Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cedar Point: More than just Screamsters at Halloweekends

Last weekend, my roommate, a lot of friends, and I went to Cedar Point's Halloweekends in Sandusky, Ohio. It had everything Halloween needs: Thrill rides, ghoulish creatures roaming about, foggy corridors, spooky music, haunted houses, and... apparently real ghosts. Like many other amusements parks out there, Cedar Point has become home to a few not-so-well-known ghost stories that have nothing to do with the creepy walkthroughs and haunted houses. It seems it's not only thrill-seekers that inhabit the park.

What goes on here?

First, let's start with the park's most famous haunting, and the one that has been through the most changes. Muller's Carousel Horse (or Military Horse) used to be part of the Frontiertown Carousel. Although now it is in storage in a building behind Frontiertown, there have been many reports from it's time on display of employees seeing a ghostly woman riding the horse after the park has closed. Although it did not start out this way, legend has it that this is Mrs. Muller, who fell so in love with the horse that she doesn't even let it be photographed! Unfortunately this can't be tested without permission now, so perhaps we'll never know just how Mrs. Muller does feel about her horse. A website below contains other theories and more detail and this mysterious carousel staple(Ghosts of Ohio).

Next, let's move onto the Hotel Breakers. Built in 1905, this hotel stands on the edge of both the water and Cedar Point. It has been a historic landmark, and then stripped of its title. Only a handful of famous people have stayed there, but it, too, has its share of ghost stories.

There's a rumour that this hotel and the whole park itself were built on Native burial grounds. No idea if this is true, but it might account for some of the strange things going on all around the area.

Room 169 is particularly active. The story is that a young woman named Mary hung herself in there after being jilted my a lover. Now employees hear voices, things move and have problems using anything electric inside the room. I know which room I'm asking for, should I stay at the Breakers.

Some employees report seeing a figure walk in Frontiertown, but there aren't many reports on it.
You might find this useful in trying to determine if Hotel Breakers is haunted. This forum contains many different people's experiences staying in the Hotel. Feel free to add your own!

There isn't much information on the ghostly activity of Cedar Point. If you've got a story to tell, let me hear it! I would love to add it to the information above, and make this post as detailed as possible. Happy Haunting, and have one spoooooooky Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kalamazoo and Ghost Tour, two!

This is late, I know, but I was living it up at Cedar Point's Halloweekends, getting as scared as possible before Halloween night! I've been informed that Cedar Points is haunted by more than just Screamsters. Perhaps we'll take a look at that later on in the cold months to come. For now, I do believe I need to finish up the ghost tour my roommate and I took October 14th.

 What Goes on Here?

We last left off with the murder of Louis Shilling down on Portage st. Now let's visit the Corner Bar, a popular hangout for college students from WMU. Before it became the local hangout of dozens of kids after class, the Corner Bar was a Bowling Alley (read: Speakeasy). Yup, they made illegal booze right in the heart of the Midwest. Well, it's said that a young boy who worked at the bowling alley as a pin setter got caught in the machine in day. He unfortunately died, but fortunately haunts the Corner Bar to this day. Employees have seen him in the kitchen, and without cause plates and utensils have been flung to the floor.

A little drive down the road brings you into Augusta. Here is the Brooks Lodge, a great place to go for food and drinks (or so I hear), but it also seems to be filled with another kind of spirit. This was once the Upjohn vacation home. There was space enough for everyone here, including the mistress. After the family sold the home, it was turned into the Brooks Lodge. There have been several investigations of this place, with especially good collections of evidence. We were told of a few EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) captured by the team.
                            They were asking questions in the house, and discovered that two unseen entities were having a conversation amongst themselves. Half the conversation was garbled, but the ther voice was strong and could be heard answering the muffled voice with "Yes, I know." "It's okay." and "I don't care." These are not Dr. Upjohn, however. The team was given that definite answer during one of  their EVP sessions.

The Park Club on Rose and South streets was a merging of three different men's clubs (sorry ladies) in 1904. It is still used a dinner club now, with only the finest served. We weren't told many details, but our guide did say there was plenty of spirit activity here. Perhaps the members of this dinner club don't want to spook newcomers too badly.

The State Theatre is haunted, as well, but this is not a surprise to any of us, is it? It is a theatre after all.

There is indeed an Indian burial mound in Bronson Park! It has been confirmed through very careful probing and excavations of the site. If you check it out, please be courteous and remember that this is a sacred part of Kalamazoo.

Last, but certainly not least is the Civic Auditorium, facing the burial mound mentioned above. It was built in the 1900's by none other than Dr. Upjohn, for his daughter who couldn't get enough of live theatre. Perhaps a little surprising, however, is that she is not the one strolling the stage after dark. Thelma was an avid theatre goer right until until her death in the 1960's. Even after her death, pieces of her remain throughout the auditorium. She donated all of her possessions to the prop department, and they still use them today for various shows. She even saved them herself from a water pipe that burst in the prop room in the basement of the auditorium. When employees got down there to clean up the mess of soaked and damaged props, they were shocked to find that every single one had been moved and saved from drowning! No one had even known the pipe had burst until the morning!

I would like to thank the Ghosts of Kalamazoo tour guides (Heather, Blair, Bob, Mike #1, Jamie and Mike #2) for the fantastic tour they put on. They managed to get a lot of great information across in a short amount of time, and did it well! Can't wait to see you next year, guys!

Below are a few websites to delve further into the haunted history of Kalamazoo:

Note: Kalamazoo Asylum isn't in here on purpose. That will be getting its own blog in weeks to come!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kalamazoo and Ghost Tour, too!

(The Radisson, and old Brothel [in red brick])

In a city in Michigan called Kalamazoo (you've probably heard of it many, many times), there's a great group putting on ghost tours for a great cause. I love trying out the tours in any new city, and this one was absolutely fabulous! And all for a great cause. The GKHT hold the tours as a kind of fundraiser for Warm Kids, an organization that provides winter clothing for kids in need. It's fabulous!

A mix of history and haunted, the Ghosts of Kalamzoo Historic Tour took us around downtown KZoo, starting and ending in Bronson Park. Only an hour long, this tour is packed with information on a lot of great buildings and locations in the downtown KZoo area. I took three and a half full pages of notes! With six tour guides, my roommate and I were treated to many different perspectives and historical lessons on the city of Kalamazoo. There were even some things Crysta was surprised about, which is awesome because she grew up right next door in Portage! But I'm sure you're a lot more interested in what we learned about, aren't you? Well, let's get started!
(note: Bear in mind that this is also a historic breakdown of the city. Not all locations will have something paranormal attached to them. I included the most interesting from the tour.)

What goes on here?

I'll start with the Michigan News Agency. As we learned, it's the oldest newspaper in the state of Michigan (to which my roommate replied, "suck it, Detroit!"), and began its run in 1947. It's also the second oldest building in Kalamazoo. It was the the first place in KZoo to sell Playboy. The joke is that men driving by would see the sign, and swing a U-turn into the agency just to get a copy!

Did you know Kalamzoo has a mummy? Not only does it have one, she has her very own Twitter account (@KVMMUMMY)! This isn't her greatest feat, however. Apparently she is the cause of some of the strange things going on in the museum. She likes to turn on and off lights, and my roommate relayed stories she heard when she was little of the mummy moving things around and making a mess of the museum after hours. Tut may not have a curse, but does the KZoo mummy?

The first death ever on record in the little village of Kalamazoo happened in the Kalamzoo Hotel back in 1832. You might know it as the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Burdick Hotel, or the Radisson that now occupies the spot. You might be even more familiar with the Million Dollar Fire of 1909, which took fifteen hours to put out, yet miraculously killed no one. But that doesn't lend itself to ghosts, does it? Well, no, but the shiny new Radisson has its own stories to tell.

In 2008, the legend Bobby Hatfield was found dead before a show in his room at the Radisson. Since then, there have been strange occurrences in the hotel's bar and restaurant. No one knows for sure whether the culprit is Bobby, a homeless man, a mafia murder, or General Burdick, for whom the old Hotel and the new restaurant are named for. Employees and patrons alike have reported the jukebox turning on by itself, TV's switching on to static and glasses thrown across the bar. We were warned to be on our best behaviour should we spend an evening in Old Burdick's.

The oldest building in Kalamazoo was a brothel. Anyone surprised? Me, either! The building (on Michigan Ave), was built well before 1860, and it's believed to have first been a brothel. The numbers are still on the doors! Lights here go on and off, but as far as our guide knew, nothing further has been reported. Nothing sexy going on here, folks.

Almost next door lies the old Kalamazoo Savings Bank. It's not certain, but this may have been used as a mattress storage facility for some time. What is for certain is that strange stuff happens here. Some of it was caught on film. In photographs taken of the building, figures were reported to show up in the film after its development, but no one witnessed them as the photos were being taken.

Did you know Elvis is alive and well in Kalamazoo? Well, he's there, anyway. Perhaps not well and certainly not alive. But at the Columbia building, he is definitely not forgotten. Elvis stayed in room 201 when this building was a hotel, and while it is now a bunch of offices, his presence is still welcomed in the conference room. His name is on the door, and there's even a cardboard cutout of him in the room! Unfortunately there haven't been any ghostly sightings of the King.

In the late 1800's a man named Louis Shilling was murdered on Portage st. The police, using a brand-new technique straight from science fiction, took a picture of the victim's eyes to find the killer. They believed the image of the murderer would be burned into the retinas. Unfortunately this did not work. The butcher from Shilling's company was blamed, but as he was a butcher and the stains on his apron were not indeed human blood, he was released. The tour guide didn't say anything about Mr. Shilling haunting the area, but who knows? Perhaps he's still wandering around, looking for his killer.

There's so much more to say, I'll have to continue another week! It seems, however, that Kalamzoo is quite the haunted town! Downtown alone has so many spirits making themselves known! I definitely encourage you to take the Ghosts of Kalamazoo Tour, and experience the paranormal activity that floats around KZoo. Below are some links I think you'll enjoy, and will give you a little more on the history of the city of Kalamazoo.