Guest Post by Erica Leigh Corbett
All right, Internet, let’s get this straight: I don’t believe in ghosts.
But I do believe in having awesome, extraordinary experiences, and paranormal investigations deliver them in a big way. If you’re a fan of ghost-hunting TV shows, you owe it to yourself to experience an actual investigation.
A couple of nights before Halloween, I went to the Colorado Prison Museum with the Mountain Peak Paranormal Investigation and Research team. This investigative team focuses on the central mountain region of Colorado and is “dedicated to the research and investigation of paranormal activities, along with educating the public about ghosts and the field of the paranormal” (from mppir.com).
My friend and I arrived at the museum at about 6:30, as the sun was setting and the wind was picking up. It was a good setting for a spooky night of ghost hunting. But initially the most unnerving thing about the location was the fact that it adjoins an active prison, complete with guard towers. Hoping there wouldn’t be a prison break, I made my friend swear to protect my virtue should anything crazy go down.
The Colorado Prison Museum is actually an old prison itself. It received its first inmate in 1871, and became a women’s prison in 1935. It was great to wander the building freely in the evening gloom, with access to the archive room, which is usually locked. (I was a history major, so this probably wasn’t as exciting to other people.) We explored the jail cells and saw a display of weapons taken off of prisoners over the years, including actual murder weapons. Also, it bears mentioning that some of the displays in the museum used mannequins. Look, I might not believe in ghosts, but I’ve seen enough ’80s horror movies to have a healthy fear of mannequins…in prison uniforms, in the dark, no less. If that isn’t making your skin crawl a little, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am.
Paranormal investigators don’t mess around when it comes to scientific and recording equipment. This team had multiple monitors and cameras scattered around the building, as well as sound recorders, motion detectors, and EMF meters.
About 15 people, ranging in age from 20 to 70, joined the team for the investigation. My friend and I joined an older couple and our team leaders, a young couple who hadn’t had time to change from the costume party they’d attended beforehand. (I, for one, found their Cookie Monster and Elmo outfits reassuring.)
Our team started outside by the gas chamber. We then walked around the grounds, watching for strange shadows in the windows while our team leader listened for voices on her recording device. Mostly, it was cold.
Other teams had a little more activity. I won’t claim that anything supernatural happened, because the skeptic in me kept thinking the footsteps we heard were probably mice in the walls and everything else could be chalked up to imagination. But I must admit, some things gave me pause. While in the corridor of empty jail cells, for example, our team leader used two flashlights to communicate with the dead, encouraging them to turn on the red flashlight for “no” and the blue flashlight for “yes.” She had a lengthy conversation with “Anthony,” asking him questions about his life and time in the prison. We were told Anthony died in the prison during a riot, but later I found out that the Anthony she was talking about was actually named Anton, and he went on to leave prison and live a long, happy life in New York, having no further trouble with the law. But the fact that those flashlights went on and off, seeming to answer her questions, was a little unsettling.
Several people reported feeling physical evidence of ghosts; two people felt light-headed and had to leave the room. One woman felt something grabbing her hand in the archive room (the trustees’ room when the prison was operational). And my friend reported feeling a really strong stabbing pain in his back while we were in the kitchen, where we learned one woman was stabbed to death by another prisoner. Yikes. Take that for what you will.
The team was awesome at ensuring our safety and encouraged us to let them know if we were feeling unwell at any time. And I really did feel safe sitting in the dark with a bunch of strangers trying to talk to dead people. Well, until that motion light went off in the empty pantry while we were in the kitchen. Then I was a little nervous, but I just shoved my friend in front of me so he could fight the ghost while I ran, and I was totally fine.
Paranormal investigations are a real kick, even (or maybe especially!) for skeptics. They’re fun nights, but they do go late, usually at least until midnight, and you’re typically sitting in cold, dark, old buildings. My best advice is to dress warmly and bring a friend you can hide behind.
Mountain Peak Paranormal opens several investigations to the public throughout the year, and they often use the investigation fee to raise funds for the locations they’re investigating. I was happy to pay $30 for the experience, especially since part of it went to the Colorado Prison Museum, which I would have enjoyed visiting even without the promise of ghosts.
About the Author: Erica Leigh Corbett’s career aptitude test came back suggesting she become a “carnival worker,” which just goes to prove the accuracy of those tests. To keep tabs on Erica, follow her carousel, complete with unicorns and donkeys, on Twitter @ericaleigh.