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Steve Gonsalves, left, and Jason Hawes hunt ghosts. (Photo: @stevegonsalves1/Twitter)
Forget fishes, sleep with the ghosts! In honor of Halloween, Steve Gonsalves, lead investigator for the Syfy show Ghost Hunters, gave us his top tips on how to see a real ghost and the haunted hotels where you might glimpse one. Use at your own peril!
Tip 1: Original furnishings or belongings are key
Lizzie Borden’s murdered parents. (Photo: Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast & Museum/Facebook)
“It’s pretty important in terms of a place that’s supposedly haunted to have these items that people had strong emotional or physical attractions to,” Gonsalves says.
Where to go: Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, Fall River, Mass., the infamous home of suspected axe-murderer Lizzie Borden, who allegedly slaughtered her father and stepmother in the house on August 4, 1892. “A lot of the furnishings are from the family that lived there,” says Gonsalves. “They still have the original couch in that house where they found Mr. Borden.”
Tip 2: Go when the spirits are known to be most active
Omni Mount Washington Resort (Photo: Omni Mount Washington Resort/Facebook)
“At some hotels [activity] is a little seasonal for whatever reason.”
Where to go: Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H. This grand luxury ski resort tucked into the mountains welcomes guests both ethereal and corporeal. “I’ve been there at least three times,” Gonsalves said. “All of those times we’ve had things that we couldn’t quite explain. It’s open all year round and you have activity all year.”
Tip 3: Play the odds
Spooky Gettysburg. (Photo: Gettysburg/Facebook)
The more opportunity for hauntings, the more likely you are to see something.
Where to go: Anywhere in Gettysburg, Penn., where the most important battle of the Civil War occurred, in 1863. “There are 60 bed and breakfasts in Gettysburg, and 35 of them claim to be haunted,” Gonsalves said.
Tip 4: Pay attention to cold spots
The Stanley Hotel (Photo: The Stanley Hotel/Facebook)
It can be a sign of a ghost. Sometimes the spots can be as much as 20 degrees colder than everywhere else, according to Gonsalves.
Where to go: The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colo. Famously the inspiration for Stephen King to pen The Shining, based on his experiences here, it’s also where a housekeeper perished in an explosion. “We captured a glass breaking on video that happened organically, it just shattered,” Gonsalves said. “We captured a voice during our live show. We did our very first Ghost Hunters live show at the Stanley Hotel and me and another investigator were literally chasing around these very, very cold spots.”
Tip 5: Bring gadgets
Crescent Hotel (Photo: Facebook/Crescent Hotel)
Diehards use electromagnetic frequency (EMF) detectors and thermal cameras, but a compass, phone, and an old-school camera work just as well. “If a compass has a hard time finding magnetic north, it means something there is disrupting its energy,” Gonsalves said. “To catch audio, you can put your phone in airplane mode to stop extra frequencies from coming through, and then you can just use the microphone there [to record]. For pictures, have something more than just digital. Have a camera or something with film, something with a negative. Digital cameras will take anything they don’t understand and turn it into a smear automatically.”
Where to go: Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Ark. This 1886 hotel and spa with a morgue in the basement was once a hospital for a fraud doctor who sold bunk cures for cancer. But most of the spirits here are accidental deaths in the hotel’s long history. “We got one of the best pieces of evidence here with the thermal camera,” Gonsalves said. “It was a thermal outline that looked to be a soldier or train engineer. The camera pointed at it, and it dissipated just when the camera moved away from it. We’re trained to recognize our own thermal reflections and as soon as I saw that, I went back to the spot to make sure it wasn’t our own reflections. We tried to disprove it, and we actually went back after to try again, but there was just no way.”
Tip 6: Listen carefully
Copper Queen Hotel (Photo: Copper Queen Hotel/Facebook)
Noises and mysterious voices can come from anywhere — “through the floors and the walls,” says Gonsalves.
Where to go: Copper Queen Hotel, Bisbee, Ariz. Built during the mining boom years, completed in 1902, guests here report voices, levitating objects, and odd smells. “When [Ghost Hunters was] there, we were chasing around some voices,” Gonsalves said. “We minimized any noise from the front desk, and we still had voices we couldn’t quite explain.”
Tip 7: Remains and a history of trauma make for lots of ghosts
Old Cashtown (Photo: Cashtown Inn/Facebook)
Physical and energetic evidence of what went on can stir things up.
Where to go: Cashtown Inn, Cashtown, Penn. Once a dumping ground for the military’s wounded and dead, some soldiers never left. “The story goes that they did a lot of amputations there, and in the basement was a pile of limbs,” Gonsalves said. “We did encounter some interesting things. They also did some research and went into their granite system and found some different deposits that were blood.”
Tip 8: Treat spirits with respect
Hotel Roanoke (Photo: The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center/Facebook)
Don’t yell or shout to get anything’s attention. If it’s a person who’s died, they’ve already gone through everyone’s worst nightmare, says Gonsalves. “Talk about what they’re going through and what it was like for them at the hotel,” he adds. “Just try to establish a common ground with them, you might get more traction that way.”
Where to go: Hotel Roanoke, Roanoke, Va. Guests here write their spooky experiences in a book for other guests to read during their stay. “Guests always said they were so in love with the hotel that they were never going to leave,” Gonsalves said. “So a lot of what the [hauntings are] attributed to that.”
Be sure to catch Gonsalves and the Ghost Hunters crew on Syfy, every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Central.