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Ghosts and Paranormal Investigations

Posted by Writing PIs on September 4, 2013

May 23, 2015: Today is the 35th anniversary of the release of the horror classic THE SHINING, starring Jack Nicholson. Below is a blog post I wrote several years ago about paranormal investigations, including my own ghost tour at The Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King first started writing THE SHINING. Enjoy!

Over the years, we have had people call, claiming a ghost was haunting their house and could we investigate it? We always decline, explaining that we are not paranormal investigators. Which is a good place to start this discussion – who are these people who specialize in hunting ghosts?

What Is a Paranormal Investigator?

ghost hunter

Most paranormal investigators are people who are certified in parapsychology or who have studied paranormal investigations. Their goal is to help people in need, and often paranormal investigators do not accept money for their services (although they may accept donations for travel, lodging and expenses). Some paranormal investigators make money through writing books, conducting “ghost tours,” giving workshops, or even starring in TV reality shows about ghost hunters.

Whenever we get a call from someone wanting to hire a ghost hunter, we offer them some tips for locating one. It’s not that we believe in phantoms — we just don’t want people to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous types who prey on others’ worries and fears.

Tips for Hiring a Paranormal Investigator

Look up an established paranormal investigations organization in the area. For example, the National and International ParaHaunt Paranormal Family Network gives referrals to paranormal investigators throughout the U.S. and the world.

Check the background of the paranormal organization or investigator before you retain their services. Contact the Better Business Bureau, research the organization/person on the Internet for news stories and client referrals, review their website and contact any former clients for recommendations, or hire a private investigator to double-check the paranormal investigator’s background (especially if you’re inviting this person into your home).

We do not conduct paranormal investigations for the simple reason that we don’t believe in ghosts. On the other hand, I would be a believer if I had captured evidence of one. Which I tried to do a few years back…

My Informal Investigations at Three Haunted Hotelsghost

Several years ago, I visited the Stanley Hotel here in my state of Colorado and took its Ghost Tour. The “Stanley” is known for its Room #217, where Stephen King first began writing his book The Shining, later made into a movie starring Jack Nicholson. In the film, the room number changed to #237.

My Digital Photos Caught “Orbs”

I took photos during this ghost tour with my digital camera, and others in the group (including the tour guide) said I had captured orbs, which supposedly indicated the presence of spirits.  The Paranormal Encyclopedia says that “both skeptics, and many ghost hunters, agree that photographic orbs are most often, if not always, caused by natural elements such as dust, pollen, or water vapor.”  I don’t know what caused the orbs, but if I’d seen, oh, a spectral figure hovering in the photo…well, then I’d believe I’d captured evidence of a ghost.

Claims of Ghosts, But When I Visited…

I’ve visited other supposedly haunted hotels and buildings around Denver, Colorado, starting with the “Brown.”

Courtesy of the Denver Public Library Western History Department

The Brown Palace Hotel

I’ve taken the ghost tour two times at the Brown Palace Hotel, built in 1892. Both times, the guide told us fantastic stories about ghosts and ghouls who haunt the hotel, from a long-dead string quartet that still practices their music to a ghost-like train conductor who walks through walls. I would have loved to have seen or heard one of these apparitions, but I didn’t. Neither did anybody else on the tours.

Although one of the tour guides swore that late one night she saw a “black mass” of vapor swirl up to the ceiling and disappear. Hmmm.  Shame no one got a picture of that.

House of Mirrors

Seven or so years ago, I was writing a novel that featured a ghost character who lived during the late nineteenth-century silver-boom days of Colorado. During this era, there was a famous madam, Mattie Silks, who supposedly still haunts her old living quarters in Denver (which was called the House of Mirrors).

One spring afternoon, I visited the House of Mirrors, which had morphed into a bar/restaurant. The business was closed, but a friendly bartender let me in to walk around and look at spots where the madam’s ghost had been seen and heard (several people claimed to have even heard her whispering on a certain staircase).  Did I see or hear any ghostly goings-on?  Unfortunately, no.

But the bartender swore there were spooky goings-on in the old building. He claimed that late at night, when he was alone cleaning up, sometimes the elevator would suddenly start working, its doors opening…and no one would be inside.  And then there was the night when, alone again, an entire shelf suddenly crashed to the floor.

I wish I could imagine ghosts in those happenings, but it seemed to me that both the shelf and elevator had been in serious need of repair. But if I’d seen a spectral form materialize, and better yet if it had talked to me, you better believe I would have added “paranormal investigations” to our agency services.


All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority.


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