Ghost Trip to Haunted Virginia City Nevada Chronicles
I have built many relationships in the San Diego paranormal community over the last ten years. November (2014) I was gifted an opportunity to partner with San Diego Paranormal Eye on a great paranormal adventure. Our road adventure would take us far from Urban San Diego and through rural scenic California ending in historic Virginia city, Nevada. The open road has a way of tantalizing the senses, and leaving one’s mind to wander to unknown parts. Robert Louis Stevenson expressed travel the best, “for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” This adage has been modernized into, “Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.” Fewer statements could be more true. I really had a chance to learn about the people and the motivation behind San Diego Paranormal Eye on that 22 hour (round) road trip and three day investigation. I have to admit they are true paranormalists on a mission to debunk, document, and witness apparitional experiences.
Our trip would lead us through the various terrains that line inner California and Nevada. High reaching Mountains with snow caps, the empty open desert, grassy plains, woodland forests, and even salted-calcified lakes. Nestled along the way were numerous small towns boasting local novelties, and even smaller human populations.
As an urbanite it was hard at first for me to wrap my head around. I sat there wondering who in their right mind would willingly choose to live in such isolated towns? As our journey continued and we spent time in these towns for gas, food, and restroom breaks I started to see the simplicity of rural life, and the honest beauty of the land around them. I had my first epiphany just outside the Nevada line, at a gas station sitting next to a ramshackle barn and small rodeo pen. Smoking a cigarette in one hand, hot coffee in the other, I looked around and what I saw struck deeply into me. The bluest sky I had ever seen, mountains in the distance with a few puffy jet trails expanding out, a green hay matted field flowing in and about the rusted gates of a local rodeo, and barely a car in site. In that instant I felt one with the land, but a dark thought crept in along the way, I’m going to have to go home in three days and leave this behind. Despite the darkness of my minds thoughts, I and the San Diego Paranormal Eye team were ready to enter the famous paranormal town of Virginia City, Nevada.
The winding uphill nature of route 342, North of Silver City, Nevada is very reminiscent of traveling to Historic Julian in San Diego, County. There is a unique blend of ramshackle mining-farming equipment and buildings intermixed with dated and updated-modern dwellings. Expert driver Ken (Tech-Investigator), masterfully traversed the long journey between San Diego, California and Virginia City, Nevada. Stan (President) and Marilee (Investigator) of San Diego Paranormal Eye sat in the back of the van and I was co-pilot. Any good co-pilot has the job of trying to stay awake for the entire trip. I might have dozed off here and there. I felt a second wind of adrenaline kick in as we entered Historic Virginia City, Nevada. Katherine (investigator) a fourth member of the San Diego Paranormal Eye team traveled solo out of Sacramento and met us at the Gold Hill Hotel and Saloon. Traveling is draining to the body and mind. After checking in and stowing a mountain of equipment and personal belongings, it became evident that many of us were exhausted. Some napped, others went out and explored the closed off mining area.
The lodging arrangements allowed for us to sleep two nights in the reportedly haunted Miner’s Cabin at Gold Hill Hotel. The third night Stan Thompson would stay by himself at the notoriously haunted Silver Queen Hotel in room eleven. The rest of the team would remain at the Gold Hill Hotel via the haunted Brewery Lodge. The planned investigation schedule was very tight. Day one involved a group investigation of the Miners Cabin and surrounding area. Day two would begin with a daytime session at the famous Masonic Cemetery. This would be followed by a full lock down investigation at the infamously haunted Old Washoe Club. On Day three we would switch lodge accommodations by noon, and turn around for a night investigation of the Silver Queen Hotel room 11, and possibly the Brewery Lodge. Day four required us to check out by 10:00 AM. Plans are good. That said, sometimes sticking to the plan isn’t always your best option.
Just east of Virginia City, Nevada are several Large mountains and when the sun draws down behind them the town is shaded in darkness. Moderate daytime temperatures drop dramatically in the early evening hours. The busy tourist streets are empty by 7:00 PM. The only businesses that remain open in the evening are various bars, restaurants, and hotels. There are some unique things to mention about the town, that visitors might not take into account. Virginia City is in Nevada, so there is a casino in town, and most bars have gaming machines of one kind or another. Also, every bar boasts the cheapest and strongest alcoholic beverages in town.
We shared fellowship that first night over dinner, at a nice restaurant. Most of the team wore their paranormal S.D.P.E shirts. While we waited to be seated, we overheard whispers from fellow patrons such as, “oh look, it’s a paranormal team!” It’s amazing how many strangers throughout the trip would walk right up and share their ghostly experiences, inquire about S.D.P.E, or even ask for help because of ghosts.
I learned very quickly on our first night in town that a dinner cocktail is not a great idea. My fellow companions followed protocol and avoided a dinner drink, where as I did not. As a result, I was buzzed throughout dinner on a single Jack and Coke. I know you’re not supposed to drink before an investigation, but I was not on this trip as an investigator or a member of a paranormal team. My role was to observe and document the expedition. At dinner we talked the evening away about past paranormal experiences, ghosts, theories, and ideas for new locations to visit. It was nice to see the human element of a strong paranormal team. I can honestly say the S.D.P.E team is a family.
Upon returning to the Miners cabin, we took a short time for everyone to handle any personal business such as phone calls home, and changing into comfortable clothes. The Miner’s Cabin, looks like a well maintained shack from the outside. Being a City boy, the name Miners Cabin, left me to envision an old wood timber structure with rustic charm. I’m sorry to say the cabin didn’t quite live up to my imagination. The inside is oddly designed, and the floor plan doesn’t flow well. There are two bedrooms, separated by two catty-corner bathrooms, and a kitchen dining area. On the plus side the rooms were clean, the kitchen was maintained, and the bathrooms worked. On the down side, the cabin had some carpentry issues, which made it seem far less charming. Obviously the appeal of staying at the cabin, isn’t for decor or accommodations. It’s for the paranormal and ghosts. So is the Miners Cabin haunted?
San Diego Paranormal Eye team members set up equipment, noted baseline readings, and made a game plan for a short investigation. Due to the size of the cabin and potential for audio contamination, they investigated as a whole team rather than separate into smaller groups. Two hours into the investigation, it was clear nothing was astir. A final uneventful spirit box session was done before Stan gave the order to call it a night. A decision was voted on to perform an additional investigation of the Miners Cabin. The group would investigate the next evening after dinner, before the lock down at the Old Washoe Club.
The second investigation of the Miners Cabin focused on the closed off abandoned Mine shaft located directly outside the cabin. The tale goes that several miners died in the mine shift following a structural collapse. A second spirit box session done at the mine shaft yielded similar results as from the previous day. Permission to “provoke,” any potential spirits was given by Stan. I used slang, terminology, and colorful metaphors that would have been consistent at the time of the suspected miners’ deaths. Not every paranormalist would probably condone my method or action however the efforts did seem effective. The mundane spirit box session immediately jumped to life and we received several clear, intelligent, relevant responses.
You can learn much about the company your with when you spend a few nights together in a cabin or on the road. For many of us getting a good amount of sleep proved very difficult the first night in Virginia City, Nevada. Sleeping in a foreign bed away from family is a daunting task by itself. Then, add in some loud snoring combined with restless bathroom breaks and now you have the ideal situation for insomnia. I think most of our party caught only five or six restless hours of sleep.
The morning began with taking turns and waiting to use the bathrooms. While waiting, Ken and I decided to explore a dilapidated mine structure located directly behind the Miners Cabin. It was a bit more treacherous of terrain than I would have preferred to traverse. Slopes of uphill rubble waste from years of mining gave cause for slippery situations. None the less, we made it into the abandoned structure in one piece. The area is a piece of living history with scattered weathered wood, rusted twisted steel, and all sorts of material scraps from the past. One needs only to dig through the rocky waste to find objects from long ago such as shards of glass bottles, or iron nails.
The actual day commenced when the S.D.P.E. team met at the Gold Hill Hotel for the Continental breakfast. The interior of the Gold Hill Hotel’s dinning room is beautiful, elegant, and timeless. The wafting smell of fresh coffee has a way of clearing any brain fog, and I was in need of caffeine. When food is readily available and free, it’s hard to be critical, but none of us would eat there for the remainder of the trip. During breakfast we met plenty of people interested in the paranormal and our investigation of the Miner’s Cabin. We also had time to discuss amid ourselves the days plan, and take photos of the hotel.
At Breakfast, Ken offered to make dinner for the team but, we would need to buy the food. One member of the team experienced allergy problems and required medicine. It also became clear that some personal items were missed in packing and travel. As a result, the team would head 10 miles back into urban Carson City, Nevada. We returned to the Miner’s Cabin with the needed supplies just shy of noon. The original plan called for a day excursion-investigation of the local Silver Terrace Cemetery-Gold Hill-Boot Hill-Masonic Cemetery. However, both Marilee and Katherine desperately needed to get some down time before the lock down at the Old Washoe Club. Stan, Ken, and I decided to continue on with the plan and investigate the cemetery despite being less two team members.
The Silver Terrace Cemetery-Gold Hill-Boot Hill-Masonic Cemetery is dramatically located on a series of steep, windswept hillsides and terraces overlooking Virginia City, Nevada. The cemetery layout is broken down into several sections based on race, Religion, affiliations, occupation, and wealth. In fact, one of the first graves, nearest the entrance, is that of a mule and not a human. The cemetery is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts. The entrance is white picket fenced, with several (two 8′ and one 4′) brick masonic pillars. Between the 8 foot pillars (vehicle gate), is a header constructed of two rod iron tubes with the Masonic symbol, mid center. A smaller foot traffic gate is connected between one of the 8′ and 4′ pillars. There is a wide mixture of grave style and design ranging from ornate concrete, marble, rod iron, too small weathered wooden markers.
We realized quickly that a day time paranormal investigation of the area would be difficult. The location is situated high above a large area of populated valleys. During our session we could here a gun range in the distance, several school sporting events, people visiting the cemetery, and the wind sweeping through the valley. Ken and Stan held two spirit box sessions despite the noise contamination. We received varied responses and the recording of those sessions is still under review.
At 4 o’clock we packed up our gear and headed back into town. Stan needed to discuss the logistics of the investigation at the Old Washoe Club with it’s proprietors. Upon arrival, a tour was given by a former docent of the Old Washoe Club and we learned a lot about previous paranormal experiences. The Guide was able to separate rumor from fact and relate her own ghostly experiences there. Ken mapped the three story layout and Stan gave instructions on where he wanted the equipment to be setup for the investigation. We would be allowed complete access to the Old Washoe club except the bar and could begin equipment set up after the last tour ended at roughly 9:30 PM. The bar staff would leave us with the door key overnight.
The three of us left the Old Washoe Club and returned to the Miner’s Cabin. Upon our return we found Marilee, and Katherine feeling much better, and rested. Ken planned for us to eat dinner by 8:00 pm, so Stan and I decided to take a well needed nap. I don’t think Ken took a nap and in retrospect I wish he had, as the Old Washoe Club would take it’s toll on him later that night. I awoke three hours later to the tantalizing aroma of fresh baked, stuffed pork chops. We shared fellowship at dinner in the Miner’s Cabin, with great company and delicious food.
Dinner talk faded into a symphony of eating sounds, an audible signal, of a great dinner prepared by Ken. It wasn’t long till 9 p.m. started to creep up on the team. Each of us steadily began the process of getting dressed for a long and bitter cold evening, as the forecast predicted a low of 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Stan and Ken began the process of double checking and logging battery voltage and charge levels. Katherine, Marilee and I loaded the equipment into the van and by 9:20 p.m. we started our drive to the Old Washoe Club.