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Ghost hunting SCV style

Things that go bump in the night

Posted: October 22, 2010 1:00 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2010 1:00 p.m.

There are many spooky places in the Santa Clarita Valley. If you’ve always wanted to go on a ghost hunt, now is your chance.

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I'm fascinated with ghosts. It's fun to think that a disembodied spirit might be hanging around - ready to pop up and shout "boo." Everyone likes a good scare now and again.

When the Canyon Theatre Guild first took over the old Callahan theater up Sierra Highway in Agua Dulce I was in charge of getting the payphone installed on the property.

It was spooky, dead quiet and very deserted the day I waited in the theater for the phone company technician to arrive.
The longer I waited, the more aware I became of the sensation of being watched. I couldn't wait to leave after the phone was finally installed.

Many members of the theater group soon reported unnerving experiences, including vacuum cleaners that would shut off inexplicably and other weird occurrences.

Months later, when I was directing a show for the theater, I was the last one to lock up and the first one to arrive at the theater the next day.

One of the actors in my show had spoken despairingly of the "theater ghost" during that evening's rehearsal. When I returned to the theater the next day and unlocked the door that actor's photo -- which had been securely nailed to a display board inside the theater -- was now on the floor. It had been torn from the board and clearly ripped at the top.

I was the last one to leave and the first one to arrive, no one else had been inside the theater between rehearsals.

So many "strange" events occurred that eventually a psychic was called. She claimed the ghost of Robert Callahan, the former owner of the theater, was the culprit. He liked having us inside his theater, she said, but he sometimes became frustrated when we didn't do things he would like us to do, such as in the placement of furniture.

A series of "ghostly" photos also showed a black cloud surrounding some of the actors during show rehearsal.
A technician in the lighting booth reported seeing a fine "mist" descend on the stage during the performance of another show.

Since that experience I've photographed unusual dark spots at a historic bed and breakfast in Sacramento and countless "orbs" in other locations.

However, the real hotspot of paranormal activity in the Santa Clarita Valley appears to be Heritage Junction in Newhall.
This weekend the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society will host "A Night in Heritage Junction." The event will include an all-night paranormal investigation of Heritage Junction with the American Paranormal Research Association. Tickets for Saturday night's event are still available at $60 each. Dinner and continental breakfast will be provided as well as a souvenir photo with the association members.

Brandon Alvis of Bakersfield, founder and president of the American Paranormal Research Association, and his team will be on hand to guide guests through the ghost hunt at Heritage Junction, adjacent to William S. Hart Park.

Members of the team include Alvis, Bridget Odien, Larry Odien, Linda Casebolt, Michael Rudie, Eric Borghesani and Tracy Borghesani.

The team will explore the Saugus Train Station, the Newhall Ranch House and the Pardee House - the areas at Heritage Junction where the most paranormal activity has been reported.

The team began investigating Heritage Junction in 2008 and has recorded numerous paranormal occurrences.
"We've found everything from disembodied voices recorded on audio recordings, both digital and analog, known as EVP, electronic voice phenomena to photographic evidence, still photos and video," Alvis said.

Perhaps the most dramatic evidence is a series of photos snapped by Bridget Odien on the second floor of the Saugus Train Station in the old apartment of the former stationmaster.

"She seems to have caught a shadow of a man wearing what looks like a cowboy hat," Alvis said. "The photos have been looked at by a professional and he had no idea what could have caused the images."

Alvis said the EVP evidence has also been examined.

"Each of the voices we've collected we've consulted with a sound engineer with more than 35 years experience. He has tested the clips with a spectrum analyzer and these voices are showing up in a range that is considered white noise," he said. "The human ear shouldn't hear these voices and we don't know where these voices are coming from. Can we say these are ghosts? No, all we can tell you is that these are unexplainable."

Alvis said the team has captured voices in the Saugus Train Station, the Newhall Ranch House and the Pardee House.
The voices captured include the voice of a man saying Mary Ellen, the voice of a young boy saying "I want my mommy" and the voice of a woman with a British accent saying "will that be on the train?"

During the evening spent at Heritage Junction guests will learn about the procedures and equipment used by the association in paranormal investigations.

"Guests will be able to participate in a full on paranormal investigation," said Alvis. "They can use the equipment themselves and see if there is anything unexplainable."

Alvis said guests can bring their own recorders too, in an effort to capture EVPs.

The allure of a ghost hunt has captured the imagination of the public to the extent that several popular television shows follow teams of paranormal investigators including "Ghost Hunters" and "Ghost Hunters International."

"There are many reasons why people are interested in ghost hunting," said Alvis. "Some people are interested in the unexplained and the unknown. Others have lost family members and they want to see if there is a possibility that they have made a transition. Everyone has their own reasons whether it is thrill seeking or just trying to find out if there is another side."

Pat Saletore, executive director of the SCV Historical Society, said the ghost hunt is meant to be fun, as well as introduce residents of the SCV to the rich history of the area.

"If I can get someone interested in history through ghosts," she said. "I'm not above doing that."

Among the most famous reported spirits is Martha, who may also be known as Marta.

"We received many calls reporting a woman seen in a second story window of the Newhall Ranch House," she said. "At the time it couldn't have been a reflection because there were no windows installed in the house."

Other reported sprits include a small boy, Timmy and a cowboy named Rory.

For information on the overnight ghost hunt visit www.scvhaunt.com, www.scvhs.org or www.apraparanormal.com. (661) 254-1275.

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