I originally started this blog back in 2007, and migrated it to WordPress in 2017. At the time I started The Accidental Ghost Hunter, I was writing a series of historical novels for young readers that would eventually become The Luke and Jenny book series, and part of my research included spending time in historic sites, such as Tombstone, Arizona. While I was there I would sometimes experience strange things. I also met others who’d had similar experiences in Tombstone, or at other historical sites, so I created The Accidental Ghost Hunter to share my experiences with others.
While I’ve never assumed that every bump in the night is a ghost, I’ve always believed in life after death, and I believe that those who have passed on can remain connected to loved ones who are still living. Or they may, perhaps, have some unfinished business that they need to deal with.
Unlike a professional ghost hunter, I don’t go into allegedly haunted sites with EMF meters, tape recorders, thermal imaging cameras, or other equipment used to document, or debunk, a haunting. It’s just me, visiting historic places, taking photos, and then finding strange anomalies in my photos. Sometimes I can debunk them, other times I can’t. And that’s what makes me The Accidental Ghost Hunter.
P.S. The photo in this post has no anomalies. It is, however, the one in my collection that came the closest to looking like a “haunted” house.
As the old year draws to a close we all like to reminisce, and one of the highlights of my year was a road trip to San Diego, California, with a good friend. While we were there enjoying the sun and surf we decided, just for fun, to take a ghost tour. San Diego is a town rich in history with many stories of the paranormal.
One of the places we visited was the Gaslamp Quarter, a historic area near downtown. Inside one of the Victorian homes, now a museum, I got some strange anomalies reflected in a mirror. There appears to be a distorted figure in a green dress, but no one in our group was wearing green. There is also what appears to be a misty face in the mirror as well. Of course, it is possible these could all be just tricks of light. It is, however, interesting to note our tour guides told us that this particular home housed many TB patients during an epidemic in the 1850s, and that many of the patients died there.
This tour ended at the Whaley House, but did not include admission. At the time of our visit the Whaley House was undergoing renovation, so I decided to save it for another visit.
If you’ve read any of my Luke and Jenny books you’ll notice that one of my principal characters is always a ghost. Since my books are about two modern day youngsters traveling back in time I needed some sort of a catalyst, and a ghost character fit the bill nicely. And because my first Luke and Jenny book was about Tombstone, a town known to be a hot spot for paranormal activity, how could I not include a ghost?
When I wrote Gunfight at the O.K. Corral I decided to use one of the real town ghosts, the Swamper, as one of my lead characters. The Swamper was a handyman at the Grand Hotel back in the 1880s. There isn’t a whole lot known about him. You must remember that during the 1880s Tombstone was a booming mining town, and people came and went seeking their fortune. What is known about the Swamper is that he was a good worker, and his salary included room and board in the hotel basement. And that’s where his story gets interesting. Sometime later, I’m not sure exactly when, it was discovered that the Swamper had dug a tunnel into the floor of his basement room that lead into one of the silver mines. Legend has it he “appropriated” and stashed away a fortune in silver somewhere in that basement that has never been found, and that is why he haunts Tombstone.
I made the Swamper a very benevolent character in my book, sort of like an uncle who takes the two youngsters under his wing and teaches them about history as well as lessons about life in general. And if he really is one of the town spirits I hope he approves.
My books are written for young readers ages 8 to 12, but I’ve had wonderful feedback from teenagers and adults who have also read and enjoyed them.
There are some terrific shows on the ghost hunting and the paranormal out there. There really are. Shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters International, and Dead Famous. Then there are the not-so-great shows.
I only watched a few episodes of Paranormal State, and that was enough for me. The series was about a group of college students who spent their time ghost hunting. Problem is, this show just didn’t resonate with me. The audio distortion of the narration was annoying. It sounded like he was sending it over a long-distance phone call. And many of the scenes looked to me like recreations and dramatizations, not actual footage of a ghost hunt. Were these cases real?
Perhaps I mis-spent my own youth, but when I was in college I spent most of my time studying, writing term papers, and preparing for mid-terms and finals. And what free time I had I spent hanging out with friends and having fun. Maybe campus life is different these days.
I’m still trying to get the hang of this darn digital camera. I know I’m going to love it once I’ve figured out all it’s idiosyncrasies.
Last night I went to a Christmas party in Tombstone. Brought along a buddy who is a big Ghost Hunters fan but has never been to visit the town. At the party I introduced her to a former Bird Cage employee who was featured on Ghost Hunters when they visited Tombstone a few years back. Then, after the party, I took her over to Allen Street.
Tombstone in the 21st century is a far cry from the Tombstone of the 1880s. Back then, Tombstone was “Vegas, baby!” Today they roll up the sidewalks at 6 o’clock. However they have done a beautiful job of putting up their Christmas lights, so I decided to play around with the camera and see what would happen taking photos at night.
After snapping a few shots I saw something weird on the left side of the LCD screen just as I snapped the photo. It was one of those “Aha!” moments when you know you’ve captured something unusual. Well, I showed it to my friend, then she starts getting nervous, and I’m having to explain to her that was in considered odd in most places happens everyday in Tombstone. Hey, what can I say? Ethereal mist happens.
I still think the Cadillac of all the television shows on ghost hunting has the be the original Ghost Hunters. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson have indeed set the standard. What I like about Jason and Grant is their approach. Their goal, first and foremost, is to debunk. Then, and only then, when they can find no other plausible explanation, will they declare a location as being haunted. And the evidence has to be compelling. There are many instances where they find paranormal activity but stop short of calling it haunted.
Too many times I’ve seen so-called ghost hunters rush into an allegedly haunted locales, bringing along psychics and/or totally relying on non-scientific methods, such as table taping or ouija boards, and declare a place haunted. Most Haunted is famous for this, but, as I recall, Most Haunted claims that their show is for entertainment purposes only.
I also remember seeing some other show where some woman used an emf meter and declared a place haunted as soon as it spiked. Then later on a skeptic went to the same spot where she had stood and found she was standing right next to an electrical outlet when she got the spike. This is the kind of thing that hurts the credibility of all ghost hunters, and I think Jason and Grant and the TAPS family have done an outstanding job of restoring that credibility.
So whether it’s Ghost Hunters, or it’s spin-off, Ghost Hunters International, it’s a great way to spend a Wednesday night.