INTERVIEW WITH SETH BREEDLOVE

 
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In August of 2016, while working on the concept that became this website, I was listening to a rerun of Beyond Reality Radio. The guest was filmmaker Seth Breedlove, he was discussing his movies Minerva Monster and Beast of Whitehall, and shared his knowledge about the encounters and other bigfoot lore. Toward the end of the interview, callers shared their stories about local folklore, and I immediately jumped on Facebook to send him a message to ask him for his thoughts on the Van Meter Visitor.

That simple conversation was all the catalyst I needed to get refocused on the site and inspired me to start sharing the stories of creatures and paranormal events from around the Midwest, but enough on that.

I had the honor to ask Seth a few questions and see a screening of his new film Invasion on Chestnut Ridge, look for a review on that movie shortly, here is our chat below.


First off congratulations on winning cryptozoologist of the year! What sparked your interest in the topic of unknown creatures and filmmaking?

I didn't really get into cryptids and the paranormal until I was in my early 20s. Some of it was due to The Mothman Prophecies film which I saw in theaters multiple times, and some of it was probably due to boredom. I started out by "investigating" local Bigfoot sightings in the area near the small town where I'd grown up, and from there one thing led to another.

As far as film goes, I'd always wanted to make movies, going all the way back to when I was a little kid and my mom first introduced me to Ray Harryhausen and Hammer Horror films. I was going to go to film school when I graduated high school but made the cowardly decision that it was an unrealistic profession and I moved on to other, more "normal" jobs.

I remember hearing an interview with you last year; you explained that the Small Town Monster idea started off as a book proposal. Are there any plans to publish a book in the future?

There are! Weirdly enough, I believe our publisher will be one of those that rejected my initial proposal, so that would be a cool full-circle kind of thing if it works out. Right now my issue is with finding the time to write it. Between Casefiles, Flatwoods, producing Aleksandar's Champ miniseries and doing pre-pro on Bray Road, not to mention having a five-month-old, I've got very little downtime.

Of your past or present films, which did you enjoy making the most and why?

As far as the actual creation of the film goes, it has to be Beast of Whitehall. It was such an intense experience early on (we actually filmed the entire movie twice) but I had such a blast on my return trip, and the crew was just Brandon Dalo, my dad and I. We had an amazing time filming and then we had a great post-production on that one. Brandon and I were like the only two people working on it once we hit post and it was just a really small-scale thing. I don't think I'll ever get to do something like that again, but it was such a great time working on that movie.

I'm most proud of Mothman because I just think the bar we had to reach just for it to be passable was so high, and I feel like we met every goal we'd set out to achieve.

 

Who is someone that you draw inspiration from? (Someone in the paranormal field or a filmmaker, whoever)

Man, there are so many. I'm not a huge Steven King fan, but I draw inspiration from him because his work ethic is so intense and he just never stops working. His On Writing book is really important to me. I'm inspired by Harryhausen and Billy Wilder within the film world. In the paranormal community, it's probably folk like Greg and Dana Neukirk who create so much completely independently. There are a lot of people like them who I draw inspiration from like my friend Shannon Legro and Lyle Blackburn, Loren Coleman, my buddy Mark Matzke, people who host podcasts or do youtube series or blog who probably are completely unaware their work means as much to me as it does. Anyone who creates stuff independently I draw inspiration from, really. Not just saying that either.

 

Do you have any wise words for filmmakers that might be interested in producing a documentary?

Man, not so much wise words as just stuff I've kinda learned for myself. If you want to make movies, then all I ever know to tell people is that they should just go make their movie. It's not that hard. I always say don't look to me or anyone else in the "paranormal" world as a blueprint because none of us are good enough to be gleaning anything useful off of. Look to the greats like Wilder and Welles or whatever. Don't look to Breedlove because that dudes just bumbling his way through, desperately trying to figure out how to get halfway decent at this filmmaking thing.

But yeah, my advice is, come up with an original idea and an original approach and go forth and make it happen.


I want to thank Seth for giving me a moment of his time. Please check out the links below for more about him and Small Town Monsters.

Website/Movies - Small Town Monster

Facebook - facebook.com/smltownmonsters

 

 

Chicago Phantom

 
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We love our cryptid creatures on this blog and what a better time than now to talk about some recent developments with the Chicago Phantom (Mothman) sightings.

Just this last week Jeremiah and I were fortunate enough to attend the Van Meter Visitor Festival in Van Meter, Iowa. We got filled in on some of the lore behind one of our favorite cases, but we also got some new info dropped on us about the emerging reports of a Mothman like creature being reported in Chicago. The encounters are strange, and with 50 plus reports to date, something weird is flying over the streets of Chicago.

Over the summer I put out a quick blurb on my thoughts of flying cryptids, and it included this report given to Lon Strickler.

"They both described it as a 7-8 ft solid black humanoid with wide membrane wings, which resembled those of a huge bat. The wingspan was at least 12 ft. The head was prominent and thinner than a human head. The back end of the body tapered to a point. No legs were noticed but could have been tucked up under the body. The figure was gliding quickly along the length of the street heading east, then suddenly ascended into the night sky. Neither heard any sound. Both witnesses told me that they felt a sense of foreboding and were still terrified almost an hour after the encounter."  -Lon Strickler of Phantoms and Monsters

The descriptions are very ominous, and I'm not sure if I'd ever want to encounter one of these beasts. It's also interesting to note the similarities between this description and creatures reported in Van Meter during the fall of 1903 and of course the reports from Mount Pleasent in 1966. The Midwest seems to have a long history of these animals, and it begs the question, why do so many people see these creatures.

I had the opportunity to talk with Steve Ward during our time at the Van Meter Festival; Steve is very knowledgeable about high strangeness cases and has lead presentations on the subject of Mothman and UFO encounters around Mount Pleasent back during the flap of the 1960s that culminated in the collapse of the Silver Bridge. During our chat and we discussed how some of these creatures could, in fact, be intraterrestrial beings that have somehow transfer into our space. 

He explained that John Keel, author of the Mothman Prophecies, explained how these creatures could be present and seen by people and even leave behind evidence like footprint or DNA but prooving there existence would be difficult not being on the same plan as our own. It is a theory hard to digest by most, but with the discoveries we are making every day in the study of quantum physics anything is still possible, and one must keep an open mind. 

I may be getting a bit off topic, but the connection between cryptid animals and UFOs/strange lights seem to go hand in hand. We just finished watching a pre-screening of Seth Breedlove's new film Invasion on Chestnut Ridge, one of the focuses of the movie was directed at the strange lights seen around the Chestnut Ridge and the encounters with strange creatures that seem to follow the lights.  

I need to dive deeper into the reports from the Chicago area, but it would be interesting to see how many of the sightings had strange lights reported around the time of the phantoms sighting. I have read a report sent to MUFON, but it would be interesting to break down UFO sightings in conjunction to the winged cryptid encounters.

Looking at what Lon has put out on Phantoms and Monsters, most of the encounters are very centralized around very populated areas in Chicago, but the creature has also been seen in the suburbs as well. Reports vary from case to case, but there are a lot of consistencies that should not go unnoticed.

The latest case that was just reported was on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. The witness shared this with Lon. 

"I was walking towards the Chicago Ave. Redline entrance from work when I made the sighting. It happened to be around 10:15/10:20PM CT on Saturday October 7th. I happened to look up to my left, when I saw an object drifting in the sky. Upon closer look I was able to see the object was dark grey in color and seemed to have a large wing span. It started to drift up, but then dived down. It ducked between buildings but then reappeared on the other side. I was standing on Chicago Ave. and Wabash Ave. (witness was looking south along Wabash Ave.)"

After a follow up 

"From my distance it was a little hard to make out details of the object. It kept moving rather quickly and very fluid-like. The wings were about equal length if not a bit longer than the object itself. They also flapped a few times, but seemed to have glided more than flapped. I could tell the object was quite large. Easily ruled out a bird."

So time will tell what this creature is. For those who believe it is an entity that forecasts doom or even is an omen of things to come, Chicago is the perfect breeding ground. Without getting political, Chicago has had its fair share of hard times and tension. It is easy to see why people would have this opinion. We can hope that with these sightings being in bustling areas that someone will be lucky enough to get a detailed photo or even some leftover evidence. Fingers crossed. 

Also, thank you to Lon Stickler for compiling these reports and continuing to share his findings as thing develop.

For more details and to submit your sightings report, head over to phantomsandmonsters.com

 

INTERVIEW WITH RYAN SPRAGUE

 
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Late last year we were introduced to Ryan when he graciously sent us a copy of his book Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon. The team devoured the book, and we were so happy to hear that he was starting a podcast to go further on the topics of his book and other Alien related issues. If you haven't already listened to his podcast, do yourself a favor and check it out!

One of my goals with Unknown Midwest was to share the stories of investigators and key people in the paranormal community. While the old guard is moving on and sadly passing away, it is young researchers like Ryan that will carry the torch into the future. He has the swagger of a seasoned pro and has a refreshing outlook on the UFO topic; he also doesn't put up with the old school BS and fraud that goes along with the field. 

Because of this it only seems fitting to start our interview series with someone who I feel will help inspire the next generation of truth seekers to look to the skies. 


We first got introduced to you by your book Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon, what inspired you to write this book?

I'd been writing short articles for alternative media for a while, and I was never really able to expand too much on my own thoughts or opinions on what I was covering. After staring at piles of case reports and interviews I'd conducted with witnesses and experiencers, I decided that it was now time to write a book. I approached researcher and historian, Richard Dolan, having respected his work for many years. After a few meetings, we decided that the in order to make the book something special we had to take an angle that hadn't really been done before. So instead of focusing on the actual UFO event, I focused on the individuals involved and how the event had impacted and changed their lives. This was an exciting approach for me, and the feedback has been incredible. It has allowed more people to reach out to me and tell their stories, not fearing ridicule, and embracing their experiences rather than rejecting or ignoring them. 

Is there any one particular story from your interviews that stands out that you did not include in your book?

There were literally dozens and dozens of interviews that I, unfortunately, was not able to include in the book just because of time constraints and many other variables. I can't say there is one particular interview that I chose not to include that really stood out. There were some interviews that seemed to all blend together into rather prosaic or mundane experiences where I honestly feel a conventional answer could be found. But then again, I wasn't there when it happened, so I can't say it wasn't a genuine UFO experience, but it just wasn't conducive to the narrative I was creating at the time. Perhaps a follow-up will be in order some day!
 

What is your current feeling on the subject of UFOs and Alien Encounters?

The subject of UFOs and alien encounters is and will remain a mystery that I hope I can always pursue. As we inch closer and closer to achieving incredible scientific breakthroughs in terms of planetary discoveries and space exploration, the acceptance of possible life elsewhere in the cosmos becomes more and more accepted by the public. It's a matter of whether or not it has ever visited out planet before. And if only one solid case of visitation is genuine, and stands the test of rigorous scrutiny in every way possible, then that one case has been worth the time, effort, resources, and passion of every single person who has pursued these mysteries in the skies. That one case, whatever it may be, keeps me going. I believe that we are on the brink of something truly life-changing. And I can only hope I'll be here to see that happen within my lifetime. 

 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time when you aren’t looking up?

When I'm not looking up, I'm looking down on the page as I continue to pursue my other passions in life; playwriting, screenwriting, and podcasting. I have a play opening in New York City this October called EAST IN RED. It is a modern day adaptation of the Jack the Ripper mystery, set in the East Village as the prey soon becomes the predator. I'm also currently developing a few television and film projects in my new home of Los Angeles. Since we last spoke, I also started a podcast that picks up where the book left off! Each week, I bring on witnesses, experiencers, researchers, and people in all walks of life who either have a passion for or just an itch to talk about UFOs and aliens. It's been an incredible journey so far, and the feedback has been extremely positive. 

 

Do you have any new research or publications in the works?

I am currently planning some big investigations here in Los Angeles where I'll going out on the road to investigate some current UFO cases and paranormal cases. I've started a Patreon campaign for the podcast where most of my research will be broadcast. It's a very exciting time for the podcast, and any help and support people are willing to give will go a very long way in making it grow and continuing the search for answers to the unknown. To learn more, visit www.patreon.com/somewhereskies.


We want to thank Ryan again for letting us into his busy schedule, to keep up to date with Ryan's plays and films, you can visit www.ryandsprague.com and the podcast can be found at www.somewhereintheskies.com, also don't forget to check out his book on Amazon.

 

Barnard Park Fremont, NE

Barnard Park is nestled in a quaint suburban neighborhood along a busy street in Fremont, Nebraska. To the average passer by the park looks like any ordinary public space, but if they knew the history and what lies beneath, they might look at it differently.

Going back to the early days of Fremont, the Barnard Park area was used as a camp for pioneers traveling west on the Mormon Trail and where its ghostly history starts. It is said that a little girl had died while staying at the camp and she was buried somewhere on the grounds. She would not be the last person to be buried in the vicinity. 

In the 1800s the plot of land was turned into Green Grove Cemetery and remained active until 1878, when it was decided because of rising populations, that the cemetery should be moved to a less desirable piece of land. The city then constructed Ridge Cemetery west of town and started moving bodies over from Green Grove. The issues that arose was that some of the older graves had not been properly marked and some bodies could not be found, and when the area became a public park, grave sites still remained beneath the park.

One thing that I have learned while researching the paranormal is that unmarked graves and potters fields are prime locations for paranormal activity and it would make sense that leaving the final resting places unacknowledged may lead to some of the ghost stories that we have read about coming from Barnard.

People have witnessed bizarre things while visiting the area. Apparitions are said to walk through the grounds, an apparition of a crying women has been reported, and an apparition of a man is said to be seen laying down on a park bench. People have also felt feelings of sadness and general uneasy feelings. So what could it be?

The park is situated on a busy intersection, and there is no way of completely keeping the area free of contamination from the outside world, so that an investigation would be complicated. Taking consideration for how busy the area can be, it is possible that there can be a level of misidentification, but it is still possible that these apparitions could be the real deal. The area fits the model for ghostly activity, and I wouldn't be surprised if sightings were reported. It sure would be nice to get a Bachelors Grove style photo of that guy on the park bench though, but we can all dream.

So what do you think? Have you experienced anything at Barnard Park? Let us know; we'd love to hear.

Loveland Frogman

 
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Leave it to Ohio to continue to lead us down a path of weird and strange cryptic encounters. This one we aren't as sure of but we can't talk about the unknown and strange without bringing up the Loveland Frogman.

The original story has a few versions, but in the 1950s a business man had an encounter with three creatures that he described as human like, standing 3 to 4 feet tall with bumpy blue-green leathery skin, and the eyes and mouth were rather large, much like a frogs head. The story goes that he was driving in the early morning and came upon these creatures that seemed to be having a conversation on the Branch Hill Bridge. He also noticed that each of the creatures were holding an object that was emitting sparks. He didn't stay long to observe any further details and tore off in the opposite direction, who could blame him.

There are also two other well-known encounters of creatures that match the description above. These two stories came from two police officers, Ray Shockey and his partner Mark Mathews. The two officers reported an encounter in March of 1972 while on an evening patrol. They stated that while patrolling Twightwee Road, they came across what they initially thought was a dead or injured animal on the side of the road. While they approached the animal, it suddenly jumped up from its crouched position and bound across the road and vanished into the night. Illuminated by the car's headlights, they described that the creature was 4 to 5 feet tall, had the same green leathery skin, and a frog like head with no noise.

This wouldn't be that last they would see of the creature. Less than a month later Mathews had a second encounter with the creature that was much like the incident above. He came across what he thought was a dead animal and pulled his squad car along side. This time the creature stood up and started to approach the vehicle. Mathews stated that he exited the car, pulled his gun and shot at the unknown creature. The creature was able to escape stepping over the nearby guard rail and disappearing into the neighboring river.

Later Mathews and Shockley were made a mockery of and they recounting their stories claiming they made them up. It's hard to say if they were made up or they just simply were tired of being called crazy. It seems very unlikely for a police officer to tell a story like this knowing full well the repercussions that it may have. It's much like a pilot claiming they have seen a UFO. I'll let you be the judge of these stories, but only they know the truth. 

The Frogman story didn't die there though. In 2016 the rise of Pokemon Go took the nation by storm and with that popularity came some odd footage. While trying to hunt down Pokemon near Lake Isabella, a teenage boy capture video of what he says is the Frogman. He stated that while taking photos, this creature stood up on its hind legs and just stared at him.

It is hard to judge depth in the video, and it is bizarre, but it leaves more questions than answers. It could just be another nocturnal animal or even just another hoax. This legend is so ingrained in the mythos that is Ohio, and I cannot positively say that this is not another hoax. The creature does not blink or move for that matter. It brings up memories of the infamous Surgeons Photo of Loch Ness.

Personally, growing up in South Carolina I had always heard stories of the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp, and they were fun campfire stories, nothing more. There is always the possibility of incredible creatures, new species are found every day, and the study of cryptozoology is only getting more popular, but for now, creatures like the Lizard Man and Frogman are nothing more than stories.

 

So what do you think of the Loveland Frogman stories? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

GHOST ISLAND

 
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While watching old episodes of Sightings, yes Sightings the TV paranormal show from the 90s, I learned about a photo taken by Al Denninger while on a fishing excursion in Chippewa Flowage. It peaked my interest, and I thought I would bring this incident into the 2000s. 

As the story goes, Al and a friend were enjoying their day on the water. While waiting for a bite on their lines, the friend was shocked to look out over the water and see what can only be described as a ghost floating out of the tree line over the water. Quickly thinking, he pulled out a Polaroid camera and was able to get a snap of the anomaly. While reading about the incident he stated that he wished he would have pulled out his 35mm camera and gotten some film of the entity floating back to the tree line, but the photo is a great capture.

The photo, seen above, definitely shows something white and transparent hovering right over the water. Now some may say it's fog or a bug that's causing this abnormality on the image but one thing can be sure of, it wasn't faked. Experts have taken a look at the picture and stated that no tampering was done and that it looks authentic. 

Locals in the area and properties owners near the water have had similar reports of encounters with ghostly sightings but remained skeptical of the claims until the photo surfaced. The area of Ghost Island has been said to be home to a Native American burial ground, but nothing can be substantiated. It is a possibility considering the history of the area and the secrecy that surrounds Native American sacred locations. 

The encounter is yet another local tales that could have been forgotten but thanks to my journey into some past pop culture I was able to learn about Al Denninger experience and his incredible photo. The photo, of course, is an unexplained incident but what do you think this picture shows? A spirit, fog, a bug? I included the Sightings episode below, skip to minute 19 to watch the segment on Ghost Island.

Let us know what you think, and if you have any other local stories or sightings we should be aware of, drop us a comment on Facebook or by email. We would love to hear what you have to share.

Skip to minute 19 for the Ghost Island Portion

 

FIRST BRIDES GRAVE

 

Growing up in Sioux City I always feared to go to KD Station, but it turns out that there was a haunted piece of land closer to home than I thought. In the Morningside neighborhood, up a rough set of steps and a steep climb resides a memorial to the First Bride of Sioux City. The site over the years has been host to plenty of ghost stories and mysterious happenings.

The monument was built in 1932 to commemorate the first bride of a Non-Native American in the Sioux City area, Rosalie Menard Leonais. Her family moved to the area and built a cabin close to the Perry Creek area in 1852. She soon married a French Canadian fur trapper Joseph Leonais in 1853. Joesph and Rosalie owned a farm near the Floyd River and had four children before her death shortly after having their 4th child. She was 27 years old.

Over the years the monument has been host to some strange and tragic events. One of the more tragic event that we found was that case of a young boy was crushed to death by the stone while presumably play around the monument. This caused the city to fence in the structure and the story goes that if you reach into trying to touch the stone that an unseen force will push you back and will throw you off the adjacent hill side. I was recently to this site and didn't feel like testing this.

Aside from unseen forces, people have said to have seen orbs of light in the forest and a young women in period dress pacing around the memorial. People have also reported hearing phantom voices, footsteps, and unexplained cold spots. 

It was a great experience heading up to the monument last weekend, and it was a great hike. Anyone who heads to Sioux City looking for a bit of an adventure should put this location on their to do list, but be prepared for an uphill journey and please be careful on the steps that lead up the hill. 

 

Sioux City Orpheum Haunted?

 

As many of you already know, Andrew and I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. The town, its people, history, and attractions, shaped who we are and it was also what prompted us to start investigating the paranormal. Andrew is much younger than me, his eldest sibling, but even he was able to see the glory of the Orpheum after it was restored in 1999 and reopened in 2001. The restoration, by the way, was filmed by George Lindblade who won an award for the documentary, Puttin' on the Glitz.

According to the Orpheum website, http://orpheumlive.com/, the building was the largest of its kind in Iowa, constructed in 1927, for $1.75 million. It was one of many theaters opened nationwide (and in Canada) by the Orpheum Circuit, a chain of vaudeville and movie theaters operating between 1886 and 1928.

In the 1970's and 1980's the Sioux City Orpheum became a movie theater. I recall seeing movies there off an on during my childhood, loving the plush velvet and red curtains. I felt like I was entering a turn of the century Opera each time I sauntered down the aisles. But, in 1992, the stunning building was closed.

Much speculation of specters has been shared about the Orpheum over the years. I recall hearing a story in 1994 while chatting with a group of construction workers who claimed to have been involved in converting the theater into a movie theater. One told me that the Orpheum had sub basements and that police had found a murdered woman. Another told me he was working above the stage and a man in "olden day clothes" came up to him to grab a stage rope. Another said he saw a little girl walk in front of the stage. I never did investigate their various stories, but the men went on for hours about the Orpheum, and all believed it was haunted. I have heard that the Sioux Falls Orpheum was investigated, but the Sioux City location, though spectacular, may be spook-less. Next trip home,  I would love to grab Andrew to investigate it for activity, but so far I can only report stories of hearsay. 

If you have a story about a ghostly encounter at the Sioux City Orpheum or anywhere in Sioux City, let us know, we would love to hear your story!

 

What is Paranormal?

 

Each week we have been posting stories about the unknown. Spiritual warfare, miracles, ghosts, or imprinted areas are all subjects that I am partial to. This got me thinking...what is paranormal activity? What are the theories about it? Why are so many people so fascinated by the unexplained? Why do some of us simply accept these extraterrestrial or spectral occurrences, while others want to explain everything away? What are the basics of paranormal activity?

The most basic starting point, obviously, is the definition of paranormal. I turned to my handy dandy dictionary (Oxford English Dictionary is my favorite, but I grabbed my Merriam Webster and Random House instead).

Merriam Webster uses this definition: 

 adjective
para·nor·mal \ˌper-ə-ˈnȯr-məl, ˌpa-rə-; ˈper ə-ˌnȯr-, ˈpa-rə-\
 ”not scientifically explainable : supernatural”

Random House uses this definition:

“of or relating to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation, as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena”

Merriam Webster claims that the first use of the word was from 1905 and Random House claims it was between 1915-1920. Considering the obsession with the paranormal world during the Victorian era, I would have expected the word "paranormal" would have been used much earlier!

And, since I have many Greek friends, I do know that many words have origins in Greek so what does "para" mean according to Random House?
"a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, most often attached to         verbs and verbal derivatives, with the meanings “at or to one side of, beside,side by side” (parabola; paragraph; parallel; paralysis), “beyond, past, by”(paradox; paragogue); by extension from these senses, this prefix came to designate objects or activities auxiliary to or derivative of that denoted by the base word (parody; paronomasia), and hence abnormal or defective (paranoia), a sense now common in modern scientific coinages (parageusia;paralexia)"

"By extension from these senses" stood out to me as I read. Most people who explain away ghosts, Bigfoots, or aliens say paranormal activity is simply the product of an overactive imagination. I can understand that. Who doesn't love sitting around a campfire, nestled away in the dark woods, being frightened by someone telling a spooky story? 

Humans love stories! Going far back in our history, it is well documented that oral traditions and story telling are coveted means of communication and connection. We would not be able to tell stories without our imaginations. Yet, can groups of people see or experience the same phenomenon and all have lost their minds to imagination? Myself, I always preferred understanding group phenomenon as explained by Jungian principles about a collective unconscious and archetypes. It is possible we are all tapping in at once. Or, the conspiracy theorists who talk of holographic projections may also be on to something.

Ghosts, extraterrestrials, unidentified flying objects, psychics, shadow people, cryptids, possession, angels, demons, spiritualism...sociologist Max Weber spoke about these as "disenchantment of the world". He was rational, wanting to explain away mysticism alongside other notables, like Darwin, at a time when the Spiritualist movement was performing seances and intellectualism was a means of pulling away from various religions. 

Many people still exist who are solid realists, only believing what they can see or touch. Some claim that the paranormal is a pseudoscience, basically all over exaggerated claims. Some think it is simply fashionable or chic to see a ghost. But, as millions more people begin investigating cases using sophisticated and sensitive technology and equipment, how can we not accept the mounting evidence that more exists around us than human may see before them? I personally know scientist who state that aliens and ghosts exist, all interested in proving their beliefs. 

Hype? Hysteria? Superstition? Maybe it is due to my INFJ personality, but I don't question the extrasensory perceptions. Whether I am standing in church sensing heaven and angels all around me, standing in a house and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, or questioning what lay beyond the stars or afterlife, I accept the experiences.  

Since we at Unknown Midwest seek to showcase folklore and supernatural, share your thoughts with us. Do you have personal encounters? Do you think it is all explainable? We love to hear your feedback!
 

 

Trumbull County UFO

 

In my opinion, Ohio may be the most active paranormal state in the whole of the Midwest. It has a plethora of oddities reported, each stranger than the next! The accounts of Bigfoot-like creatures, ghost stories of Athens, neighbors to Point Pleasant home of the Mothman, the Bellaire House, ancient mounds legends, and UFO encounters. We haven’t done a UFO case to date, so we reached out to “Somewhere in the Skies” author, Ryan Sprague, for a suggestion. Of course, he immediately suggested an incident that took place in Ohio.

The event took place in Trumbull County, Ohio on the night of 14 December 1994. Police dispatcher, Roy Ann Randolph, was in for a long night. She was receiving frantic calls from residences north of Youngstown, Ohio. She didn’t bat an eye at the calls thinking they were the usual late night drunk calls, but after the calls became more consistent and more persistent, she had no choice but to have a deputy investigate what people had been seeing.

Insert Sergeant Tobey Meloro. Meloro was requested to investigate the claims of lights in the sky to put the rumors to rest. When he arrived on scene at Sampson Drive (the area where the lights had been reported), he also encountered the lights. Meloro radioed back reporting that he had verified that lights and wanted to get a better look.
What happened next is something straight out of the mind of Chris Carter.

While driving up on the light his patrol car suddenly, and without reason, lost power. The CB Radio also failed, and he was unable to report back what he was witnessing. Meloro witnessed the light take shape into a massive circular craft. He estimated its size was equivalent to a football field wide with a bright glowing light in the center.
The craft moved away slowly and Meloro squad car regained power. He then called Randolph to report the incident. When he gathered himself, he decided to follow the craft as best he could. He and fellow officers, along with Randolph, who hitched a ride from another local officer, followed the craft eastward. After hours of following the light and crossing over the Pennsylvania border, the craft took off at tremendous speed!

So what was the thing? Randolph had the foresight to contact the FAA soon after the lights had been spotted. The FAA reported no aircraft on their radar. NASA was even contacted for consultation, but no answer was given, again. As for military involvement, there are two military instillations in the Trumbull County: 1) Ravenna Arsenal, a training site for the Ohio National Guard; and, 2) Youngstown Air Reserve Station. One would think that with the proximity of these locations that the town's citizens would be familiar with military air traffic and vehicle types. The explanation that had been given for the incident were the normal swamp gas variety. It could have been a star or a meteor, but that doesn’t explain the craft's slow movement, nor escalation to extreme speeds. So these explanations don’t hold water.

For all the people out there yelling at your computers saying, “well write to Patterson AFB is in Ohio, what if it was a top secret reverse engineered craft?” that has been done. No one has an explanation for the encounter to this day. I’ll let you decide what you want to believe.
For now, if you are ever in Ohio, carry a good camera and be on alert, because you never know if you may run into the Minerva Monster or a Grey Alien.

 

Flying Cryptids?

 

Flying cryptids have been on my mind over the last few months. Scratch that, the last few years. Many people have heard stories of the Thunderbird. And, thanks to pop culture and Richard Gere, most have heard of the Mothman. I have a lot of questions when it comes to these encounters. 

First, I have to say that I love cryptid cases! I can honestly say that the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot got me into the paranormal because I could fathom truths in people's encounters with these creatures. Not everyone may believe I have seen ghosts or been touched by an unseen force, but I want to look at things a bit differently.  

I recently finished what I think is the best paranormal documentary of the year, if not in the last 5 to 10 years. That documentary is none other than The Mothman of PointPleasant (and no this is not a paid endorsement). Small Town Monsters has done an incredible job reimagining the way to tell the stories of paranormal encounters. They look at the incidents, give you the evidence through interviews or historical documentation, and then let you make the call on what you think happened. So this post isn't a movie review, but it did get me thinking. 

Over the last month, Chicago and its neighboring cities have seen an outbreak of Mothman-like sightings. Sighting of a creature that looks like a man with bat wings. 

"They both described it as a 7-8 ft solid black humanoid with wide membrane wings, which resembled those of a huge bat. The wingspan was at least 12 ft. The head was prominent and thinner than a human head. The back end of the body tapered to a point. No legs were noticed but could have been tucked up under the body. The figure was gliding quickly along the length of the street heading east, then suddenly ascended into the night sky. Neither heard any sound. Both witnesses told me that they felt a sense of foreboding and were still terrified almost an hour after the encounter."  -Lon Strickler of Phantoms and Monsters. 

I ask myself, what are these people seeing?  Is it an undiscovered animal, a large bird, or something else. 

Whenever I have seen shows or read about Mothman, I can rationally say that some people may have only seen an owl. In the dark your perception of size is incomplete, and it is easy to exaggerate how large an animal is. Let's also take into account that Barn Owls have a wing spans of 4 feet and at night their eye glint is bright red. Completely off topic, but thinking about in another way, think of a werewolf case like the Beast of Bray Road, then google a bear with mange. Terrifying! If I was in the woods and saw that, I would have a hard time not believing I just had seen a werewolf or a beast from hell! It's possibilities like that, that can shoot down some claims, but not every one of them. 

There is also a case from Lawndale, Illinois that took place in 1977. A boy was attacked by two gigantic birds. One of the monsters was even able to pick the boy off the ground, if not for some quick thinking by his mother, he may not have lived to see another day. Multiple witnesses claim to have seen the boy being attacked by these "Thunder Birds," and it remains something of a mystery as to where these birds came from. I have run across this case before and want to dive deeper into the backstory, so stayed tuned for that.

The Midwest is full of stories like these, and we have covered one already. The Van Meter Visitor. It's fascinating looking at these cases and seeing all the similarities. They all could be miss-identification, but I just can't sit here and say that. Native Americans tell tales of creatures much like those mentioned above, primarily Thunder Birds. They're represented as very powerful and incredibly spiritual in many ways.

This is the part where I start questioning myself, but what if what people are seeing is something multidimensional. Don't click off just yet. Trust me I'm not a proponent of this theory, but it must be shared. I frequently listen to a radio program, Beyond Reality Radio, and a few months back a guest caller explained that while driving through Kansas she saw what looked like a manta ray flying through the air... I honestly stop what I was doing expecting the radio guest at the time, who was a cryptid research, to say something like, "wow I have never heard of that," but he didn't. He explained that it has been reported before, throughout the country, and that they are rare, but do happen. I was stunned, I had never heard of such a thing, and I instantly thought of the Van Meter Visitor because of the similarities in its description.  

I understand this isn't one of our normal posts, but I wanted to be transparent about topics we are learning more about. I want to ask you these questions, "What do you think people have seen" and "Have you ever seen anything like described above" Email me your responses, we would love to hear what you have to say. 



Now go check out the Mothman of Point Pleasant

 

Villisca Axe Murders

 

9 June 1912, a night when an unthinkable event would cast fear over the quiet, small Iowa town, Villisca, even today.

Having ended their evening's at a local church celebration, the town's people went to bed, oblivious that a killer was planning an attack.

For the sake of our story, we will refer to the killer as "he." No one knows exactly who the sinister attacker was, only speculation exists now,  with two trials ending in hung juries and any last suspects free from punishment.

He sat alone, in the attic of a now famous house, smoking cigarettes, flicking the sniffed butts, and plotting his strike. His actions ended the lives of a family of six and their two house guests, while they slept. The house still bears the scars and visitors can still sense the horror when touring the infamous Villisca Axe Murder house.

A breakdown of events follows:

First, the family - Josiah B. Moore (father) and Sarah Moore (mother), had four children: Herman Montgomery, Mary Katherine, Arthur Boyd, and Paul Vernon. The guests were two neighbor girls.

The Moore family took part in a Children's Day Program held at the local Presbyterian church, which was being coordinated by Sarah Moore.  Katherine Moore had invited two friends to the event and offered them a place to stay for the evening (Ina Mae and Lena Gertrude Stillinger). The night seemed like typical, but at the Moore's home, a killer was waiting to make his move. 

At around 7:00 am the following morning, Mary Peckham, the Moore's neighbor, grew suspicious when she noticed that no one was around doing the morning chores. Not thinking anything was out of place, she knocked on the door but was met with no response. When she checked the door, it was locked. She let the Moore's chickens out and then called Ross Moore, asking him to check the house. Ross had a copy of the key and obliged to check the house. The scene was gruesome!

Upon walking through the parlor, into the guest room, he was met by the bodies of Ian Mae and Gertrude Stillinger. He asked Mary to call the town's Peace Officer, Hank Horton. Horton arrived on the scene soon after and began to walk the house. Officer Horton uncovered the bodies of the Moore family on the second floor. All eight murders had been committed with an axe. All except for Lena slept peacefully while they were bludgeoned to the head. Lena had wounds on her arms as if she was trying to protect herself from the oncoming blows. It also appeared that Lena might have been sexually assaulted during the murders, as well. Her body was discovered with her nightgown above her waist, and her undergarments were missing.

While investigating the scene odd things had been noticed: doors in the house were all locked, curtains had been pulled shut except for two that did not have curtains, all of the victims were covered in bedding after they were killed, the axe was found and it appeared as if the murderer had attempted to clean the blood but chose not to, in the kitchen there was a bloody wash pan and a plate that contained some uneaten food the killer may have prepared after the killings took place, two pounds of bacon were found wrapped in a dish towel on the ground story bedroom, and another two pound slab was discovered in the icebox. Aside from these details, nothing of monetary value seemed to be missing from the house.

As I read over details of the case, I was reminded of other axe murder cases from this period. I will return to that thought shortly. First, lets take a look at the possible list of suspects. 

While no one was found guilty, plenty of finger pointing happened, and one suspect even claimed to be the killer, but that was not found guilty. I like to keep these case studies brief, but I highly recommend that you check out some of the witness testimonies and look into the suspects. 


Here is a quick rundown of the suspects though...


...


Senator Frank F. Jones - Senator Jones was a prime suspect in the case because of some known bad blood between himself and Josiah Moore because of some business dealing and that Josiah may have even had an affair with Jones's daughter. Much of this was residential hearsay, but some thought that Jones had hired our next suspect, William Mansfield. 


William "Blackie" Mansfield - Believed by some investigators to have ties with Senator Jones and the main perpetrator, Mansfield was brought forward as a suspect because of allegations that he committed the ax murders of the Hudson Family in Paola, Kansas two years after the killings at Villisca. The crimes shared many similarities, but Mansfield was able to give payroll records that he was in Illinois during both murders.


Reverend George Kelly - Kelly was a traveling preacher who was present the night of the Children's Day event at the Moore's church. Kelly was suspected to have played some part in the murders because of how abruptly he left Villisca the day of the murders. Kelly even admitted that he was the murderer, and was a convicted sexual predator, but later redacted claims and declared police brutality. It is possible he was telling the truth, but the court was unable to find him guilty. 


...


So despite all the investigations, and even suspect taking responsibility for the murders, to this day the case remains unsolved. One would think that an event like this would be singular, but there are many cases of axe murders during this time frame that had very striking similarities to Villisca. Entire families had been killed at night, neatly tucked in their beds, windows covered, doors locked, nothing of value had been taken, and the killer had even made themselves a snack after the killings. It is a theory, but one may presume that these events are linked. In fact, they followed a popular railroad line allowing for quick escape. A string of murders spanned all across the United States all characteristic of the Villisca murders.


We will never know who killed the Moore family and their guests, or who murdered scores of families across the nation, but they are a part of our history and deserve to be remembered.

 

 

Farrar School House


A schoolhouse may not seem very harmful or even very scary, but if you have ever stepped foot into the Farrar School House in Maxwell, Iowa, you may be in for a shocking surprise.

Only 20 minutes out of Des Moines, Iowa, the school house opened in 1922 and was a fully operating school until 2002. Over its long history, nothing eventful happened. No deaths have been reported, and I have been unable to uncover any tragedy that would explain the haunting of this building. There is a theory that a local cemetery next to the school house may have some connection to the haunting but that does not account for the sightings of children in the building.

It is possible that this was a comforting area for the students and local townsfolk, but possibly there is a more sinister side. In 2012, the TV show Ghost Stalkers investigated the school and witnessed the power that school holds. During the investigation, two investigators were witness to many unexplained sounds and bangs, but that culminated in one investigator seeing an image that was engrained in his mind. What he saw, and later sketched, was a large black shadow holding a smaller shadow. The image he sketched shows a man holding a child. He explained that he thinks he witnessed a guardian spirit of sorts guiding another spirit. Whatever he saw it sparked my interest in the lonely school house.

The sighting that has taken place here have been of playful children but also of a darker spirit that some call the "Principal." The Principal has been described as a tall shadow figure, and in one occurrence he was said to have glowing red eyes. This entity has also been known to inflict physical harm. One local investigator was push up against a wall and another being pushed 6 feet across a room.

These recorded events from seasoned investigators seem to open up more questions than answers. Why is the building omitting such a negative vibe and why are child spirits calling this place home. My friends that have visited the building have said that it just has a weird vibe and they did not feel comfortable alone. This could be due to the sheer folklore about the building being haunted, but it's hard to say.

With this location being so close to home we plan on investigating this location and reaching out to its current owner...

If you have any knowledge on the building or if you have had an encounter at this location, please let us know. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Ryan Sprague’s, Somewhere in the Skies

 

One goal each of us at Unknown Midwest has, and the main reason the venture came into fruition, is to create a safe space where our crew and readers can dialogue about the "unexplainable".

Admittedly, none of us at Unknown Midwest are very eager to discuss or research UFO or alien encounters. Andrew, myself, my daughter, our sister, and our aunt have all had “Men in Black” or “Shadow People” visits that still shake us to the core. We have come to understand that these beings are generationally present. Communicating about the encounters with one another, while drawing on our faith and strong belief in God and angels, we have been able to confront them. When my eight year old talks about seeing them, I never tell her they are imaginary friends. I ask how she perceives them, what they look like, or how she feels about their presence. Several passages in Ryan Sprague’s, Somewhere in the Skies, personally upset me because so many of the people he interviewed share how they ended up more traumatized by being told that what they lived through was their imagination! As with any difficult topic or event, the more we dialogue, the more we confront it, the more we reduce the power it has over us. This book proves conversation's capacity in an intriguing and captivating way. 

Simply put, Somewhere in the Skies is a collection of frank, honest first hand encounter stories, including the author’s own, assembled in a gradual unveiling from sightings to abductions. Key to Sprague’s newest book is that these stories are straight forward and succinct. He interviews everyday folks, scientists, professional UFO investigators, military personnel, psychologists - all who repeat the same word when describing their experiences – unbelievable. Credible people. Sane people. Normal people. People readers will relate to and respect. With his humanistic and compassionate approach, participants opened up to Sprague and poured forth their most intimate memories. Shedding, in some cases, years of struggle.
 

I’ll admit, as soon as I started to read Somewhere in the Skies my own memory was triggered. Times when I had just shrugged off what I had seen or felt. Times when I justified a sighting without a second thought. My first encounter was in 1985, when I was 12, living in Sioux City, Iowa. My friend, Heather, was spending the night one Fall weekend. It was a lovely, clear, and warm night. We were laying in the grass in the front yard chatting back and forth. The stars were twinkling and laughing along with us. One star jumped out. We both saw it. We saw it only because it was so bright and it did not behave like the others. It erratically zigged and zagged with no rhyme or reason. I asked Heather if it was a satellite. She responded that it had to be. We kept chatting, our eyes fixed on the strange sky samba. Suddenly, the light stopped moving. Still and resting, it split into three separate lights! We both gasped as each part whooshed off into completely different directions. We turned to one another. Wide-eyed we simultaneously exclaimed, “UFO!”  
 

Somewhere in the Skies will help one to confront UFO mysteries without fear. While I read the 200 plus pages, at no time did I feel nauseated or nervous. Other books and articles have scared me to the point that I had to leave lights on to fall asleep! In fact, the more of the book that I read, the calmer I felt. Sprague emphasizes the importance of not feeling alone in these sightings or encounters. He peppers in advice from a shaman, psychologists, counselors, and scientists. No single person offers a definitive answer about what was happening, and nearly all stress the importance of acceptance. Each story, whether reported as a positive or negative one, left the reader understanding the possibilities. Experiences left the story teller’s changed, but they persevered. The encounters defy logic and understanding, but still Sprague found many more people sharing what they had seen. One professional, Dr. Faruk, was quoted as stating, “Mainstream science must first abandon the notion of ‘impossibility’ denoted to UFOs. Earthly science is approximately four hundred years old. While interstellar travel is certainly impossible for us now, who is to say that this will still be the case in another one thousand years’ time? We cannot possible predict our own scientific advances after such a lengthy period, so how can we be so arrogant to dismiss what alien civilization currently ‘out there’ might already be capable of?” 
 

Having come from a family with many military members, I appreciated the story intertwined with “The Warrior Code”, “an unwritten rule during times of war…an act of mercy where the victorious will allow their enemies a chance of escape or even spare their lives…to retain their humanity in severely inhuman situations.” Refreshingly, Sprague simply relays stories. He does not place any judgment on anyone and he does not speculate or offer up more unanswered questions. We all have ideas about this topic, whether we want to share them or dismiss them, but Sprague conscientiously and objectively took the time to ask each participant to share their opinions and their sense of what transpired. Interestingly, I came away feeling that these beings have an agenda to carry out. Maybe, like soldiers in war, they return to their lives justifying to themselves that they were simply obeying orders. Void of emotion about what they inflicted upon their human subjects.
 

After I finished the last few sentences I was struck by how remarkably well Sprague’s book was edited! It has continuity and intelligence. The book is easy to follow and is one readers will not want to put down. In recent years, editing appears to have gone by the wayside, to the point that I find myself never getting past the first few chapters! As a writer, I was thrilled with the structure, the grammar, and how well each account preserved the uniqueness of each participant! And, though Spielberg films ruined me for bookending, Sprague masterfully ties the book together, revisiting a “seemingly inconsequential discussion” he had at the beginning with Tyler the bartender. Tyler’s story, told as the man moved from behind his post to a stool next to Sprague,  further demonstrates the great need each of us has to connect and commiserate. “I didn’t quite know how crucial it was for these stories to be told. Not for some grand revelations or epiphany of sorts. But for closure.” 

AUTHOR RYAN SPRAGUE

AUTHOR RYAN SPRAGUE

Where to find more about Ryan and his book.

http://www.somewhereintheskies.com

Find Ryan on social media

twitter.com/RyanSprague51

 

Demolished - KD Station Sioux City, Iowa

If you lived in Sioux City, Iowa between the years of 1880-2010 you would have encountered bustling stockyards, packing plants, rendering plants, and their accompanying repugnant smells.

In the late 1800s nearly 100 acres of land was dedicated to these industries, crammed with cow and pig pens and various livestock buildings as one of the nation’s main meat suppliers. After devastating floods much of the industry was moved closer to the Lewis Boulevard location that most of my peers remember as children of the 70s and 80s. 

Every Sunday, as my grandparents drove me to church, we cut through the stockyards. I would watch all the cows, amazed by their size and numbers. Seeing the cattle moving through the yards was mesmerizing. The stockyards exuded excitement and terror. As we passed I recalled stories from friends who had parents working there detailing how the animals were slaughtered. On our way home, sometimes we would be following behind one of several trucks destined for the rendering plant. I’d feel sad and disgusted when a flap would blow back from the the top of a trailer revealing bloodied bones and carcasses intended to become glue or gelatin. It is also likely that the stockyards scenes are why I refused to eat meat! Growing up in Iowa it was unheard of to be a vegetarian. The packing plants were the main employers in the region.
 

In fact, many immigrants were attracted to Siouxland because they were able to find work in the packing plants and stockyards. One of our beloved family members, Annie, worked at the local Swift plant for 30 plus years. She was a Russian immigrant ad she worked her fingers to the bone both on the job and in her home. She was quiet and thoughtful. Someone full of reverence and heart. She told us stories about how demanding the packing plant was, the mental games she had to play to avoid realizing what she was handling every day, and how treacherous the work could be, many fellow employees overworked and maimed. I could not fathom what she had seen or done. I used automatic machines and could buy ground beef at a large grocery store. Annie still used a ringer washer, pickled her prized garden cucumbers, and canned her own foods for winter.

Because of the livestock and packing plants, Sioux City was booming. It was a hub for the railroad and barges clogged the Missouri river. The city had its share of wealth. It was the place to be with amazing Corn Palaces, presidential visits, its reputation as “Little Chicago,” but it also saw poverty and natural disasters that crushed industries.
 

The Swift plant itself, with its massive 100 foot smokestack and colossal red brick exterior, also had its share of ups and downs. The business experienced several major strikes, in the winter of 1949 the Swift plant suffered a devastating explosion; and, as residents of Sioux City know all too well, floods ravaged the building until the company finally shut down in the early 70s. With the twenty some workers’ deaths and nearly one hundred more injured during the ’49 explosion, the building was scarred and chillingly imprinted until its demolition in 2010.
 

From the crumbling Swift and Company walls, in 1976, a new venture was born…KD Station. KD Station was a shopping mall with many businesses and activities. Residents could go miniature golfing, bowling, eat at restaurants, or wander the antique shops, galleries, and music stores. Its hallways led to an interesting assortment of products. Its interior was menacingly decorated with original packing equipment. Seeing the meat hooks was always frightening! Peering through windows that looked out over the production floor was eerie. And, riding the freight elevators from floor to floor was always a risk. People often shared stories of the elevators. Those cavernous conveyors were notorious for making operational sounds without moving, delivering patrons to the wrong floors, or even trapping people. The building creaked and groaned with decades of disrepair as it was, but the elevators were extremely suspect! 
 

Families and individuals still loved going to KD Station despite the hazards. In fact, one favorite spot was a pizza place that had a whimsical server, an animated robot coyote named Wilbur, who would truck along on a track from the kitchen window to the tables. Every kid wanted to go there for birthdays, or to play arcade games while parents chatted at the tables. But, even more fun than a visit with Wilbur was trying to scare each other on the way in or out of KD Station. We would run ahead of friends, hide, and jump out of dark passages just to get a rise out of each other. KD Station preserved the past, while entertaining the present. And, as we all talked about its past, we became more convinced that it was haunted! I was more convinced because most my life I had horrible nightmares about the place and about the Floyd River basin next to it. That Sioux City location still invades my dreams to this day!
 

In college, my roommate, Liz, and I hosted a radio show, Radio LA, broadcast out of Morningside College. Our show was followed by Ugly American Radio. That show’s host, Mike, often took groups of us to local haunts. The railroad roundhouse out in Riverside. Abandoned houses in the middle of fields. Woods near War Eagle’s monument. We had a blast terrorizing one another as our senses and imaginations spiraled into a frenzy from stop to stop. At one such stop I was frozen with fear and stayed put in Mike’s Isuzu while the others investigated. It was a dilapidated small house that reminded me of the haunted house off Morningside Avenue near Memorial Park Cemetery. A house purported to have been the scene of a gruesome murder of a family by the family's father. That house was located down a narrow dirt road, full of grafitti, and supposedly wrought with Satanic rituals. And, since I had been in that house, I was not eager to step into another one! (Sioux City, in my opinion, has an inordinate amount of haunted locations. Unfortunately, many active spots have been paved over in recent years with housing and commercial businesses.) Because of the following of the radio show received, Liz and I were approached by a Chicago based company to work as MCs at a dance club they were building in KD Station. Neither of us was too inclined to enter that building daily, especially for a night gig! The club never did open, but I did see it in its early inception - not because I wanted to. 
 

It was a crisp Fall evening. I had just gotten out of work at the Southern Hills Mall and my dad picked me up to take me home for dinner. When we arrived, my mom said that one of my friends had called and asked me to go bowling at KD Station. I begged my dad to let me use his car. He had a sweet Dallas Cowboys blue ’87 Mercury Cougar LS that loved to “tour.” He reluctantly handed me the keys and instructed me to return it first thing in the morning. Let’s just say, it was tucked away in the garage well before midnight! I finished dinner quickly and headed out. KD Station was ten minutes from our house so I wanted to get there at the same time as the group. I parked, but my friends’ cars were also parked. I had to go in alone. In those days, I was not a fan of going anywhere alone! Walking up to that gargantuan brick building and entering the dark echoing halls brought a pang of anxiety, but I knew exactly where I was going so I kept chugging along. It was a strange night. Some businesses were still open, but there were few patrons. With the opening of the Southern Hills Mall, KD Station was frequented less and less. As I followed the dank hall toward the elevator, lights flickered and my heart raced. Every step I took seemed to reverberate and announce my position. Something heavy was in the air! I felt it. I acknowledged it. I kept moving.
 

Growing up, I always had a sixth sense. My mom called me a “spook” because I was easily scared and because I could see and hear things that others could not. She would shake her head at me and tell me it was my own imagination. It was partially true, I did have an overactive imagination. And, being God fearing, I used to try to turn off or pray to God to remove the abilities. I successfully shut them out for many years until my late teens and twenties, then they burst in like a tsunami! Spirit realm does not like to be ignored! And, KD Station was a place where I was confronted with things that I was not prepared to experience.
 

As I got into the elevator and waited to arrive at the fourth floor, I was instead taken to another floor and the dance club! It looked like it was under construction, based on the tools and materials piled around, but no one was there. Lights were on. It seemed obvious that someone was there. I got off the elevator, curious about the space and wondering if I would run into the man who had made the job offer. No one was around. So I turned back toward the elevator. Just then, something tugged at my arm. I whipped around. No sound! No footsteps! No approach of a physical person! I jumped and scooted back into the elevator, desperately praying the damned thing would work. Every hair on my neck was raised. My stomach was in my throat. I could not get out of the building fast enough. As the elevator bucked and whirred, I could feel all the blood in my body rush to my feet. The elevator convulsed and slowly stopped. I panicked that I was between floors. But, thankfully, I was back to the ground floor where I raced for the exit. It was not the first time I had had an encounter in KD Station, but it was the most dramatic and the last. 
 

To this day I like to ask friends from Sioux City to share any strange happenings they experienced at KD Station. We all have at least one unexplained event. We all pretended not to be afraid of the goings on in that building, but we also held a certain respectful sentiment for it. The building was, after all, on the Historic Registry, and it was full of vibrant history. Even after a fire and a leaky roof finally forced its closure, I dreamed of it. Throughout 2009 I followed the newspaper stories and city council meeting reports as the building’s fate was decided. In April 2010, the mighty structure was slowly dismantled by a single wrecking ball. I watched monotonous footage of the wrecking ball painfully bashing sections of the structure into pieces. As rooms were exposed, I imagined ghosts of its past looking out in bewilderment. All I could think of was the souls who haunted those walls. I felt the weight of the meat hooks as they fell to the ground with a rusty thud. With each frame of footage the shadows were freed by daylight. As each square foot was demolished, I prayed that those sacrificed to the building's belly would be released and no longer forced to linger on that lot. 

Thanks Deviatus Podcast

I would like to thank Jeremy from the Deviatus Podcast for the opportunity to speak about UNKNOWN MIDWEST. It was a surreal experience being a guest on a podcast that I have frequently listened to since its inception this summer.

Check out the interview below and show your support to the Deviatus Podcast. 

 
 
 

I know first hand how much time and dedication it takes to produce content like Jeremy has been putting out to the public. If you get a chance, write him a positive review on iTunes or drop him a line on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Vergas Trails Hairy Man

 

It's hard to not describe Minnesota as beautiful and mysterious in my head. It's immense forests seem like you have discovered territory that no one has ever stepped foot in.

Cozzied up to Canada the Pine Island State Forest is a good example of vast wilderness that resides here. Minnesota is home to some of the oldest geological formations and not to mention covered in lakes. But lets be honest, everyone knows these things about the gopher state so let's get to why you came here.

Aside from Ohio, I have a feeling that Minnesota is one of the most active locations for the unknown. You have stories of creatures like the Windego, Giant Killer fish (no, seriously), Cryptid Black Cats, Mutant Canines, and what we are here to discuss today, Bigfoot.

The Vergas Trails Hairyman is a tale that has really sparked my interest. The Hairman was also featured on a SyFy Channel program called Haunted Highway. I couldn't help but wonder what it was people have been seeing around Vergas, aside from the worlds largest Loon.

Fun fact, aside from the Hairy Man, Vergas, MN is also home to the worlds largest Loon. 

Fun fact, aside from the Hairy Man, Vergas, MN is also home to the worlds largest Loon. 

The first thing I would like you to do is go to Google and search for Vergas Trails Minnesota. Then check out the map in satellite view. This area is stunning. It is spotted with lake after lake and thick brush. Its not a bad place for something, or someone, to hide. 

Hopefully, you have returned from your Google adventure. Now it has been interesting to say the least researching the local folklore about the hairyman. I really only scratched the surface of the truth behind the legend, but I found everything from reports of a tall bigfoot like animal, strange remains of a skull, to ghosts, and remember how is said someone… well there is even talk about a well known hermit living in the Vergas Trails area. I said it was interesting right.

It was strange that I wasn’t able to nail down an exact date of when things started. I found that a local newspaper had been given about a dozen or so stories about encounters with a hairy seven to eight foot tall animal with long hair and a foul odor. From what I have been able to narrow down most of the early reports happen in the 60s and 70s, but more research will need to be done to prove that. 

One of my favorite accounts was from a local named, Cheryl Hanson. She described that when she was twelve, she and a cousin were in the area snowmobiling when a tall creature came out of the woods holding a big stick. One element that stood out to me was that she said the animal was barefoot trudging through the snow. I couldn’t imagine wandering around Minnesota in the winter barefoot, but its possible that whatever she saw has adapted to the climate very well. Much like you may think of a Yeti sighting in Nepal. Needless to say she stated that since then she hasn’t liked venturing out at night and even when her and her family have campfires they are all very hesitant to go off into the woods.

These types of sightings seem to be very common place around the midwestern states, and of course, hotspot places like the northwest and upper New York State. Much of the climate is similar in these areas and it does seem to lend some credence to the fact something could be intact in those woods. Now this could be misidentification but just like our article on the Beast of Bray Road these are extreme event in these peoples lives and should not be instantly shunned.

The part of the story that I found most intriguing was the case of a hermit that apparently lived in the Vergas Trails area in a old farmstead. He was said to be aggressive toward people in the area and lived off the land exclusively. He was described to be an unkept man with long hair and was seen wearing animal furs. It is an interesting twist to the story, but it doesn’t match up to the height of the creature that has been reported over the years. 

Now I mentioned something about a skull above. Well, I’ll be honest more research needs to be done on that I’m afraid. Looking at it for the first time I have to say it looks strange but I’m not going to point my finger and scream bigfoot. It does look humanoid but I have to say it… It looks fake. It's my goal to be completely honest in the reports we have on Unknown Midwest.

This is the skull in question. 

This is the skull in question. 

The community embraces that strange things happen there. They hold an inaugural Vergas Hairyman 5k fun run and walk on October 1st. Vergas is definitely on my list of place to visit and I can’t wait to see the area for myself.

The vast areas of Minnesota are home to amazing stories and folklore which we are just uncovering. I really want to look more into additional stories pertaining to the Hairy Man and the local ghost stories. Look for those in the future. 

 

Attachment

 

Home is your safe place. It is your private place. It is your unique space. Home can be shared with loved ones or just a single person. When you are all alone in your home, you tend to have your guard down. But, it doesn’t take much to turn a home into a frightening place if one day, when you are all alone,  something that shouldn't be there suddenly appears.

As a nurse, my girlfriend deals with death on a daily basis. The patients that she cares for are often have long-term stays on her floor and she can create special bonds in these relationships that can last a lifetime. Those who lost family members will often drop by with treats for the nurses to show their gratitude for the care given to their loved ones in their last day, weeks, or months. It is a very special gift that she has been given to care for other before her self. 

The things that I have learned from being around nurses for the last few years is that they witness things that most people would have a hard time understanding. They witness miracles, intense sadness, dark souls, and the last moments of a person's life. I can think of two examples that sum that last bit best. Hours before my grandmother passed she spoke of angels and bright glowing lights above her. We of course couldn't see them, but you can't always blame drugs for these kind of apparitions. The second event that comes to mind are the last words of Steve Jobs, "Wow, oh wow". We can only imagine what he was witnessing! Nurses are a part of these interactions everyday. 

You may be wondering, why did I start this story by having a focus on the importance of your home? Well, over the past six months since moving in with my girlfriend our house has been the stage for strange occurrences. You may hear about paranormal investigators getting spirit attachments, but I have witnessed attachments to my girlfriend from her previous patients. 

TVs and alarms randomly go off in rooms that aren't occupied, or how lights turn off and on with no one around.

My girlfriend and I have been together for seven years now. She has told me stories about creepy parts of the hospital, how TVs and alarms randomly go off in rooms that aren't occupied, or how lights turn off and on with no one around. The normal haunted hospital type of occurrences which honestly I would expect. But when she started telling me stories about shadows and voices in her apartment, I really paid attention!

When we moved in together we decided to reside in her place since she already owned the house almost a year. It wasn't even 24 hours before I witnessed something. While we laid in bed we started hearing foot steps outside our bedroom door. She of course tells me not to worry about it, but when it started again I immediately had to check things out. I opened the door and nothing was there. I walked the house just to verify that no one was intruding. Sure enough, no one was home but us. 

So things go quiet for the night and the next day. She leaves for work and I stay home to work on some projects, but that night would set the stage for what I needed to get accustomed to. 

Now I want to explain something about myself. I love going to haunted locations. I love watching horror films and paranormal reality shows.  I am utterly fascinated with this stuff (hence why this page is a thing), but when you aren't ready for it to happen in the comfort of your own home, it can change one's perspective. 

Now, sitting here, working on research for another project, a loud coughs erupts from the kitchen. It startled me. I then heard footsteps on the tile, like someone was about to round into the living room. I got up quickly and went for the kitchen, but just as before, no one was there. I was extremely stumped by what was occurring and was doing my best to make sense of things. I walked outside to check and make sure that no one was around that could have coughed or been walking loud - nothing. 

Later that night I heard more footsteps. This time I was in bed, but heard the steps again in the kitchen. I shrugged it off. It was only the beginning. 

It was only the beginning.

Two weeks later my girlfriend and I were discussing some recent things that had happened at the hospital and how a patient had passed that had been on her floor for a few months. While we were talking I got up to get something to drink from the kitchen and walked back into our living room. While standing in the living room talking about the patient I felt something touch my right arm. At first, I thought it was a spider web, but it was a much stronger feeling with that web like texture. The hairs on my arm were standing up and it almost felt like the web passed through me. I started to shake my arm thinking it was a spider web, but nothing was there. I was standing in the middle of the room and had walked through this part of the room multiple times already that day. In addition to this nothing was on my arm. 

This was an incredible moment for me. I had never been touched by an unseen force and I would say it was emotional. I remember being dumbfound and my girlfriend couldn't understand why I was shaking and rubbing my arm. I didn't even tell her what had happened, but I think she already knew. 

So at this point I don't think I could imagine things getting any crazier, but they did. While watching TV one morning over the summer we witnessed, for the first time, something I can only describe as a phantom smell but mind you, we are lucky this doesn't happen as much as the other stuff. While laying on the couch opposite to me she started sniffing the air and complaining that something smelled like "GI bleed" and asked me is I could smell anything. I kind of chuckeled and said "No thats just gross, what do you mean?" She told me to come over by her. I still couldn't smell anything. I stood up. It was like I entered a cloud of the most vile smell ever. It reeked of rotting blood and stool, just the smell of death. I'm not going to lie, I about lost my breakfast (sorry to paint that picture) because the smell was incredibly pungent. It was like the smell was only in this small pocket above her. As soon as it arrived, it was gone. Now I know what you are thinking; and, no... she didn't let one rip, and the windows were not open, there was nothing to explain such a smell.

Most of these encounters are ones that I have witnessed myself. Together, the two of us have heard footsteps, heard clear voices, had a trash can decide it wanted to be in the middle of the room and not stay under my desk, and seen shadows, but she keeps a lot of her encounters private. It took a lot for her to even let me write these stories down for you. 

It takes a strong person to do what she does on a daily basis and these men and women who do what she does on a daily basis don't get the recognition they deserve. They take a lot of bad situations and make them livable for people and they are incredibly selfless. I can understand why their work sometimes follows them home. The spirits that have followed her home have all been very kind and good willed from what we can gather. It is almost sad when they finally move on, but as startling as they may be, it's amazing that the work she does touches these people so deeply. 

 

I plan on updating you with more encounters that we have in the future, but for now, if you know a nurse or anyone who is in the healthcare field, an EMT, paramedic, or firefighter make sure they know how much you appreciate what they do!

 

Spirit Message

 

Ever since the age of four, I can recall experiencing many types of unexplained events, from incorporeal voices to out of body travels. During college and forward, I got involved in several paranormal groups, field investigations, and research.

 

Reading history, folklore, ancient mysteries, conspiracy theory, psychology, quantum physics, religious and philosophy texts remains a constant studious bent. Thankfully, as well as continuing to educate myself, I am balanced by educated skeptics. Instead of immediately assuming a cold spot in a house is a ghost or a sick to the stomach feeling is an evil entity, I recognize how copper pipes, running water, electrical boxes all can create concentrated EMF. 

Now, at 43, I have come to believe that everything is energy, and that spirit is at the core, with symbols and messages constantly being communicated. It takes a mixture of faith and sensitivity to interpret the symbols. If one is open, they will be well guided and learn to trust themselves. It takes centered grounding to ensure, when confronted with entities of other realms, one is well protected - which I learned the hard way! And, engaging with a like-minded group solidifies everything. After all, humans thrive on connection, communication, and sharing stories.
 

As an information professional and writer, by day, I learn much from what other people are willing to share about themselves and their experiences. I synthesize from all the bits and pieces to categorize, classify and understand. This morning, as I sat down to write, a rune stone was sitting on top of my laptop. Don’t ask me how it got there. A Nordic friend gave me a set of smokey quartz rune stones in 2001. Sadly, I have lost most of them over the years and rarely see them. But, this was not the first time that a stone or symbol has randomly shown up, screaming at me to pay attention to its message. This rune symbol just happened to be confirmation of something that I was already pondering. As I read an interpretation of the rune symbol, I realized that a week earlier, I had ignored another “message” – of the spirit kind. 
 

It had been two years since I had gone for a haircut and I woke up that day obsessed with changing my look. Much to my dismay, the salon I used to go to was closed. So I set to the task of finding a new place. The first salon I called was close to my home and could get me in immediately. Great! I dashed over. Hair unkempt. No make-up. A perfectly primped woman was walking out just as I approached. Everyone in the salon wore black and looked perfect. Most mornings I just tie my hair back and run. I filled out paperwork and was met by a nice stylist who hailed from the south and talked about her husband and children. I liked her, I liked her style, but I did not like the salon itself. I was forced to sit in front of a full length mirror, exposed! The salon was much larger than others I have frequented and was bustling. Sensory overload and anxiety was kicking in, especially as I struggled to avoid eye contact with my reflection. When the stylist was done, my anxiety was still heightened. She was talking to me about products to purchase when someone tugged on the tail of my shirt. I turned to an empty, open space. The stylist asked if I was okay. I smiled and thanked her, walking to the counter. Then it happened a second time! When I whirled around, again, I saw a shampoo bottle on nearby table fall over. No one was in contact with it. No earthquake. No wind gust. Just energy!
 

After I paid my bill, and got outside, I turned back. A small child was peering out at me. But this child was not really real. I had seen an apparition before. I said a prayer for the spirit and it disappeared. I did make a return appointment. But, I failed to really think about the message. I failed to really consider the whole event and what energy was present and for what reason. 

This morning, the rune reminded me of my failing, so I did surface research and came to find that the particular piece of land, upon which the salon is built, was owned by one of the first settlers of the town. The land, before these settlers, was frequently traversed by Potawatomi tribes and "Moundbuilders" moving between the Great Lakes.  Because the region is full of river ways, small lakes, and streams, Native American trails were numerous. And finally, the town, where the salon is built, earmarked the particular section of land, equivalent to three city blocks worth of land, for archaeological excavation. 

Now, I am truly encouraged, eager for my next trim, to more consciously tune in and better understand what other messages or energies I missed with the first encounter.