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On the Road with: When Ghosts Attack

Plus 5 Great Ghost-Hunting Experiences


The ghost stories from across the country featured in Destination America’s new, eight-episode television series, When Ghosts Attack—premiering Sunday, October 20, at 10 pm E/P—involve far more than the feeling of being watched or the glimpse of a shadowy figure. Rather, they involve malevolent specters causing real bumps instead of goose bumps. According to Marc Etkind, general manager of Destination America, “When Ghosts Attack is like nothing you’ve ever seen, revealing shocking evidence and first-person testimony that ghosts don’t just go ‘boo!’ but can actually break the bounds of the spirit world to make violent physical contact with the living.”

Hearing a ghost story is one thing; living in one is another. People in such a situation often reach out to the growing community of paranormal investigative teams (perhaps one listed on ParanormalSocieties.com). If you’re like Lori Settle, whose story is featured in the premiere When Ghosts Attack episode, you might even become an investigator yourself.

Many teams give lectures, teach ghost-hunting techniques, or open ghost hunts up to the public. More than just a tour with scary stories, a hunt involves learning about the equipment, protocols, and etiquette used in paranormal research as well as the history of a haunted location. It also involves participating in an actual investigation. If you’re up for more than just a story, here a few ghost-hunting experiences to consider.

#1: Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA

Built in the late 1930s for the Cunard Line, the Queen Mary was the most opulent of vessels. Passengers in its pre- and post—World War II heydays included statesmen, royalty, and celebrities. During the war, it carried troops. Docked in Long Beach since the 1960s, the ship is now a hotel that also happens to have exhibits and themed tours showcasing its history—and its hauntings.


Built in the 1930s, the Queen Mary has a storied past—and a haunted present. Photo courtesy of the Queen Mary.

The slightly paranormal curious can take a 30- or 60-minute interactive ghost tour. For the truly inquisitive, Mathew Schulz of the ParaXplorer Project offers several in-depth paranormal investigation experiences—including those that use the Spirit Box (a communication device that scans radio frequencies to pick up ghost voices) and EVP (electronic voice phenomena) recording equipment. If you’ve also happened to book a stateroom for the night, we hope you sleep well.

#2: Goodsprings Ghost Hunt, Goodsprings, NV

Imagine wandering through a tiny desert town at night. In one hand, a lantern. In the other, an EMF (electro magnetic field detector used to pick up “ghost energy”). No. It’s not an episode of Scooby Doo. It’s part of a ghost hunt in Goodsprings, a one-time mining town (pop. 200) established in 1904 about 30 minutes outside of Las Vegas.


Your ghost-hunting host Robert George Allen. Photo courtesy of the Goodsprings Ghost Hunt.

Today it’s home to several historical structures, including the Pioneer, the state’s oldest saloon, where Clark Gable awaited word of his beloved Carole Lombard after her plane crashed in the nearby Potosi Mountains. The Pioneer was also the site of a fatal shooting and has the bullet holes to prove it. The victim and an old miner are both said to haunt the place.

You’ll hear all the lore en route from Las Vegas and at the saloon itself, where you’ll be issued your gear (EMF detectors, EVP recorders, dousing rods) and given some pointers before investigating select spots in town. Afterward, you’ll share your findings and take part in attempts to contact the saloon’s resident spirits. You’ll also have the chance to steel yourself with spirits of the liquid kind.

#3: Haunted Hocking, Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH

Yup. There are spirits in them there hills. So say the Hocking Hills State Park naturalist and his wife, who wrote the book on them and who also conduct area ghost hunts and tours. And so say many of those who’ve followed in the couple’s footsteps.


Ash Cave: one of many haunted sites in these hills. Photo courtesy of Haunted Hocking.

Sightings are pretty darn frequent here. Among them, a women in 1920s garb near Ash Cave; phantom hounds, possibly the hunting dogs of the hermit who lived and died in Old Man’s Cave; and mysterious orbs at both Conkle’s Hollow and Rose Lake.

Tours are held periodically throughout the year (check both the tour and state park websites for info) and are extremely popular. They not only get you out into woods that are so unique as to be enchanting, but they also give you ghost-hunting tips, the skinny on area paranormal investigations, and the lowdown on social and natural history and lore—all from folks who know their stuff. Be sure to ask about other area sites, like the famous Moonville Rail Tunnel, said to be haunted by several spirits. Here’s a point to ponder: with sightings here dating from as far back as the 1890s, couldn’t some tunnel ghosts have, before passing, themselves seen tunnel ghosts?

#4: Ghost Doctors, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

Just one look at the Beaux-Arts  façade of this enormous institution, opened in its current location in 1880, and you know: it’s got to have a ghost or two. Then, when you consider its millions of treasures from across time and the world, you know: it’s probably got more than just a couple. If only you could ask the guards what they’ve seen or heard. Be careful, though. At least one spirit sentry is reported to patrol these hallowed halls. Maybe you’re better off signing on to a two-hour, after-hours ghost hunt led by the Ghost Doctors.


At the Met, some spirits are drawn to the building, others to its artifacts. Photo courtesy of ©istockphoto.

You’ll meet up at around 5 pm for background on the museum and to learn about using EMF and EVP equipment, dousing rods, night-vision gear—even your own digital camera. You’ll then head into the galleries, stopping in choice spots to learn about their art and artifacts, their ghosts, and various ghost-hunting techniques. Whatever happens, remember this: New York has plenty of spirit(s), if not at the Met, then maybe in Central Park, Grand Central Station, Soho, or South Street Seaport, which you can also investigate with the Ghost Doctors.

#5:  American Hauntings Tours, Various Locations

Can’t decide where to ghost hunt? Look into this company’s offerings. You might spend the night investigating strange voices and footsteps at the Grand Opera House in Dubuque, IA, where the spirits of two audience members have been seen. Or you might participate in a séance and overnight ghost hunt—reaching out to former landowners—at  an abandoned  mansion in Eldred, IL. And, from dusk to dawn, you might search for the unsettled souls of inmates in the desolate cell blocks of the famed Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield.


Eldred House in Eldred, IL: haunted by Native Americans and pioneers? Photo courtesy of American Hauntings.

The company also offers weekend-long ghost hunts in such active locales as Gettysburg, PA; Tombstone, AZ; and New Orleans, LA. Although transportation isn’t included, trips tend to sell out, and not just because each has a limited number of slots.

The sights included, the access to them (some aren’t generally open to the public), and the company’s longevity and experience (in business since 1994) also make them popular. What’s more, single-day ghost tours of dozens of places throughout Illinois, including in Chicago, are also available.