by Mike Lavelle
I have never seen a ghost, goblin, gremlin, spirit, apparition, genie, fairy, troll, orb, shadow person, leprechaun, sasquatch, chupacabra, extraterrestrial alien, or an unidentified flying object. I would absolutely love to see any one of these, minus the chupacabra. If I were to see one of these things, I would much prefer to see it early in the morning vice late at night. However, apparently, ghost hunting is best done late at night, in the dark, (of course). What a better location than Colossal Cave?
It seems that our very own local Colossal Cave may be haunted by spirits. According to Mike Holmes, general manager of the Colossal Cave, many people that have visited the cave and surrounding area have witnessed strange things not easily explained away. Such things include the classic “unexplained objects” in photographs, footsteps heard when alone, items moving on their own accord, like pencils flying out of a box, and, of course, ghost sightings.
According to local folklore, the cave is said to have a number of ghosts; to include ghosts who wander the passageways, a “Lady in White” sometimes seen by the cave entrance, the ghost of a robber returning for hidden loot, a young girl seen wandering outside the cave, and, perhaps the most notable, the ghost of Frank Schmidt, one of the early developers of the cave. Frank is said to join some of the tours and move about the gift shop. Other reported odd occurrences include the feeling of hot breath on your neck while walking and hearing moaning and singing in the cave itself. Although, in a dark cave, one could (hopefully) assume the hot breath is just your too close companion. There is even a website that documents such experiences: http://www.hauntedplaces.org/item/colossal-cave/
Last month on a warm Saturday night, I joined the first ever paranormal investigation held from 8 PM to 11:00 PM held by John Albrecht of Haunted Historians (www.hauntedhistorians.org/). An Army Veteran, John began this line of work after once clearly seeing a ghost. While still skeptical regarding ghosts, his main mission is to provide historic locations with additional funding to help in the upkeep and restoration while also investigating the phenomenon, out of his own curiosity.
Along with two young women, Stefanie Miranda and Dominique Legg from Mesa, Colossal Cave guide Bill Savary, and Mike Holmes, we went about the premises armed with night vision cameras, electronic voice scanner/recorders, and electro-magnetic detectors. Our circuit included the reported hotspots of an office, storage area, bench area, and the cave entrance area. Stefanie and Dominique were able to carry their own EVP readers and were active participants in the investigations.
One of my questions to the investigator was why do these investigations have to be at night? After all, as noted before, I would love to see one of these things, but at 8 AM, so I have the entire day to process it and not having to stay up all night thinking about it. Interestingly, he said that during the day, most locations have too much other energy and people moving about that is not conducive to contacting spirits. In this particular case, as Mike noted, during the day there are lots of visitors and children running around – on one recent day, there were 250 visitors!
As we went into an office area, John turned on the voice recorder/scanner and began to ask questions in general, directed at any spirits. We noticed that the computer monitor was turning off and on, then off and on, repeatedly. Later, when I asked Mike if that happens, he said it never does that. Encouraged by this somewhat vague sign, John asked various questions and we listened to the scanner to see what would come up. Apparently, the scanner also picks up various transmissions resulting in tidbits of phrases and seemingly random words mixed with white noise (the background sound of many frequencies together). Interestingly, no music was heard. When asked (by John) how many fingers am I holding up? The scanner produced a voice that proclaimed 8! Easy to dismiss as random, but when later I was told that the spirit of Frank has a sense of humor; it makes you wonder. However, when asked what do you want us to do, we all heard “leave.” Right, got it. Roger that. 10-4. Skeptic or not, I am leaving, right now. As Jim Croce sang “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.” Let me add to that, you don’t hang around when an apparent disembodied voice says leave.
It is easy and natural to be critical and skeptical of such things, but what do you make of the experience of standing in the basement (where poltergeist activity has been reported, by numerous people, some of whom refuse to enter the space) and when the question is asked do you recognize anybody here? And you hear “Bill,” on the electronic voice scanner/recorder? Bill is the name of the tour guide, who is there every day, it makes you wonder.
Aside from the question “are spirits real?” Or is there some other phenomena at work? Is this an example of auditory pareidolia (interpreting random sounds as voices) or coincidence with a random word picked up out of the air from some broadcast? Or, if you waited long enough, you would hear something that you could attribute meaning? I don’t know. However, what I do know is that the night sky as seen from the Colossal Cave is beautiful and the environment is especially tranquil and calm at night, spirits, scorpions and all. If your interest is peaked, go visit and see for yourself. All in all, it was an interesting experience