Stranded – West Virginia State Penitentiary – S01E03

The formula is quite simple, take a skeptic, an on the fence believer and true believer, drive them out to an isolated and rumored to be haunted location, let them investigate any way they see fit, watch them panic and lose their minds, then check back in to see if their opinions and attitudes have changed.

For this adventure we have Tyler, the skeptic who’s former military and police. Amber, his sister, is the true believer of the group. And on the fence, but falling mostly into the believer category is Chris, her husband. Their destination is West Virginia State Penitentiary, a place just about all the paranormal shows have investigated. Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Challenge have all been there. They all claim it’s a place that will make you soil your pants. So how does this group fare?

West Virginia State Penitentiary was founded in 1866 for 250 inmates. By 1960 it had 2000 men in less than 750 cells, that’s 3 men to a cell. It should come as no surprise that conditions were pretty poor. 998 men died while the prison was open with some of that coming from inmate violence, some from medical experiments and some from the electric chair. The prison is known for the Sugar Shack where inmates got away with anything and everything. There is the death of RD Wahl down in The Hole. There is also the Psych Ward. It’s enough to mess with your head under the best of conditions, let alone being stuck there for 5 days.

So let’s jump right in and go over what they found.

Over the course of their investigation they hear plenty of bangs, clangs and bumps. Some of it even sounds like someone rattling the bars of the cells. Down in the Hole, in conjunction with all the noises, Tyler feels something hit his foot. He’s excited and ready to investigate, but Amber, the true believer of the group is ready to tuck tail and run like hell. In fact, that’s exactly what she does. Why does this always happen? People want to have a paranormal experience then run away screaming from every noise. When they review their evidence it’s possible they captured the words, "Behind you."

They may have caught a figure on the thermal imager, but they don’t follow it up so who knows. It’s also possible they simply caught some lights. It’s not like the prison is in the middle of nowhere.

As Tyler and Chris play basketball where the electric chair used to be, Tyler’s watch stops at 2pm, the same time the lights would dim from the executions. Did his watch just break or is there something more to this?

They also perform the old, make the flashlight turn on trick and just like Jason and Grant they are astounded when it goes off.

When the trio heads down to the Sugar Shack things get interesting. Amber says she feels something touch her face. Tyler says his flashlight gets hot. Strangely, the air is hot down there. We get the impression something is messing with them with anger filling the room when all of a sudden Chris and Tyler are ready to throw down with each other. Every word coming out of Chris’ mouth is bleeped out. Tyler is taunting him like he wants to have a fight. It looks like they’re mere seconds from tearing each other apart.

For the final night there is a rainstorm sweeping in and while Tyler reads about the murder of Red Snyder by another inmate, he feels something flick him on the back of the neck. Twice. And yes, he practically jumps out of his skin.

How does the evidence stack up? There was a lot going, but did they capture enough to truly say this place was haunted?

There are plenty of bangs and thuds. But is that indicative of the paranormal? The building is old and riddled with metal. That can make all sorts of noises and the temperature changes. The thermal image really isn’t conclusive of anything on it’s own. They don’t really capture any substantial EVPs. They say they hear a lot of voices, but where’s the audio? Like the others before them, they will swear to the personal experiences they had. The eerie feelings, being touched, and freaking out at all the noises. But is that really enough? If the name of the game is tangible evidence then I don’t think they have much.

I have to say, Tyler seemed to be the only one who wanted to pursue this investigation. Whenever there was a noise or bang, Chris and Amber wanted to run away. The constant, "Oh my God" and "I’m not going back in there" were tiresome. Why the hell are you on a paranormal investigation if you don’t want to investigate the paranormal? They start off acting like nothing can rattle them, but on the first night they are already coming unglued. I think Chris and Amber would do well to just stay home from now on. Perhaps they should just go back to hiding under the covers. It seems like a lot of what their reacting to is built up in their minds.A creepy place, plenty of violent stories and lots of being on edge for days on end. It can make you believe anything, no? It’s really disappointing to see people given such a great opportunity to investigate a location, but run screaming in the dark.

But the experiences are enough to make Tyler change his views on the paranormal. He felt something against his foot, heard voices and was touched twice on the back of the neck. He may have even channeled some dark energy when he tried to pick a fight with Chris.

I find the premise of this show very fun and exciting. I think it’s great they investigate for more than one night. I like the raw footage and the unpredictable nature. What I don’t like is people running from the very thing they’re going after. Stop running at every bump and sound. Stand your group. Ask questions. Debunk something. Stick around to grab some evidence. That is why you came all this way, right?

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Stranded – Seaview Terrance – S01E02

For this episode, three friends from Brooklyn (Zack, Katy and James) head to Rhode Island to spend the week a Seaview Terrance, the former home of Edson Bradley, the driving force behind Old Crow whiskey. He made his fortune in the business and it’s said you can still hear the bottles down in the basement. His wife Julia was the stern matriarch of the house and her presence can still be felt through the sound of organ music. She passed away just a year after the house was completed. The house is currently under renovation.

So what did this intrepid team find as they explored the grounds? And will they still be believers and skeptics after all is said and done?

As they start things off they realize there are some power problems in the kitchen. The search the house for one of the old style fuses. It leads them down to the basement where they hear the sound of clinking bottles. This is reportedly associated with Edson Bradley. Additionally in the room across from their’s, in a supposedly abandoned house, there are lights on. No figures are seen and just as mysteriously as the light turns on, it goes back out.

On the second day, the group says that Zack has been talking about hats. Oddly as they look around the place the find a hat in the middle of the floor. Were they actually sleeping below this floor?

Their exploration brings them to the piano room where they play a ridiculously out of tune piano and sing to Mrs. Bradley. As soon as they’re done there is plenty of banging coming from upstairs. They go to investigate and find a door opening and closing. Is this the work of a unseen force? A loose hinge? The wind? By coincidence they also report cold spots.

As they continue on they end up in the basement and again hear the sound of bottles clinking. Still, there are no bottles on the floor or out of place. They discover the blueprints of the house and realize they are staying in Mrs. Bradley’s room. And there is another hat. No outfits, just a hat.

Moving forward, they find themselves in the piano room and get the aroma of perfume. The same perfume the found in Mrs. Bradley’s room, but couldn’t get the mister to work correctly.

The next day finds them chopping wood so they can have a fire that night. Perhaps they can get Mrs. Bradley to sit down with them. This does seem to work as there are spikes on the EMF. When asking for a sign of her presence, the response comes in the form of bangs. This leads them into the ballroom where they tune the old style radio. In the static there is perhaps the phrase, “I’m Mrs. Bradley”.

For the final night there is a fitting storm. Plenty of wind and lightning. The group splits up to cover as much ground before they have to go. Nothing much seems to be happening so after regrouping the head to the piano room. The heavy double doors to the pool room swing open. As you might expect there is a huge amount of screaming and bleeping.

Katy is clearly un-nerved, but Zack is showing some serious investigative chops and wants to press on and find out more. He’s not shying away from what the house has to offer.

For the final act they head up to the master bedroom to see if they can make contact with Mrs. Bradley. Oddly enough there is the sound of organ music throughout the house. Katy is seriously coming unglued and looks like she’s going to make a break for it.

While at the organ they find access to the mechanics of it and head down. Is the wind causing the pipes to play? The organ is gone but all the piping is still very much in the house. Is this being played from beyond the grave or is there a very worldly explanation?

When all is said and done this team has heard a lot of banging, felt cold spots, seen doors swinging open, hear both the organ playing and bottles clinking and may have even gotten an EVP. While it’s nothing specific, when you lay it all out, they had a pretty eventful time out there.

But is this evidence of the paranormal? Did they make contact? Is the knocking a response or is it an animal seeking shelter? Is the phantom organ really being played or is the wind being funneled through the pipework? Are the door coming open by unseen forces or is the wind at play again? Do the get the aroma of phantom smells or simply fragrances trapped in the wood and fabric?

There was a lot happening and it makes you ask a lot of questions. I like this group, Zack and James kept cool and wanted to learn more. Katy put in a good effort and as the experiences kept piling up, she got a little rattled. But in a dark house without electricity during a thunderstorm, who could blame her?

Regardless of the outcome, this was some pretty exciting stuff.

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Ghost Mine – S01E06 – Gold Fever – The Finale

So here we are at the final episode of Ghost Mine and it’s been quite an interesting adventure. The team has experienced Tommyknockers, shadow figures, power drains, phantom winds, mysterious “explosions” and what could very well be a secret entrance to a tunnel ripe with gold. They’ve seen wild EMF spikes and have done investigations in multiple locations. But at the end of the day the miners are still going for gold and are determine to see what’s at the end of that new mine shaft.

As Stan, Eddie, Patrick and Kristen check out the new shaft, the EMF meter spikes on a repeated basis. Eddie and Stan hear all sorts of noises including what sounds like a growl. Patrick and Kristen both see a figure moving in the darkness and Patrick actually walks away with what looks like a man standing at the very end of the mine shaft.

The shaft is wickedly unsafe, but as a group they decide to “rehab” it, fix the support beams so they can do a quick in and out to get as much gold as possible. Although hesitant they’re all in agreement, especially Bucket who’s bravado is more than likely going to get him killed.

They show the new tunnel to Larry who is all for extracting as much as possible. And with that they head in to shore things up. Along the way they find plenty of old tools, dynamite boxes and even an old bottle perhaps filled with moonshine. They say the previous miners gave a hasty retreat.

Everyone is now saying they feel odd or strange in this new tunnel with Patrick going so far as to say it feels “wrong”. Even the wives are scared for the lives of their husbands as they begin work on this new mine.

Besides the odd picture of the figure wandering around, after they blast the rock away, Dingus disappears into the mine saying he saw a figure and chased it. He is all manner of delirious. Why the devil would he chase someone into the mine, especially without asking for help?

Undeterred by all these events they press on and get ready to work the new mine. But it’s simply not meant to be as the entrance to the mine has caved in sealing the shaft once again. All the wood surrounding the opening has buckled and splintered. Clearly, they won’t be getting any gold out of this one. Eddie even goes so far as to say the mine owner Larry caused the cave in so he can come back later and cut them out of the deal.

It wasn’t a total loss though. In the end each man walks away with $80k for their efforts. It could have been a lot more had that other shaft not collapsed, but it’s far better than a handful of nothing. Will they come back next year and finish the job? Will Larry bring back this same crew or as Eddie put it, will he handle it himself and cut them out of a massive payday?

Overall this was an interesting series since it was an investigation that stayed in the same place over time. However, I can’t really agree with their assessment of dark energy and all this gloom they place on the mine.

First of all, no one has been hurt, touched, scratched, or abused in any way. If there is an energy there it certainly didn’t cause any harm. If anything it may have been warning them of the dangers.

Simply because a place is owned by the Masons doesn’t make it sinister and evil. That is such a cop out these days. The Masons are not Satanists or cultists or practitioners of witchcraft. That’s basically the same as saying that since something was owned by the government it holds alien technology.

You also have to wonder about this mysterious “Jay” who told Kristen and Patrick about the additional mineshaft. If he knew so damn much, why not bring it up to Larry himself? And just who is he anyway? Just some concerned citizen passing by who just happens to know there is a secret mine tunnel? This whole clandestine meeting seems a little suspect to me. How come he didn’t buy the mine and reap the benefits of the gold? Or is that perhaps his plan?

The use of the word “portal” was over used and overly dramatic. It’s simply a barrier across a tunnel. Everyone is jumping to sinister conclusions about why it’s there. Oh my goodness, it has to be holding dark energy in the tunnel. It’s a gateway to keeping evil from reaching the surface. Really? Evil can’t pass through wood? Maybe the original miners considered it to be too dangerous to work with at the time and blocked it off until they could come back to it. Perhaps they ran out of time and winter came early. That would cause them to make a hasty retreat otherwise they would be trapped on the mountain. Considering the time period, they may not have had enough food and supplies to last a winter up there. It’s not like they could just jump in a car and zip down the hill in 40 minutes like they do now. It would have been a major undertaking. There is nothing to suggest they were in danger and had to flee.

Despite the first episode where they found bones, and since it was never brought up again we can assume they were “lunch”, they never found remains, graves, clothes or anything else that says a huge number of men died up there. With that kind of work it’s certainly likely deaths occurred, but the all important evidence doesn’t support atrocities up there.

In all the evidence there are really only two things I find noteworthy. First is the massive “explosion” that happens while they were playing cards. There was no explanation for that. Was that rocks coming down?

Second, the figure in the picture Patrick took. It does indeed look like a figure. And? It’s not like it attacked them or anyone else for that matter. Nothing bad happened. If that was indeed an entity saying he’s dangerous is ridiculous.

All the noise from the mine, the growls, groans and phantom winds could just as easily be the rotting wood, the water dripping, beams creaking and considering there is a hell of a lot more to this tunnel system than they know about who knows where the air is coming from. Who knows what gases are down there. Don’t forget, miners used to take canaries down there because the air seemed fine, but it wasn’t.

This was a fun series and I would really love to see how this all plays out. But, I feel there was a lot of “made for TV drama” that just doesn’t have a basis in reality. I think far too many of the events would be par for the course within an old mine. The Earth is a strange mistress. There is a lot of stuff under the surface and so much of it seems foreign, but is perfectly normal. And there were far too many suspect characters on the periphery that could have had their own agenda and could have been out for their own gain.

As I said before, so many of these guys give off a “Scooby-Doo” vibe. There were plenty of Miner 49ers that turned out to be nothing more than a greedy land owner trying to get his hands on some gold.

So what do you think? Haunted mine? Crafty mine owner? Dark spirit? Cursed city? Masonic influence? Cover up?

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Ghost Mine – Secret Passage – S01E05

It’s been two months since work began at the mine and so far the miners have faced plenty of equipment failures as well as disappointment with plenty of rock, but no gold ore. But things have turned around and now fortune seems to be on their side. They’ve dug deep enough into the mine to find the veins they’re looking. It may not be huge nuggets like we see in the old gold rush movies, but gold is coming out. And along with the gold there has been a lot of unexplained bangs, shadows, EMF spikes and all those equipment failures. Kristen has discovered legends about a curse on the entire town and Patrick has found plenty of evidence of a mysterious figure named “Joe”. The team has even discovered another mine shaft that appears to have been sealed off. Is this where the good stuff is or is it where they buried something they didn’t want others to find?

For this episode, Larry the mine owner throws a barbecue and declares that they’ve broken even and that all the gold they discover from now on is profit for them all. It looks like the miners will be able to fill their pockets with a little more than hopes and dreams. But things go a little sideways are Marissa, the 9 year old daughter of Dingus has wandered away from the group. Everyone springs into action to find her. As Jamal searches down the road he hears lots of banging and creaking in the woods. After a short while Greybeard finds Marissa hiding in some sort of concrete structure. She’s hiding from some sort of shadow figure. Jamal later reveals he saw a dark shadow out there as well.

Kristen and Patrick do an investigation where they find some odd cloud on the thermal imager moving very close to the ground. They also find a figure hiding behind a tree. They don’t find any physical evidence, so was there indeed a shadow figure lurking around or did some stranger make his way to the party?

Things get even stranger as Patrick gets a call from Jay who wants to tell them a little more about the mine. It used to be owned by the Mason’s and both of his son’s worked in the mine before Larry took over. The men claim they saw shadows and heard voices. Both men said there is something odd living up there. Jay doesn’t feel the mine is safe and talks about some granite boulders. The boulders have Masonic symbols on them. and he thinks they mark the entrance to another tunnel. It might also be some sort of warning and a tunnel not to open.

Stan comes across Patrick digging around and is intrigued by the story of the boulders. He points them out almost immediately and the scavenger hunt is on. They find all three rocks and then what appears to be an opening to another shaft. It takes almost no time to uncover it and in goes RIPA to check it out. What they discover is a completely new tunnel that’s rich in gold. Stan and Eddie confirm the ore quality is very high and could be worth several millions dollars.

RIPA once again goes dead while in the tunnel, while Patrick registers large EMF spikes. Were they meant to discover this shaft? Is someone trying to push them away from the claim? The wooden support beams look to be in pretty bad shape and the barricade to the entrance took a lot of effort to smash through. Is this tunnel safe?

Eddie and Stan are extremely excited about their discovery while Patrick and Kristen have a lot of hesitation about what lies ahead. They had plenty of shadow figures, unexplained explosions, plenty of legends about the mine being haunted not to mention the last crew bailing out, dozens of equipment failures including a brand new one as they try to haul out as much gold as possible and now there is a mysterious new tunnel that’s been covered over, possibly by the Mason’s.

Was the intent to come back to this mine and reap the gold or is there something else going on? As Patrick and Kristen say, they’ve been all over the town investigating odd claims. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s the stuff of legend. But at this point, the gold is real, the work is real, and come hell or high water, those miners are going to go into the second tunnel and do their damndest to get some gold.

All in all it’s hard to say what’s going on. There is clearly gold in them there hills, so is this more along the lines of a Scooby-Doo plot where someone is dressing up and trying to scare the miners off so they can have the gold for themselves or are there really bad forces working against the miners? You have to ask, what sort of entity could actually be trapped within the depths of an old gold mine?

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