Thursday, December 6, 2012

To Tell the Truth - Seeking Opinions on Evidence

I think its time for another one of my opinion articles I like to write on occasion. I hope whether you agree with my ideas and opinions or not, they at least get you thinking about the subject and your personal opinions on said topic. With this article, I want to lightly expand and reiterate several of my previous articles while discussing something that is pretty common place in the paranormal field: seeking opinions on evidence.

I want to recall back when I first began ghost hunting in 2006. I always had a fascination with the paranormal from the time I was a pre-teen to present but didn’t start investigating it “officially” until I started HPIR. I didn’t know that much about paranormal investigation and when you are first starting out, sometimes the little things get you really excited. Unfortunately, as I learned more about paranormal things and more importantly, non-paranormal things…my little bubble of excitement partially popped. The primary example I want to use are orbs (see Orbsession). In the beginning, before I knew much about photography other than the fact that I liked using my camera to take photos, I didn’t realize that the “orbs” I was capturing were simply environmental elements being caught on my camera. I started looking up orbs on the internet and quickly found tons of information and photos, many of which seemed to support that orbs were paranormal. I felt pretty excited that maybe, just maybe I had captured a ghost! However in my further research I came across a few well written articles by some individuals who had much more expertise in photography than I and who suggested that those little balls on my photos were nothing more than dust, moisture and so on. That was a lesson I quickly learned, it was disappointing to learn that orbs were not ghosts, but that set the foundation for me of doing your homework on your evidence.

Most investigators post evidence findings of their investigations publically, which opens you up for opinions and of course criticism too. Often new investigators or someone who may have inadvertently captured an oddity want opinions on the things they have captured. It is very exciting to capture something you can’t explain on audio, video or camera but in my opinion, you need to try to set aside the emotions of your capture and put your analytical investigator hat on. If you are an investigator, analyzing evidence means you should be examining what you have captured closely, perhaps like a detective would do. If you are not a seasoned investigator, you may just be seeking input on what you caught. If you get too excited about your evidence or inadvertent capture (and decide to share it publically) you may be setting yourself up to have your bubble burst if you are not prepared for some criticism. Disappointment is not a good feeling, and often that disappointment can turn into resentment and anger.

I have seen and personally experienced the disappointment and defensiveness in people who can not handle constructive criticism of their evidence. We all want others to agree with us and I totally understand that, but when an alternative explanation is presented, I’ve witnessed some simply go off the deep end. I have had photos sent to me that were complete fakes (aka: phone app ghosts), I don’t know if they were intentional fakes or they honestly thought they were real, but I gave my honest opinion and in a professional manner. Most times I get a reply of thank you or maybe no response at all, but a few rare instances I have gotten some direct and indirect responses from those who were upset with our alternative explanations (and I’m not just talking about photos). If someone wants an opinion of something that I honestly can not explain, I will tell them that I have no explanation for this. After all, we are not experts in the field of the paranormal, but we are willing to share our knowledge of what we do know. Offering alternative explanations is not meant to be hurtful, but instead hopefully it will be helpful to those seeking an answer.

Going back to that emotional response; it’s easy to get angry with someone who you feel is being critical and I’ve seen many who do not provide their opinions with much tact. But if you are seeking input on something, my best advice is to be prepared for an answer you may not want to hear. The easy explanation is to be nice and polite and agree with someone simply for the sake of argument or the worry of hurting someone’s feelings. As the old saying goes “the truth hurts” could not be more accurate. When our group offers an opinion it is delivered in a professional and honest way and is based from research that our members have done and it’s never intentionally done to hurt anyone or any group.

Everyone has their own opinions and ideas of what evidence is and what it is not. Sometimes just doing a little research will help you get closer to the answer you may be seeking. You may not always find the answer you expected but allowing your emotions to drive your perceptions of the paranormal may blur the line between something that is authentic and something that is a false positive. Why should anyone get angry over being given an alternative explanation when you have sought out their input? It’s pretty standard all across the board if you are a paranormal team or investigator to share evidence among your peers. Allowing others to analyze your findings and even using your findings to further their own research is a positive thing.

The HPIR evidence analysis process for our own findings is very critical. We try to go over everything with a fine tooth comb and when it doubt, we throw it out. This all goes back to my previous article (see Evidence Credibility) and how you should be your own biggest critic. Those who offer their findings to be analyzed or are seeking opinions from any investigator or group: before you let those emotions drive you to be angry because you didn’t get the answer you were hoping for, just listen to them. You don’t have to agree, but if you consider a new perspective you may come closer to finding those answers you seek.


Melissa
HPIR Founder

Monday, December 3, 2012

Haunted Travels: Middle Creek Battlefield and the Hatfield & McCoy Family Feud

When the leaves are at their peak of color, I always enjoy a long drive though the mountains and back roads of our local area to enjoy the colors and scenery during the transformation of the trees. Usually while out for our annual drive, I try to find some historic and haunted locations for some added side trips along the way. This year, I chose to travel Eastern Kentucky, from Catlettsburg to Pikeville and from there over to Matewan and back up north to Huntington on old Rt. 52 though Mingo and Wayne Counties. Im pretty familiar with old Rt. 52 down to Matewan but I am less familiar with the Kentucky side. We didn’t really have a specific destination in mind when we headed out, but along our journey we chose a few interesting stops on along the way.

Our first stop was to visit Middle Creek Battlefield just west of Prestonsburg, Kentucky. Not only did I stop there because of the rumors of it being haunted, but more so to take a moment to remember the battle that took place there. I enjoy visiting Civil War sites, as I enjoy history and learning about the area in which we live. There is a certain ambiance a site like this has, maybe not on the same scale as Gettysburg but when you are there you know you are walking on scared ground. The site was eerily quiet and just sitting off to the side of a well traveled thoroughfare. We were the only visitors present at the time, and we walked part of the field and stopped at the historic markers. While I do not know of any specific hauntings of the battlefield, given its bloody past surely there may be some residual energy left behind. There have been a number of investigations by other groups that have taken place at Middle Creek Battlefield and some have yielded results.

(Just a side note to those out there who enjoy ghost hunting: With any investigation, you need to show a considerable amount of reverence of certain locations when investigating. A battlefield, a church, historically significant site or a cemetery would be a place that deserves added respect while investigating. Any location deserves respect, but when on such sacred ground, the amount of respect toward these areas should be top priority to help protect and preserve the history of these sites.)

After leaving the battlefield we headed on to Pikeville. I have never been in Pikeville long enough to explore much, and although we didn’t stay too long we decided to explore two of Kentucky and West Virginia’s most famous families: The Hatfield’s & McCoy’s.

They call it America’s most famous feud, and indeed it is still capturing attention to this day. While in Pikeville we walked up the hill to the Dils Family Cemetery where a number of members of the McCoy family are buried, including the heads of the McCoy family – Randolph and Sarah McCoy. Their former home is only a few blocks away from the cemetery. Many legends surround Pikeville and the two families, and on over to Matewan on the West Virginia side, where the Hatfield’s lived. After the cemetery, we drove part of the Hatfield- McCoy trail up to Matewan (site of the Matewan Massacre), and made stops at the Hog Trial Site and the site of the PawPawTree Incident. With all of the tragic deaths that took place during the feud all those years ago I’m sure they have left a haunting impression on the area.

The areas in which both families are from, my ancestors are from also. I have no direct ties to the Hatfield’s or McCoy’s, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the name Hatfield in particular from my older family members who grew up in Pike County Kentucky and surrounding areas.


One awesome trip and a number of potentially haunted places were abundant in South Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia. I always enjoy exploring the area of my ancestors, because you just never know what you might learn or if you will find an awesome haunted place!


Melissa
HPIR Founder

 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Haunted Travels: Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky


Another weekend getaway is under my belt as I traveled to Kentucky in September for a trip to Cumberland Falls State Park near Corbin, Kentucky. I planned an end of summer getaway to the mountains shortly after returning home for North Carolina back in the summer. I wanted to take a nice relaxing mini vacation to a secluded area for some quite time with nature and my family.

I started searching local state parks and lodges and when I saw a photo of the DuPont Lodge at Cumberland Falls State Park, I knew that was the place I wanted to go. This charming stone lodge looked simply beautiful from the photos, and upon research I discovered that a magnificent waterfall was located within the park, just a short distance away. Cumberland Falls is known as the Niagara Falls of the south, but its other claim to fame is its nighttime rainbow known as a moonbow. Cumberland Falls’ moonbow is the only predictable moonbow in the northern hemisphere. The weekend of our planned trip offered us an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the moonbow; we would be traveling there during the full moon (which is the only time the moonbow can be seen). The moonbow appears from the mist of the falls as the light of the full moon hits.

We spent our long weekend enjoying the area; I had a number of wonderful photographic opportunities while there. We went hiking on the falls view trail, it was a steep trail and a tad rough in spots, but it was totally worth the hike. We took a train ride in nearby Stearns Ky, where we went though some old ghost town and former coal camps and we also took a trail ride by horseback before the rain set in on our final day there but what we really went for was the falls…

Our second night at Cumberland Falls was the night the predicated moonbow would appear, so of course we found some other things to do in the meantime. But finally the time came and we headed out onto the rocky ledge just above the falls, waiting for the moon to peak over the horizon so that we may see this famous moonbow…and finally after waiting for about an hour it began to appear. At night, the rainbow appears colorless but it was well defined in shape …almost like a ghost rainbow. Speaking of ghosts, Cumberland Falls is a romantic and somewhat mystical place, and it most certainly seems a fit setting for a good ghost story. The falls also seem to the perfect setting for a story of a ghost bride. That’s right, within the rushing waters and mist of the falls there has been a ghost bride spotted many times. One legend states that an upset bride plunged to her death as she threw herself into the falls after learning of her fiancĂ©e’s death. Another legend says that the couple was honeymooning in the park when she accidentally fell to her death from the rocks above the falls. No matter the true story behind this legend, Cumberland Falls draws both the living and perhaps even the dearly departed to its amazing beauty.

Now going back to our accommodations, we stayed at the DuPont Lodge, located within the park. The original lodge was built in 1933, but was destroyed by a fire in 1940 but rebuilt in 1941 and has been there ever since. I could not find any specific stories that would relate back to the lodge being haunted, but it seems that perhaps the ghost bride and her groom may be to blame for some of the strange things that happen there today. I found some comments from former employees of the lodge online that state employees’ will not enter into some of the rooms, and doors shut on their own and the apparitions of the bride and groom have been seen there as well. The two nights we stayed, we did not encounter any of the lodge spirits. But I would recommend anyone a weekend’s stay at the lodge.

I don’t believe the stories end there, there seems a stir of many other ghosts that haunt the Cumberland Falls State Park, but you may just have to take a trip there yourself to find out!
 
 
Melissa
HPIR Founder

November Updates


It’s about that time again, time for some group updates! So my last update was right before October, busy, busy October. The month leading up to Halloween is usually pretty hectic for HPIR and indeed it was this time, the past month or so has given us little time for rest but in the end it was all worth it (as always).

Ghost Tours:
We started out the beginning of the month giving a few private ghost tours and those turned out amazing. In fact, the more tours we do it seems the more likely we are to have a paranormal encounter during a ghost tour. We just so happened to be finishing up one tour for the evening when something happened that surprised us all. One home we use during the tours has a little spirit that likes to play pranks and throw things. Well, this little prankster made his little presence known to us all that evening. I personally won’t elaborate anymore on this “incident”, I do however want to share with you readers a blog from one of the ladies on our tour that evening that describes her experience during the tour and the incident in the house that night. Here is her blog and photos from that night: Tour Guest Blog

After those two private tours we had a week in between to prepare for our public tours. The weather was not as cooperative as we had hoped, it rained and it was cold two nights out of four. I can do cold, but the rain in the cold is not my favorite however, that did not stop people from coming out to attending our tours! I appreciate everyone who braved that nasty weather to take a tour, you guys are truly awesome and that makes what we do that much more enjoyable for us. Although I must say as cold and wet as it was, giving a ghost tour in those conditions does have an eerie ambiance that you can’t quite duplicate on a nice clear night. Again we want to thank you all for coming out, for supporting what we do and we will see you all very soon for more ghost tours.

We also had a return visit from our friend from the Cemetery Knights Hearse Club who not only brought down his hearse, but invited three friends along too! We had a total of four hearses on display during the first night of our Ghostly Encounters Tour. The hearses were awesome, as were the guys and gals who own them and we thank them for coming down to show off their sweet rides.

We are also happy to report that during the month of October that two stray kitties found forever homes during two different tours. Cats seem to be routinely dropped off in Guyandotte and have found their way to our tours. One tiny fuzzball only about 6 weeks old found a home as well as declawed young black female cat that had been dropped off in the neighborhood. Bless those of you who took these poor little animals in and we hope that you have wonderful new pets!

Investigations:

With all that was going on in October we didn’t get much time to investigate, but we did do one. We did our third full night investigation of the Buffington House, this one was a private investigation we did for our raffle winner from our ghost tours back in August. Our guest, Georgia and her friend Carol had an excellent night and even had several personal experiences with the ghosts of the Buffington House. We all had small experiences that night in the house, reaffirming our conclusion that this house is most definitely haunted!


Halloween Party:
Speaking of the Buffington House (we do spend a lot of time there), I decided to throw my daughter a Halloween party for her and a few of her friends in a real haunted house before Halloween. I, my husband, daughter and her friends and some of the other members of HPIR all had a good fun filled night and it seems that we may have had an unexpected encounter with the other side during the party. To add to the fun for the kids, we had some fishing line rigged to some items such as a fake spider, a fake rat and a door handle. Well, we thought that an additional door had been rigged to rattle and open up but as it turns out, the joke was on us. When we discussed that one door rattling and opening while we were trying to scare the kids, my husband (who had rigged all of the stuff up) informed us that the one particular door we were talking about was in fact not rigged with fishing line or anything else! That one caught us off guard, it’s just a shame we didn’t realize it when it happened that it may have been a real encounter instead of a prank!


Halloween:

Several of the members of the group attended the Guyandotte safe trick or treat party, we set up a table and handed out candy to the kids as well as talked to a number of people about our ghost tours. We had a fun time and many thanks go out to Angie Clay for pulling together this fun and safe event for the kids and inviting us to be a part of it. We all had a blast!

Upcoming:

Investigations: We are still working on securing a few dates for upcoming investigations, now that we have a little more free time on our schedules you should see some new stuff coming from us toward the end of this year and the beginning of 2013. Some of our previous planned investigations were pushed back until after Halloween.

 
Website Updates: Also now that I have some free time on my hands I will finally get around to adding some new EVPs to our website soon and I hope to write several haunted travel blogs as I had previously promised.


Holidays: We tend to slow down a bit around the holidays in order to spend time with our friends and family. However we are planning one last tour for the season in December, check out our Ghost Tour website for details.

 
We hope you all have a marvelous Halloween!

Melissa
HPIR Founder

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September Updates

Its update time again! It’s once again the busy season and our schedule is getting full very quickly of activities and events for the coming month. We have also been very busy over the previous several months too and here is a look back at what’s been going on with HPIR:

July Investigations: In the month of July we stayed busy with two investigations, one of a private home and a second investigation at the Ramsdell House with the Original West Virginia Paranormal. This investigation was won by Carrie during the Conference for the Cure back in April, and we want to say thank you to Rob and his team for an enjoyable investigation and a great time getting to know some of the WVP members. Earlier in July we headed to St. Albans, WV for a private house investigation to assist a family; however our results from that investigation were inconclusive.

Anniversary: August started out with a celebration of six years as a team, we had a fun-filled group picnic in Kenova at Virginia Point Park complete with hotdogs, cupcakes and a nerf gun battle with some of the member’s kids and of course our HPIR family. 

August Investigations: We had one investigation in the month of August at an old Drugstore and that investigation yielded a number of EVPs. Be sure to check out our SoundCloud.com account because will be posting some of those EVPs there in the near future.

Ghost Tours & Zombie Squad: In August we hosted our annual Guyandotte Cemetery Tour, however this year we added a new stop and some awesome features! In going with the Swinefest theme this year of ghosts and zombies, we transformed our team into the HPIR Zombie Squad for the weekend to wrangle some out of control zombies. We had hearse on display from the Cemetery Knights Hearse Club of Charleston thanks to our new friend Dwight, we had tarot card readings, a zombie tour and Theresa even released a limited preview edition of her book which is coming out in October! We had big weekend with all tours being booked on Saturday night. Thanks to everyone who came to take a tour, we appreciate your support!

Mothman Festival: After a two year break from the annual Mothman Festival, we made plans to return for 2012. We had an excellent time at the 11th Annual Mothman Festival this year, met some great people and we hope to keep the tradition alive by returning again next year. Be sure to check out Theresa’s blog for a detailed Mothman re-cap.

Team Toni: HPIR continues to strongly support Team Toni more than ever. Over the summer one of our HPIR family members was diagnosed with a serious illness, and Team Toni has been there for her every step of the way. We had an opportunity to volunteer for the Team Toni Inaugural Poker Run on September 22, with all proceeds going to help support our HPIR family member! Thanks to those who support Team Toni.

Haunted Travels: I hope to have a new Haunted Travels post up in the next few weeks, keep an eye on our blog for more details!
Looking Ahead -

We have a very full plate in the month of October including two private ghost tours, public ghost tours and several investigations in the works. Lots of planning, prep work and late nights are in our future but we love it and are looking forward to a great fall season.

Don’t Forget Halloween & Civil War Days Tours are coming up in just over a month will be more ghost tours! We have our annual Ghostly Encounters Tour on October 26-27 & our Civil War Haunted History Tour November 2-3, we hope you will join us!

Melissa
HPIR Founder

Monday, September 24, 2012

HPIR EVP Collection Online

I hope to have some extra time later this week to post my September updates, but until then take a look at our SoundCloud.com page and listen to our collection of nearly 30 EVPs we have captured since 2006. I recently added HPIR’s EVP collection to our SoundCloud.com account in an effort to make our EVPs more accessible so more people can listen to them. Included in this collection are several EVPs that we have never released before, and they are some of our very best too! More EVPs are coming soon but for now enjoy our current collection here:

 
http://soundcloud.com/huntington-paranormal



 
Melissa
HPIR Founder

 

 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Anniversary Eve

The tone of this blog is not as upbeat as I usually write as it is more on the serious side this time. There are circumstances when even during a time of reflection and celebration, you have to stop and be grateful for all the things that you have and you realize just how blessed you truly are.

August 1, 2012 will mark HPIR’s 6th anniversary as a team. It’s been a great 6 years so far, but we have had our ups and downs over those years. Our perseverance had resulted in a persistent presence in the paranormal field, and more than ever the past few years has proved our team stronger and closer than ever. HPIR is truly a family; we have an unbreakable bond that I believe will see us though another 6 years and beyond.

Today we are happy to be where we are, to be involved in our community and to help those who are in need when possible. There may be those out there who wish to see us fail, or have chosen spitefulness over kindness. Those who oppose us only make us work harder to continue doing what we love. We are in this field not for fame or fortune, but because this is our passion.

On the eve of our 6th Anniversary our team is strong, dedicated and passionate about our work. But in the excitement of celebrating another year, all news is not all great news. One of our members is in need of prayer and positive thoughts right now. When one member is sick or hurt, it has an effect on us all. Last year one of our members was badly hurt in an accident, but thankfully is doing well now. Even in the face of a difficult time or situation, we stand together and remain confident that we will get through it.

This year though, we will celebrate our anniversary in grand HPIR style, with our annual picnic coming up followed by an investigation the following week. We will endure in the hard times and we will flourish in the good times. I am very grateful to have a great team and I am very blessed to have such amazing individuals that make up the HPIR family, and I would not trade them for the world :)   

Melissa
HPIR Founder

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Haunted Travels: Crystal Coast, North Carolina

Ahhh, summer vacation! It’s so nice to get away from the day to day routine and take a trip some where new and exciting. Like many, I enjoy going to be beach; I love the sand between my toes and the hearing the ocean waves crashing to shore, the beautiful sunsets, the cool breezes and…the ghosts. I prefer to spend my vacation time in quiet, history rich areas where I can take beautiful photos and learn a few more bits and pieces of America’s past. Usually areas with a rich history tend to harbor some ghostly legends, as was the case with my trip to the Crystal Coast in North Carolina. I had my sights set on a small coastal town called Beaufort; the allure of ghosts and pirates was overwhelming, so we made the 9 hour drive to spend a week just a few miles from there.

 
While my family and I didn’t take any of the tours (ghost and pirate tours), we did spend a good bit of time walking in downtown Beaufort exploring. While we were walking though the neighborhood checking out all of amazing historic homes, we discovered the Old Burying Grounds. I love, love, love old cemeteries so naturally we walked though it. There were some beautiful old grave stones, intricately designed wrought iron fencing and graves just everywhere. We came to one unique headstone which was covered in seashells, and other small trinkets and personal items. I took some photos and I assumed there was some sort of story about leaving a small token for the child buried there to prevent her ghost from following you home (just assuming here, remember). I looked up her actual story and she died on a ship traveling to England with her father. Her father promised her mother to bring her home safely, but she died on the journey. He purchased a Rum barrel from the ship and put her body in it, brought her back home to Beaufort and buried her there, still in the barrel.

Beaufort was also home to Blackbeard, the Pirate. His “home away from home” still stands today in the town and his ship is wrecked offshore a few miles away, with artifacts contained in the local museum today. Although we didn’t directly visit all of the sites of Blackbeard, local legend suggests that Blackbeard still haunts his old home which is the oldest house in the town.

Our next stop was at Ft. Macon State Park. Fort Macon was built 1826 as many attacks had prompted the coastal region to build a number of forts for protection. During the Civil War the fort was taken by Union forces, and later after the war was used as a civil and military prison. It was used on and off up through World War II. The fort is said to be haunted by soldiers from the Civil War era. We toured and photographed the fort extensively, it was quite an amazing place and there are many original artifacts encased in the forts museum.

Our next little adventure was to hop a ferry boat to one of the barrier islands, which is in the southern most portions of the Outer Banks of N.C. The reason we went to the island was not for ghosts really, but to search for seashells and most importantly take my horse crazy daughter to see the wild horses of the island. The island today looks pretty unspoiled and natural except for all the island visitors. However, many years ago the island had a little community with homes and businesses, but eventually the citizens of the island moved away after one too many storms destroyed homes and took a number of lives. The only thing that still remains today is a cemetery which is said to be located on the opposite end of 9 mile long island from where we were and the horses. It is believed that the horses have managed to survive on the island for 400 years. They say the horses are descendants of Spanish Mustangs that swam to shore from shipwrecks. But the locals say that the islands inhabitants may have also brought the horses to the islands to use, and perhaps were just left there when they moved to the mainland. But no matter the story, the horses are lasting piece of what is now an uninhabited island that has managed to endure for hundreds of years. There is also a light house (Cape Lookout) out on another nearby island that can be seen from the island we visited, and it is said to be haunted, but we didn’t take the ferry boat out to visit the lighthouse.
 We had a nice relaxing vacation and we enjoyed as much of the area we had time to see while we were there. I would totally recommend anyone visiting the area to check out all of the history and of course all of the hauntings of the Crystal Coast of North Carolina.

Melissa
HPIR Founder

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tour Talk: Ghost Stories Needed!

We here at Huntington Paranormal have been giving haunted history tours in Guyandotte since 2008. We started off with a simple history tour that exceeded our wildest expectations on the first night we offered them. We realized quickly though that people didn’t want just a simple history tour, they were asking for ghost tours. So within a year, we managed to gather many of Guyandotte’s ghost stories to include on our tour and have continued to offer haunted history tours in Guyandotte ever since. In the back of our minds, and in on and off discussions we have bounced around the idea of taking our ghost tours to new and exciting places (while continuing to do the Guyandotte tours, of course). We have considered a number of options for locations to plan for our tour expansion, but we have been so busy making additions to our original tour, we have not really sat down to work on anything but the Guyandotte tours, well that is until now!

Recently we had an opportunity to meet with some folks who want to see a ghost tour take place in downtown Huntington. Downtown tours have crossed our minds on a number of occasions, but as I mentioned, we have been focused on our existing tours. However, at this time we are planning and we are looking for ghost stories and experiences from downtown Huntington. We have a good starting base of haunted locations; however it just isn’t enough for a full tour just yet. But we are hoping that those of you who read our website and blog will step up to give us a helping hand. We want your stories, your ghost sightings and experiences so that we can take a big step forward working on our goal to expand into downtown!

If you want to help us by contributing your ghost story, experiences, sightings or just tell us about the rumors you have heard please send them to us. We have a lot of hard work and research ahead of us but the more help we get, the closer you will be to taking a haunted walking tour of downtown Huntington, West Virginia by the fall 2013 (crossing fingers)!


Monday, July 9, 2012

July Updates

Hey everyone, we here at HPIR hope that you are having a fun summer and are staying cool! It's time for a summer update about what's been going on with HPIR in the last few months:

 Investigations: We started summer off with two investigations; one was the Whipple Company Store which I posted about previously. Since that last post, I have added some new audio clips to our website so be sure to visit our sound cloud page to listen to some very creepy EVP’s we obtained during our investigation there. We also investigated a private home in Huntington in late May in which we obtained several EVP’s. I will be posting that investigation overview and audio clips on our website very soon. We had to postpone one investigation for later this summer due to the severe storms that swept though our area on June 29, 2012. We currently are planning two other investigations in the coming weeks, a private home and a local business so check in with us later this summer to find out more about those investigations!

Tour News: We have been staying on our toes this summer giving ghost tours. We did two public tours during the full moon in the months of May and June, we gave a private tour for a group of excited and curious children in June and during July’s full moon we gave a private tour to a local group of co-workers for an employee outing. We have had some wonderful tours this season and we are excited for more public tours coming up in August, October and November.

Team Toni 5K: In June several of our members participated in or volunteered for the Team Toni 5k memorial run/walk. The 5k experience was a first for three of our members: Meghan ran the 5k, while Carrie & I walked. Kelly had planned to walk with us, unfortunately she was feeling under the weather but she and Dustin volunteered, and were waiting at the finish line cheering us all on! We had such a great time and it was all for a great cause. Since our 5k experience, some of our HPIR “walkers” have kept up our walking and we plan to participate in another 5k this fall, with a Halloween theme!

Haunted Travels: I’m planning to get started on my latest edition of my haunted travels series with my recent trip to North Carolina for summer vacation and I also plan to blog about last year’s summer vacation soon too. I also have another up and coming Haunted Travels trip planned for September!

Mothman: This September, HPIR is planning a return trip to Pt. Pleasant, WV to attend the Mothman Festival. It has been a few years since we set up a table at the festival, and we have decided that this would be a great time to make the short journey north along the Ohio River to once again be part of the festivities.

Anniversary: The beginning of August will mark the 6th year since HPIR was founded. We are looking forward to celebrating 6 years with our annual picnic tradition. Good food, good friends and ghosts, who could ask for more?!  Happy Birthday HPIR!

Melissa
HPIR Founder

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Haunted Travels: Thurmond & Whipple, West Virginia


On Saturday May 19, 2012 the HPIR team headed down to southern West Virginia for a day trip to visit a few old WV coal towns before settling in for an evening investigation at the Whipple Company Store. Our trip started with Thurmond, WV. I have visited Thurmond in the past, and I found it to be quite a nice little area. Thurmond was the town that was used as the filming location for the movie Matewan (another small southern WV coal town located in Mingo County which is also another nice day trip town.).

Today Thurmond is quite literally a ghost town, in the 2010 census the town’s population was only 5. The town has not always been this way, back when coal mining in the New River area was at its peak, Thurmond was a prosperous little town with the C&O railway running through it and a number of hotels and businesses were located in town. Up until the 1920’s the town was accessible only by train. Thurmond also had a bit of a dark past including a red light district, gambling and many disasters such as fires and floods. While I have not come across any clear ghost stories about Thurmond but there seems to be some suggestion that this ghost town may indeed have a few. Ghosts or no ghosts, this little town is worth the trip!

After a nice picnic at a shelter near the New River, we headed back out of Thurmond and made a quick stop at Glen Jean, WV. Glen Jean was another small coal mining/railroad town which at one time had many businesses but today the only building that remains is the old Bank.

Next we headed back toward Whipple and made a few stops including the old Scarboro Company Store which still stands but it abandoned. We also visited the Catholic Cemetery in Scarboro where many of the miners are buried and nearby the cemetery still stands is the old Catholic Church, although it is in very bad shape.

Our last stop and our investigation location just down the road took place at the Whipple Company Store. The store was built in 1890 and was the resource that met all of the needs of the coal miners who lived in Whipple at the time. The store today is known as the Whipple Company Store & Appalachian Heritage Museum, they offer tours from May to November including a Haunted History Tour! This building is so full of history and I highly recommend it if you are visiting the southern WV coalfields. HPIR’s investigation here has been newly listed in our top 10 list! Please check out more information about the Whipple Company Store and HPIR’s investigation of Whipple Company Store.

If you are looking to take a trip to the Coalfield of WV looking for history or some ghosts, this website is a great place to start: CoalCamp USA


Melissa
HPIR Founder

Monday, May 14, 2012

Founders Advice for Starting Your Own Paranormal Group

I received an e-mail the other day asking how to go about starting your own paranormal group. I thought I’d offer my response to everyone out there who might be looking to start their own team now or sometime in the future. I will offer my advice based on how I run my group, which may not suit everyone out there. But here are my personal opinions, with practical tips and ideas for starting, and running a successful paranormal investigation team.


  • Start off slow: While you may be eager to jump right into investigations, if you are inexperienced you may want to start out by doing some research first. Get a good beginners book or find some basics to ghost hunting articles on the web to expand your knowledge of investigation techniques, equipment and protocol. Your first investigations should be held in either public locations where you pay to investigate or even at family and friends homes. You want to gain a little first hand experience before offering your groups services to the general public. Eventually you will find plenty of opportunities for investigations when you are ready.
  • Rules to live by: A good foundation is the key to a good group. You want to set some basic rules for your group and its members, and stick by those rules. Your rules should be practical and consider safety, wellbeing and integrity within the group. HPIR has a set of guidelines and membership requirements and I typically revise them on a yearly basis just to make them adapt to any changes within the groups structure. Our rules are not too demanding, because lets face it, who wants to join a group with a list of rules a mile long that are too strict to allow for any enjoyment of investigating? Our guidelines are expected to be followed but are not so unreasonable that we can not enjoy what we do.
  • Building a team: I honestly think the most difficult task in getting a team together is finding the right people and building a successful team from that. Unless you already have a close knit group of friends or family who you are investigating with, building a team from scratch can prove to be tough. Over the years I have had some wonderful individuals who have been part of my team, and others not so much. It can be difficult to find people who will stick with the team for the long haul, some people are just looking for a thrill and find themselves bored very quickly and they quit. Others are very dedicated but sometimes life gets in the way, or their path may just go in a different direction. You may have members come and go it’s something no team is immune to. Many teams have broken up or just completely been disbanded over conflicts among members. If you have a strong leadership, little tolerance for drama, and a welcoming environment for your members you can build a successful team. There may be times that you have to part ways with a member but keep in mind that you should always do what is best for the team as a whole and the person who is parting ways just has to find their own path. I offer an application process for perspective new members. An application is a good way to get to know someone before meeting them and an interview with you and your team will give you some indication if the perspective member will be a good addition to your team. Make sure any perspective member is aware of your group’s rules, protocols and any additional expectations before they join.
  • The right equipment: The best equipment is not always the most expensive equipment and it’s pretty simple and easy to get an equipment base built up. If you own a camera you are on your way to a basic ghost hunting kit. You can start off as simple with a camera, voice recorder, notebook and pen. If you can afford to go all out for more equipment to start with that is great, but not everyone can do this. I have always relied on what equipment I own myself and anything other members bring with them to an investigation is an added bonus. Over the years I have added pieces of equipment to my kit and as a group we have raised money to purchase more expensive equipment. It’s really up to each individual on what type of equipment you want to use within your group, but I highly recommend that you know the equipment that you use, what it is capable of and what it isn’t capable of. Ghost hunting is not a real science that allows us have these devices that were made specifically to detect a ghost. Every piece of equipment in existence today, even those items made specifically for ghost hunting are all based on theory and it really all boils down to what you believe your equipment can do for you.
  • Mission Possible: Ask yourself what is my mission in forming this team? I would say the most common mission is to help others in dealing with paranormal activity. Maybe your mission falls in line with the general population of teams, or perhaps it differs in some way. You may have to really consider what you want to accomplish with your team and what direction you want your team to go. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer with what your mission should be, but consider the reasons you want to start a group and go from there.
  • Enjoy what you do: I think it goes without saying that if you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t want to do it. While it’s important to take investigations seriously, there has to be a little down time to enjoy a laugh or spend time getting to know your team. It is generally a good idea to occasionally organize group events or meetings outside of investigations where you all can get together and talk, laugh or to discuss any team problems. Our group typically has a picnic every year to celebrate our group’s anniversary, monthly meetings, and other little gatherings throughout the year.
  • Avoid Burnout: I know there are some groups out there that investigate on a weekly basis or perhaps even more often. I think it’s great to have many opportunities to investigate but too much too often can become monotonous and lead to burnout. You will have to decide what amount of investigations suit your desire but as with anything, give yourself the occasional break to relax and time off when needed. Our group philosophy with both evidence and investigations is quality over quantity. We do not investigate every weekend, but when we do investigate we generally have had time to do some research on the place beforehand. We are not in a race to see how many investigations we can do, we investigate as opportunities present themselves but other times we will seek investigations when we are eager to get out there and do a case or there is a particular location we want to investigate.
  • You will never know it all: Always keep in mind that you will never have all the answers. There are no experts in this field, paranormal investigation is not recognized by the scientific community because paranormal activity is not something you can put in a pretty little box, carry it into the laboratory and study it under a microscope. Will paranormal investigation one day lead to an amazing breakthrough for the scientific community? Well, we will never know unless we try. I would like to at least think that if enough substantial evidence is found that maybe one day a few scientists out there might start scratching their heads and thinking hmm….


There you have it, there are some basic pointers for getting a team started and keeping it going once you do. I don't think this covers everything, but this blog could go on for quite a while if I keep writing lol.

Like I said before, these tips are based off of my personal opinions for leading a paranormal investigation team. The summer of 2012 will make HPIR’s 6th year as a group and I have experienced many ups and downs along the way. I am proud of HPIR and there is no way I can give myself all the credit for building a great team of people. It has taken hard work from all of us and we all have contributed to laying a foundation for a stable and productive group.


Melissa

HPIR Founder

May Updates

Update Time! Alright as I promised in my previous blog its time for a few updates.

Ghost Tours: I mentioned in the last blog about our tours and I am happy to share with everyone that we opened up our tour season early this year to offer a few spring tours. We wanted to provide a few more opportunities to our loyal tour fans this year. So far this season we have given one of the two tours this spring with a brand new theme: Full Moon Hauntings Tour. What better time for great a ghost adventure than when the moon is full? Our tour turn out was great, although not as large of a crowd as in the fall, but we were not expecting the fall turnout so early in the season.

We were delighted that our first Full Moon Tours took place during the Perigee Moon, the point in which the Moon is closest to the earth. What a nice clear night with a huge bright moon to set the stage for a night of spooky fun! Our tours will return on June 2, 2012 for one more night of full moon madness. Visit our tour website for information and future tour dates. We may also have some other exciting tour news to share with you in the future, but we can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet!

HPIR Events: Back in April, HPIR attended the Conference for the Cure hosted by the Original West Virginia Paranormal. This event was held to raise money for a young woman who was in the fight for her life against cancer and who thankfully is now in remission! We enjoyed meeting the members of WVP, other guests and speakers and we had a fun time overall. Check out Theresa’s blog for additional details about our time at the Conference for the Cure.

HPIR will also be taking part in at least one other charity event this summer; we are planning to participate in the Team Toni 5K Walk/Run. This walk/run is to honor the memory of Toni Black, a young lady who recently lost her battle with cancer and to raise money for the Team Toni foundation. Our team member Kelly was friend to Toni and is very close with her family and HPIR proudly supports Team Toni and its mission.

HPIR Awards: The members of HPIR and I thought it would be fun to recognize members of our group for our first ever “Oogity Boogity Awards”. I hosted this event at my home back in March. We had lots of food and a cake, a fire, a tent complete with gold stars and lots of fun. The awards were given to honor my team members for their dedication to the team. Some awards were funny; others were on a more serious note.
For the awards, the team decided to recognize Theresa as the Tri-States Best Investigator! We feel that Theresa has the right combination of experience, education and dedication to make her truly one of the best around. We are quite proud to have Theresa on our team and we really appreciate all that she does.

Photos: Check out our 2012 group photos! We took our photos this year at Old Main & Morrow Library on the campus of (haunted) Marshall University.

Investigations: Check back with us in the coming weeks to learn more about our latest investigations, several are planned and will be posted once they are complete.


Melissa
HPIR Founder

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Some Quick Updates

Hey everyone out there in the paranormal world, it's about time I did a quick update for the blog because it's been a while! HPIR has had a very busy spring and it does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. I am not going to do a full post right now on all of our adventures, but I will give you a preview:

Upcoming Tours: We have our first tours of the season coming up this weekend on May 5, 2012. You can visit our tour website for details about that tour and the rest of the tours this season.

Investigations: We have a big investigation scheduled in a few weeks and we are looking forward to visiting this location and will of course post details post-investigation.

We also have another investigation pending in which we will be teaming up with another local group to investigate one of our favorite haunted locations!

Haunted Travels: I also plan to post some more Haunted Travels this summer about some past places that I have visited like St. Augustine, Fl and Gettysburg, PA.

Charity Events: We have participated in some recent charity events and have at least one more coming up this summer; again I will post all about this in a future blog.

I hope to get some new blogs up next week after our ghost tours are over from this weekend! We hope you all will join us for ghost tours and keep up with us on Facebook too!

Melissa
HPIR Founder

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Haunted Travels: Princeton, WV & Max Meadows, VA

My haunted travels have once again taken me to some pretty fabulous places! This time, unfortunately, I could not get very up close and personal to the locations I visited but I am just as well satisfied with an opportunity to photograph a famous haunted location. I had planned this trip with my family to visit a specialty shop near Wytheville, Virginia to take my daughter to spend unspeakable amounts of money on her model horse collecting hobby, lol. Anyway, we had planned to spend the night just so we could enjoy what the area had to offer and I got busy searching for historic towns, civil war sites and of course haunted places!

While googling haunted places near Wytheville, Virginia I came across some information for the Major Graham Mansion. I just so happened to catch bits and pieces of the Ghost Hunters episode that aired a few weeks prior for it to peak my interest. Since it was in the area we were traveling to I just had to go hunt it down once we arrived.
The location of this mansion is just beautiful, it sits out on an unpaved country road past rolling hills and farmland. While taking in all the beautiful scenery, we come upon a sort of unexpected sight, a fancy paved and gated driveway that would rival the gates of Elvis’s Graceland. Apparently, the site of the Major Graham Mansion is the location of Grahamfest Music Festival. The house itself sits just past the impressive (new) driveway, and up on the hill above. The property was fenced off and we could not get an up close view, but I snapped a number of photos before we went on. According to information I found online, among the ghosts that are said to haunt this old house: a bride, slaves and a confederate soldier. The owners also offer ghost tours and according to one site online this mansion is said to be one of the most Haunted Places in America.
The following day on our return trip home, we had to stop at another famous haunted site in West Virginia, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park. This site has been declared one of the Most Terrifying Places in America according to the Travel Channel and has been featured on many other television shows. The history of this property has proven quite tragic for many children. A Native American massacre and several accidental deaths have no doubt left some scars on this land and apparently a few ghosts too.  

I took time to snap photos from the road as we stopped to take it all in. The old Ferris wheel and swings are rusted out, and the weeds have made a trellis out of them, giving these old rides one heck of a creepy look. This place looks creepy and it feels creepy, so I can get why it may be on of the scariest places to many people. However, in the future, I and the other members of HPIR are planning to visit Lake Shawnee to get some first hand experience on just how terrifying this old run down, rusted out amusement park may be.


Melissa
HPIR Founder

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Haunted Travels: Marietta, OH & Parkersburg, WV

The first haunted travels weekend getaway of 2012 was Marietta, Ohio and Parkersburg, West Virginia. While I have been to both locations before, I have never really taken the time to do much exploration and photography in either city. This time we booked a night in the historic (and haunted) Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg. Our original intentions were to stay at the historic (and yes, of course it’s haunted too!), Lafayette Hotel in Marietta. Unfortunately, the Lafayette was completely booked, so thus we ended up in at the Blennerhassett. The Blennerhassett was built back in 1889 by William Chancellor and from old photos I have seen of the hotel, the exterior has not changed much since those days.

According to Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State, a number of spirits are said to haunt this old hotel. William Chancellor himself has been reported to still roam the halls of the building. Theresa’s website also reports that a man in grey haunts the second floor, and the elevator tends to stop randomly on the second floor as well. And it just so happens that our room was, well, on the second floor! But despite the fact that our odds were fairly good to encounter a lingering spirit, we had no such luck during our stay. Here is more information about the Haunted Blennerhassett Hotel.

While out exploring in Parkersburg we sort of happened upon another haunted house, but I didn’t realize it at the time. We drove through the Julia-Ann Square Historic District and one particular house really caught my attention. A very large and clearly empty Queen Anne mansion with a for-sale sign out front seemed to be talking to us. My husband circled the block, and the next thing I know he is driving up into the yard/driveway! Now, had it not been for sale we would have not been so bold but we got of the car and took a walk around the property and I of course snapped lots of photos.

Later that evening back at the Blennerhassett, I was browsing through a photo history book that was in the room and I came across a little write-up on Peter G. Van Winkle, and then it hit me….I knew I had heard of this house, and had seen a photo too a few years back. The empty/for-sale Queen Anne was the Van Winkle-Wix house, which is reported to be haunted. I have not found many details on the haunted happenings but the reports of ghostly footsteps seem to be a fairly common occurrence there.

Even though we did not get to spend the night at the Lafayette in Marietta, we did go and take a stroll through downtown earlier in the day before heading to Parkersburg for the night. While there we paid a visit to the historic and Haunted Anchorage Putnam Villa, built in 1859 and it was also part of the Underground Railroad. According to Theresa’s listing on the hauntings of this old home, one of the spirits that is believed to haunt the house is Eliza Putnam, the wife of the original owner Douglas Putnam. It is indeed an incredibly beautiful home, and I can only imagine how magnificent it was in its heyday.


Sometime in the future we will return to Marietta, perhaps we will try for an investigation at the Anchorage, and/or spend a night at the Haunted Lafayette!


Melissa
HPIR Founder

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Great Articles for Investigators

I am finally getting around to writing the first blog of the New Year! Between the holiday season last month and nearly a month of being sick on top of that, a nice break was in order for me. Now that I am finally getting back in the “spirit” of things, I thought I would share a couple of links to some really great articles for anyone in the paranormal field.

State of the Supernatural: A Call to Restore Sanity:
This article was one I shared on our Facebook page that Theresa, our Research Manager had originally shared on her page. This is an excellent read for any investigator. Much of what is written in this article really reflects HPIR’s approach to paranormal investigation.

10 Quick and Easy Steps for Picture Analysis:
I am sharing this next article straight from Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State. We get many photo submissions and while we enjoy looking at and analyzing photos, we have had some issues with people sending in fake photos. Ghost app photos are becoming very common and we are getting quite a few of them on a regular basis. I am not sure if people think they can fool us, or they simply were fooled themselves, but Theresa’s article has some great information on analyzing photographs.


Melissa - HPIR Founder