SILVER CITY, Nev. (KOLO) It's early evening on the Comstock. Several members of the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters, my cameraman and I have gathered at an old mill in Silver City to see what it and the night ahead might hold.
I've always approached these assignments with the skeptical eye of all things paranormal, but I've been with these people before and they don't mind.
"I like working with you because you do bring to the table that healthy skepticism," Ghost Hunter leader Jeadene Solberg assures me. You'll say 'Well, could it be this, or could it be this."
That said, I have seen and heard things in their company I can't yet explain. More on that in a moment.
Jeadene Solberg founded the Ghost Hunters 13 years ago. You'll probably be surprised to learn there were once 38 such groups in our area. There are far fewer now. You'd also be surprised to learn just how busy they are.
"It's 365... seven days a week. I get calls at two o'clock in the morning. They'll call because they've seen an orb on their phone or their dog is barking in the air."
They come from various backgrounds bringing different skills, united by a passion to explore what many of the rest of us dismiss and fear.
Some methods are old school, but many are high tech--Infrared cameras, EMF or electro-magnetic field meters--capable of recording hard evidence.
Some we will carry in our search. Others will be left running alone in dark corners.
This gear has brought results before. Two years ago in the first paranormal investigation of the old state prison in Carson City, the mess hall in total darkness while everyone was elsewhere the camera recorded loud, booming sounds... There's been no explanation of those sounds.
No explanation either for a recording three years ago in the St.Mary's Arts Center--the old hospital in Virginia City.
An audio recorder running, everyone present is introduced, but moments later as the recording is played back. In the middle of the names there's a sound no one heard before.
To some it sounded like a dog barking. To me, a cackling sort of laugh. All I know is none of us heard it in real time, but there it was on the recording moments later.
Finally, the personal experience I've been unable to dismiss. In a room on the top floor of the old hospital, several of the team have been trying to coax a response from a spirit they call David. One of the pieces of equipment they used was a proximity meter installed in a purposely friendly, non-threatening object, a teddy bear. Move near it and lights in the bear's ears light up.
It's been occasionally glowing briefly. Finally everyone leaves. I remain with a team member and her infrared camera. It's totally dark and I'm thinking out loud, "If I were in this room and people were prodding me to perform, I'd be getting tired of it about now."
The lights in the bear suddenly blaze, the hair on the back of my neck raises as the camera shows tiny flecks of light--they're called orbs--streaming past my head. That will be a hard act to follow tonight and the setting has failed us before.
The Donovan Mill was built in 1861 to process Comstock ore, but it was here three decades later that the cyanide process in use worldwide today was developed. A monument was just installed here. The Comstock Foundation has plans to preserve, restore and open the mill to the public.
Along with significant history, it may hold other secrets, but it holds them close.
A year ago, we accompanied the ghost hunters here and came away empty. Never ones to back down from a challenge, the ghost hunters have returned in the past year dozens of times.
Whatever might lurk here is not making things easy. Batteries drain unexpectedly. Some equipment--even briefly, our camera's electronic card--fail.
But sometimes, the results aren't evident until hours of recordings are later reviewed and this time the mill may have given us a glimpse into its paranormal life.
That part of the story in Part Two of Haunted Nevada.