Table of Contents
AMERICA’S HAUNTED ROAD TRIP
To my children, Madison and Jordyn,
whose soft little hands and great big hearts hold the world.
You remind me every day of how precious life truly is.
To my husband, Allen,
for constantly loving and supporting me through the chaos.
You are my best friend.
Welcome to America’s Haunted Road Trip
DO YOU BELIEVE IN GHOSTS?
If you are like 52 percent of Americans (according to a recent Harris Poll), you
believe that ghosts walk among us. Perhaps you have heard your name called in a dark and empty house. It could be that you have awoken to the sound of footsteps outside your bedroom door, only to find no one there. It is possible that you saw your grandmother sitting in her favorite rocker chair, the same grandmother who had passed away several years before. Maybe you took a photo of a crumbling, deserted farmhouse and discovered strange mists and orbs in the photo, anomalies that were not visible to your naked eye.
If you have experienced similar paranormal events, then you know that ghosts exist. Even if you have not yet experienced these things, you are curious about the paranormal world, the spirit realm. If you weren’t, you would not now be reading this preface to the latest book in the
America’s Haunted Road Trip
series from Clerisy Press.
Over the last several years, I have investigated haunted locations across the country, and with each new site, I found myself becoming more fascinated with ghosts. What are they? How do they manifest themselves? Why are they here? These are just a few of the questions I have been asking. No doubt, you have
been asking the same questions.
The books in the
America’s Haunted Road Trip
series can help you find the answers to your questions about ghosts. We’ve gathered together some of America’s top ghost writers (no pun intended) and researchers and asked them to write about their states’ favorite haunts. Each location that they write about is open to the public so that you can visit them for yourself and try out your ghosthunting skills. In addition to telling you about their often hair-raising adventures, the writers have included maps and travel directions so that you can take your own haunted road trip.
There is an old song with the line, “The eyes of Texas are upon you,” but April Slaughter’s
proves that at least some of those eyes belong to the dearly departed—ghosts. The book is a spine-tingling trip through Texas’ dusty small towns and cosmopolitan cities, from the panhandle to the Gulf of Mexico, and east and west across the largest of the Lower Forty-Eight states. Ride shotgun with April as she seeks out Indian and soldier ghosts at Fort Phantom Hill in Abilene. Travel with her to the Von Minden Hotel where the ghost of a World War II suicide can still be heard dragging furniture around, or to El Paso’s Plaza Theatre where several ghosts just won’t give up their seats. And who belongs to the disembodied female voice that whispers, “Please help! Someone is burning!” in the Caldwell County Jail Museum? Hang on tight;
is a scary ride.
But once you’ve finished reading this book, don’t unbuckle your seatbelt. There are still forty-nine states left for your haunted road trip! See you on the road!
Editor, America’s Haunted Road Trip
“THE BOUNDARIES WHICH DIVIDE life and death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends and the other begins?”
Edgar Allan Poe
To some, the idea that ghosts exist is nothing more than a product of an overactive imagination. To others it seems to be an amusing possibility, a deeply fulfilling spiritual experience, or a terrifying everyday reality. Whether you are a devout believer in the paranormal, a skeptic who finds there is a more logical explanation for everything, or simply someone curious about the ‘other side,’ one thing remains constant—the unexplained has always been among us and continues to evoke fear and fascination in all areas of the world.
When I was eight years old, my family moved into a home where odd things happened almost daily. Initially my experiences frightened me, but as the years passed and I began to seek out an explanation, I learned that fear only made things more difficult. I wanted to know, to understand, to survive those things that scared me the most . . . and I did. It was the beginning of a journey for me that forever changed my outlook on life, as well as the afterlife.
I know that ghosts and spirits exist. I have seen them and heard their voices. I have been touched by unseen forces and witnessed apparitions materialize and dissipate right before my eyes. Being an avid paranormal researcher and investigator, these things have become commonplace in my life and have taught me that just when I think I have it all figured out, I am
faced with the realization that I still have a lot to learn. No one has all of the answers, but it certainly is an interesting pursuit looking for them and sharing our collective experiences with others in hopes that we may come across that one experience that turns us into true believers.
I am often asked what it is I hope to accomplish in doing the work I do. Am I looking to convince others that the spirits of the deceased walk among us? The simple answer is no. I am in search of validation of my personal beliefs and am entirely open to sharing that information with others with a willingness or desire to listen. The key to exploring anything unknown is to always keep an open mind and to truly soak up the energy that constantly surrounds you in any given situation. Be aware of your environment and be willing to let it teach you something new.
My husband, Allen, is also an experienced investigator who has accompanied me in my travels and assisted me a great deal in fine-tuning the investigative process. There are several things visitors and investigators alike should keep in mind when they visit a location reported to have paranormal activity.
I always stress the importance of making safety a priority. Whether you are visiting a location on your own or investigating with a group of people, it is imperative that you use your common sense and keep away from areas that are potentially hazardous or dangerous. While our curiosities often encourage us to explore that which has been hidden from us, it is very possible that our experiences can be tainted or even ruined entirely by not heeding caution.
Another important point to keep in mind is that we are guests in these locations, and they deserve our respect. Both the physical and spiritual environments around us are sensitive to our actions, and we need to be accountable for how we conduct ourselves. You might even find yourself welcome to make a repeat visit in the future if those who care for the property are
impressed with your conduct. This also helps to ensure other curious visitors will have access as well. What good is a great haunt if we can’t all share in the experience?
In all of my travels, I have found it most helpful to go in knowing at least a little history of the place and what activity has been reported there over time. While some people prefer to go in blind, I find I am better prepared for a paranormal experience if I have a slight expectation of what could occur. It is important, however, to keep in mind that paranormal activity is not guaranteed. Just as people do unexpected things in life, those who have crossed over work in much the same way. There is an element of choice that seems to carry over from one realm to the other, and while it may seem disappointing at times, it is important to understand that not everything works on our own personal timeline or expectation. It may take some time before you experience legitimate activity, but it is well worth the wait when it happens! Some of my most profound experiences occurred when I least expected them or when my attention was turned to something else.
Take notes! It is common practice among investigators to carry a notebook with them at all times. Documenting all of the details that you feel are important can later validate your experience as a whole. If others accompany you, interesting correlations may develop in your collective notes. Also, speaking with those who are frequent visitors or caretakers of the property can provide you with some of the more interesting details outside of the recorded history.
One of the most common frustrations among beginning investigators is the notion that they need to spend a great deal of money on equipment before they are ready to get out into the field and gather reliable evidence. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is wholly unnecessary for you to invest money into equipment for investigations when it is fairly inexpensive
to get started. Sure, having a thermal imaging camera is nice and can definitely be useful, but it comes with a hefty price tag and rarely produces anything anomalous. You can capture some of the best evidence with the simplest and inexpensive of tools, such as a digital camera, digital voice recorder, and one of the most important tools—the flashlight. I often have the opportunity to work with high-tech equipment, and there is the rare occasion it produces something impressive, but my best evidence has always come from the simple tools I take with me everywhere I go.