overhead storage bins. I looked around the sleeper. No one was there.

SOMETHING... INHUMAN

I turned around and shuffled into the cab to close the door when I saw the young girl standing outside my truck on the pavement, looking up at me with lifeless eyes. Those eyes, you see, weren't meant for a person. They were designed for a predator, and all of a sudden I felt like prey.

I reached forward and slammed the door shut and flicked the lock. I quickly decided that I was not staying here for the rest of the night. I turned the key and heard my truck's motor rumble to life, along with the familiar, annoying buzzing that was my air-pressure gauge telling me that I didn't have enough air to release the brakes. I took a furtive glance out the window, and there she stood - still as a tree, looking up at me and smiling. I didn't want to get any closer to the window until I was ready to get my truck moving. This was wrong, and I didn't want any part of this.

That "girl" wasn't human, at least not anymore she wasn't. It was almost as if she was something so inhuman that it would take the form of a human. It's hard for me to explain and I feel sick just thinking about it. I heard the siren shut off and hit the valves to supply air to my brake system. As the system began to air up, the siren came on again.

Screw this, I thought to myself. I have enough to get out of here. I disengaged the clutch, ground the truck into gear and roared out of the parking lot like the devil himself was behind me... which, for all I knew, he was.

I looked in my side mirror as I was about to start turning right and saw the girl washed in the red and amber glow of my running lights. She was smiling at me and waving. I flew through my gears as quickly as they would let me as I got back onto the interstate.

THE KNIFE AND THE POSTCARD

I drove for about forty-five minutes, repeatedly hitting the switch to turn on my interior lights to look around the cab and the sleeper before finally spotting a larger truck stop at the next exit. After backing into one of the few remaining spots left, I shut off my lights and turned on the sleeper berth light as I walked into the back. Then paused.

At the store, I had bought a souvenir. Nothing fancy, just a postcard with a picture of Arkansas on it. I also had bought a new knife. I had never even taken the knife out of the box and remembered putting the postcard into a drawer for safekeeping. The point of the blade had been driven directly into the spot on I-40 where I had originally stopped for the night! The blade had been driven in deep, pegging the postcard to my nightstand!

It took me several minutes just to work the knife loose enough to withdraw it from the nightstand. Thankfully, when I turned the postcard over, no message had been left for me.

To this day I do not know what I saw. I hear other truckers talk of strange things that they see on the interstates, U.S. highways, and state routes, but I've never mentioned my experience. I've always felt that just by mentioning her, I'd walk back out to my truck and there she would be, sitting on my bunk and waiting for me.

I threw that postcard away and tossed the knife into a dumpster. I got another postcard from Arkansas, just to keep the collection going. I've got 36 so far."

We don't know if this was a true story, but it sure was a good one! We imagine the possibilities for haunted truck stops are numerous being that they are such a transient place and some not-so-nice things can happen at them. The Tri-County Truck Stop sits on a property that had a long and good history, but there are definitely some strange things happening there now. Is the truck stop haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

HGB Ep. 380 - Old Hamilton County Jail

Our sponsor for this episode is Wooga's June's Journey: The Lost Diaries Podcast. Check it out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast and anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Moment in Oddity - The Great Pig War

San Juan Island is located between Washington State and Canada and in the mid 1800s, the island was inhabited by Americans and British. Both countries claimed the island as their own because the Oregon Treaty didn't make it clear who had ownership. Things went pretty well despite this until The Great Pig War started. Lyman Cutlar was an American farmer who caught a British pig in his potato field. He shot the porcine thief and that was it. British Governor James Douglas ordered Cutlar to pay a $100 fine. Cutlar refused and the war was on. American Captain George Pickett was sent to the island to face off against the British who sent five warships and 2,000 troops. Pickett had been ordered to keep the British from getting on the island and he promised to make a Bunker Hill of the situation if he needed to. For a shot pig?! On the other side, the British Governor ordered his troops to take the island by force. British Rear Admiral Robert Baynes was in charge of the fleet of five ships and he thought about the orders for a minute. Was it really worth going to war over a pig? Baynes ordered his men to point their guns at an American fort, but they were told to stay on the ships and no order to fire was given. The Americans in turn also did not fire a shot. The two sides just stared each other down, neither wanting to start a war. We're not sure how long they sat there like that, but it would take 13 years before Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany gave San Juan Island to the United States. A war almost starting over a pig eating some potatoes, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Corporal Hiroshi H. Miyamura Becomes A Hero (Suggested by: Mike Rogers)

In the month of April, on the 24th, in 1951, Corporal Hiroshi H. Miyamura became a hero. Everyone called him Hershey and despite the fact that his wife was in an interment camp, he joined the US Army in 1945. Hershey was an American citizen, having been born in New Mexico. He trained as a machine gunner and was discharged at the end of World War II. He enlisted in the Armey Reserve and joined active duty again during the Korean War. On the night of April 24th, the Chinese attacked and soon Corporal Miyamura knew his troops would not be able to hold the line, so he ordered them to retreat while he stayed behind to offer cover. Hershey jumped from his shelter and rushed the Chinese. He bayoneted ten of them. He then returned to his position and got behind his machinegun and fired until he was out of bullets. The corporal left his spot, bayoneting his way over to another gun and fired until that gun ran out of ammunition. He killed another fifty men and then he was severly wounded. The Chinese captured him and he became a POW and would remain one for 28 months. He then was forced to march 300 miles before being released on August 20, 1953. Corporal Miyamura was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was the first recipient to be classified Top Secret because the government didn't want the Chinese to know what he had done to their men or he might have been killed while a prisoner.

Old Hamilton County Jail

In our modern era, we are used to large penitentiaries housing criminals, but there was a time when local cities and counties had fairly small jail houses where the warden would live with his family. We heard that one of our local paranormal investigation teams was hosting an investigation at one of these jails here in Florida, about 2.5 hours from us and we couldn't resist the chance to join them. The Hamilton County Jail was open for nearly 100 years and housed a variety of criminals and both men and women. Many people died here and at least three were executed and there are several bodies buried on the property. This has lead to claims of hauntings and based on our experiences, we would agree that this location is very active. Join us as we share our investigation of the Old Hamilton County Jail.

The Old Hamilton County Jail is located in Jasper, Florida and was built in 1893. The structure was constructed from red brick, steel and concrete and stands two-stories. Men and women were both housed in the jail and there were separate cells for not only them, but also African Americans. The jail was added to the Register of Historic Places in 1983 and the jail itself was used into the 1980s. Rehabilitation is being done and the building is in pretty good condition.

Jesse and Brooke of Brooksville PIT were our hosts and they took us on a tour of the property and shared what history they knew with us. They were a class act, care about the history and brought lots of equipment that they were generous in sharing. We started outside before heading into solitary confinement. The owner used ground penetrating radar on an area outside of solitary confinement and 84 bodies were detected. They only know of three hangings that took place at the jail. Two of those hangings were the last legal hangings east of the Mississippi River, making this an important historic location. Walter Durham was the name of the last man hanged and this happened in 1916. Durham shot and killed Sheriff's Officer W. Raiford Royals.

We then headed inside where Brooke explained that one half of the building was where the deputy sheriff lived with his family. The main floor had the master bedroom and the children slept upstairs. There was a sitting room with a fireplace on the first level, as well as the kitchen. Two children were born in the building. The local judge would come for dinner occasionally. The warden's wife cooked for more than just her family, she cooked for the inmates as well. That was until they finally hired a cook. As we said, there were women in the jail. Here Jesse and Brooke tell us about a couple of the female inmates. (OHCJ Women in Jail) We find out about the African American cell too. (OHCJ Black Cell)

The first room we investigated was a bedroom on the main floor that was used by the deputy warden's family and we weren't expecting much activity, but some responses we got from the dowsing rods were unsettling. (OHCJ Not Human) So this entity is claiming to be neither male or female and something other than human. We think we caught some kind of anomaly on EVP. There is a lot of background contamination, but this sounds odd. (OHCJ EVP Child) (OHCJ EVP Child Amped) We think it sounds like a child making a noise. Very similar to one we caught at Villisca House. The dowsing rods then did indicate that we had a little boy with us, but when we asked about age, the spirit seemed to have left.

Then we headed for a jail cell and things really picked up. We decided to do the Estes Method here and what worked good for us was using regular earbuds with shooting range ear muffs over the ears. Note: we take out a lot of the empty air in between responses. Diane felt like there were several spirits speaking at once because many voices came through and it was really hard to decipher what was being said. There were some really clear words though too. (OHCJ Estes 1) I laughed in the middle because I could tell the words were being said sloooowwwer. Then Kelly took over listening for awhile. (OHCJ Estes 2) Diane switched to a slower sweep to see if it worked better and here were the results. (OHCJ Estes 3) Too funny that you said touching REM Pod would not hurt and I say bullshit. So it makes us wonder now if they just doubted that to be true or if it does hurt a spirit? Kelly also invited the spirits to touch my hair. Remember that. Also remember that we got the name Bob. And very cool that it says there are 3 spirits there. We are going to get a third name.

Here is more of that Estes session. (OHCJ Estes 4) Rest of the session (OHCJ Estes 5) And that was the end of the Estes sessions. So it would seem we had 3 males and 1 female. Jesse checked in with us to see how things were going. (OHCJ Jesse) Sounded like another weird anomaly in that clip and as you heard, the flashlight turned on by itself. The EMF lit up periodically as we were in this cell. It went to red once when we asked them to get it there, but we mostly got a steady orange. We started a Facebook Live about this time and that video is up on our YouTube Channel, which you might want to check out so you can see what happens when Kelly jumps into a shower to see if she can coax some spirits out.

So Kelly did some dowsing rod questions in the cell and remember how she told the spirits they could touch Diane's hair? Well (OHCJ Hair) So now Diane has been touched again, but she wasn't the only one. Kelly was touched on her arm. (OHCJ Arm) Erina was watching the Live and suggested we try a dowsing rod session using the Estes Method, so we did. At the very beginning, you'll hear the Portal in the background. (OHCJ Estes Rods) So very interesting. It was like the spirits left right after responding they were there. Was it because Kelly was closed off? I love that Kelly could tell that the energy left with even the EMF going quiet. We continued and then the spirits indicated they wanted us to leave the cell. We moved to the African American cell and the EMF went crazy. This is where we had been told that people get scratched, but it was pretty uneventful for us in there.

We could hear another couple who were in a nearby cell and they mentioned the name Bob, so Diane went over to ask them about that. They had heard the name Bob come through the portal, Diane got that name and then we heard the portal say Bob again as Kelly started asking him questions with the dowsing rods. (OHCJ Bob) So there is definitely a Bob hanging out there. Bob claimed that he was a prisoner at the jail. Kelly also talked to Marney during this session and she could feel the difference in the rods. Next we headed to a cell where Brooke and another woman were using the SLS Camera. Kelly got in the shower and was joined by two entities. (OHCJ Shower) Based on this next bit of audio, we think one of the entities with Kelly was named Tom, whose name has come up for other investigators in the past. (OHCJ Tom) As you heard, the flashlight was going crazy. This next audio is fun. Kelly was finished playing in the shower and the spirit box responded. (OHCJ Shower Yep) Kelly got back in for a bit and there seemed to be a third entity that tried to join. It was real interesting to get to see and use the SLS Camera for ourselves. There was nothing else that the system could have been mapping other than Kelly.

We went back over to the living quarters and went upstairs to the children's room. There was a crib full of creepy dolls. We didn't get much interaction here other than a ball that moved ever so slightly. And the dowsing rods seemed to indicate a little girl was there with us. Our last spot that we investigated was solitary confinement. We used the dowsing rods and seemed to have a conversation with a former resident. (OHCJ Solitary)

We had such a great time at this location and plan to return again. Jails always provide us so many cool unexplained experiences and this one certainly did that. Is the Old Hamilton County Jail haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

HGB Ep. 379 - Molly Stark Sanatorium

Our sponsor for this episode is Wooga's June's Journey: The Lost Diaries Podcast. Check it out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast and anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Moment in Oddity - The Scaly-Foot Snail (Suggested by Jannae McCabe)

Imagine a life of hanging around hydrothermal events, deep in the ocean in temperatures hitting 750 degrees F and eating bacteria for food. Doesn't sound real pleasant, but it's a life that is perfect for the scaly-foot snail. There is little competition in this part of the ocean. And not much in the way of predators. But one has to ask, how does a little snail survive in this inhospitable environment? By building itself plate armor. This snail is the suit of armor of hot places in the ocean. The snail shell is made of iron sulfide. And the soft part of the snail that is technically known as the foot is covered with iron plates. This is the only animal on Earth that can utilize iron this way. The armor is similar to chain mail, so the snail is able to move easily. The snail has three layers to its shell: the top layer is  iron-plated, the bottom is a calcified material and there is a thick, squishy organic layer in between. The scaly-foot snail makes its food from bacteria in a process called chemosynthesis. A gland inside the snail synthesizes the bacteria into a food that the snail can eat. I love snails and have one in my fish tank, but I have to admit that an iron-plated snail, certainly is odd!

This Month in History -Yuri Gagarin First Man in Space

In the month of April, on the 12th, in 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Gagarin had worked as a foundryman at a steel plant before he joined the Soviet Air Forces and became a pilot. He and eleven other men would be selected as cosmonauts for the Soviet Space Programme. They all trained rigorously on a program similar to Olympic athletes. When the group voted for who among them should be the first in space, nearly everyone chose Gagarin. Six men, including Gagarin were broken off into the Sochi Six and received more specialized training with g-forces and oxygen starvation tests. They were then tested for readiness. Gagarin was formally nominated and he would make his flight into history aboard the Vostok 1. It would be his only flight into space. Gagarin orbited the Earth in a flight that lasted 108 minutes before returning home, a hero. He became an international celebrity, but continued to fly regular aircraft. He was killed at the age of 34 when his MiG-15 training jet crashed on March 27, 1968.

Molly Stark Sanatorium (Suggested by: Anthony Wallace and Jennifer Svoboda)

We have covered many former and abandoned sanatoriums and mental institutions on this podcast. It never ceases to amaze us how many of these buildings still stand. And all of them seem to have stories of haunting activity. The Molly Stark Sanatorium in Ohio is in really poor condition and thus, no one is allowed inside the buildings and a protective fence has been erected, complete with barbed wire at the top. Despite this fact, many people have been inside and claim to have had experiences. The Sanatorium became a hospital later caring for generally ill people, mentally ill people, addictions, the developmentally disabled and the elderly. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of the Molly Stark Sanatorium!

Stark County in Ohio is a fascinating place. This is located in the northeast part of Ohio and sits on the Allegheny Plateau. The mound builders were the first to live in this once vast wilderness. White settlers arrived with western expansion and signed treaties with the Native Americans, the Miamis, Wyandots, Shawnee and Iroquois, and began building cabins in a land with plenty of fresh water, abundant fish and a variety of wildlife. Eighty percent of these people that arrived around 1805, were German-speaking Pennsylvanians. Stark County split off from Columbiana County in 1807. The county was named for a man who never even ventured into Ohio, but he was a hero of the Revolutionary War, General John Stark. Before he died in 1822, he was the oldest surviving general from that war. He fought valiantly at the Battle of Bennington and is credited with coining the New Hampshire motto "Live Free or Die." His wife Molly cared for the sick and dying in New Hampshire and that is for whom the Molly Stark Sanatorium was named.

Molly Stark Sanatorium would be one of twenty-five tuberculosis hospitals in the state of Ohio and it followed the guidelines of providing patients with plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Stark County sold its interest in a sanitorium in the next county over, the Springfield Lake Tuberculosis Sanitorium and passed a bond issue in 1927 that would give the county $750,000 for a new 150-bed facility. Architect Albert Thayer of New Castle, Pennsylvania was hired to design the new hospital and this would be in the Spanish Revival style. The design included vaulted porticos, recessed balconies and lots of windows. There was also a rooftop veranda, ornate marble, stone decorations and chandaliers. The entire complex would include a nurses' home, superintendent's residence, a children’s hospital and a power plant. The grounds were grown as a beautiful garden to provide therapy and relaxation. The Molly Stark Sanatorium opened officially on August 23, 1929 just outside of Louisville, Ohio.

The Sanatorium had a unique system for housing patients. Anyone who was completely mobile would be placed on the first floor and they were given freedom to roam the grounds. Bedridden patients were placed on the top floor. Those who were partly ambulatory or in recovery and experiencing health improvements would be placed in the middle floors. The second floor was mainly for recreation with radios, a library and game room. In 1938, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) installed 1,200-feet of tunnels under the complex to connect the buildings. This made it easier for staff and patients to get around during bad weather. The east and west wings were expanded in 1952 under architect Charles E. Firestone when a $500,000 bond issue was passed. Another $250,000 was added by state and federal government. Firestone's additions added more roof-top porches and increased capacity to 230 patients.

The name was changed to Molly Stark Hospital after this and other patients were welcomed into the hospital. Advances in antibiotics helped in the treatment of TB at this time and lowered deaths by two-thirds, so not as many people with TB were cared for here, although some would remain until 1970. The few still left at that time were transferred to J.T. Nist Nursing Home. The hospital would eventually become a catch-all for the indigent, mentally ill, addicted and developmentally disabled. By July 1975, nearly forty staff had resigned and the hospital was running at a deficit. The writing was on the wall by 1995 and Molly Stark Hospital closed. It then sat abandoned while various groups decided what to do with the property. One suggestion by architect John Patrick Picard was to rehab the building and use it for an assisted living facility. A developer named Steve Coon thought that the property could be converted into retail space and apartments. Neither of these projects would go forward for one significant road block. It was going to cost nearly $10 million to remove asbestos and get the buildings prepared for rehabilitation.

So that left demolition on the table. But the buildings continued to stand. A suspicious fire started in the main building in 2008. Today, the former sanatorium is part of Molly Stark Park after the county park board bought the property for $1 in 2008. Outdoor walking tours are offered and there is a Celebration Garden. There are plans to develop the 35 acres into something in the future, but for now the abandoned buildings just sit falling apart, which is tragic because they are interesting architectural and historical structures. Many windows are broken out, lighting fixtures hang loose from the ceiling, paint is peeling and rooms are full of debris left behind from its former life. Lead paint and asbestos fears, despite the county receiving $200,000 for asbestos clean-up in 2004, have kept officials from allowing anyone in the buildings and they are regularly patrolled. This hasn't stopped stories from being told about hauntings.

Some stories date back to the time when the hospital was open. Nurses claimed that the elevators would run by themselves and both staff and patients claimed to see shadow figures in various parts of the main building. After the hospital closed in 1995, people on the outside would claim to see glowing lights inside the building. These orbs of light are mostly seen on the second floor. Disembodied voices were heard echoing down the hallways and down shafts. Former patients have been seen looking out windows. There are some who claim that nothing negative is in the former hospital because it was named for a caring woman and the care offered there was good as well, but we found a few stories from urban explorers claiming that something evil is in the main building. These were comments from the Dark Lucidity blog:

Author Brian Moreland who hosts the blog, wrote of his visit to Molly Stark, "After walking down the back side of the east wing, we came to a juncture where the west wing began. Here there was a window which appeared to have been completely removed and hadn’t been boarded up like all the other ground level entrances. I climbed into a very small room which looked more like it had been used for storage purposes when the hospital had been open. The single door out led me into a hallway filled with debris along with odds and ends furniture. Although the lighting was dimmer in the building, I could still clearly see the elevator doors off to the left, which made the hairs on my arms stand up. As I continued shooting photos while walking down the hallway, I began to hear faint movement on the steps just down near the end. The closer I got to those steps the more intense the alarms starting going off in my head that there was more than one entity approaching. I have always been sensitive to paranormal activity and so I used this as another tool of investigation. And at this point my instincts screamed at me to get out! And so I did very quickly."

Unknown wrote on March 24, 2019, "I went in that place one time and will never do it again. There is evil and it's powerful. Whatever it was wouldn't let me go to the second floor it paralyzed me on the stairs. I couldn't move. Didn't matter how hard I tried. So I prayed. That's when it pushed me off the stairs. And when I hit the ground I had control of my body again. I never ran so fast on my life. Whatever it was didn't follow me."

Unknown wrote on July 5, 2016, "I have been in the basement of Molly Stark and felt very strange and negative entities coming down the steps that run to the right of the elevator shaft, if you're coming in from the back. I left pretty quickly after that, as I wasn't going to wait for them to reach me."

Several paranormal experiences are related by police officers, giving them even more credibility. Former Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson is one of those men. Nearly twenty years ago, Swanson was escorting a group of jail inmates through the buildings on a sunny afternoon. Their purpose was to retrieve any furniture or other items that could be sold at a county auction. The group wound their way through the stairwells, corridors and rooms. Swanson said, "We were back down on the first-floor in one of the hallways and all of a sudden we heard a bed being dragged across the floor." The group went to the next floor up from where the sound seemed to have originated. They were stunned to see that there was an area in the dust that clearly had been cleared away as though something had been scooted across the floor and drug through the dust. There was no one else in the building and the group had stuck together. Swanson said, "After we got up there and there was nobody there, you get a little chill and you think, ‘What in the hell did that?’ The thing is not going to move there on its own. I guess I’m a skeptic, but what I heard was what I heard."

Canton police Lt. Dennis Pellegrino, was the only officer to spend the night inside Molly Stark. He was there on duty to protect the guns and evidence stored in the east wing after the police department set up offices there. They had no security system for the first couple of nights and Pellegrino was tasked with keeping everything secure. He didn't get restful sleep. At first, he blamed all the noises that he heard on the fact that the building was old and the pipes were creaking and groaning and the boiler system was noisy. But then after 2am, he was awakened by a horrendous dragging noise above him. He ran upstairs thinking someone had broken in and found that a bed had been moved. He knew the room well and knew that the bed was not where it had been before. Pellegrino was told a story by a member of the SWAT team. The team used one of the buildings for training exercises and this officer said he saw a man in a brown suit run across a hallway. Other officers claimed to see a man in a brown suit peering out of windows. There was no one in this building other than officers in uniforms. Pellegrino said. "You got a sense there’s something there." 

Former sheriff’s inspector Steve Ready, had stayed at the Stark Metropolitan Narcotics Unit office, inside the former hospital, late one night in 2001. He was the only person in the building when he heard a voice say, "Steve." Ready said, "And I said, ‘yeah,’ and there was no response. I looked up and no one was there. I didn’t recognize the voice — it was just so off-the-cuff ... and then of course, you get up and scurry to the hall to see if anybody is there ... and I was alone. It sent chills up my spine, and needless to say, I gathered up my things that night (and left)."

Former Louisville Police Chief Andrew Turowski found himself alone inside the Molly Stark metro unit wing too one night. Turowski said, "I certainly heard and saw things that I’d be at a loss to explain. I’m not going to suggest it’s paranormal or ghosts, but at the same time I’d be at a loss to explain it. I think a number of people who were out there might report to you it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear things on the floor above us, especially furniture moving." And he added that even the police dog seemed to be aware of a strange presence. He explained, "One thing that always struck me as odd is, periodically, he would just kind of stand up in the office and walk to the door and look down the hallways, and all the hair on the back of his neck would stand up and he would howl only in a way that he would in that hospital."

In the Canton Repository, "Mary Lou Patterson, 76, of Plain Township, visited the former Molly Stark Hospital on a recent afternoon in search of the doorway where her late mother was photographed shortly after the tuberculosis sanitarium opened in 1929. Patterson’s mother, Lucy Holmes Ferraro, was a nurse who cared for younger patients in a smaller building adjacent to the primary hospital. A black-and-white image captures a day she was waiting for her father to pick her up from work. The daughter found that marble-framed entrance. Vines, overgrowth, fractured concrete, wood-patched windows, other decay engulfed the formerly ornate building. 'This is the first time I have ever felt the presence of my mom,” Patterson said. “I just felt my mom standing there; it was warm, it was good and I cried.'"

Reverend Jerry Walker has a lot of experience investigating haunted places and although he's never been inside Molly Stark, he believes that it is haunted. He claimed, "I was walking on the outside. I looked up cause it looked like something was watching me. And I looked up and I saw something staring at me from the balcony of Molly Stark."

Mary Lynn Soehnlen of Louisville worked as a nurse's aid starting in 1974. She helped in both the geriatric unit and the handicapped children's unit. Nothing unusual would happen during the day, but come night, things got strange. Soehnlen recalled, "My first night on midnights, they said if you hear stuff or see stuff, don’t be alarmed. It is kinda spooky. I found out for myself. There was a couple times when the elevator came down and opened and there was nobody in there." The aide also believed that a spirit used to mess with a young patient's oxygen tank. It had an alarm that would go off when it needed ice added to it. Many times right after she added ice and would walk away, the alarm would go off. On one occasion when she turned around and looked back, she saw a white mist float across the room. The white mist wasn't the only manifestation that she saw. She also saw a black figure run across a balcony, blocking out the light, so she knew she wasn't imagining the figure. She would sometimes hear disembodied voices coming from the underground tunnels and furniture in the break room would move on its own.

Hospitals and sanatoriums are notorious for being haunted. More than likely because of all the death and tuberculosis took many people in the primes of their lives and in a painful way. Could some of these spirits still be wandering the corridors? Would they remain if the buildings are finally demolished? Do they just want people to visit and hear their stories? Is the former Molly Stark Sanatorium haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

HGB Ep. 378 - Thornewood Castle

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Moment in Oddity - William Cosper and Lightning (Suggested by: Breanne Sanford)

We live in the lightning capital of the United States here in Florida. We've even had a scary incident in which one of my managers, whom also is a neighbor that lives a couple of blocks away, had his house struck by lightning. The bolt went through the roof and hit his son's bed, whom thankfully was not in the bed at the time. It was a reminder of how dangerous lightning can be. But your chances of being hit by lightning is about 1 in 500,000. Unless you are William Yeldell Cosper. Then you might be hit more than once and even have issues in the afterlife! Cosper was born in 1844 and and died in 1919 at the age of seventy-five. In that year, he was struck by lightning while standing on his front porch. He was injured, but survived.After recovering, he went home and more than likely stayed off the front porch. That wouldn't save him from being struck again. He was hit this time while inside his house and this strike proved to be fatal. His family was devastated and had him buried in the Childersburg Cemetery in Alabama. The darn lightning would not leave Cosper to rest in peace. His headstone was hit and destroyed by lightning. The family pooled their funds and had another tombstone made. And guess what? Yep, the headstone was struck by lightning and destroyed again. The family couldn't afford to replace it, so it still sits in bits to this day. Being struck by lightning four times, twice while in the grave, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Liquid-Fueled Rocket Launched Successfully

In the month of March, on the 16th, in 1926, the first liquid-fueled rocket successfully launches. The Chinese had developed the first rockets out of gunpowder in the early part of the 13th century and these were probably glorified firework rockets. Europe would follow later that same century with gunpowder-propelled rockets. There was a man named Robert H. Goddard whom had big dreams and found inspiration in the writing of H.G. Wells. He wanted to build a rocket that would go to space, but clearly gunpowder rockets were never going to be able to do that. He was a physics teacher and he proved that rockets could propel in an airless vacuum-like space. After that, he started experimenting with various liquid fuels like hydrogen and oxygen. Goddard made his test rocket out of thin pipes. It was ten feet tall and he filled it with liquid oxygen and gasoline. On that 16th day of March, Goddard launched his rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts and it traveled for 2.5 seconds at a speed of about 60 mph. It reached an altitude of 41 feet and landing 184 feet away. Goddard was initially ridiculed in the press for his ideas as they scoffed at the idea of a rocket to the moon with the New York Times writing in 1920, "[Dr. Goddard] seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” Goddard continued working on rockets until his death in 1945. He never got to witness the work of NASA and all they would accomplish, but his name does appear on NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Thornewood Castle

Thornewood Castle is located in Lakewood, Washington. The English Tudor/Gothic mansion is the only private castle on the West Coast and is known as the house that love built. The property and castle are so gorgeous that they have become a popular venue for weddings and have been featured in several films and series, including Stephen King's "Rose Red." Which makes us wonder, is the castle really haunted? The answer seems to be yes. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Thornewood Castle!

Lakewood, Washington was originally known as The Prairie, which was a beautiful area that the Nisqually and Steilacom Native American tribes used as a gathering spot and hunting ground. Before long, settlers and trappers arrived in the area and the Hudson Bay Company built a fur trading post here known Fort Nisqually in 1833. As fur trading declined, Fort Nisqually closed and was sold to the United States in 1869. Uprisings between settlers and the Native Americans occurred throughout these decades of the fort and settlers building farms and the Nisqually Chief Leschi would be wrongly accused of murder and hanged in 1858. Several mills would be built in the Praire, along with a schoolhouse and the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway would make its way to nearby Tacoma. Homes would eventually erase the Prairie and many estates would be built along the shorelines of the lakes that remained. One of those stately manors would be The Thorne Mansion. 

The Thorne Mansion would be named for the man who had it built, Chester Thorne. Chester had been born in New York City to Edwin and Charlotte Thorne in 1863. The Thorne family went back to 1645, when William Thorne settled on Long Island. Chester's father worked in the leather trade, but Chester had his sights set on other things. He went into civil engineering getting his initial training at a military school in Poughkeepsie, N. Y. and then he attended Yale. His first big job was with the Missouri Pacific Railway. He eventually moved to Tacoma in 1890 and got involved with the National Bank of Commerce and later became its president. The Panic of 1893 took many people and banks down, but Thorne had such good financial prowess, he kept the bank stable and eventually it flourished again. He co-founded the Port of Tacoma and became involved with a variety of Pacific Northwest Companies through the years from Pacific Alaska Navigation Company to Tacoma Savings Bank & Trust Company to Alaska Pacific Steamship Company to Pacific Cold Storage Company and even helped in the development of Rainier National Park. Chester had pushed to have Mount Rainier named Mount Tacoma. He became the first president of Rainier National Park Company.

A few years before moving to Tacoma, Chester married Anna Hoxie in New York City. The couple would have four children, a son named Edwin and three daughters, Charlotte, Anita and Patricia. Based on Find-a-Grave, it seems that only one daughter was still alive when Chester passed away. Chester had always dreamed of having a uniquely designed country estate and he made that dream a reality in 1908 when construction started on Thornewood Castle. The architect was Kirtland Kelsey Cutter and the style was in the Tudor Gothic. To make sure this estate was authentic, Chester actually purchased a 400-year-old  Elizabethan manor in England and then had the whole thing dismantled and shipped across the pond. And since this was the early 1900s, there was no Panama Canal. So three ships had to make their way down the Atlantic Ocean and around Cape Horn and up through the Pacific Ocean to Washington State. This included the front door, an oak staircase, oak paneling, red brick. There were also 100 pieces of stained glass that were salvaged from European churches dating back to the 15th and 16th century. This collection of art glass had belonged to an English duke who collected it over forty years.

The initial construction started with a three-foot-thick foundation. The exterior walls were built from concrete and the imported brick was then reinforced with steel. They were ten inches thick. The floors were made from eighteen inches of concrete. Construction took three years and when the house was completed, it had fifty-four rooms, twenty-two bedrooms and twenty-two bathrooms covering 27,000 square feet. It had cost a million dollars to build. There are seventeen chimneys made from sandstone, but only around half of them are actually connected to fireplaces fashioned from Florentine marble. The other half are ornamental. Forty servants were employed at the house to meet the needs of the family.

The manor was not only grand, but so were the grounds. Frederick Law Olmsted was a renowned landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York City and was credited with being the Father of American landscape architecture. He must have taught his sons, the Olmsted Brothers, well because they became renowned landscape architects in their own rights and they designed Thornewood's landscape. There were 100 acres total that made up the estate and they would turn 37 acres into an English Garden. Nisqually River soil was laid out over that acreage, eighteen inches thick. Wisteria, pillar roses, purple clematis and climbing hydrangea were planted. Sculpted fountains and many pieces of statuary were also included. The "Kingsdale Hounds" are part of this collection. This garden is part of the Smithsonian Institute Heritage Exhibit. A special sunken garden was designed for Anna, which she dubbed her secret garden. This garden was featured in several publications. Nearly all rooms had lake views, but Anna's sitting room view was her garden. Twenty-eight gardeners had to be employed to keep up with the grounds and one in particular was known as the color gardener. That person's responsibility was to coordinate color schemes according to the seasons.

Two presidents visited the manor, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Chester, or Chess as his friends called him, had left his mark on Tacoma by the time he died in 1927. The Tacoma Times wrote of him after his death, "He was one of this city’s best loved men, a great leader in industrial and civic enterprises, a true friend to hundreds in all walks of life. He was the father of the Port of Tacoma and to it he gave much of his time during the later years of his life, serving as Port Commissioner." Anna and Chester had been married forty-one years at the time. She would continue to live another twenty-seven years and passed away in 1954. The Thorne's daughter, Anita, married and she and her husband, Cadwallader Colden Corse, lived at the mansion with their son and Anna. Just three weeks after Chester passed Cadwallader was taken to the hospital by ambulance with a serious injury. A bullet from a rifle lodged in his head behind his right eyeball, which had to be removed. The claim was that this was an accident that occurred while he was carrying the rifle, but no one knows for sure what happened.

Anita eventually divorced Cadwallader and married Major General David Stone who was building the nearby Fort Lewis. He was eventually tranferred to the Panama Canal and Anita left Thornewood Castle in 1937. Her mother, Anna, found the big house too much and too lonely and she moved into a smaller Georgian home in Tacoma that she had built. Eventually, Anita and the General came back to Thornewood and Anna joined them once again and she died at the manor. When General Stone died in 1957, Anita sold the house to Harold St. John. He left the mansion on four acres and sold the rest of the land for 30 home sites. Parts of the house were turned into apartments. St. John sold the property in 1965 to Frank McMillan and he later sold it to Perry Palmer. Steve Redwine bought it in the 1980s and it was added to the Register of Historic Places. Richard and Debbie Mirau bought Thornewood in 1995 and they would be the ones to bring the manor back to its former grandeur. Deanna and Wayne Robinson bought the house in 2000. 

The renovations they continued on the house were painstaking and amazing. The great hall had been blocked off into rooms to make an apartment. The fireplace was bricked in to about half its size. Ceiling molding was damaged in many places. They redid everything, opening up the hall once again, restoring the fireplace to its original size and redoing the wood floors and wood paneling . They used a special technique to restore the ceiling molding. To make sure it all matched, they taped off areas that were undamaged and used a rubber compound to make a mold they could use to make new ceiling molding.

Today, Thornewood Castle is a bed-and-breakfast featuring suites filled with antiques and historical pieces. There are also vacation rentals on the property and special events like weddings and corporate retreats are hosted here. The manor has also appeared in several movies and television series. Stephen King’s "Rose Red," a made-for-television movie set in Seattle, was filmed at the castle in 2001 and aired on ABC-TV on January 27, 28, and 31, 2002. A lot of restoration and construction was done for the movie and paid for by the movie. The Robinsons have collected memoribilia from the filming that is at the manor. Guests can watch their copy of Rose Red too. The prequel to Rose Red was "The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer," which was written by Ridley Pearson and this series was filmed mainly at Thornewood Castle. Daniel Day Lewis' film "There Will Be Blood" used exterior shots of the house. Bly Manor from the series "The Haunting of Bly Manor" seems to favor the castle as well, especially with its grand gardens.

And this has inspired us to go down a little rabbit hole. For those who don't know, the Haunting of Bly Manor was inspired by several works written by Henry James, in particular The Turn of the Screw. James was inspired to write that story after he heard about a haunting at an estate called Hinton Ampner in Hampshire, England. There had once been a Tudor mansion that stood about fifty yards from the current structure there today. That house had acquired a sinister reputation. It seems the guy who had once lived here, Lord Stawel, was thought to be an evil guy. After his wife died, he took her younger sister as his mistress. The two were rumored to have had a baby, but the child disappeared. The mistress died and many said it was some kind of revenge from the dead wife or some type of karma. Lord Stawel died a year later. Shortly after that, people started reporting hearing strange sounds coming from the house. Locals also claimed to see the apparition of Lord Stalwel. The Ricketts family moved into the manor in 1765. 

They had a few strange things happen, so they resolved that something was haunting the place. Mr. Ricketts went away fro business and the activity increased dramatically. Mary Ricketts reported hearing the swishing of a woman's dress, a disembodied shrill female voice and then a man's voice that she found unsettling. The male and female voices would continue throughout the nights. Mary said they would start when she went to bed and continued until daybreak. She became so frightened that she asked her brother for help and he brought a friend. The two men searched every room with pistols and found nothing. But soon, they heard disembodied groans and felt unseen things pass by them. Mary's brother said the house was unfit for living in and Mrs. Ricketts and her children fled it. By 1797, the manor was an abandoned wreck and so it was torn down. Workers found a box full of bones and a small skull under the floor. Could this have been the baby of Lord Stalwel. Was this why the place was so haunted? One can see why Henry James was inspired by the location and its stories.

But how about Thornewood Castle. Does it have stories? The answer seems to be yes and it all starts back with the construction of the manor. Native Americans helped to construct Thornewood Castle. Just like slave builders we have talked about on previous episodes, the Native Americans had certain customs that they followed when building to help prevent bad energy or spirits from coming into a home. These Native Americans made these hanging sticks that form the shape of a wishbone and that is what some people call them, "Wish Bone Sticks." They placed them in various places along the foundation wall in the basement. The hope was thought that these would not only protect the Thorne's, but bring them good luck. It's really cool to think that despite having five owners, no one touched or removed those sticks. The Robinsons went so far as to host a 2004 Smudging Ceremony to recharge, if you will, the sticks. Rayna and Bob Bearclaw conducted the ceremony. From the Thornewood Castle website, "White sage and cedar are burned and the smoke is then fanned over the object with eagle and hawk feathers. This is to cleanse, purify, and bless objects, homes, and people. It works to lift and dispel negativity and darkness, similar to lifting a burr off an animal’s fur. In the same manner, we as humans sometimes allow and engage depression, negative thoughts, despair and the weight of daily rigor to stick to us and weigh us down. This ceremony helps us to actively dislodge these encumbrances and frees us to once again allow the positive forces and light to renew our spirit."

Anna Thorne loved this home and she loved her garden. She would sit for hours at the window, gazing on that secret garden. Today, Anna's former room is the Bridal Suite and it has been a center of activity for years. Guests and staff have reported seeing Anna seated at the window, looking out at the garden. A mirror that is original to the house sits in this room and there are several people who have claimed to see Anna's reflection behind them. And man and lady have been seen on the main staircase wearing clothes from another era. The man smells of old leather and is wearing a leather outfit. The woman wears an Empire style dress with a high waist and some garland in her hair. Could this be the Thornes? Chester is said to be seen both inside the house and on the grounds wearing riding attire.

The Smoking Room has activity connected to the lighting. The spirits in the manor don't seem to like much light and it is in this room that they have attempted to fix the lighting to be more suitable. Owner Deanna Robinson had noticed on several occasions that when she entered the room, she would find a random light bulb unscrewed. She would screw it back in only to find a different light bulb unscrewed. Another lamp in a different room had arms that could swing and a guest witnessed those arms swing erratically on their own until they crashed into each other and shattered the light globes. The glass fell into a pile right under the lamp. Weird Washington visited the manor to interview Deanna and they wrote, "When I visited Thornewood Castle, we talked in a side parlor. In the middle of our interview, I noticed that one of the light fixtures was not working. Sure enough, the light bulb was unscrewed just enough to turn it off. I am reasonably certain that it was lit when we walked in. Deanna believed that this is Mr. Thorne’s way of getting people’s attention. He got mine."

Out by the lake, the apparition of a child has been seen. It so startles guests that many rush out to grab the child before they drown, only to find that the child disappears. It is believed that this is the grandchild of  former owner who drowned in the lake. Activity seemed to pick up during the filming of Rose Red. Several scenes of the miniseries Rose Red were filmed at Thornewood, and the crew found the filming didn’t go that easily, possibly due to the hauntings there. Workers reported that their tools went missing. Sometimes they’d find them again, other times not. There were odd power outages, and doors opened and closed on their own, sometimes interfering with filming certain scenes.

Almost like a scene from "The Others," Deanna felt as though she were the ghost during an experience she had when alone in the the great hall. The Thorne's loved to host cocktail parties in this room. Deanna was reading a book in there when she suddenly heard the sounds of a cocktail party going on around her. There was the sound of music, the clinking of glasses, the noise of people dancing and disembodied conversation. It was as though she were sitting at a cocktail party hosted at her house, but she was the only one in the room. She felt unnerved as though she were the ghost. She decided to get out of the great hall and leave them to their party. Deanna believes that the great hall is more than just haunted. She thinks there is some kind of vortex in there. And that is because she saw it one night on the grand staircase. She then saw several spirits come through.

AGHOST Paranormal Team investigated in February 2020. They tried various experiments and captured a couple of EVP. One features a female voice saying, "Behind you" and the other a male voice saying "Mark" when asked what his name was. They got nothing in the great hall. They captured some disembodied footsteps as well. What was interesting is that they were staying in a lakeside apartment and that is where they caught most of their evidence.  

One guest wrote, "The hotel is beautiful, I was staying the night for a wedding. I stayed in a colonial style room. Occasionally you would get a scent of smoking tobacco or a cigar, and I went into the “media room” just a room with a bunch of dvds to pick from, and no one was in there with me. The floor creaked right behind me and I could feel as if someone stepped right behind my right leg. I ran back to my room and my sister in law said I had no color in my face."

Other activity reported by guests include a guest looking at something in the third floor closet when she felt someone behind her. When she turned, she saw a man in period clothing with his hands on his hips as though he were perturbed that she was going through the closet. She turned away and looked back and he was gone. A white-haired female apparition has been seen going into the office, but no one is in there when she is followed. There is a hall of mirrors with a carpet runner down the middle. This runner is always off center. Employees put it back to center and even though no one is in the house, they'll find it off center once again. A man wearing a gray suit has been seen in the Music Room. And this story is funny. Apparently a woman and her daughter were looking at a portrait painting and insinuated that the woman in the portrait was ugly. They both felt a need to apologize as though someone had over heard them. Later, they went to go down the stairs and the woman fell down right in front of the portrait. Her daughter laughed and then proceeded to slip down several stairs before catching herself. Perhaps they were clumsy. Or was it the picture?

Thornewood Castle has to be one of the most beautiful manor houses we've seen. And it has the perfect creep factor to be used in any horror movie. Does it have real creeps? Is Thornewood Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

HGB Ep. 377 - The Eastland Disaster

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Moment in Oddity - Pink Lemonade Origins (Suggested by: Scott Booker)

Summer has made lemonade a very popular beverage. It's quite simple, a little sugar, some water and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Lemonade was enjoyed as far back as the 17th century and grew in more popularity in the 19th century. At this same time, pink lemonade came onto the scene. An article in an 1879 issue of West Virginia’s Wheeling Register was one of the earliest mentions of pink lemonade and it was something created by traveling circuses. There are a couple of narratives about how pink lemonade was invented. Henry E. Allott had run away with the circus when he was a teenager. He was working the lemonade stand and enjoying some cinnamon candies died red and he accidentally dropped a bunch into the vat of lemonade. There was no time to make a new batch, so he served the lemonade that was now pink. That sounds pretty good, but the other story is just gross. Supposedly, a circus performer had washed her pink tights in some water and a man named Pete Conklin grabbed that water because he needed to make a batch of lemonade. The lemonade had a pink hue because of the tights. Today, pink lemonade is sometimes made with strawberries or red raspberry or grenadine or watermelon or cranberry juice. But generally, pink lemonade is just like regular lemonade, only with a pink hue. We love that pink lemonade is connected to the circus, but its origin, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Michelangelo Born

In the month of March, on the 6th, in 1475, artist Michelangelo was born. Born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni in Caprese, Italy, he was often referred to as the divine one. Michelangelo got his first apprenticeship at the age of thirteen. By the following year, he was being paid as an artist. He would paint and sculpt, but also wrote poetry and became an architect. He was the quintessential Renaissance man and many of his works are the most famous in the world. The Pieta and David are two of them and both were completed before he was thirty-years-old. I didn't realize until I saw the original David in Italy that the statue features David right before he kills the giant Goliath. You can see the rock in one of his hands and the sling over his shoulder and if you look closely, there is a vein sticking out in his neck as though he is stressed and his eyes are intense. One of the greatest frescos is his work that appears on the Sistine Chapel, all of which he painted while laying down on his back. Major parts of St. Peter's Bascilica were designed by Michelangelo in his seventies. He lived to be eighty-eight, dying in 1564 in Rome. He was buried in Florence at the Basilica of Santa Croce.

The Eastland Disaster (Suggested by: Kimmie Page)

The Eastland Disaster was the most deadly shipwreck in Great Lakes history. More passengers would die in this disaster than in the sinking of the Titanic. This was supposed to be a fun excursion to the grounds of a company picnic. The annual employee appreciation event had become a much anticipated break from the six-day work weeks that the lower middle class employees endured. On this fateful day in 1915, hundreds would die including whole families and leave a mark forever on Chicago. Locations that housed the dead until they could be identified are still haunted by the tragic event, both figuratively and literally. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Eastland Disaster!

The S.S. Eastland was nicknamed the Speed Queen of the Great Lakes. The ship had been commissioned by the Michigan Steamship Company in 1902 and was built by the Jenks Ship Building Company of Port Huron, Michigan. That speed that her nickname indicated was not an original part of her make-up. The steamer was actually top-heavy with no keel and the ballast tanks were poorly designed. The steamer would later be outfitted to run faster, but these additions would cause issues with her stability. Metacentric height is the distance between fully upright and the point at which a ship will capsize. It was said of the Eastland that fully loaded, it would need a metacentric height of two to four feet. With the changes made, its metacentric height had been reduced to four inches. In 1904, the Eastland had her first issue with nearly capsizing. The steamship company lowered the capacity limits and did away with some cabins in response. The ship would continue to list through the years when cargo was being loaded. The steamer was sold four times before 1914 and ended up on Lake Michigan.

The weather was cool and damp on the morning of July 24, 1915 when the excursion steamer Eastland was loading up for a trip across Lake Michigan. Captain Harry Pedersen was at the helm. Within minutes she would have 2,573 passengers and crew on the steamer. The atmosphere aboard the steamer was festive. A band played in the main cabin while passengers leaned against the railings to wave goodbye to friends. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best with the women sporting wide-brimmed hats, long dresses, corsets, stockings and fancy boots. Employees of the Western Electric Company's Hawthorne Works were being shuttled from downtown Chicago to Washington Park in Michigan City, Indiana that was 38 miles across the lake for a grand picnic. There were five vessels in total that had been chartered by the company to carry some 7,000 people. This was not a cheap treat for the employees who paid $1 per ticket when the best paid people in the plant made $17 a week.

A light drizzle chased many of the women and children below deck. Surely they had to have noticed that the ship was beginning to list from side to side after boarding was complete. Some may have thought it was a little bit of an issue, but most ignored the danger, including the Captain. The ship was only carrying 53 more passengers then it was built for, but there may have been another issue no one had considered and ironically, it was a safety measure. After the Titanic sank, it became important to make sure that there was room for all passengers on lifeboats. This made sense on transcontinental ships, but for a ship sailing on the Great Lakes, it was overkill. The added weight of the lifeboats became problematic. The Eastland listed to one side and then the other. The sway grew deeper. The open gangways soon had water pouring in and the engine room was flooded. The crew from the engine room ran for the main deck realizing that the steamer was taking on too much water. Within five minutes, the Eastland listed to a 45-degree angle.

The angle was enough that objects inside the boat started shifting drastically. A refrigerator slid across the steamer and pinned a woman. The piano on the promenade deck rolled and crushed two women. Two minutes after the 45-degree list, the Eastland capsized. The time was 7:30am and the steamer was still tied to the dock, but now lying on its side in 20 feet of water. No lifesaving equipment could be launched. Some of the passengers were able to climb over the starboard railing and walk across the hull to safety, but many more were in trouble of drowning. And imagine being on a dance floor and being rocked violently to one side and then rolled over. Many people would be severely injured just from that action, much less the fact that water was rushing into the steamer. The Eastland's captain, Harry Pedersen, was one of the lucky people who just walked across the hull.


 

Harlan Babcock wrote in the Chicago Herald, "In an instant, the surface of the river was black with struggling, crying, frightened, drowning humanity. Wee infants floated about like corks." The good people of Chicago went into action. Some onlookers jumped into the water to try to save the drowning. Helen Repa was a Western Electric nurse who had her ticket for the picnic and was riding the trolley to the dock when she heard the screams. She ran off the trolley when it stopped and hopped into the back of an ambulance to get to the scene quicker. She said, "I shall never be able to forget what I saw. People were struggling in the water, clustered so thickly that they literally covered the surface of the river. A few were swimming; the rest were floundering about, some clinging to a little raft that had floated free, others clutching at anything they could reach – at bits of wood, at each other, grabbing each other, pulling each other down, and screaming! The screaming was the most horrible of all." A warehouse worker made the same observation, claiming that he finally had to cover his ears because he couldn't take the trauma of the sound. The nurse asked a department store to send over 500 blankets and then asked several restaurants to send soup and coffee. She loaded the less injured into cars, asking the drivers to take the people home and not one driver refused. 

Other people on the dock started throwing anything that would float into the water to give victims something to hold on to until they were rescued. Within thirty minutes, all the survivors had been rescued and now the rescue effort turned to recovery. Priests stood by to give last rites, but that would be in vein because people were either alive or dead. Trucks were brought to the dock to help transport the dead because there was clearly not enough ambulances to handle the numbers. The Second Regiment Armory was converted to a morgue. Bodies were in rows of 85 and family members were invited inside in small groups, so they could identify their loved ones. Some jerks made their way in as well to gawk or steal jewelry. People who walked through reported horrifying scenes of couples locked into death grips with one another, mothers clutching their babies, little children lying in rows together and everyone dressed in their white Sunday best that was now muddied and stinking of the foul water of the river.

Many of these families were Hungarian, Polish or Czech and soon those communities would be awash in black crepe as they mourned their dead. Fifty-two grave diggers working twelve-hour shifts could not keep up with the demand. The same trucks that hauled victims from the tragedy, now hauled bodies to their funerals and to cemeteries. A Model T Ford hauled all the caskets of the Sindelar family, seven of them. The Red Cross was in town for days bringing relief to victims. The Coroner's Office formed an inquiry immediately after securing all the bodies and awarded those who helped in rescue efforts with a star that read "Valued Services Rendered." These heroes also received a letter that read, "I trust that you will accept this little token not for its intrinsic value or worth, but in memory of this terrible of all disasters which should teach us the lesson of 'Safety First' and of extending to our fellowman kindness, courtesy and consideration."

How was it that the Eastland was repeatedly certified as safe by inspectors? Apparently, since the listing of the Eastland would only occur during loading and unloading and everything was fine once she was underway, they figured she was a safe ship. Who would think that a steamer would capsize when still at the wharf? Maybe nobody thought that would happen, but Chicagoans nicknamed the Eastland a "hoodoo boat." They knew the boat was dangerous, but we imagine that the Western Electric employees were so excited for a day off and a picnic paid for by their company that they thought nothing of the fact that they were boarding a ship that many knew was not up to par. In the end, 844 died. More people than had died in the Chicago Fire of 1871, making this one of Chicago's deadliest catastrophes. 

Some of the victims: Twenty-one year old William Holtz had lived at home with his parents and siblings. He had been planning on quitting his job so he could stay home and help care for his blind mother. Jethro Richard Beel, Jr and his wife Marguerite were dancing aboard the steamer when it capsized and they both survived that initial issue. They made their way to a porthole window and Jethro pushed Marguerite through, but he could not follow because he was too big to get through. Marguerite managed to get to the surface of the water and was pulled to safety. The couple had a two-year old son who was not with them. Charles Bender was aboard the Eastland because he was going to visit his girlfriend Pauline Olach in Shallowboy, Michigan. He died on the steamer and his parents wouldn't speak to his girlfriend because they blamed her for his death. Raymond and Ione Ehrhardt would survive the tragedy when their uncle saved them, but their parents passed away. They were ten and six at the time. Bessie Dvorak was an ace swimmer, but she was no match for people drowning around her who clawed her and took her below the surface. Her parents saw that Bessie's skin was shredded by fingernails when they found her at the morgue.

Edward Gatens and his fiancee Anna Quinn, died together on the ship. Harry Foster and his wife Rachel had invited Rachel's sister and brother-in-law to join them at the picnic. Fate stepped in and forced the brother-in-law to have to work, so the couple skipped the picnic and were not with Harry and Rachel when they died in the tragedy. Willie Guenther didn't work for Western Electric, but a friend invited him to the picnic. Willie almost missed the train that day as he was running late, but the conductor saw him running and stopped the train. It is believed that Willie was crushed by something large inside the ship as he did not drown. Marenka Homola was three and half years old when she was left clinging to her father in the Chicago River. Her mother and younger sister had already perished. She and her father would be rescued, but she would never get on boat or swim in water for the rest of her life. She was one of the last known survivors of the tragedy when she died at 91 in February of 2003. All the members of 22 families perished in the tragedy.

Now that victims were buried, the people of Chicago wanted answers. And because many wanted blood, Captain Pedersen and much of his crew were taken into custody for their own protection. Chief Engineer Joseph Erickson was represented by Clarence Darrow when the trials finally got underway. He was the one that would take much of the blame because he was in charge of the ballast tanks. It was said that his mismanagement kept the ship from righting itself. But as we already pointed out, this ship was built and remodeled in a way that made it unsafe. And this was known. Erickson became a convenient scapegoat as he died during the trial. The Captain was not prosecuted. The owners of the steamer were not prosecuted either and no inspectors received any blame.

As would happen in our modern era, families filed civil lawsuits for wrongful death and injury. There were around 800 suits and very few ended up paying out anything and the amounts were miniscule. The Eastland was said to only be worth $46,000 and the salvage company had to be paid first. The Eastland was raised on August 14, 1915 and eventually sold to the Navy in 1917. The steamer became the USS Wilmette and served as a training vessel and gunboat from 1918 to 1945. She saw no combat and was scrapped out in 1946. This event was not as famous as other maritime tragedies probably because no one famous or rich was aboard, but the Eastland Disaster left a mark on Chicago's low and middle-class immigrant working families. And perhaps that is why many spirits of the victims have not been at rest. There are ghost stories connected to the Eastland Disaster, although many of the original sites have been altered.

The Second Regiment Armory, that served as the central morgue, no longer stands. In 1990, the building became home to the Oprah Winfrey Show and Oprah's production company, Harpo Studios. Oprah's show went off the air in 2011 and she shut down the studios in 2015. Demolition on the building began in July of 2016 and the site is home to the McDonald's Headquarters. It will be interesting to hear if hauntings continue at this site. When this was Oprah's empire, there were many paranormal experiences. Visitors, staff, maintenance workers and security have all had stories to share. Some claimed to hear disembodied whispering, perhaps echoing the voices of the grieving family members who had passed through to identify victims. There were also disembodied sobs and screams and moaning noises. A staircase in the lobby often gave off the sound of disembodied footsteps. Doors in the building would open and close on their own. Music from another era was also heard playing throughout the building. An apparition that was nicknamed "The Gray Lady" was seen often by people. She wore a long, gray dress and often walked the corridors in a sullen way and many times would disappear into a wall. If employees attempted to approach the woman, she would disappear as well. It is thought that she was a grieving family member and perhaps residual. Security cameras were said to have caught this apparition a couple of times.

The Excalibur Nightclub was also rumored to have been used as a temporary morgue. At that time, it had been home to the Chicago Historical Society. The television show Sightings filmed at Excalibur in 1997 and a psychic named Tim White reported on the episode that he had encountered the ghost of a little girl who said, "Stop and watch me." Employees claim to have seen the same little girl looking over the railing in the Dome Room. A blue-colored mist has been seen floating up the stairs as well.

The Eastland itself would have claims of being haunted. When it was docked near the Halsted Street Bridge before the Navy acquired it, a caretaker named Captain M.L. Edwards lived on the ship and he often complained of being awakened at night by the sounds of moaning and screaming.  He also heard loud banging noises. The area along the river that was the scene of the disaster also has stories. People dining at riverside cafes sometimes are shocked to watch a surge of water come out of the river and flood the river walk for no apparent reason. Almost as though an invisible ship has capsized, pushing water up over the walk. People walking along the river walk have claimed to see faces staring up at them under the water. The sounds of splashing and disembodied screaming have also been heard. This is not only from the walk, but also from the Clark Street Bridge. Flailing apparitions have been seen in the water and caused people to call for emergency services, only to have those figures disappear minutes later. One man reportedly jumped into the river to save someone he thought was drowning. When he surfaced and looked around to locate the drowning person, he found he was the only one in the river.

Our listener Kimmie Page, who suggested this topic, shared her own experience, "I am also Eastern European and from the Chicago area so the victims of that disaster would have been of similar backgrounds. I’m a spiritual person and I always say something kind or hello or I’m sorry that happened to you when I go to a cemetery or a site where something happened. I’ve read a lot about the disaster and gone to the memorial in bohemian national cemetery many times! My paranormal experience though was when I was kayaking in the river and my tour guide told us we were in the same spot and I did my usual 'I’m so sorry this happened' and a massive SMACK hit the bottom of my boat twice. There is wildlife in the river but the rapid succession of the smacks made me think otherwise. I felt very calm during it but it’s really meaningful to me."

Many families were looking forward to a fun day of relaxing and picnicking in July of 1915. How could they have known that many of them would never make it home that evening? Are the spirits of the victims of the Eastland Disaster still haunting parts of Chicago? That is for you to decide!