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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weird Fresno's recap of 2011

Well folks it's that time of year again where I recap the most interesting and/or weird things to happen to Weird Fresno this year. A myriad of things happened this year and here's what I felt were the top five for this year.

Back in January I received an e-mail informing me that one of the famed crystal skulls would be making a brief stop in Fresno. Now I tend to stay away from the whole metaphysical side of the paranormal, but I knew the story of this particular skull, named Max, and had to see it for myself. Even though the lecture where Max was to be at quickly sold out, I was allowed to attend. It was an interesting lecture and even if you don't believe in the whole story, the message of Max's owner of loving everyone and how she wanted to share his message of peace. Plus I got to touch the crystal skull (nothing happened unfortunately). Looking back on this though I wish I had asked Max his opinion of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Supposedly he may make another stop in Fresno in 2012, so I may have to ask him then.

This was an interesting story that I just happened upon by chance. I was at the Fresno Filmmakers Alliance monthly mixer and a friend who shares the same interest in the paranormal as I do asked me if I had heard about any large bird sightings in Fresno. He proceeded to tell me that his wife and son had seen a bird with the wingspan of at least 12 feet fly over their house one day. From what he described it sounded like the Thunderbird of Native American folklore. The Thunderbirds are said to be very large birds, capable of lifting a small child up. What I found interesting about this is that after I posted the story both here and on Fresno Famous, I received several comments from people who had seen the same thing and around the same time. So what exactly was flying over Fresno that day?

One of my more popular stories is the one on the ghosts at Roosevelt High School. When I first heard about the story of Lester, I didn't really believe it and just assumed it was the overactive imagination of a bunch of high school students that made up the story years ago. Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail one day from a person who said her cousin was Lester, or actually named Leslie, and the story of him dying on stage was true. This was one of the first times I was actually able to collaborate a story with facts. She mentioned how she didn't want him known for haunting the auditorium and hoped that the students there would remember him as the loving person he was. Imagine my surprise when one of the students there responded and said that it was tradition to include Leslie in the cast/crew sign in sheets for any performance that is in the auditorium. It seems that Roosevelt High hasn't forgotten him after all.

I love New Orleans. There is no other city like it in this country and has such a rich and wonderful history. Plus it's one of the most haunted towns in America. So when I heard my friend Kimburly was going there for a conference I had to get her to write about her experiences (thankfully the payment wasn't that much, though I still owe her a couple of beers if I remember right). I told her about a couple of spots near where she was staying that were haunted and gave her free reign on what to do. Let's just say I was more than pleased with the results as she didn't just focus on the haunted spots, but the city itself and the feel it has. I miss that town and need to go back soon. And not spend the entire weekend on Bourbon Street like I did when I was there last time (oh to be 18 again).

Though this one wasn't a post I did per say, Chris Dowdy over at the Dirty Dowdy Podcast and I had talked for a while about doing a ghost hunt for his show and bringing along some listeners. Figuring the weekend of Halloween would be best, we decided to drive out to Channel Road in Sanger and see if we could find anything. Was an interesting night to say the least. With Dowdy's car dying near the spot it's said the woman in white drove off the road and died, to people seeing strange shadow figures. My favorite part? We just pulled to the side of the road to get ready when a car full of people pulled up and said they saw the lady in white north of our location. Looks like the Legend of Snake Road is alive and well.

To me this was the best thing to happen this year. I was asked by Central California Paranormal Investigators team leader Jackie Meador to do a live Twitter/Facebook event from their investigation up at the Sky Ranch. It had been a good three years since I had been there and I was more than happy to oblige. Last time I went I was still in the paranormal investigator mindset, but this time I was just there to experience the story and share it with everyone. I had a fantastic time that night, met some new friends who asked me to join their group (I was flattered, but I love doing Weird Fresno so I declined. But I may work as a consultant to them from time to time) and actually pulled an all nighter which I haven't done on an investigation in years. Why is this number one you ask? Because everything I did that night is where I want Weird Fresno to go in the future, to go to a location and just experience the story and be part of it.

So that's my top five. 2011 is going to be over in less than 24 hours. Who knows what 2012 will bring. Did the Mayans actually predict the end of the world as some say? Others claim that they predicted that a new era of enlightenment would occur. Personally I have no idea if anything will happen. All I can say is it's going to be another weird year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dinuba High School rumored to be haunted

In the small town of Dinuba, the local high school is rumored to be host to several hauntings.

Several teachers have reported hearing doors closing on their own late at night, of lights turning on and off by themselves, and a feeling of being watched while walking down the halls. It's said that sometime in the 1970's a janitor was accidentally electrocuted and died from his injuries. Some think that these odd occurrences are the janitor trying to make his presence known.

Another story is that the English Building is haunted by the ghost of a woman who died there years ago. No one knows who she really is, but strange noises in empty classrooms are attested to her. Others have claimed to have heard her either walking down the hall or in one of the restrooms.

And finally there is the legend that surrounds the school's football field. The story goes that years ago a young girl decided to break up with her boyfriend. They met near the bleachers on the football field and in a fit of rage the boyfriend strangled his girlfriend to death. He decided to hide her boy in the back as there was an area that was covered in black plastic that was used to store equipment. Unfortunately the girl's body wasn't found for more than a week as it was hidden with all the equipment. It's said that late at night you can see the girl running across the football field, assuming that she is still trying to escape her boyfriend.

Whether any of these stories are true or not is hard to say. But Dinuba High School, like other high schools in the Central Valley, has its own stories that are passed down from class to class and student to student. These stories add to the history of the school and to the local community.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

UFO seen over Fig Garden

Been wanting to focus more on UFO sightings in the Fresno area lately so when I saw this report on the MUFON site I knew I had to share it. Given the size and location of the object in question, I'm surprised more people haven't reported seeing it. Just to be certain I did cross reference with the National UFO but there was no listing of sightings in Fresno for December yet. I'll continue to check back and if there is anything that resembles this sighting I'll post that as well.

MUFON report: White cigar shape hovering high above NE Fresno.

On Thursday, December 01, 2011 at approximately 1350 hours, I was driving near the intersection of N. Figarden Loop near the European Grove in Northwest Fresno. In my periphery, I noticed a white sliver in the sky. I thought it was an airplane. I looked again but didn't see it. There were trees all around so I assumed it was an airplane flying beyond the trees. I WAS WRONG. I stared into the sky and saw nothing. My lady didn't see anything either. Then, it presented itself in the open sky. I was glad my lady witnessed it too because it's hard to articulate.

It made no sound and seemed to hover above the city at an elevation slightly higher than airplanes. Based on what I saw, I estimate it to be about the size of about two football fields. It first appeared as a white cigar shape then it disappeared. About ten seconds later, it appeared again in the same location, but illuminated. I pulled out my smartphone to film it but before I could, it disappeared and was never seen again. I am also curious if anyone else saw this thing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stanislaus County town plagued with occult activity during the mid 1980's

In the mid 1980's Stanislaus County was witness to several cult related crimes, including Satanic rituals and the desecration of a body at the Denair Cemetery.

In 1985 several Modesto residents received ominous letters signed by a "Natas" (Satan spelled backwards) that said "Watch out for when you hear footsteps at night, and see SHADOWS on the WALL, and then the ghostly sounds of SILENCE as the MIST begins to fall and a scream goes out like THUNDER and SATAN calls this number 666 'AND FOR YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE, FOR HE SAID IT MUST BE DONE." Also scribbled on the type written letters were upside down crosses representing the antichrist and swastikas representing forces turned against nature.

Nearly a year later the small town of Denair was shocked when sheriff's deputies found the town's small cemetery was the site of a satanic ritual that including digging up and desecration of an interned body.

According to deputies the grave robbers left two unmistakable telltale signs that they were practicing some form of devil worship, a fire blackened circle on the ground near where the body was unearthed. The other was that the body was partially dismembered, though details weren't given about the dismemberment besides stating that body parts were missing. Deputies said the markings on the ground were consistent with satanic rituals and that they stand inside the burned circle as part of the ritual to protect them from harm. Evidence at the scene suggested there were at least six people involved.

Local residents were both shocked and outraged at what happened. Though people had their suspicions as to who the culprits were, no one was ever arrested for these crimes. At the time agencies in the area said they were convinced that the incident was part of a growing trend of devil worship.

Despite the fact that the Modesto Bee said this was one of several occurrences of cult activity in the area, I couldn't find anything else mentioned besides some random posts of someone's dad seeing figures in black robes on the side of a road nailing a dead cat to a stop sign, or of a severed goat's head found in Stockton. I do find it funny that the article then goes on to blame heavy metal artists like Ozzy Ozzbourne and Motley Crue (Motley Crue is heavy metal?) for the rise of interest of Satanism in teenagers.

Still it's interesting that there was a rash of cult activity in Stanislaus County. I wonder what happened to the members. Did they just grow out of this phase of their lives? Or did they just disappear into everyday society and took their cult activities underground and are still practicing this day? No one may ever know.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Small cemetery north of Sanger said to be haunted

The Del Rey Cemetery, just north of Sanger
Photo courtesy of Google Maps/Streetview.

There have been stories for years that the Del Rey Cemetery, a small rural cemetery located just north of Sanger, is haunted.

Witnesses have reported seeing a strange glow emanating from one of the tombstones late at night. Others have reported seeing shadowy figures darting among the trees and others have even said they heard disembodied voices whispering. Others claim they would hear strange moaning sounds with no visible source. Several paranormal investigators have investigated the cemetery and have claimed to measure cold spots and record high EMF readings.

Now normally I'm not one to believe every cemetery has paranormal activity, but I've heard these stories from several different sources and it makes me wonder if there is any truth behind it. True, with the advent of the internet age it's a lot easier for a story to spread and grow. But I heard this story when I first started researching paranormal spots in the valley and the internet wasn't as prolific as it is now. So is there any truth to the stories here or is it just another urban legend? Hard to say really, but it's yet another little piece of the strange in the Central Valley that most people probably aren't aware of.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Porterville Memorial Auditorium rumored to be haunted

The Porterville Memorial Auditorium is said to be haunted by
the ghost of a little girl.
Photo courtesy of

In the small town of Porterville, on the campus of the local high school, lies the Porterville Memorial Auditorium. Inside the building is the Frank "Buck" Shaffer Theatre, named after the school's long time band director, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl.

No one knows who she is, but it's said that she was playing up on the balcony one day when she tripped and fell over the railing and died. Now it's said that if anyone is near the railing that she will appear and play tricks on them to get them to fall over the edge and die just as she did.

Inside the Frank "Buck" Shaffer Theatre. You can see the balcony
where it's said the little girl fell from to her death.
Photo courtesy of

Another story says that backstage in the left wing near where several portraits are hung up on the wall, that their eyes would follow you as you walked by them. Whether this is some sort of paranormal activity or an optical illusion isn't know but still interesting none-the-less.

Are the stories of the little girl on the balcony true? It seems that almost every theater has its own ghost, like it is a prerequisite or something. It is interesting to note though that if you look at an index of haunted places throughout the county, theaters seem to be at the top of the list (bars and taverns run a close second). Why is this? Some paranormal researchers theorize that ghosts somehow feed off of people's emotions. What better place to experience the gambit of emotions; from happiness, sadness, and anger, than a theater? But perhaps the little girl is a vengeful spirit, upset over her untimely fate and tries to lure others to suffer the same fate as her.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

UFO seen over Coalinga wildfire

Photo of an alleged UFO (seen in upper right) near a wildfire in Coalinga.
Photo courtesy of MUFON.

While searching for recent UFO sightings on the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) website, I came across this 2006 sighting that occured in Coalinga back in 2006 during a wildfire. According to him his girlfriend is a wildfire photographer and while shooting pictures of a fire east of Coalinga caught a strange object in one of her photographs. The object wasn't seen at the time the photo was take, but was seen after when the photo was viewed.

The person goes on to say that there were no support aircraft in the area at the time and also claims that a fire official was so intrigued by the photograph that he asked for a copy of it.

Personally I'm not sure what was photographed. After viewing the photo I'm leaning towards it being a possible bird caught in flight (hence the blue of the object) as you can see another bird on the road. And since the object covers part of the power line it can't be that large in size as the power line is perhaps several hundred feet away. Still, it's inconclusive as to what it really is. Hopefully MUFON did an investigation into this and was able to determine what it really was.

MUFON report: Disc object inadvertently captured while photographing a grass fire.

My girlfriend is a wildfire photographer. After we had been together for several weeks and knew I wouldn't laugh, she showed me her UFO photo taken in 2006.
While photographing a grass fire East of Coalinga CA, she set her camera to auto fire at one frame per second. In ONE frame, a disc shaped object with a dark circular dot on the underside appears. It does not show in timestamped frames one second before or after.
This was not noticed until the pictures were viewed later.
Under magnification, the object appears to eclipse a power line behind it!
A CalFire official was intrigued enough upon hearing about this photo, he asked for a copy.
I should note that no aircraft were dispatched on this fire and no other aircraft were observed in the area,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Is Yosemite's Wawona Hotel haunted?

The Wawona Hotel in Yosemite Park is said to be haunted by the
ghost of a pilot who died there in the 1920's.
Photo courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik from Flickr.

Legend has it that the Wawona Hotel, built in 1876 and located just four miles from the park's south entrance, is rumored to be haunted.

Sometime during the 1920's there was a small plane crash just outside the hotel grounds and the seriously injured pilot was taken to Moore Cottage, one of the hotel's guest units. A local doctor was called to treat the pilot, but unfortunately by the time he got there the pilot had succumbed to his injuries.

Ever since then both employees and guests have reported seeing the ghostly figure of the pilot; complete with leather flight jacket, head gear with goggles and a white scarf, inside Moore Cottage walking down the stairs.

The ghost of the pilot isn't the only strange thing to happen at the Wawona Hotel. In 1985, while watching television, a group was surprised as a 10 foot section of carpet started to float 3 inches above the ground and move towards them. Even more recent was when a manager was alone in the hotel for the night when the fire alarm suddenly sounded. The manager went to the front office to check which pull station had been activated and to his surprise it was the pull station in the kitchen, located only eight feet from where he was standing when it had sounded.

The question has to be asked: why is the ghost of the pilot still lingering around the hotel? Perhaps he doesn't know he's dead and is walking down the stairs trying to get back to his airplane? But what of the incidents in the main hotel, could they be related to the pilot's ghost? Or could something else be haunting the century old hotel as well?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Recap of my trip to Sierra Sky Ranch

Last weekend I made a trip to Sierra Sky Ranch, and if you were following me on either Twitter or Facebook you were aware of the strange going ons that occurred at night. Everything from strange balls of light being caught on camera, people being touched by an unseen presence, to ghostly voices caught on audio recordings; it was definitely an interesting night. Though I wasn't investigating as I was focusing more on the live updates, I did manage to shoot some video of the place to share with those who haven't had the chance to visit the Ranch. And hopefully after this you will be inspired to do so.

The night started off slow and instead of sticking with one group as I had done in past visits here, I decided to wander around and shoot some video of the different spots and hope I'd catch something in the process. Unfortunately nothing showed up on video, but I may have gotten an EVP (waiting to hear several other opinions, but if it is one I'll post the link of Facebook and Twitter). Instead of writing more about the Ranch, I'll let the videos below go into more detail.

Though the night was quiet, I still had a good time. Hell I hadn't pulled an all nighter investigation in forever and it was fun (I actually didn't get home until 11:30 as I went by a free reike clinic to experience it for the first time). Though I wish the students had witnessed more activity, I know several of the students want to go back and there's a good chance I may be going too. That being said you know if I find anything I'll post it here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The ghosts and legends of Sierra Sky Ranch

Sierra Sky Ranch during winter.
Image courtesy of

I've been mentioning both on Facebook and Twitter (which you should be following me and if you aren't for shame!) the past few weeks about my trip up to Sierra Sky Ranch to do a live tweet of the investigation conducted by Central California Paranormal Investigators and the Paranormal 101 class from the Fresno Adult Education Center. I'll be doing some other things during the day (mostly shooting video and doing some investigating of my own) but my hopes is to have you dear readers interact with me on both social networks as I shadow the students and CCPI as they investigate and give you live updates as the group investigates the ranch. That being said, I wanted to give a brief history of the Sierra Sky Ranch. Granted I did a piece when I first started writing for Weird Fresno, but I wanted to update that with what I know now.

The Ranch was founded sometime in the 1870's and was the area's largest cattle ranch. The original ranch house was built sometime in 1900 and over the years piece by piece the land was sold off to pay off debts. Finally the last of the property was sold and that is where we get our first ghost from. There's a story of an old ranch hand that haunts the back portion of the property that went by the name Elmer's. There are two different versions of Elmer's untimely demise. One says that as he was chopping wood one day under the back tree, the ax slipped from his hands and severed the main artery in his leg. He called for help but his cries went unanswered and bled to death. The other story states that distraught over his home being sold off and having nowhere else to go, he hung himself from the back tree. Whatever the case may be, Elmer now haunts the area around the tree where he died. Some have seen Elmer himself, but most have felt a presence watching them.

Sometime in the 1930's the ranch was converted to a tuberculosis hospital (this is the time that the hotel wing was built onto the original ranch house). It's from this time period we get our next group of ghosts. A woman named Sarah, who was a nurse at the hospital, was in charge of two young children (rumored to be siblings) who had contracted the deadly disease. Unfortunately both children died from the disease and soon after Sarah followed (it's not known if she died from the disease, but given how contagious it could be this is highly likely). Guests have reported hearing children running up and down the halls late at night only to find out from the hotel staff that there are no children guests there. Others have witnessed what felt like a child's hand tugging at them, as if wanting to play. The children aren't the only ones seen. Witnesses have reported seeing a woman peering out from both the ground floor and the loft windows, as if she is watching someone. When asked who the woman is, the staff claims no one. Perhaps Sarah is still watching her two chargers she lost almost a century ago.

During World War 2 the property was converted to a rehabilitation hospital for wounded Army soldiers. There have been recent reports of a soldier seen in the hotel's library area, still in uniform. If this person was a patient here it's hard to say and more investigation needs to be done to find out.

After the war in 1946 the ranch was turned into a luxury resort and catered to such Hollywood celebrities such as John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe. There are several other ghosts that are associated with the ranch, and no one knows when they were here just that they decided to stay even in death. The first is the ghost of a young man who, for whatever reason, likes to stay in the honeymoon suite and usually in the bedroom area. Psychics have sensed a very paranoid man crouching in the corner, almost like he is trying to hide something. No one knows who is he or what is his name, but many have felt his presence. It's known for people sleeping in the bed to be woken up by a gentle nudge. Why the ghost is doing this is uncertain, perhaps he wants there attention for some reason.

The final two ghosts reside in the kitchen and make it apparent that they don't like anyone else in their area or each other for that matter. Kitchen utensils are always missing (once an entire cutting board was reported missing and never found again) and kitchen equipment will turn on by itself, even when shut off for the night. One ghost tends to hang out in the main prep area, while the other tends to stay mostly in the pantry. The negative energy from both of them is easily felt as there is always a heavy presence in the kitchen and on several occasions arguments have broken out among the kitchen staff.

So that's just a bit of the legend of Sierra Sky Ranch. I've heard other stories, from a night staff person seeing a couple dancing in the main lobby only to disappear when seen, to a person peeking through a dining room window despite the fact the window is at least 7 feet off the ground, to a pear tree with such a strange energy to it that people's electronic equipment always seen to malfunction around it, the ranch has it all. The Ranch is open to their paranormal history and with it being only an hour drive away, is a great spot to have dinner and maybe even spend the night. For more info you can find their site here.

Check back both on my Facebook and Twitter pages (you can find links to them on the right) on Saturday to find out what's going on.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Weird Fresno asks, what would you like to see on the site?

I'm always trying to expand the subject material that I write about here on Weird Fresno. But lately I've been thinking about what you dear reader would like to see on here. Now don't think this is due to me running out of ideas, as I haven't. In fact I'm working on two book reviews as well as getting ready for a trip up to Sierra Sky Ranch next weekend so I'm pretty busy.

But I wonder if there is anything specific anyone would like me to write about. Perhaps there's a book you'd like me to review, maybe talk about a famous haunting or UFO sighting. Maybe there is someone in the paranormal field you'd like me to interview, either local or national. Hell maybe there's a local haunting, UFO sighting, or creature sighting that I may not know about. If you want to see something, leave a comment. Just make sure it's possible. Don't ask me to investigate the Stanley Hotel in Colorado (the inspiration for Steven King's The Shining) cause given my current finances, it's not feasible. But if you want me to interview a local paranormal group, that's possible. Don't be afraid to ask, just be reasonable is all.

Also, pay attention to both my Facebook and Twitter feed as I start posting information on my investigation up at Sierra Sky Ranch on October 15. Going to be live tweeting and posting on Facebook when I'm there. And if things work out right I may be able to stream some live video. So keep an eye out for that. And I don't say this much, but thank you for taking the time out of your day/night to read my articles. It always makes me feel good when someone compliments me on my work and I'm glad to know that people out there enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Win free passes to the 5th Realm

As I had mentioned on Monday, I was able to snag some free passes to the 5th Realm haunted attraction in Clovis. Each pass is good for 1 of the 5 attractions there and since I was able to grab 20 I'm going to give away 5 sets of 4 passes for the winner to use however they want.

So here's what you need to do to win. The first 5 people to comment below telling me what your favorite Weird Fresno post over the past 3 years is and why AND leaves their e-mail address will win. Simple as that. The e-mail is important as I need a way to contact you to let you know you won. So that's it. Simple huh?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weird Fresno checks out the 5th Realm haunted attraction

If you've been reading this blog for a while now (and who hasn't?) then you know about this time for the past two years I've been harassed by the residents of a local Halloween haunt in Clovis at the Sierra Vista Mall. Knowing that the time was coming for them to open again I thought I'd get the jump on them and show up unannounced.

The newly christened 5th Realm, boasts five attractions this year. You have Delirium 3D, Slaughterhouse, Nocturnal, Insanitarium, and the ever lovely Epidemic.

Emboldened by the fact that I had the element of surprise on my visit, I walked up to the door. I should have known better as they were expecting me, they proceeded to shoving me right in the door and left me on my own. Remember how the two previous visits I had a guide? Yeah not this year. Apparently they were fed up with my guides lack of getting me killed and figured my own luck (or lack thereof) would do it.

I first started off in the Delirium 3D and of course all the clowns remembered me from last year (still have no idea how they know me by name and from this website, I never mentioned who I was) and harassed me throughout the entire venue. Let me just say this. If you have a fear of clowns or just don't like them, don't mention it to them. They feed off that and good luck getting through there without getting the shit scared out of you.

After that little ray of sunshine, I decided that it may be smarter if I was in a group (safety in numbers right?) and decided to tag along with a few people in front of me for the Slaughterhouse attraction. Now this one is entirely new and didn't know what to expect. The thing that honestly creeped me out the most was as we were walking through it, there was no music playing as with the other attractions. I don't know if this was deliberate or not, but it added to the creepy ambiance and this actually made the Slaughterhouse my favorite attraction.

Finally through that fun little nut house my new meat shields err friends and I decided to head to Nocturnal. I was a bit apprehensive about going here as I knew my guides from the previous years resided here and wouldn't be too happy to see me. If you watch the video I took, I run into a familiar looking face. But like most of the women I know she denies knowing me. Her loss. I taste yummy.

And after that jaunty little trip into hell, Team Weird Fresno (which I dubbed us) headed to the Insanitairum. Every year this is the one that creeps me out the most and even though Slaughterhouse was able to top the Insanitarium, they did a good job of throwing everything they could at me and actually had me jump at a certain point and scream.

So apparently Team Weird Fresno didn't last long (I think I was the David Lee Roth of the group and that led to the break up) and was forced to entire Epidemic by myself. Lovely. Usually I do have a penchant for zombies, but not when they are trying to eat me. Thankfully I was too quick for the shambling horde and was able to make it through the attraction relatively unscathed. That is until I ran into a zombie juggalo with a chainsaw at the end.

Thankfully I was able to get some video of the 5th Realm and compiled a bit of what the attractions are like. The video runs a bit over 6 minutes but gives you a good example of what to expect.

5th Realm is currently open on Friday and Saturdays, except the last full week of October when they will open on Sunday and Thursday as well. The next night they will be open is September 30. For ticket prices and other information can be found at their website

Also I was able to snag a few passes to the attraction. Keep your eyes open for a post later this week on how to win them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A visit to the Paranormal 101 class at the Fresno Adult Ed Center

Last night (Thursday September 22) I attended the Paranormal 101 class that the Fresno Adult Ed School offers every Fall semester. The class is instructed by Central California Paranormal Investigators founder and director Jackie Meador. Meador has been involved investigating the paranormal for over a decade now and has been an instructor through the Adult Ed system for six years now.

The course is six weeks long and starts off with a short history of the paranormal field from it's founding in the Spiritual Movement in the late 19th Century all the way up to modern times and the numerous paranormal reality shows on TV. For the first three weeks students learn what type of equipment is used (camera both film and digital, audio recorders and devices that collect environmental data) and how to properly use it. Meador also goes into detail on how important it is to research the history of a site as any information you can find may help validate any evidence you may gather.

During the third week the class takes a field trip to a haunted location for the students to practice the techniques they learn in class. The location is Sierra Sky Ranch, a location I personally feel to be one of the most active places I've ever investigated. This is the infamous Sierra Sky Ranch that I have mentioned before. The students form groups and a member of CCPI tags along with them to make sure everyone is safe and is there to answer any questions.

The final three weeks involves the students discussing what they saw at the Ranch and going over any evidence they may have gathered. Each group is then asked to give a report on their findings, if the location is haunted or not in their opinions and to show their evidence.

As I write this there is still time to sign up for the class. Meador said that the school will allow students to register up to the second class, which will be on September 29. The class is at the Manchester Center, second floor, Room 6 and is from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm and to register you can call the school at (559) 457-6000. The trip up to the Sierra Sky Ranch will be on October 15, so if you want to take the class be sure you are available that night as it's an overnight investigation.

Also there will be a good chance I will be attending the October 15 investigation and will be tweeting as the investigation occurs (and hopefully be able to stream some video as well). Details will be announced via Twitter and Facebook so if you aren't following either one you can find my Twitter here and my Facebook here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review of Jeff Belanger's Picture Yourself Legend Tripping

In my quest to bring the weird and strange to the masses (ok the five people that read this blog on a regular basis) I decided to start doing some reviews on books that I find interesting and/or helpful for those interested in the paranormal. The first review I am doing is on Jeff Belanger's "Picture Yourself Legend Tripping".

I had first come across this book listening to a podcast where Jeff was speaking about his new book and I was intrigued how it sounded like what I was doing with Weird Fresno, but on a more defined level. Remember that haunted cemetery you and your friends checked out when you were kids? That was legend tripping. That's right, most likely all of us have done it one time or the other. I remember when I was 17 and heard a cemetery in Madera was haunted (the infamous New Hope Cemetery which I've mentioned a few times on here) and my best friend Tom and I went out to investigate armed with nothing more than flashlights and our courage (ok and a few wooden stakes). We weren't there trying to prove ghosts exist; we just heard a story and wanted to check it out. That's legend tripping.

According to Wikipedia, the term "legend tripping" (also known as ostension) is a term created by folklorist to describe the adolescent practice of making a journey (usually at night) to a site that is alleged to have been the scene of some tragic, horrific and possibly supernatural event or haunting. Jeff goes into further detail on what legend is and it's about the adventure and experiencing the story. The book breaks down different legends such as ghosts, UFO's, monsters and other urban legends. Sounds a bit like what I do doesn't it and you see where I was intrigued? Here was a book that talked about exploring the story, not trying to prove or disprove it, just to explore the legend and in doing so possibly become part of it.

Jeff further goes into detail on other types of legends from children's legends, ancient mysteries, internet legends, and even how to interview any witness you may encounter (which I find very helpful). In the ghost legend tripping chapter Jeff goes into great detail on how to get information on a legend and gives advice on how to contact people and what to say to them to get the information you are looking for. I found this extremely helpful and even learned a few new techniques and I've been doing this for over a decade now.

I've really enjoyed this book and read it several times in the last couple of months. This may sound odd, but the book reinvigorated my interest in the paranormal. I had become so burned out from investigating where the focus was trying to prove the location was haunted that the reason the place was haunted was almost forgotten. And that was what got me interested in the first place, the story. It also focuses on the history of the location and even the town itself. With so many other books out there claiming to be able to teach you to be a paranormal investigator it's nice to see a book that goes back to basics and keeps things fun. I'd definitely recommend Picture Yourself Legend Tripping to anyone who has even the slightest interest in the paranormal.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More info on the Walnut Girl of Armona

Seems there's a bit of a theme developing lately here at Weird Fresno. Last week I had written about how I had received some information regarding one of the ghosts of Roosevelt High School. As I was working on that, Ken Summers (who contributes to Who Forted?, one of my favorite paranormal sites) sent me some information which he believes might related to the tale of the Walnut Girl of Armona.

Scan of the June 16, 1942 post from the
San Jose Evening News.

According to the San Jose Evening News while driving along the Last Chance Ditch Canal, which is located about five miles northwest of Hanford, a car blew out a tire and ran off the road into the ditch and overturned. Four out of the seven in the car drowned, including 9 year old Gloria Castillo. Could this somehow be the Walnut Girl?

Ken was kind enough to send me both a copy of the article and a map of the area that shows the location of the canal and it's proximity to Armona. One could theorize that the ghost of the girl, for some reason, moved south until it reached Armona. And given that her and her family were fruit pickers, perhaps that is why she is said to have been seen in orchards and packing houses as she had hoped to find them there somehow.

Map of the Hanford/Armona area. The canal is in blue
and the red X is the presumed location of the accident.

Still this doesn't explain in the legend how it took place in the 19th Century (Armona was founded sometime in the 1880's), the fact that she always appear naked and only to girls around her own age. But the fact that in the news article a little girl drowned in a body of water that was nine years old can't be coincidence. Or can it?

The truth is, no one will ever know. There will be those out there that claim the 1942 crash to be the genesis for the story and someone added changed the date and details to make it more "romantic". Others will claim that it did originally occur sometime in the late 1800's and the setting is accurate. And then there will be those that say it's just complete bullshit. Honestly it doesn't matter. The more and more I research these stories the less I care about proving their factuality. For whatever reason stories compel us, everyone has one and they allow us to relate on a humanistic level. And that's why I share them.

I have to give credit where credit is due. If Ken hadn't sent me an e-mail, this bit of information would still be unknown to me. Like I said, he writes for Who Forted? (check out his latest article here on why ghosts are always seen nude) and you can find his website here and link to his blog here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Update to the Roosevelt High hauntings

Leslie Chambers, who's death at Roosevelt
High School has spurred a ghost story that's
lasted over 40 years.

I've written over dozens of articles on haunted locations throughout the Fresno area and beyond. But that's what they have always been, stories. You are never really sure of the truth behind the names and events that are said to have occurred that created the haunt.

One of the more popular articles that I've done is the one on the ghosts of Roosevelt High School, especially the story of "Lester". For those who aren't familiar with the story, it's said that in 1977 a student named Lester was performing on the stage in the auditorium and collapsed there and died from either dehydration or possibly a heart attack. Ever since then people have felt his presence in the auditorium in one way or another.

Being the skeptic I am, I wasn't quite sure on the truth to this story. So imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail the other day from someone saying they were Lester's cousin and was then able to verify what happened. Turns out the story is true in most regards as a student did die due to a congenital heart defect while performing on stage. His name was Leslie Chambers and was born on October 16, 1944. On October 10, 1960 (just 6 days before his 16th birthday) while performing a cheer on stage as part of a school assembly, Leslie collapsed mid-performance and died. At that time his mother and grandmother were out shopping for his birthday and were quickly notified by the school. He was well loved by both his family and classmates and after his death the school created a memorial on one of the trees at the school where Leslie and his girlfriend met for lunch each day.

Now I don't know if Leslie haunts the stage where he died, and now that this story has both a name and face to go with it I certainly hope not as the story seems more personal now. But this is one of those times that the legend has some truth in it. Now it's possible that someone just made up the entire story of "Lester" haunting the auditorium and used the known death of a student to give it an apparent kernel of truth, but that's uncertain.

What I do hope is that the students at Roosevelt (current and future) that hear the story of Lester read this and find out the truth about Leslie Chambers and don't remember him for being a ghost that haunts the auditorium, but of a young life cut short.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Was Visalia's Mooney Mansion haunted by the spirit of a little girl?

Statue of Hugh Mooney and his favorite hunting dog, located in
Mooney Grove Park. - Image courtesy of Visit Visalia.

If you've ever visited Visalia there's a good chance you have been to or at least driven by Mooney Grove Park; so named for Hugh Mooney who donated 100 acres of his ranch to act as a park in 1909. For over a century the park has hosted many gatherings and since 1948 has been home to the Tulare County Museum. But there is another location that was associated with Mr. Mooney. His home. And it was said to be haunted.

The house itself was located on Court Street and changed ownership through the years after Mr. Mooney passed away. Sometime in the 1980's the owner turned the mansion into a boarding house that had nine bedrooms with a common bath and kitchen facilities. One of the upstairs bedrooms was turned into a billiards room complete with an antique table. Also, downstairs in the main foyer there was an antique jukebox that played an old selection of 78 rpm records.

But in the evenings for many years, random thumps would be heard from the upstairs billiard room usually right before or after midnight. The inhabitants of the house would go upstairs to investigate and when the opened the door and entered the room they would find billiard balls and cue sticks on the floor; the balls were usually stored a wall rack with the cues or left in the table pockets. This happened on many occasions and once it was said that when the people entered the room to check on the noise the balls were still moving as if they had just been touched.

Even more interesting is that the antique juke box would randomly play, and usually around the early dawn hours. It got so bad that the owner started to leave it unplugged during the summer months when the occurrences were more likely to happen.

Curious as to what was causing all the strange activity, the owner of the house started to research the history of the home. After talking with several historians at the Tulare County Museum they discovered that sometime in the early 1930's a young girl, about the age of 6, had died in one of the upstairs bedrooms from some type of lung malady. She wasn't a member of the Mooney Family, but it's believed that she might have been the daughter of two San Francisco socialites who had come to Visalia to visit the Mooneys. Her full name is unknown but the owner was able to discern that her first name was April and her last name was Mc-something. It's said that her body was buried somewhere on the property, but there has been no documentation to prove this.

The strange occurrences seemed to stop sometime in 1990's when the property was sold numerous times and the interior of the house was gutted for refurbishment. During demolition an old doll was discovered in one of the walls in what was the billiard room. The doll was given to the Tulare Historical Society and was able to be dated to being made sometime in the 1920's and was made in a factory in San Francisco.

Was the little girl haunting the room where her doll was at because she wanted it back? That could explain the odd sounds and objects being moved. But what of the antique jukebox playing on random (was it playing Queen?) down in the foyer? Perhaps the little girl liked to listen to music. It is interesting to note though that the activity stopped when the doll was found. I wonder since the doll was given to the Tulare County Museum to put on display, is there any activity there now?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Check out some Fresno roller derby this weekend.

Now normally I talk about ghosts, UFOs, strange creatures and the like here on Weird Fresno but sometimes I like to delve into the historical side of Fresno and not just the normal stuff everyone knows about. Did you know that Fresno has a history of roller derby bouts (not matches) that dates back way before the current groups that are in Fresno today?

The sport of roller derby has been around for 76 years now and in fact the sport just celebrated it's anniversary on August 13. I was talking with NOTown's very own KarmaKaze the other day and she was telling me that she heard that back in the 1950's the Los Angeles Thunderbirds would meet the Bay City Bombers in the middle at the Fresno Fairgrounds and have a bout. Still trying to dig up some more information on this, but I love the fact that two teams meet in the middle to do battle. Must have been epic.

Fast forward to the 2000's and now Fresno has several roller derby teams of its own and probably the best known one is the NOtown Roller Derby team and as luck would have it they are having a bout this Saturday, August 27 against the Mendo Mayhem at the Fresno Fairgrounds. I've been to several bouts before and theses girls seriously kick some major ass. I remember the first bout I went to, one of the jammers (the one who scores the points), Hari Kari, fell and received a concussion. They had to take her to the hospital, but she was back at the after game party. Now that's hard core. These girls take play on concrete and take some spills that would make most men cry and want their mother. But they just get back up like it's nothing. You have to respect that.

Tickets for the bout are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. You can purchase tickets at SBI Boardshop, Twee Boutique, Swiggs, and online at Parking is free at the fairgrounds and doors open at 5:30 and the bout starts at 7:00. I'd recommend getting their early to get a good seat. If you are lucky you can sit on the floor on the edge of the track and get a great view of the girls as they skate by. I definitely recommend going if you haven't been before, it's a blast and it's something cool that this town can get behind. And when tickets are cheaper than going to the movies, you really have no reason not to go.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A brief history of vampire movies

Bela Lugosi in his iconic role as Dracula.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The guys over at the Dumbdrum recently asked me to attend a sneak preview of the remake of the classic vampire flick, Fright Night, and write a review for them. I thoroughly enjoyed it (you can read my review here) and it was nice to see an actual vampire flick for once given the recent crop of films that have been released lately (I'm looking at you Twilight). So that had me wondering, what happened to the vampire movie? How did it turn from something that terrified people to something that sparkled in the sun?

The first "official" vampire movie was the classic German film Nosferatu which was released in 1922. What some people may not be aware of is that this was an unlicensed version of Bram Stoker's Dracula (instead of Count Dracula, it was Count Orlok for example) and was so similar to the novel that Stoker's estate sued the filmmakers and won with all copies to be destroyed. Luckily in 1994 a team of European scholars were able to restore the film from five prints that had managed to escape destruction. Another interesting note is that instead of a stake through the heart it was sunlight that destroyed the vampire, a plot device which would later be influential on vampire films and was accepted as part of vampire lore.

The next vampire movie that set a milestone was Universal's Dracula in 1931. The iconic film stared Bela Lugosi and his portrayal is considered to be the definitive Dracula by both film lovers and critics alike. Lugosi had a powerful screen presence, even when he had no dialog audiences were still terrified of him. Unfortunately the role of Dracula led to typecasting for Lugosi. Even though he had success with an earlier stage carrier, the role of Count Dracula would haunt him for the rest of his life.

The character Dracula was used in several other movies in the 1930's and 40's. There was a direct sequel to Dracula, Dracula's Daughter (1936), with another sequel in 1943 called Son of Dracula. And even though the Count had met his apparent death in the 1931 film, he returned for three more Universal films: House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula as well as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)which was Bela Lugosi's second and last turn at playing Count Dracula.

Dracula was introduced to a new generation in 1958 when Christopher Lee played the Count for Hammer Films in Dracula. It was in this film with the spectacular death of Dracula vie being exposed to direct sunlight that reinforced this part of vampire lore that was first introduced in Nosferatu. Christopher played the role in all but two of the seven sequels in the Hammer Film series.

Vampire films weren't just about Dracula, or were horror movies in general. A sub-genre of vampire films, distinct in their own right, formed their own niche. Beginning with the afore mentioned Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the vampire became a subject of comedy. Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) was a notable parody of the vampire genre. Others like Vampira (1974). Love at First Bite (1979) and Mel Brook's Dracula: Dead and Loving it (1995) were other examples of vampire movies that had received the comedic touch. But it didn't stop there. Several vampire films shot in the 60's and 70's explored the topic of lesbianism. Blood and Roses (1960) was the first followed by the more explicit Hammer Karnstein's Trilogy which started with The Vampire Lovers in 1970. Lesbianism wasn't the only sexual topic as there were also several blaxploitation films made, most notably Blacula (1972) and Scream Blacula Scream (1973).

Cue the 1980's and vampire films returned to their original horror roots. Movies like Salem's Lot (1979), The Lost Boys (1987) as well as the original Fright Night (1985) were extremely popular and are considered cult classics of the vampire genre. The trend continued with Francis Ford Copolla's modern take on Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), from Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and John Carpenter's Vampires (1998) continued the horror trend.

It was at this time that the vampire movie really started to incorporate romantic elements into it's story line. Copolla's remake had Mina Harker the reincarnation of Dracula's wife. Then there was Interview with the Vampire. Say what you want about it, but both Louis and Lestat were lovers. The film toned down their affair, but in the book it was obvious. Underworld (2003) also had romantic undertones as well. But the original novel by Bram Stoker had these same tones but they were more of commentary on the restrictions of the Victorian era when the novel was written.

Fast forward to the 2000's and there's a sudden shift in the tone of vampire movies. Gone are the elements of horror and terror that had been a staple of the genre for decades. The seductive characteristics were still there, but with the introduction of the Twilight it seems that vampires were no longer creatures or the night that were ruthless killers but troubled souls that sparkled in the sunlight (really?). I know there have been the more traditional vampire movies released this decade (Blade trilogy for example) but for some reason Twilight overshadows them all. Why is that? Is it due to numerous fans out there that scream at the mere mention of Robert Pattinson's name? Or is this the path the vampire genre is heading to? It seems there are clones of Twilight everywhere you look (books, TV series, etc.) and it's possible that there will be another movie out there that tries to mimic it in an attempt to ride it's coattails.

But I honestly doubt that. I don't thing there will be a bunch of Twilight clones out there. It's a fad. And as soon as the last one is released, people will forget about it. There actually have been some fantastic vampire movies recently. 2010's Let Me In was one of the best I had seen in years and I had recommended it to many friends who had been disenchanted with the whole vampire genre. And yes it's a remake, which I usually disdain; I really enjoyed Fright Night (mostly cause of David Tennant). Hopefully more films of this quality will continue to be released and continue the tradition of horror that was started nearly 100 years ago with Nosferatu.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Recent Central California UFO sightings

Every so often I like to check out the National UFO Reporting Center and check to see if there have been any recent UFO sightings in the valley. As luck would have it there were several over the past two months and I thought I would share them. Please note that these were posted as they were on NUFORC and I haven't edited either spelling or grammer. Link to the original report can be found at the end of each one.

Occurred : 7/30/2011 22:00
Reported: 7/31/2011 12:22:48 PM

Location: Squaw Valley, CA
Shape: Light
Duration:10 seconds

Slow moving ball of light.

I've lived here for about 6 years now and I'm a sky gazer. For the past 4 weeks or so, I have been seeing strange lights in the northern sky. I've only seen one at a time. They look like bright stars, but they are moving slowly in the sky. I only see them for a few seconds before they completely just disappear.

Last nights sighting was a little different. This time it was closer and it flared and then disappeared. In the 6 years I've lived here, I have never seen these before. They are not airplanes. I see airplanes all the time in the night sky and I know the flight patterns. These are just balls of light that appear and disappear. They don't blink, or pulse, other than the one that flared brighter before it disappeared.

Occurred : 7/18/2011 21:30
Reported: 7/18/2011 11:06:24 PM
Location: Turlock, CA
Shape: Light
Duration:3 min.

Four lights moving in the Ca Valley Sky

Just before 9:30pm my wife and I took our puppy out to the back yard for his night time bathroom break. We live in the country so sky watching is just something we like to do.

While waiting I noticed a silvery light moving fast across the east horizon line. The speed of it caught my attention. I pointed it out to my wife and then we notice 3 more as we began to look around. They were almost directly above us. The 3 were moving towards each other when we noticed them. One was moving some what straight from a Southernly direction to a Northern direction. One that looked like it was coming from the northern direction was moving erratically (like jumping from spot to spot. It was also more bright than the others) but mostly head Southernly towards the one coming from the South.

The third just kind of appeared out out no where and seemed to be coming from the West. All 3 looked like they were going to collide.

My wife got excited because she thought they were g! oing to crash! But it looked more like they passed right through each other.

After crossing paths or whatever they did, the one headed more Northernly seem to pick up speed very fast and quickly disappeared into the North direction. The brighter one from the North was still headed southernly but slowed and stopped for about 1 min.

The one that came in from the West instantly turned 90 degrees Northernly (but was more N/W in direction) at the point of meeting for the three. It kept the same speed the entire time. It wasn't fast, but it wasn't slow! We watched it till it faded off into the sky.

The brighter one that stopped, just disappeared where it was. It looked bigger too compared to the other ones and most of the stars that are in the sky.

The other two seemed to be about the same size and brightness. I would size them comparable with the majority of the small stars in the sky. Big enough to see, but too small to see any detail. Not like you would see if it were an airpl! ane, you can see its flashing lights.

Can only say they looked like w hite lights just like most stars look like, other than they were moving.

Occurred : 7/18/2011 11:45 (Entered as : 7/18/2011 11:45)
Reported: 7/19/2011 2:07:16 PM 14:07
Posted: 8/7/2011
Location: Los Banos (approx 10 miles east of), CA
Shape: Triangle
Duration:3-5 minutes
3 Bright lights along highway 152 east of Los Banos, very close to the ground

I was driving along highway 152 traveling west, when approximately 10-15 miles outside of the town of Los Banos, I saw a green bright light fly across the highway a mile in front of me. As it passed and it turned and looked as if two white lights had been shot off out of it almost.

It proceeded to to turn make a tight turn to pass over the highway once again. It passed over the highway and then proceeded to drop very low to the ground, still continuing forward. Low enough that I could remember seeing the ground lit up from its light. The reflection of the light allowed me to see what I believe was that the lights where actually connected to one another (i.e., that the craft was a bigger object with these three lights at the points).

After flying low to the ground for a short distance it gently curved back up and achieved more alluded ((sic. Altitude?)) and turned left.

I was driving along 152 heading west, and all this occurred in the span of about 3-5 minutes. I could still see the craft in my side view/rear view mirrors, as I continued down 152. The object looked to be staying in the same area.

I was in the car by myself at the time, but there were other drivers both east and west bound along 152.

Occurred : 7/13/2011 13:00
Reported: 7/16/2011 11:35:33 PM
Location: Coarsegold, CA
Shape: Disk
Duration:2 minutes

UFO Sighting on the way up to the mountains on a road trip with family

This photo is not a fake or altered....I took this photo on a road trip to the mountains...with ((husband's name deleted)) & the kids....we were with 3 kids in the back I was taking photos...I saw one silver grey disk hoovering in the I took a photo of it with my cell phone.

At that moment...I turned around to check on the kids, who were fussing...and when I turned around to take another photo of the disk...IT WAS GONE!...just that fast.

I don't know how to do any altering of photos.

Occurred : 7/5/2011 00:38
Reported: 7/15/2011 1:55:16 PM
Location: Fresno, CA
Shape: Triangle
Duration:20 minutes

Strange lights/UFO's over Fresno,Ca near the airport.

On July 5th, 2011, at 12.:38 am my son and I were in our backyard talking. we live about 4 miles from the Fresno airport and were watching airplanes and police helicopters in the shy that night. People have been lighting off illegal firworks and we were watching the show.

As we were looking up, I saw a large triangle craft moving slowly to the south-west towords the airport. I was standing facing the same direction, when my son spoted another set of lights that looked like bright orbs. There was 3 of them and moving south-east of our home.

The large triangeled changed colors form white to red to blue then back to white, then started to fly way faster than anything else that was in the shy that night and was out of sight in about 4 seconds. The orbs also changed color. Red,white and then back to red.

We could see other airplanes flying into the Fresno airport and taking off, but nothing could fly without making a sound.

We waited to see if the Air National Guard would send jets to the area of these objects, but nothing. We have seen other unexplained lights over the greater Fresno/Clovis area for the last couple of months, but nothing like this. The orbs stayed on the same course, but came together as one light and disapeared straight up.

There were at least 3 helicopters and multiple airplanes that night, but nothing moved or looked like those lights we saw that night.

Occurred : 7/3/2011 21:00
Reported: 7/2/2011 10:20:37 PM
Location: Fresno, CA
Shape: Light
Duration:3-4 min

My boyfriend and I see these same ones a lot. He came in, telling me to come and look.

It was a bright light to the east, a little southeast.

We watch it for longer than they usually stick around. It moved slightly up and down as it was moving across the sky at the speed slower than an airplane. Then it dimmed.

It was about dusk. A lot of fireworks going off so I'm hoping someone else may report it, as well. My first report although I've seen many. I think we have something that makes us more aware. Not sure how no one else sees these.

My little boy Has witness them with us as well although I'm not sure he understands why he saw.

Occurred : 6/29/2011 22:55
Reported: 6/29/2011 11:25:19 PM
Location: Visalia, CA
Shape: Light
Duration:5 min

Bright light that disapeared

Light came from northwest going southeast. It looked like a plane at first. The light was getting brighter with no flashing lights.

It passed over head at about 1000 feet or the height of a low flighing plane with absolutly no sound at all. It just disappered after it passed over us.

This was at 10:05 pm. It was definatly not a plane.

Occurred : 6/29/2011 04:00
Reported: 6/29/2011 4:52:12 AM
Location: Porterville, CA
Shape: Disk
Duration:45 minutes

disk shaped object getting brighter and dissapearing also moved a little.

There was one disk shaped object we observed for about 45 minutes that would disappear and get brighter. It seemed to move a little it also looked like the lights consisted of many white lights and a couple red lights.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The ghosts and legends of Hornitos, CA

The old Gagliardo & Co. Store in Hornitos, CA now acts as a gift shop.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers
About 13 miles west of Mariposa, CA on CR-J16 lies the small community of Hornitos. The community was founded by Mexican miners in 1848 and was soon populated by settlers evicted from the nearby mining town Quartzburg. Most of the evictees were of the "less desirable" type and almost overnight they changed the character of Hornitos and it quickly became known as a rough community. Soon the streets were lined with fandango halls, bars, gambling dens, and house of ill repute and it was rumored that many of the businesses were interconnected with underground tunnels. By the mid-late 1850's Hornitos had grown to small city with a population of some 6000 people. A thriving Chinese section formed to the east of town and housed some 2000 folk. Business was thriving as $40,000 in gold was shipped out on a daily basis.

Old adobe ruins with only the entry way and it's iron doors remaining.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

But the town has a dark history to it as well. The town was so notorious for its daily gunfights that the dead outlaws were simply dumped into a deep gully called Dead Man's Gulch. Famed Mexican bandit, Joaquin Murieta, was said to frequent the fandango halls and was rumored to have been almost captured in the town in the 1850's.

Pacific Saloon (built 1851), one of the many bars that was in
Hornitos during its heyday.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

Masonic Lodge built sometime in the 1850's.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

Eventually the gold ran out and the miners who populated the town moved onto other places in search of riches. From a population of around 15,000 in 1879 it quickly dwindled down and around 1932 there were roughly 60 people living in Hornitos. Today the population is 75 people and Hornitos is considered one of the best preserved ghost towns in the Mother Lode country with ruins of an old Wells Fargo office, a Masonic Hall, an old jailhouse and even the store where D. Ghiradelli (famous maker of chocolate) got his start before moving to San Francisco.

The ruins of D. Ghiradelli's general store (circa 1856)
Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

Not all of the original settlers of Hornitos have left and it's said that many still haunt the town, still searching for riches perhaps or not wanting to move on for some other reason.

Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

Near the town square the ghosts of two prostitutes, who used knives and fought to the death over a miner, can still be felt to this day. The fight was over whose client he was and before the fight was over the miner had snuck off.  When the proverbial dust had settled, one of the women lay dead on the street and the was other badly injured. It's said if you stand still in the town square and listen you can still hear the screams of the women as they fought and the cheers of the miners who stood around and watched.

The Hornitos jail house, rumored to be haunted by a former
inmate who died there.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

The old jail house is also supposed to be haunted by a miner who was rumored to have died there. The brick jail is still standing today and is about 12 feet by 12 feet and has two 1 foot square windows. Accused of stealing a horse, he was placed in the town jail to await trial. Several drunk cowboys who just left one of the local saloons saw the miner in the jail and decided for some reason they were going to rescue him. They somehow convinced the miner if he tied a rope around his waist that they would pull him through the window and to freedom. The miner did so and the cowboys pulled and pulled but couldn't get him through the small opening. They pulled so hard that they eventually broke his back. The miner later succumbed to his injuries and died. His spirit has never been able to rest and can be felt walking around the jail today.

The local cemetery where a young girl's ghost is said to wander.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

Another spirit, this one of a young Mexican girl, haunts the local cemetery. She died at a young age of an unnamed epidemic and for some reason wasn't given a proper burial but instead was buried on top of the ground and then bricks and stones were placed over her body. Through the years tourists have taken theses stones and bricks from her grave. From time to time she is seen searching the cemetery, looking for the stones and bricks that covered her grave.

St. Catherine's Catholic Church, built sometime in the 1860's.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

These aren't the only ghosts that roam the streets of Hornitos, but they do have their own stories. Other ghosts have been seen but their story hasn't been told yet.

Near Givins Gulch a woman has been seen roaming the area just before sunrise with a spear sticking out of her head.

Another female ghost has been seen with a plastic bag tied around her head in Hornitos Park just before dawn.

Late at night a figure can sometimes be seen on the top of Bullion Hill gazing out over the landscape.

The ghost of a young confederate officer can frequently be seen next to the Cotton Arm creek and it appears as if he is struggling with something.

Also the spirit of a male figure can be seen dragging something from Corbet Creek sometime after midnight.

Photo courtesy of Lewis Shorb, Ghost Town Explorers

Whether these ghost stories are true or not, one thing is for certain. Hornitos is rich in history. Both from the gold rush era and also rich in ghost stories. Hornitos makes a great day trip for those who have never been to a ghost town before and its a chance to check out some of our local area history that many don't know about.

I want to thank Lewis Shorb over at Ghost Town Explorers for allowing me to share the photos he took of Hornitos for this article. You can check out his article on Hornitos here.