Live Paranormal Investigation Recap!

This past weekend, Shana and I of Society of the Haunted conducted a live paranormal investigation of Mineral Springs Hotel in Alton, Illinois. The building is quite large, and with only a limited amount of time our investigation was limited to three areas: the top floor near Pearl’s room, the fountain on the Grand Ball Room level, and the swimming pool. The swimming pool encompassed only the last few minutes of our investigation and we were unable to capture it live due to interference from the building’s structure. Twice we went live on the Haunted Road Media YouTube channel, and we also recorded a session on Periscope.

For those that have been following along for a while, yes, this is the same Mineral Springs Hotel which was featured in the latest Encounters With The Paranormal book. The building was on the verge of meeting the wrecking ball last year, so in keeping with the spirit of how we honored the Goldenrod Showboat with Volume 2, we decided that part of the proceeds of Volume 3 would be donated to Mineral Springs.

This investigation had a lot going in upstairs. Previously, in our Raw Footage video of Mineral Springs, someone directly called out Shana’s name. Again, that room seemed to be a hot spot for us, but so was Pearl’s room in the corner. Multiple times we heard voices and unexplained loud bangs, Shana saw a woman’s face, and then near the end Shana’s arm also got grabbed. She continued to feel the grab the entire rest of the weekend. When we came back downstairs, Donna from It’s Raining Zen could feel the energy emanating off of us, which we were still feeling at the bottom of the stairs.

The fountain investigation didn’t nearly work as well this time around as it had when we made the Voices of Mineral Springs video. While we did hear a number of voices, they weren’t quite as clear as they had been that particular night six months ago. Still, there was certainly someone down there with us.

Thanks to all of those that were able to join us during the livestreams. It’s always great to have you there as another set of eyes and ears throughout the investigation. And many thanks to Dave and Donna Nunnally of It’s Raining Zen for affording us the opportunity to investigate! Continue to #ExploreWithUs!

Inside The Upside Down

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!

Tune in November 7, 2017 @ 10:30 PM Eastern at http://www.youtube.com/hauntedroadmedia

American History Murdered

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.

NEW Encounters With The Paranormal: Volume 3!

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.

Get Encounters With the Paranormal 3 here: http://amzn.to/2yGmsrZ

The book release event, hosted by It’s Raining Zen, will be October 28th 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM at Mineral Springs Mall, 301 East Broadway, Alton, Illinois.

Cemetery Crawls and Investigating Graveyards

At Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, OH.

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.

Dwelling Paranormal Thriller Review

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?

Haunted Road Media was fortunate enough to recently interview both Kyle Mecca and Erin Marie Hogan about Dwelling and their own paranormal experiences on The Edge of the Rabbit Hole Livestream Show. (Watch the videos posted below.)

Recently released on DVD, Dwelling may be found at your local Wal-Mart or Fye, and also on iTunes or Amazon. (Click for direct Amazon link.)

New Encounters Coming Soon!

Allow me to be candid this Monday morning… I’ve busted my ass, and I’m exhausted. Those who are involved in the publishing industry know what all goes into producing a book, especially when you have a hard deadline. So, in order for the next Encounters With The Paranormal book to make it on time for the release event later this month, finishing the book became my weekend. There were videos to produce as well, but the book took precedence — we need to have it available at its own release event, after all.

I must thank all the contributors, of course, and Shana has been there every step of the way to help champion the cause, contributing her stories as well and helping with editing, along with her unwavering moral support. Donna Gorton helped with some editing, too, and I can’t thank Dave Nunnally of It’s Raining Zen enough for his considerable contribution, not only in the sizable accounts of the hauntings at Mineral Springs he sent my way, but also in the historic photos he provided. This work does not exist without all of those who have been involved. Those who contributed this year include Shana Wankel, Vanessa Hogle, Rob Gutro, Michelle Hamilton, Coyote Chris Sutton, Dave Nunnally, Brooke Haramija, Sabrina Meyers, Donna Gorton, Greg Feketik, Stephanie Bingham, Dawn Bradley-Francisco, Katie Hopkins, Darrell Russ, and Penny Scott. And, of course, the talented Adam D. Tillery has returned to offer more fantastic illustrations.

It’s a collective effort, to be sure, but, damn… I was wallowing in a puddle of drool by night’s end last night. There’s still more work to do, of course, including the e-book format and all the promotion that follows a book release. The promotion is a whole other job, entirely.

Not to worry, though. We may have missed a video for Sunday night on Haunted Road Media’s YouTube channel (for those keeping track, we’ve been going every Tuesday and Friday night, plus at least one other, usually Sunday), but I’ll get one out there tonight. Yes, that means, somehow, after I”m done with the day job today I will record, edit, upload, and put together all the additional material (thumbnails, etc.) for a video all by night’s end. Oh, and I have to finish up a few things for tomorrow’s Edge of the Rabbit Hole episode, too. And there’s that darned e-book I was just talking about a moment ago. Also, at some point, I’ll want to go live and talk about these things since everyone loves live. There aren’t enough hours in the day… (well, there are, but that darned day job keeps getting in the way).

Speaking of live… did you know that I’m now on Periscope? Since this service also streams to Facebook and Twitter, I’ve been using of late to replace what we had been doing as just straight Facebook Live videos. Follow me there at: https://www.pscp.tv/MikeRicksecker

If this seems like a disjointed blog post, that’s because it is. We’ll continue on with more of the October Haunted Blog tomorrow… and expect the Encounters With The Paranormal: Volume 3 release, featuring Mineral Springs Hotel, to be on Wednesday.

Add that to the list!

Bleeding Painting and Rising Bones

The cracked grave of Legh Master.

My first book focusing on the paranormal was Ghosts of Maryland, covering a state in which I’d lived for 17 years split up between two different stints, and it contains over 100 ghost stories. Not surprisingly given all its history, Maryland is an extremely haunted state!

There are a number of tales that I often speak about, including my experiences at the Samuel Mudd House, my discoveries of Ariana Calvert at Mt. Airy Plantation, and my prophetic dream of Montpelier Mansion, but I also found the town of Westminster to have a number of very interesting haunted tales. Westminster is a quaint, historic town, sleepy in some senses, but its ghost stories are anything but sleepy. In the most recent Friday Night Ghost Frights I tell two of these tales — the legend of Legh Master and his cruelty that still surfaces today, and the strange tales of Cockey’s Tavern.

The bleeding painting of Ulysses S. Grant.

Legh Master was a cruel, rich widower who had moved to Maryland from England after his wife passed away. He murdered slaves in his great iron works furnaces and its said that in death, his bones are still trying to rise from their grave. At Cockey’s Tavern, many hauntings have occured, including disembodied footsteps and candles relighting themselves, but it seems to be the wall hangings that are the most haunted. Not only are they found to move on their own, but the one of Ulysses S. Grant (some say it’s just a bearded man and not the former President) appears to bleed on its own.

To learn about these tales, watch Friday Night Ghost Frights below!

Personal Haunted History! Part 1

October is just budding, which seems paradoxical for the preeminent autumn month in which the leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground, but it’s a more colorful way of stating the month has just begun. Thus, this October Haunted Blog has just begun as well. I’ve decided that I’m going to update it daily throughout the week, so Monday through Friday. The weekends I’ll reserve for doing weekend things like working on full investigation videos, going to events, and visiting Shana.

Today’s journey is going to take you down the path of some of my early influences, those things that set me on the road of becoming a paranormal investigator, ghostorian, and author of haunted tomes. Monday’s blog featured one specific item, the ghost story of The Golden Arm, a creepy little tale that we’d listen to during story time in first grade. The mystique of the legend invigorated my senses. Another story record that I used to listen to a lot as a young child was the old school version of Disney’s “The Haunted Mansion,” which included a very creepy cool sound effects track at the end of the record.

In the pumpkin patch, 1981.

Of course, as a little kid I loved Halloween season. Who didn’t like dressing up as something spooky and running around the neighborhood to get free candy? Like clockwork, Stevie Jones was always the first at the door looking for treats before it even got dark — what great spirit he always had. My mother was wonderful, hand-making our costumes and hosting little Halloween parties with the neighborhood kids. I was terrible at bobbing for apples, but it was fun. I also loved going to the pumpkin patch with my sister and finding the perfect pumpkins for my father to later carve into jack-o-lanterns.

The sun was just toasty enough during the day to keep us warm, and that brisk scent of fresh-fallen leaves washed over us throughout the season as we rushed out the door. Shadows seemed to grow longer in the afternoons, and the cool nights were inviting, beckoning us to wonder what lurked in the darkness.

I was born in and currently live in Ohio (I’ve literally come full circle, working ten minutes down the road from the hospital in which I was born), but those ten autumns in Massachusetts as a child were absolutely magical. We had a large back yard with a plethora of trees, and while raking them was quite a chore, I loved jumping into the pile. After the leaves would billow up around me, I’d lie there for a moment as the heat off the leaves flushed my cheeks and light crackles echoed around me. Then… inhale deeply and coast to a surreal dreamland of oranges and reds on nature’s pillow. Later, in preparation for the coming winter, my father would ask me to help him split wood from a tree that he’d fell. What scent from a tree wasn’t attached to me?

I was always reluctant to let the season end, but at some point my mother would start taking down the Halloween decorations, including ceramics she had made, and the Thanksgiving decorations would find their way out of a box. There was one week after Halloween when I was about six years old that I drew an assortment of skeletons, asked my mother how to spell the word so I could add it to my drawings, then cut them out and hung them on walls around the house so I could create a haunted house. Of course, she made me take them down and explained that Halloween was over and we would shortly start getting ready for a big turkey dinner. Damn.

There would be other haunting opportunities later… more to come!

Ghost Girl of the Goldenrod

Part 2 of the October Haunted Blog: This true ghost story first appeared as “Annie” in ENCOUNTERS WITH THE PARANORMAL: VOLUME 2.

I believe I first encountered Annie in the main lobby and concession area of the Goldenrod Showboat. I had ventured inside with my video camera in hand and was left alone for a few minutes to soak up the atmosphere. I love moments like these and being given a chance to just listen to and feel a particular location. I could certainly feel the age of the boat around me, its golden years gone by, but I could also feel that it still had some life in her yet. That’s when I felt her near me.

The Goldenrod Showboat, Feb. 2016.

I was looking out toward the windows, wondering what the splendor of the showboat must’ve looked like back in its glory days, when I felt a presence approach me. At first I thought it might have been Shana, but I knew she was back out on the deck with Jake. I turn from side to side, but nobody was there, and I suddenly felt a slight tickle behind my ear, a distinct sensation as if somebody was lightly playing with my hair. Whoever it was, it felt female in nature, and as quickly as the sensation had come it had gone.

Of course, this could have been anybody, but after what happened later that evening I do believe that this brief encounter was Annie saying, “Hello.”

Annie had been a young woman who lived on the Goldenrod Showboat many years beforehand in St. Louis along with her father who worked there. While she dreamed of being on stage, she had a fling with the assistant captain who encouraged her to perform as an actress and a dancer like many of the others who worked there.

One night, her involvement with the assistant captain came to a head as her father expressly forbade her from seeing the man. An argument ensued between father and daughter, and Annie ran off the boat into the dark St. Louis night. The next morning she was found as a corpse floating alongside the Goldenrod, and to this day nobody knows what truly happened to her that fateful evening.

Later that evening I’d visited, Shana and I were deep into our paranormal investigation of the Goldenrod, and we were exploring the second floor dining and dance area which is purported to be a frequent haunt of the spirit known as Annie. Since Annie is known to enjoy dancing, I asked her if she would like to dance with me on the small patch of wooden floor in the center of the room. I’m not a very good dancer, so I did my best to amble about in a circular fashion as Shana looked on. That’s when I felt it.

Annie, as depicted by illustrator Adam Tillery.

Similar to what I had experienced on the lower deck, I felt the sensation of somebody playing with my right ear and the hair around it. I laughed a little since it did tickle a little bit, and I told Shana about what I was experiencing.

Playfully, Shana spotted an opportunity for the spirit to get a little more interactive and suggested, “Annie, if you like his ear so much why don’t you go ahead and blow in it?”

Sure enough, at that prompting I felt a sudden burst of air inside my right ear as if somebody had just puckered their lips and blown directly into it. I gasped and laughed, “She just did!”

We had a good chuckle, and Shana suggested that Annie do it again. Sure enough, in my other ear I felt the same kind of sudden influx of air as if somebody had just blown into it.

We don’t know why this spirit was so forward and interactive that particular night. Perhaps I resembled the young man she had fallen for and was denied pursuing the night her life came to an end. Or, perhaps, she was simply in a happy, playful mood that evening. These are possibilities upon which we would normally follow up; however, we may not have that opportunity with Annie.

Just before the Goldenrod closed its doors at the end of March 2016, a medium was brought on board in order to afford the opportunity for spirits to pass on before the boat was to be destroyed. Annie was, purportedly, one of the spirits that did so. In a follow up investigation of the Goldenrod after it re-opened its doors, I made another attempt to dance with Annie in the same location in which she had blown into my ear. Something did happen, and it wasn’t Annie… but that is another story for another time.

More fantastic true tales like this can be found in ENCOUNTERS WITH THE PARANORMAL: VOLUME 2, part of the proceeds of which go to help the historic Goldenrod Showboat.