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Paranormal Investigations and Research
On August 13, 2011 MPPIR investigated the Cripple Creek Elks Club building on 4th Street and Bennett Avenue. For our group, the most active place was the dining room with shadows, noises and EMF readings galore. The second most active place for us was the Club Room where the bar is and is probably the room most used in the building by the Elks members.
Below is a picture taken in the Club Room during the investigation that warrants attention due to its distinctive nature. All the pictures taken that night are clear except for one that is not for a different reason. This picture appears to have water droplets on the lens and many Orbs. In fact, it’s an Orb Lover’s Dream. So all you believers in those pesky things that show up in our photographs that we can’t see with the naked eye chime in here. It also has a duplication of some lights, as if it had a stuck shutter. Either the auto-focus isn’t working or it is focusing on something I can’t see. Examine this picture closely and write in your conclusions and reasoning.
My camera is a Canon Power-shot SD 1200 IS digital that I have had for several years. It is clear when it is not focusing so I know to take another picture and I will have a blurry one. It takes a long time before it will snap the picture-if at all.
The next two pictures are an example of “now you see it, now you don’t”. They were taken one right after the other in quick succession, in the retail space on the first floor on Bennett avenue that is to the left of the main entrance of the Elks Club and is part of their building. We were lucky in that it was empty so we could spend time there last night. The importance of this space is that is was the location of the killing of Sam Strong in 1901 at what was then the Newport Saloon and Gambling Hall. In an altercation with the saloon’s owner, Grant Crumley, over gambling debts, Crumley shot Strong with a shotgun and killed him. Whether or not he died there or later is unknown but there is a description of this on a plaque at the front door and in the Outlaws and Jail Museum as well as numerous publications.
The white dot on the wainscoting below the chair rail appears in the first picture, but not in the next. If its duct, it’s quite a dense mote and pretty interesting that it appears and disappears so quickly. It does not appear in any other pictures nor do I remember seeing it on the wall. Thoughts? Reasoning? I can’t explain this either.
Last, but not least, is a picture taken at the beginning of the night in the dining room where the MPPIR Staff and Guests congregated before we left to go to our first location. The interesting aspect of this picture is the clarity in the front of the picture compared to the blurred image of the face of the woman in the purplish shirt standing in the group farther back. It looks like she has two faces.
Could these pictures be anomalies of my camera? Explanations? Thoughts? Experiences?
© 2011 MPPIR, Blog and Photo’s Nancy
I would like to start out by thanking our great group of Guest Investigators for making these tours some of the best of experiences. Also special thanks to the Staff at the Canon City Prison Museum for being great hosts for these events.
For those of you who missed the event, here are the highlights with photo’s:
The setting starts with a short briefing on how the nights events will play out. We then divide everyone into teams and send them off. It’s a seemingly simple process on the surface. We do take the time to properly parse off the teams with the intent of everyone having a good time.
Then the fun starts. Being that this was the first full excursion into this building by most MPPIR staff, the evenings events had the heavy possibility of being unpredictable. We as well as our guests where not to sure what to expect.
Having the whole grounds to ourselves, including the outside area (its fenced in), we decided sending a group outdoors to visit the grounds and the Gas Chamber. The old Gas Chamber is displayed just outside the front area in a small building.
During the first session the unexpected did happen in a way that I don’t think anyone could have predicted. Well maybe a physic could have.
While exploring the Gas Chamber house one guest saw two cameras get nudged by an unseen force. The first camera was located on a tripod and next to its owner. The other was an IR stationary camera we had positioned in the area to watch the Gas chamber. MPPIR lead investigator Ralph confirmed with playback of the camera’s video that it had moved to the left while the group was in the room. What moved the camera is unknown. At least one person in the room stated the camera’s both moved on with out the assistance of the living.
Another hot spot in the building is the kitchen. During our site review and first visit to the building the kitchen stopped me cold. While walking near the office door I “felt” a scream and shock. This sent my radar into full mode. My attention focused directly on the Knife lock box located on the east wall. The feelings I got here where unmistakable, something horrible happened here. It had to do with a knife, a fight and a female. These “feelings” where later confirmed by museum staff and Tom (a local well-known investigator to Canon City).
Thus I made a point to make sure that there was a team in this area as much as possible during the evening. This did lead to events of interest during the course of the night. At least on person was felt as if they were pushed gently while in the kitchen. Hopefully we will have EVP’s from this area as the energy level in the room as reported by most of the sensitive people was really high.
The largest of areas I sent teams into besides the grounds around the old Prison was the main cell block. This area comprises of 80% of the main floor. It is one level with concrete walled cells on both sides. Many people have reported strange happenings in both the office area and the cells.
Late in the evening one of the teams tried a new twist on the flashlight game, using two flashlights. One flashlight had a blue lens and the other with a red lens. They told any entities present to blink the red flashlight for yes and the blue one for no. The group was very excited about the results they got from this event. They did spend a lot of time asking questions using this method. I hope to repeat this experiment in the future.
In the back of the museums basement is a room used for archives and storage. It is in this room MPPIR placed a laser tripwire system. This device works the same as any laser tripwire. Break the beam and the alarm goes off. For about 1 hour or more without being touched or moved by any investigator the alarm went off repeatedly. We check the position of the lasers more than once and came to the conclusion that as it had sat armed for some time before this activity occurred and then stopped shortly after we checked on the device that something we could not see was setting off the alarm on the tripwire.
I would also add that the archive room is an area that I “felt” a presence in. It seemed to me during the late hours of the morning that something was moving around in the room. After first wanting to wander into that area alone to take some pictures, I decided after getting a very uneasy feeling to gather some people who were looking for something to focus on. I brought myself and 3 others in the room where I told them that I had felt a presence in the area.
This “entity” seemed to be directing me to the northeast corner of the room. I kept getting the word ‘photograph’. Now it did not seem to me to take pictures but to look for one. What I found while scanning the shelves of the area where the books, records and photos of Inmates long gone that resided in the prison. I did not disturb these artifacts of history but did take note that maybe the entity wanted to show me something. I will for now have to leave that investigation there. Though maybe the museum staff can look into why this spirit wants someone to look for a photo.
The investigation teams spent a lot of time in this area. Most reported some sort of entity in the area. A small number reported at least one male and 1 or 2 different female spirits. I do find it interesting that the groups reported this.
All in all the night was an exciting evening in exploring the unknown.
©2011 MPPIR, Blog and Photo’s from Frank.
What makes our “tours” unique is that they are not just tours. We bring in the public to join us on actual investigative work. This allows a person to get a hands on feel of paranormal investigating. This approach is unique in many aspects as you are not lead around and told “Ghost stories”. We show you how to look for and record possible paranormal events.
To give you a look at what happens during our tours I decided to share some pictures of these public investigations. (click on the images to make them larger)
I will start with how we began all of our investigations public or private. The Site Briefing. We always have a briefing at the beginning of each investigation. At public tour/investigations, because we travel into dark and sometimes hazardous places we always make sure we give a safety brief to our guests. While looking for things that go bump in the night we don’t want to stumble around and cause bumps and bruises.
Yes I did notice the young lady with the crutches. But don’t worry she is ok and she acquired the injury during cheering practice. I did not inquire as to how exactly.
We don’t always investigate in the dark. The Jail Museum has been shown to have activity during the day and night. We do go well into the night with our investigations and sometimes until the sun rises.
This picture shows a typical setting early on in the evening. Surrounded by equipment the investigators start with checking readings and getting a good baseline of temperature, EMF and a general feel for the area. Starting just before sunset gives an investigator a good idea of the area they are working in and prevents accidents. This is a good idea when investigation a new site for even seasoned ghost hunters.
Getting down to the fun and exciting side of a ghost hunt is always the best part. MPPIR has a lot of experienced investigators that are open-minded to trying new techniques. We take from both the normal and paranormal to find new ways to conduct research. Cameras and digital recorders are good for documenting evidence but you also need measure tools.
We allow for any device to be used as long as it’s not destructive to the environment.
Here we see dowsing rods being tried by a Ghost hunter. It’s quite fascinating when something as simple as a flashlight or bent copper rods seem to react to your questions.
This 15 min exposure does show what appears to be a ghostly face over the lady in the picture. This is one of my early photo’s. It’s not considered to be paranormal. At closer examination you can see that the 2nd face is actually the woman’s face. Though brighter the features match. It did set my back when I first saw it though.
Though normally we place men in this chair. As the Matron (as we call her) tends to “touch” men when they sit in that chair. Ask Ric about it sometime… if you want to hear a strange story.
Speaking of strange fun; during our “tour” on July 23, 2011, I had the chance to lead this group around and look for paranormal activity. We did get some interesting results. While in the Matrons room I typically have a male investigator sit in the above mentioned chair.
Now this chair is not believed to be original to this room. Neither is the bed you see or any other furniture in the room. Because of this fact I find it curious that when males sit in the chair they tend to get the feeling of being touched. Typically having their hair pulled or moved in some fashion. Males also have reported having their neck or cheek brushed against by some unseen person or force.
This gentleman (shown left) actually reported feeling his hair lifting slightly on his left. Than he said that it felt like something brushed his left cheek. After being a rather good sport and sitting in the chair for around 10 min he got up and check the area around the chair with his hand. Apparently feeling the air for something. He never explained to me what he was feeling for. I would have to believe his experience while sitting in this 100-year-old piece of furniture. His reaction was very typical of someone who gets touched from the beyond. His wife (picture right above on the very far right) was amused by his reactions also. She did mention to the entity that this was her husband and the entity could not have him. I would have to say that their experience in with the Matron was one to remember.
I would like to leave of with thanks to the City of Cripple Creek, the City employees and the MPPIR team that put in many hours to make these investigation tours possible. With that I will leave you with one very dark picture of Michelle R., the Museum Manager and Historian, whose work has led to many new discoveries about the history of the Outlaws and Lawman Museum.
©2011 MPPIR, Frank C, Blog and Photo’s (photo’s are from July 16 and July 23 2011)
Everyone sees the sign: B.P.O.E. emblazoned on the 4th Street side of the Elks building at 375 Bennett Avenue, Cripple Creek. But they are practically by the entrance before they realize it. That’s because, the entrance is a double door that opens onto a staircase. The first floor is occupied by Nana’s Nook on the corner and an empty retail space that was the Newport Saloon and the sight of the famous shooting of millionaire mine owner Sam Strong on August 22, 1901.
The Benevolent Protective Order of Elks is an old and wonderful organization that provides many groups with necessary elements that enhance the lives of children. The Order has about 450 members who uphold time-honored values of community and family. They do this without fanfare or self-aggrandizement. There is a rich history of the organization in Cripple Creek.
The building that houses this organization is one of Cripple Creek’s architectural gems. Starting out as the Mining Exchange Building which handled all the financial business for the huge gold strikes not only in Cripple Creek, Victor, Gold Field, and Altman, but for the rest of the state as well including the booms in Leadville and Breckenridge. The three-story brick building was built after the 1896 fires and continued as the Mining Exchange until the Elks purchased it in 1911 when the gold boom started to wane. The first floor was always retail space, housing a pharmacy owned by G R Lewis, a successful pharmacist as well as gold mining investor and The Newport Gambling Hall. It is here that the more dramatic history of the building took place.
The entry speaks of private membership itself. The double doors open onto an interior staircase that climbs to the second story where either a key card, received at initiation, or the door bell gains you admittance to a lobby that is dominated by a 100-year-old Elk. Dark Victorian wood railings, staircases, finials, and molding and plush carpeting create the hushed atmosphere of the Victorian era that is the foundation of the construction.
The walls are lined with history. Photographs of groups, members, and the building itself along with lists of members during the years of existence, create a history rich in personal voluntarism. Private is the word that describes this hallowed hall. The rooms are a maze of old and new as much of the building is exactly the way it was constructed while adding new necessities over the years.
Until about 12 years ago, the Order was a men’s only organization. The building provides sleeping rooms which can only be occupied by Members and their Wives (not girlfriends) with bathrooms down the hall. With the admission of women, two Ladies Rooms have been added, changing walls and floors. These renovations, along with the addition of a new furnace upstairs and the state of the art kitchen, have moved walls and floors which makes the building Cripple Creek’s version of the Winchester House. Windows extend up into the ceiling of the Ladies Room, a window that opens to nothing, doorways that create hallways through rooms.
The Grand Hall at the back of the building was added around 1950. With its lighted stained glass over the head chairs, its seats around the walls and the presence of seating in the balcony, the Grand Hall is exactly that. Under the balcony is an atmospheric bar complete with Art Deco mirrors and mahogany paneling.
The empty retail space to the left of the entry housed the Newport Gambling Hall before the Elks purchased the building. On August 22, 1901, Sam Strong was shot to death by Grant Cumley, part owner of the Newport over a gambling debt dispute with Strong. Crumbly raised a shot-gun and fired, killing Strong. Strong died a few hours after the altercation. Crumbly was tried and found innocent. The presence of the Newport brings a completely different energy to the first floor of the building.
The building is well worth a tour for its Victorian architecture, its history and its quirky original construction and renovation. Like many buildings in Cripple Creek with their dramatic and sometimes violent past, the Elks Club has an ambiance of Victorian stability and a hint of the mysterious.
The former Women’s Prison is the home of the Colorado Prison Museum, which is located at 201 N 1st Street, Canon City, Colorado. The sage green building was constructed in 1935, 61 years after the construction of the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, which is still an active prison to this day and was in operation until 1968. For the next twelve years, it housed male inmates in the honor system and for training. It opened as a museum in 1988. The museum displays information on the prison system from its opening in 1871 to today, highlighting penal information, inmates, interesting information such as visits by the movie industry, and displays depicting live in prison – both for men and women.
The Colorado State Penitentiary was built-in 1868 on 25 acres of land donated by Jonathan Draper of rough-hewn stone and consisted of 44 cells. The first prisoner was John Shepler incarcerated in 1871. The first female prisoner was Mrs. Dr. Mary Solanden (#60) of Boulder in 1873 for manslaughter in the abortion death of a patient.
Women at that time were housed in the men’s facility. The arrival of women to the penitentiary caused some consternation. There were 44 cells The prison had an iron sink, a toilette and a slop sink. No one knows where the women were originally housed. In the 1880’s the warden requested money for a female facility since female prisoners now numbered 10-12, which was granted and a facility was built for the women of 6 cells over the laundry and bath houses. In the 1890’s money was requested and granted for a workroom and a matron. This was still inside the prison walls.
The Women’s Prison outside the wall was constructed in 1935 and operated until 1968. During that time, there was a prisoner Mrs. Vandenstahl who was in cell one for two years with a sentence of 25-40 years. Her twenty-two year old lover shot and killed her husband and told police that it was her idea. After an appeal, she was released.
Women were allowed to decorate their cells, participate in cosmetology classes and did their own laundry. Two women escaped by climbing over the fence while no one was looking. They were apprehended in a few days, tired and apparently ready to come back.
There are 32 cells on the upper level and offices, including the Matron’s Office. The lower lever contains the kitchen, cafeteria, class room and storage. Most women were incarcerated in the early days for performing abortions, prostitution, larceny and conspiracy. Today, women are mostly incarcerated larceny and drunken driving. The female population varies from year to year and has been declining. The facility also housed male prisoners who were in the Trustee program and was used for training.
The museum shows a part of prison life and a part of prison history in each cell and displays along the central hallway. Life in prison in the early days was much different from today. Prisoners were subject to corporal punishment using the “gray mare” a large saw horse that they were bent over. executions were by hanging, than gas chamber, than lethal injection, the last of which was Gary Davis in 1997. Interestingly, capital punishment was outlawed in 1897 and reinstated after a riot in 1901. Originally, there were no walls around the prison had only 4 guards. Work crews were sent out with no guards to work on roads and other municipal projects. No women have ever been executed. The male population today stands at 700 with available work programs for the inmates.
During the tour, you can hear the guards next door projecting their orders through loud speakers. The ancient prison wall topped with two tiers of coiled razor wire glints in the afternoon sun a few feet from this building that is surrounded by green grass, tall trees, and a wall topped with a fence ten feet high.
One of the prison’s most famous inmates was Alfred Packer, Colorado’s famous cannibal. With a party of five men, he left Montrose for Breckenridge and encountered a fierce snowstorm. Lost and low on provisions, Packer was the only man to survive the ordeal. His story was that one of the other members of the party, Shannon Bell, was the killer and consumer of the men. Packer said he killed Bell in self-defense. Packer was tried for murder in 1874 under Colorado laws but the crime had been committed in 1873 Colorado Territory. He was incarcerated in Colorado Territorial Prison, Canon City.After an appeal got him a new trial in 1896, he was convicted of manslaughter and got 40 years. Paroled in 1901, he died in 1907.
Joseph Corbett Jr was convicted of murdering Adolph Coors III in October 1960 for Coors murder in February of that year. Coors remains wer found in September 1960 around Pikes Peak. Corbet had kidnapped Coors and sent a ransom note. He subsequently killed Coors and was apprehended in Vancouver, tried, convicted and incarcerated in Canon City in October 1960 until 1978. He committed suicide in 2009. The Coors family refused to respond to the ransom note.
Antonne Woode was incarcerated when he was 11 years old in 1893 for murdering his neighbor for his gold watch. He was paroled when he was 23 in 1905. During that time, after killing a guard and taking two more employees captive, Woode escaped with Thomas Reynolds, C.E. Wagner and Kid Wallace. Woode and Wallace were found three days later, Wagner was never found and Reynolds was found by a mob and hanged outside the prison where his body was left until the next morning. Despite that, Woode was not suspected other murder of the guard, Captain Rooney, and was paroled in 1905 at the age of 23.
Of the more interesting women prisoners was Angeline Garramone, received at the prison for Forgery & Uttering and was then received during her stay in January 1912 for murder. She was paroled in 1922 and discharged in 1972.
The main prison was also home to several riots, the worst in 1929 and 1947, and 77 executions, several escapes both successful and unsuccessful. No sentence of execution was ever given to a woman.
©2011, MPPIR, Blog Nancy B, Photos; Frank C and Nancy B