The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, is one of the strangest and most enigmatic mansions in the world. It is also the most intriguing. With 160 rooms encompassing 24,000 square feet, it also has doors that open into walls, staircases that end at ceilings, rooms inside of rooms, and a treasure trove of other oddities that would make any curiosity seeker salivate.
It was built by Sarah Winchester, whose vast multi-million dollar fortune from the Winchester Repeating Arms Company through her late husband, Will, gave her the equivalent of $24,000 per day in today’s dollars. He passed in 1881 when they were living in New Haven, Connecticut, and when she moved out to California, Sarah began constant construction on what had been an eight room cottage. Beginning in 1886 until Sarah’s death in 1922, it is said that shifts of 16 carpenters worked on the house 24 hours a day, every day, for three times the going rate.
Prior to the 1906 earthquake that rocked the greater San Francisco area and decimated the building, it had grown to seven floors with over 200 rooms. But the top three floors collapsed during the quake, which could account for staircases ending at ceilings.
Why did Mrs. Winchester become so obsessed with building this unique house? Legend has it that she never fully recovered after the death of her infant daughter, Annie, and 15 years later when her husband died of tuberculosis, Sarah sought out the spiritual guidance of a medium. The medium told the grief-stricken woman that the family was cursed, haunted by the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester rifle. These ghosts were seeking vengeance, and the only way to appease them was to build a house that could hold them all. But it wasn’t enough to simply build a large house. Sarah was instructed to never stop building, never stop adding on to the house.
The legend continues on in California during construction. It’s said that each night, Sarah would retire to her seance room to convene with the spirits and receive instructions for the next day’s work. The sketches she handed the construction workers were hand-drawn and often contradicted other projects within the house. For example, she would order the destruction of a room just after finishing its construction or block expensive stain glass windows she had just installed with a wall to another new room. In 1975, workers at the house discovered a room that had been completely covered up for nearly 70 years.
The number 13 is predominantly featured throughout the house, such as halls with 13 ceiling panels, closets with 13 hanger pegs, 13 steps on many of the staircases, and the 13 windows in the 13th bathroom. Is it just coincidence given the odd architecture, or is it part of the legend had been, perhaps, instructions from the spirits.
As for ghost sightings at the Winchester Mystery House today, there have been several. One is possibly that of a former handyman at the house. With jet back hair, the apparition of this man repairing the fireplace in the ballroom and sometimes pushing a ghostly wheelbarrow down long, dark hallways has frequently been seen by both tour guides and visitors .
Modern handymen have also experienced what may have been one of their comrades from long ago. In one particular case during a restoration project in the Hall of Fire, one worker was up a ladder when he suddenly felt a tap on the back. When he turned his head, no one was there. He shrugged it off thinking he’d just imagined the tap, but when he set back to work he felt someone pushing against his back. Having had enough and not wanting to be hurt by something unseen, the worker hurried down off the ladder and ran across to another part of the estate to work on a different project.
There’s also the experience of a tour guide named Samantha. One day, she was leading a group of tourists into the “Daisy Bedroom” where Sarah Winchester was trapped during the 1906 earthquake when everyone heard a very loud, audible sigh emanate from the small hallway just outside the bedroom door. Samantha checked the hallway for a guest that may have fallen behind the group, but instead of finding one of the visitors she spotted a small, dark figure, short in stature glide around the corner in the hall. The tour guide stepped around the corner, but did not spot the figure again, although she did hear another loud sigh. She believes the group may have encountered the spirit of Sarah Winchester, annoyed that other people were in her favorite bedroom.
Why Mrs. Winchester truthfully felt compelled to build her magnificent house we may never know. She left no journals and never publicly spoke about it. So, perhaps the legends are true, and perhaps, there are other secrets to uncover within the Winchester Mystery House.
The world is crisscrossed with millions of roads and many of them are haunted. Of course, we should know since we’re Haunted Road Media. While an all-inclusive list would take far too long to amass, here are five of the most haunted roads in the world.
5. A75, Scotland
The A75 in Scotland is a Primary Trunk Road, and is also said to be the country’s most haunted. Kinmount Straight, a 15 mile stretch between Gretna and Dumfries, including an area near Kelhead Plantation and Kinmount House is said to be the most haunted.
In 1962, Derek and Norman Ferguson witnessed a plethora of activity as a hen flew into their windshield and then vanished, followed by an old woman flailing her arms, a screaming old man, and then an assortment of cats, dogs, and small barnyard animals. The temperature dropped suddenly, and their car began to sway violently back and forth before stopping when they exited the vehicle. When they got back in and drove away, they witnessed a phantom furniture van drive toward them and then disappear.
Over the years along this road, others have reported seeing screaming hags, an assortment of ghostly people crossing the road, horses and carriages, and other disappearing road casualties.
4. Route 66, Oklahoma
It was dark and dank, the roadbed still wet with rain that had poured down for hours. A mist hung in the air painting the aged sedan with fine droplets of water as the vehicle rambled down old Route 66. Up ahead on the right was a huddled figure in a brown trench coat and a tattered fedora trudging up the road. As the car neared, the driver determined that the figure seemed to be an older gentleman and slowed, taking pity upon the man and offering a ride out of the horrible weather. However, when the driver pulled up the figure disappeared into the mist.
The legendary Route 66, which ran its course through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California is, arguably, the most famous historic highway in America. Following World War II, U.S. Route 66 became a symbol of American freedom, linking the two sides of the country together. However, by 1970, most sections of Route 66 had been bypassed with new four-lane highways, and the following year, the route was officially decertified.
The strip of Route 66 that runs from El Reno, Oklahoma, to Weatherford seems to be most particularly haunted. The visage of the old man on the roadside has a number of variations. As described above, some have tried to offer him a ride, but he will simply vanish into thin air. One person actually enticed him into the car and described him as an eerie little man. Suddenly, the man tried to jump out of the car after it started moving, so the driver pulled over to let him out. However, the man was no longer in the car and was not spotted anywhere nearby. A few miles down the road, the driver saw the gentleman walking along the roadside the same way as he had before. Other drivers have stated the apparition jumps out into the road and they think they’ve hit him, however, when they get out of their cars to check not a soul is around.
Scores of people have either been seriously injured or died in automobile accidents on this stretch of Route 66, including a 1952 wreck that claimed the lives of three people. In one strange mishap in nearly the same location, a man was tossed from the cab of a truck and died of severe chest injuries suffered from smacking the roadside. A 1953 collision just a few miles further west of El Reno during an intense downpour killed two and injured seven. It is said the creepy roadside vagabond is most often seen while it’s raining. Is it possible he’s a specter of one of these accidents?
3. A229, England
The A229 in England is a major road running north and south through Kent from Rochester, and it is a former Roman road that ran from Rochester to Hastings. On November 19, 1965, a car accident on the A229 at Blue Bell Hill killed three women, including one who was to be wed the next day.
In 1971, James Skene was driving home from work when a young woman suddenly appeared in the road. She was looking for a ride to Chatham, which he gave, but when she she got out of the vehicle she disappeared.
In 1992, there were three separate accounts of motorists reporting running over a figure that ran out in front of their automobiles late at night, only to discover that they hadn’t hit anyone at all. Police found no evidence of an accident.
One driver, Ian Sharpe, stated that he saw the ghost of a woman about a week before the anniversary of the 1965 crash. “I had come out of the Blue Bell Hill slip-road, from the village, coming down the hill. I saw this woman and thought, ‘Oh, she’ll go back. She won’t come across.’ But then she just ran straight in front of the car and I hit her on the left side. She was looking at me all the time. I honestly thought that I had killer her. I was so scared to look underneath, but I knelt down and looked straight through — there was nothing there.”
There have been other reports in the area over the years of a young woman in a nightgown and a hitchhiker, all of whom have disappeared after sightings.
2. Clinton Road, New Jersey
Clinton Road is named for the settlement of Clinton, New Jersey, which no longer exists. Even when the area was first settled, rumors grew of something sinister in the surrounding woods. Wrote J. Percy Crayon in 1905 about the area around the Clinton Furnace, “It was never advisable to pass through the ‘five mile woods’ after dark, for … tradition tells us they were infested with bands of robbers, and counterfeiters, to say nothing of the witches that held their nightly dances and carousels at Green Island, and the ghosts that then made their appearance in such frightful forms, that it was more terrifying to the peaceful inhabitants than wild animals or even the Indians, that often passed.”
The most popular story is that of the boy at a bridge near the Clinton Reservoir. they say if you toss a coin into the water a boy will toss it back at you. Some claim to have also seen the boy’s reflection in the water.
Just off the road are what’s left of the ruins of Cross Castle, a mansion built by Richard Cross in 1905. After he died in 1917, the property was sold and a fire eventually destroyed much of the home, except for the stonework. it became a congregating area for teenagers, hikers, and even the KKK. People have reported hearing chanting and chains rattling from the castle, white figures walking in the woods nearby, and the feeling of being watched while there. When finally taking down the walls in 1988, a demolition crew uncovered an inaccessible area of the basement that contained Satanic writing.
To add to the legends, the body of a cyclist had been found just off Clinton Road in 1983, frozen before it was dumped in an attempt to mask the time of death. There have also been reported sightings of UFOs along the road, ghostly sightings of hell hounds and wolves with white and yellow eyes, and even phantom automobiles.
1. Archer Avenue, Justice, Illinois
Perhaps the most famous ghost in the Chicago area is that of Resurrection Mary, a young hitchhiking woman along Archer Avenue in Justice.
Reports of Mary began in 1939 when Jerry Palus danced all night with a beautiful blonde woman at a local dance hall and gave her a ride home down Archer Avenue. The ride ended at Resurrection Cemetery where she got out and disappeared.
In 1979, a local cab driver reported picking up a young woman in a white party dress, dropped her off as requested on Archer, and then watched her disappear. Others have also reported picking up a similar woman in a white party dress only to have her disappear, while some have said to have slammed on their brakes at a young woman who ran out in front of their vehicles.
At Resurrection Cemetery in 1976, a couple reported to police seeing a young girl locked inside the gates. When the police arrived, they discovered the bars on the front gate had been burned in the shape of hand prints. Cemetery officials denounced the event and claimed the burn was from a maintenance accident. The bars have since been removed.
Who is Resurrection Mary? There are two theories. One is that she was Anna “Marija” Norkus who died in a 1927 car accident on her way home from the Oh Henry Ballroom. The other is that she may have been Marie Bregovy who died in a 1934 car accident, although Resurrection Mary is said to have shoulder-length blonde hair while Marie Bregovy had short dark hair.
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network originally built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines. There became an urgent need in Paris in the 1780s to relieve the mass grave at Saint Innocents Cemetery, which had been collecting bodies since the year of 1130, when a basement wall of an adjacent property collapsed under the weight of the bodies and decomposed corpses flooded into the basement. Three mine networks had previously existed in Paris for limestone used in building construction and gypsum used in plaster of Paris. The use of the old mines as an ossuary coincided with the consolidation of the mine network as mine collapses began occurring throughout the city.
The transfer of the remains began after the blessing and consecration of the site on April 7th 1786, and it continued until 1788, always at nightfall and following a ceremony whereby a procession of priests sang the service for the dead along the route taken by the carts loaded with bones, which were covered by a black veil. Then, until 1814, the site received the remains from all the cemeteries of Paris.
Exploring the mines is prohibited by the prefecture and penalized with large fines. Despite restrictions, Paris’ former mines are frequently toured by urban explorers, popularly known as cataphiles.It’s said that those who venture into the catacombs after midnight hear the walls talking to them, urging them to wander off into the maze. While disembodied voices lure adventurers farther into the tunnels, victims go mad and suffer a slow and agonizing death.
In 2010, cave explorers claimed to have recovered video footage that they stated showed a man wandering, lost, through the catacombs until he finally panicked, dropped the camera, and ran off into the darkness, never to be seen again. The found footage is said to have inspired the popular horror movie As Above, So Below (2014).
Popular rumors of the catacombs included cultists stealing bodies from morgues to perform rituals within the catacombs and adding their remains to the plethora of human bones.
The oldest ghost story of the Paris catacombs, beginning in 1793, belongs to Philibert Aspairt, doorkeeper of the Val-de-Grâce hospital who entered through a passage in the hospital with the intent to look for the famous Chartreuse liquor stocked in the cellar of a convent. He entered with only a single candle and was not seen again for 11 years. Presumably, his candle went out and became lost in the darkness alone wandering the galleries of bones before collapsing and succumbing to death. He was finally found in 1804, identified by his Val-de-Grâce ring and the bottle of alcohol he carried. He was buried at the place in which he was found and is now celebrated as the Protector of the Cataphiles. Each November 3rd, the date on which he ventured into the catacombs, it is said his ghost haunts the complex.
On his tomb, one can read this epitaph:
THE MEMORY OF PHILIBERT ASPAIRT
LOST IN THIS QUARRY ON NOVEMBER 3RD 1793
FOUND ELEVEN YEARS LATER
AND BURIED AT THE SAME PLACE
ON APRIL 30TH 1804
4. Ohio State Reformatory
The haunted Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, served as a state correctional facility for nearly a hundred years, with over 154,000 prisoners passing through its gates, but beginning in 1896 with only 150 prisoners. The site was originally a Civil War training camp in 1861, and construction on the prison began in 1886, continuing through 1910. The first prisoners housed were tasked with helping to build the facility that would keep them imprisoned. The East Cell Block remains the largest free standing steel cell block in the world at six tiers high.
From 1935 until 1959 Arthur Lewis Glattke was the Superintendent. His wife, Helen, died of pneumonia at the facility in 1950, three days after an accident in which a handgun went off when she reached into a jewelry box in the family’s quarters. Her ghost, wearing rose perfume, is said to haunt the administrative wing. Nine years later, Glattke, himself, died of a heart attack in his office. Over 200 people died at the Ohio State Reformatory, including two guards who were killed during escape attempts.
Paranormal activity at the prison includes The Chair Room, named after the sole piece of furniture in it. It’s said the chair can be heard scraping around on the floor when no one is in the room, and one paranormal investigator claims to have received scratches while sitting in the chair.
The library at Ohio State Reformatory was also once the infirmary, and used for a time as a tuberculosis overflow facility, and it’s rumored to be haunted by a nurse as well as sick inmates who died there.
One of the spirits in the east cell block belonged to a man who set himself on fire in his cell. He doused himself with chemicals from the prison furniture workshop and lit a match. By the time the guards got to him, it was too late, and his skin was already falling off in chunks. He haunts the cell where he died and sometimes shows himself to visitors.
Poveglia is a small island located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon of northern Italy which became a permanent confinement station for the ill in 1805 until 1814. 100 years later, the island was again used as a quarantine station, and in 1922 it was converted to an asylum for the mentally ill and for long term care. Allegedly, one of the doctors began performing gruesome experiments on mental patients and later threw himself from the tower, the last remnant of a 12th Century church destroyed by Napoleon, after claiming he was being terrorized by ghosts. Some say he jumped of his own accord while others say angry spirits pushed him over the edge. Yet another story states that he initially survived the fall and a nurse witnessed a ghostly mist choke him to death on the ground.
The facility eventually closed in 1968, and the island became abandoned.
In earlier history, octagonal battlements were built in the 14th Century to repel Genoese invaders, and then later used by English soldiers during the Napoleonic wars where prisoners were taken ashore and burned. Poveglia is believed to contain more than one plague pit, a mass grave for disease victims, and it’s estimated that over 100,000 people died on the island over the centuries. During the worst outbreaks, Poveglia and the surrounding islands were quickly overrun with the dead and dying, who were hastily shoveled into grave pits, and when those were full, burned.
Today, the buildings on the island are left to deteriorate as access is difficult. Those who manage to slip onto Poveglia have reported the overwhelming feeling of being watched, disembodied screams and moans are heard throughout, and the stench of decaying flesh still wafts through the air. Some have experienced unseen entities pushing them into walls, and yet others have claimed to have seen specters of the past. One Australian news team claims that a steel hospital side table that they had photographed earlier in the day was on the right side of the room was, later in the day, on the left side of the room.
2. Corvin Castle (Vlad’s Castle), Transylvania
Corvin Castle in Romania was also known as Hunyadi Castle or Hunedoara Castle in the area that had once been known as Transylvania. With construction beginning in 1446, it is one of the largest castles in Europe. This is the castle in which Vlad the Impaler was held prisoner by John Hunyadi for seven years in one of the tower cells when Vlad was deposed in 1462. They later formed a political alliance even though Hunyadi was responsible for the death of Vlad’s father.
Vlad the Impaler was Vlad Tepes, who waged a fierce war against the Ottoman empire when he refused to pay the Sultan tribute. On many occasions, he impaled those he conquered, hoisting up bodies on long wooden stakes, and turned one Ottoman camp into what was called a forest of the impaled.
The name “Dracula” can be traced back to Vlad as he was known to sign letters Dragulya or Drakulya in the late 1470s. His father, referred to often as Vlad Dracul, was a member of the Order of the Dragon, so the literal meaning of “Dracula” is “son of the dragon.”
There are many legends surrounding the construction of the castle, such as the one about the Turkish prisoners who built the interior fountain. The story says that they were promised freedom, but after 10 years of work, they were instead, executed. For this reason, one of the prisoners added the following inscription to the fountain: “You have water, but not soul.” Even today, Turkish tourists throw coins into the fountain in the memory of their enslaved countrymen.
The Capistrano Tower acquired its name from a monk named Ioan of Capistrano. Legend says that the last monk who was caught spying on the noblemen in the Council Room was walled into the recess in the wall of the room.
Ghostly silhouettes are also said to appear in photographs and violent spirits are thought to wander the halls and chambers at night.
One tale that has been spread is that of a group of tourists who convinced the guards to let them remain in the castle at night. They came out the next day bruised, beaten, and terrified – supposedly suffering the wrath of an angry ghost who had tortured them until the early morning.
Of course, many believe that Vlad the Impaler also haunts this historic castle.
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress on Castle Rock in Edinburgh, Scotland. A royal castle has been established on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the Twelfth Century, although archaeologists have established human occupation of Castle Rock since at least the Second Century AD. It has been one of the most important strongholds in the history of Scotland, having been involved in many historical conflicts, including the Wars of Scottish Independence, and research has identified 26 sieges in its history, giving it claim to being the most besieged castle in all of Great Britain. It is also claimed to be the most haunted location in Scotland, while some say Edinbugh is the most haunted city in all of Europe.
On various occasions, visitors to the castle have reported a phantom piper, a headless drummer, the spirits of French prisoners from the Seven Years War, and colonial prisoners from the American Revolutionary War — even the ghost of a dog wandering in the grounds’ dog cemetery has made appearances.
In April 2001, Edinburgh Castle was one of the haunted locations in Edinburgh chosen for an ambitious paranormal experiment. A group of 240 volunteers were enlisted to explore allegedly haunted sites in Edinburgh for a 10 day study of paranormal activity. Chosen participants from around the world were to have no knowledge of Edinburgh’s hauntings, and were led to both haunted locations and locations that were not considered active. By the end of the experiment, nearly half reported phenomena that they could not explain.
– sudden drops in temperature
– seeing shadowy figures
– a feeling of being watched
– one person reported a burning sensation on the arm
– an unseen presence touching the face
– the feeling of something tugging at clothes
One reported sighting was of an old in a leather apron — a ghost that has been seen before at the same location.
The legend of the “Gore Orphanage” is just that: a legend. There was never a Gore Orphanage. The building that’s been called this institution for decades was originally known as the Swift Mansion, or Rosedale, built by Joseph Swift in 1841. However, since it has rested in ruins off of Gore Orphanage Road for nearly 100 years, the pieces of local history morphed together into an urban legend that resembled the following: “Old man Gore was a mean old man and ran an orphanage in which he’d beat the children and kept them locked in their rooms. One night, there was a fire, and all the children died since they were locked in their rooms.”
The Swift Mansion originally rested off of Gore Road (it was named as such for the wedge shape piece of land it rested on that was established as a map correction), and when the Swift’s left due to personal financial troubles, the Wilber’s moved in. There they stayed until 1901, when Nicholas Wilber passed away (his wife, Eliza, had passed in 1899), and the house was abandoned. The tragedy of the Wilber’s is that of their grandchildren, all four of them succumbing to diphtheria within the span of six days in 1893. It is not believed that they died within the mansion, but since the elder Wilber’s were Spiritualists, it is believed they conducted seances within the house to try to contact the children. As a medium, Nicholas had already been conducting seances within the house to try to contact deceased members of the Swift family, acts to which the more conservative locals thought were sinister and dubbed him instead as a Satanist (which he was not).
In 1903, the Light of Hope Orphanage was established by John and Katie Sprunger up the hill from the Swift Mansion, and the word “orphanage” was appended to Gore Road to make it Gore Orphanage Road. While the Sprunger’s bought the land the mansion rested upon for the fields to farm, they never used the Swift building for the orphanage. Instead, they established both boy’s and girl’s dormitories on the farmland up the hill, as well as a church and a schoolhouse, and a printing press. It wasn’t long before children began running away, and tales of abuse filtered out of the Light of Hope Orphanage. In 1909, there was a formal case against the Sprunger’s after two girls waded across the Vermilion River and sought refuge within the town of Vermilion. Abuse included beatings, undernourishment, inadequate schooling (they only received schooling if there wasn’t work to do on the farms), the same bath water being used for five to six children with accusations mounting up to 12, and their corn was boiled in the same pot as the dirty underwear, among other things. John Sprunger died just two years after the court proceedings, and in 1916 the Light of Hope Orphanage closed its doors for good.
The Swift Mansion, however, still lingered down the hill. Even in the late 1910s and early 1920s, it was a hangout for area teens, and ghost stories began to surface about the building being haunted. In 1923, plans for a restoration of the house began, but an unfortunate fire took the building and destroyed any hope of restoring the Greek Revival structure. So, yes, the Swift Mansion did burn down, but it had long since been abandoned and no children were inside. Headlines in the local paper read, “Haunted House Destroyed By Fire.” Today, all that’s left is a depression in the ground, remnants of the stone foundation, scattered brick fragments, the well, and a defaced pillar from along the old fence line.
Final Note #1: In 1908, the Collinwood School fire in the Cleveland area claimed the lives of 172 children. It’s believed that this story was meshed with with the atrocities of the orphanage to help create the urban legends that came to be.
Final Note #2: In our explorations, Shana and I discovered the bases to two additional pillars along the fence line of the property. Given the size and weight of these, we didn’t believe that the teens that had defaced the one still standing would have made off with these monoliths. When we ventured up Gore Orphange Road, we found them flanking the old driveway of the property on which the boys’ dormitory once stood.
There has already been a lot going on this year between traveling, investigations, and videos, but even though there is some traveling downtime at the moment it doesn’t mean I’m not stoking the winter fires. There’s a lot going on, so let’s get to it!
If you also follow along at HauntedRoadMedia.com you may have noticed that we started releasing podcasts of our Edge of the Rabbit Hole episodes. Yes, now you have the option of listening to the show after the initial YouTube livestream broadcast! Available now on iTunes, we’ve started with uploading our earlier episodes, and will be doing this a few times each week until we’re caught up. You may have also noticed that the haunted Road Media site states that episodes of Inside The Upside Down will be found here. This is true! Very shortly, you’ll find podcasts of our new Tuesday Night after hours show here on MikeRicksecker.com. There will also be additional podcasts added to the mix as well — thoughts, research, updates, investigation clips, and more.
Coming soon this month will be an updated Second Edition of Encounters With The Paranormal: Volume 2, the Goldenrod Showboat Edition. While this volume already featured the Goldenrod Showboat, given the recent tragic events we thought we would add a little more content to the book including stories, memories, perspective, and photographs. Of course, part of the proceeds of this book will still go toward the Goldenrod, but now it will be in whatever capacity the Historic Riverboat Association will take to ensure the historic showboat’s legacy lives on. There are many artifacts that still remain from the Goldenrod, and Haunted Road Media will continue to take steps to help ensure these artifacts can be enjoyed by all.
On social media, you may have noticed an uptick in activity, primarily on the Haunted Road Media Facebook page and on the Mike Ricksecker Instagram. On the Facebook HRM page, we’ve started featuring a series on saving endangered historic haunted locations. Even though we were already working with haunted locations to help raise funds, the loss of the Goldenrod Showboat has fueled the fire and we’re making greater strides in spreading awareness and raising funding that these locations desperately need to stave off the wrecking ball. While the goal is to make this an almost daily vlog, we’ve been updating a couple times each week that have included vignettes of the Swift Mansion/Gore Orphanage and the 101 Ranch. As for Instagram (@mikericksecker), I’ve been utilizing the Story feature more often to give a quick glimpse of what’s going on during all that craziness that keeps me busy each day. It’s almost like another version of the “Behind the Scenes” feature we have out on Patreon. Which reminds me… if you haven’t checked out what we’re doing on Patreon, you should!
Ok, so the new show on the Haunted Road Media YouTube channel is a blatant play on Stranger Things. I can’t help it. I’m hooked on the nostalgia and the fact that “Mike” in the show is just like me, right down to the moppy black hair and being the Dungeon Master while playing Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. That these kids are essentially the same age I was at exactly that time in the 1980s makes watching the show like watching an alternate reality of my childhood. That they’re dealing with a supernatural world is icing on the cake, but it also is another play on the rabbit hole… or even through the looking glass.
The Upside Down in Stranger Things is, essentially, in alternate universe, a nether world that is a mirror of the current world… in which lie many unknown secrets (and where something dark lurks). It’s a world that exists but cannot normally be seen.
So, in “Inside The Upside Down” we’ll be exploring deep supernatural topics and the unknown secrets of the world, almost like an extension of “Edge of the Rabbit Hole.” Our Mad Hatters have repeatedly asked for a second hour of content, and when we had a Double Feature night in the wake of the Goldenrod Showboat tragedy everyone stuck around for the second show. You’ll now be a getting a second show every night.
First up for “Inside The Upside Down”… Haunted Cemeteries! Yes… cemeteries can really be haunted! How and why? Plus, real paranormal encounters at cemeteries! And, yes, Shana will be “shananigating” the chat as our “Chat Shananigator” with this one, too!
It was murder. Premeditated and with malice aforethought, the 108-year old, historic Goldenrod Showboat was murdered by fire in the early morning hours of October 21, 2017. It was the last showboat of its kind anywhere in the world, the last true vestige of early Twentieth Century American life along the Mississippi River, and now this window into the past is gone forever. No further generations will be able to experience authentic showboat life and soak in true living history as only the Goldenrod Showboat could have provided.
We call wonderfully old historic vessels like this “Great Dames,” and here is what you just did to this great dame, arsonists. Imagine an elderly woman sitting in a wheelchair, worn, but still filled with life and vigor, recanting stories from long ago that only she can tell because no one else is left to tell the tales. Even though her voice may be a little raspy and her eyesight not as crisp as it once had been, she’s still the last remnant of a bygone era, an absolute jewel, irreplaceable beyond measure. You just doused that elderly woman in gasoline and roasted her alive. May her screams haunt you and the smell of her scorched flesh permeate your nostrils for eternity, you murderers.
The Goldenrod in St. Louis.
More than 48 hours later, there still has been no real investigation of the fire that began around 2:00 AM on October 21, aside from the locals pointing out the obvious, and the rains are washing away what little evidence there may have been. Small town politics? Of course. A couple weeks ago, the land owners cleared the site of debris and cut back the brush — can’t have the surrounding area catch on fire, after all — and holes were punched into the side of the iron hull to allow ample ventilation to stoke the flames. The delivery method chosen were Roman candles, their casings conveniently left scattered about to make it look as if a group of kids were up to mischief. Outside parties experienced with hundreds of arson cases that have no knowledge of the political wranglings behind the boat have looked at the photographs and have deemed it suspicious.
The smoldering hull of the Goldenrod, October 20, 2017.
It’s no secret that the landowners have long-sought to rid the property of the Goldenrod, citing a desire to destroy it on more than one occasion, but the Historic Riverboat Preservation Association who controlled the showboat had worked hard to try to maintain and preserve it. Following hull damage that incurred in 2015, the landowners were going to burn the former National Historic Landmark in early 2016 before a legal tussle with the Riverboat Association held it up, and an agreement was finally made that the showboat would return to the St. Louis area, where it had operated prominently in front of the Gateway Arch for decades, to be restored. A flood earlier this year that saw the Goldenrod take on seven to eight feet of water reinvigorated the legal tussle, and the landowners reclaimed the vessel and their desire the rid themselves of it on their acreage of land north of Kampsville, Illinois, in the middle of nowhere where it bothered no one.
Handfasting on the deck of the Goldenrod, Oct. 29, 2016.
A year and a half ago on this blog I lamented the demise of the Goldenrod Showboat and waxed poetic over the disrespect that is given to so many of our national treasures. But then it seemed as if the landmark had averted that trouble and a bright future for it was ahead. The Riverboat Association continued it’s work on the vessel, paranormal investigations resumed, and Shana and I were handfasted on the Goldenrod’s deck on October 29, 2016. This spirits of the Goldenrod still had their voices. Then suddenly, in the flick of a lighter, it’s gone. The time for lamenting is over. Now, I’m just angry.
Enough of this senseless destruction. Enough of selfishness and self-interests determining that the last relic of a bygone era can be purposefully destroyed without any repercussions. This isn’t even a debate of progress versus history since there is nothing going in the Goldenrod’s place except for clear land. No strip malls are going in, no high-rise buildings, no fancy marinas. This was the purposeful obliteration of American history that can never be recaptured. It was murder. May the arsonists roast in hell.
The new Encounters With The Paranormal book, the haunted Mineral Springs Hotel Edition, is finally here! Actually, it was here last week, but this October has been so busy so far that I’ve barely had time to say much about it. Fortunately, we just recently had an entire Edge of the Rabbit Hole episode about it so we could at least give it some coverage. Later on this month, October 28th, we’ll have an official book release event.
So what’s new in this volume? Well, of course you’ll read about more haunted houses, supernatural creatures, messages from pets from the other side, haunted history, experiences during paranormal investigations, psychic experiences, and more, but there is also a 50+ page section dedicated to the old Mineral Springs Hotel in Alton, Illinois. This wonderful, historic building almost met the wrecking ball last year, so keeping true to the tradition we started with Volume 2, we gave this location a major feature in the book and part of the proceeds from sales will be donated to preserving the building.
Shana and I both recount experiences we’ve had investigating the paranormal in the century-old hotel (now Mineral Springs Mall), but also featured are experiences recounted by renowned shaman Coyote Chris Sutton, proprietors of the fantastic It’s Raining Zen shop within Mineral Springs, Dave and Donna Nunnally, and scores of historic photographs and captures taken while investigating. This is on top of the contributions we received from many others recounting their own personal paranormal encounters elsewhere, including Vanessa Hogle, Rob Gutro, Michelle Hamilton, Brooke Haramija, Stephanie Bingham, Greg Feketik, Sabrina Meyers, Donna Gorton, Dawn Bradley-Francisco, Katie Hopkins, Darrell Russ, and Penny Scott. Also returning, is Adam D. Tillery with more fantastic illustrations to complement a few of the stories within.
There’s a little something for everyone in this latest offering from Haunted Road Media. Encounters With The Paranormal: Volume 3 reveals more personal stories of the supernatural and paranormal, continuing to explore the realm beyond the veil through its contributors.
It’s called “taphophilia” (“taph” from the Greek for tomb and “philia” meaning an inordinate fondness), but we’ve been referring to what we do as a cemetery crawl. Basically, Shana and I enjoy going to cemeteries, observing the intricate masonry work on many of the stones, sometimes picking up decorative objects that have fallen to neglect, and paying our respects to those who have long been forgotten. Those that follow us on Facebook are probably very familiar with the many photos we’ve posted over the years of the numerous cemeteries we’ve visited.
There are times that those buried there reach out to us, perhaps offering one last message from the past to today’s society. Sometimes a connection is established with an entire family, and we feel compelled to research who they are. Shana frequently connects with the children and the sad fate they faced at such a young age. Yes, paranormal activity and spiritual connections can happen at a cemetery — I’ve witnessed it too many times to even consider this a debatable issue. And then there are times that we venture off to a cemetery looking for answers to mysteries from long ago that have never been answered.
Twice recently, we’ve gone searching for the graves of lynch mob victims, both murderers, but had justice carried out upon them by local rabble stringing them up from trees. One we found. The other we did not. As paranormal investigators who focus heavily on research and history, it’s a loose end we like to tie up. Unfortunately, sometimes that loose end will remain hanging, but more often than not that end is at a cemetery. Mortality is the one thing in common we all share, after all.
Shana at St. Omer Cemetery
Sometimes the process happens in reverse. Occasionally, we’ll visit a cemetery and the story there will lead us to investigate the people and/or the area further. The sheer number of child graves at the St. Omer Cemetery in Illinois weighed heavily upon Shana the first time we visited, and in a return visit she discovered a back entrance to the cemetery that may have once been used by the townsfolk before they abandoned the town. What had once been an aside to the “Witch’s Grave” that is there suddenly became a prominent focus. Similarly, just down the road in Ashmore is what we call the “Crazy Portal Trees,” an area of the cemetery in which trees have been strategically placed to box in a set a graves and the effect on the senses is dramatically felt. The first time I ventured in I called out to Shana, “Oh, this is creepy,” and later on I saw a figure that wasn’t either us us walking just beyond. Of course, we followed up with a return visit and continue to research.
Whatever we may discover at a cemetery, each one seems to have its own character. It may have a majestic view or ornate mausoleums. It may be tucked away at the end of a dusty road or completely abandoned all together. It may have some great historical significance, or it may be a small family cemetery. Whatever the case may be, we’re interested.
Need a good horror movie for Halloween season and you’re tired of all the same cookie-cutter movies of the genre? If so, then try Dwelling, a paranormal thriller written and directed by Kyle Mecca.
Haunted house movies are usually pretty formulaic: Unsuspecting family moves into a haunted house, haunting ensues, family either flees for their lives or banishes the spirits from the house. Not so in Dwelling. In Dwelling, Ellie (Erin Marie Hogan) purposely moves her family into a haunted house because she wishes to reconnect with the spirit of her deceased mother. Just this premise alone, the fact she purposely moves into a haunted house, makes this film quite different than most others of its genre, and compelled me to start following the film’s production progress a few years ago.
Filmed on location in Buffalo, New York, Dwelling is a classic slow-burn and not littered with gimicky jump-scares. Mecca’s story is a suspenseful build in a supernatural setting, harkening back to the days of Hitchcock when it was the tension of the moment, the possibility of what may happen, that scared you.
The actors portray this tension well as the situation inside the house devolves, setting up a mesmerizing conclusion. After a traumatic childhood that found her sister, River (seasoned scream queen, Devanny Pinn) in a psychiatric facility, Hogan’s Ellie is hell-bent on utilizing the house and the budding psychic abilities of her young niece, Izzy (Abigail Mary), to find the closure she seeks with only the lone voice of reason, her partner, Gavin (Mu-Shaka Benson), standing in the way. What happens when the paranormal and the desire to harness paranormal power collide?