Investigating a Haunting: Carlos Avery WMA, MN – part two

I’m in the early stages of my investigation of a suspected haunting in the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, a local nature preserve. Last Friday, I shared the Facebook conversation which inspired me to begin this series, as well as brief sketch of the park’s history.

YOU CAN READ PART ONE HERE.

THIS WEEK

The day after I last wrote about this topic, my husband (aka Ogre) and I visited one small portion of the WMA. Since then, I’ve searched the internet to find any references to paranormal phenomena associated with the area. I am continuing to find and read dozens of old newspaper articles about the park and its environs.

Here’s what I discovered this week:

ACCESSING THE LAND

Over the past 25 years or so, I’ve spent hundreds of hours exploring our local public parks and doing citizen science projects in regional nature centers. My engagement with Carlos Avery, however, has been limited. (Or, at least I thought so, until I began to understand the scope and scale of Carlos Avery. I’ll get back to that in a moment.)

I’ve been driving past, and through, portions of the preserve for most of my life, occasionally noticing small signs meant to identify it, without any real understanding of its purpose. My first order of business was to find out what a “WMA” is.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

“Wildlife management areas (WMAs) are part of Minnesota’s outdoor recreation system and are established to protect those lands and waters that have a high potential for wildlife production, public hunting, trapping, fishing, and other compatible recreational uses.”

This, then, is not the kind of park most of us are accustomed to.

It’s a beautiful area with good access. It provides habitat for a multitude of species, (only a fraction of which are game animals.) I’ve learned that it is a popular spot for birders.

But. It is also often full of hunters, many of them inexperienced, who are absolutely intent on killing something.

If, like me, you believe that a haunting can be caused by a concentration of negative or harmful intent, or by a saturation of fear or tragedy, then it’s only logical to see how the atmosphere in a hunting preserve could become … tainted.

(I’m not knocking the practice of hunting. I don’t really get it, in the absence of a need for food, but that’s just me. Here in Minnesota, hunting is fact of life and I don’t begrudge the hunters their space. The WMA isn’t meant for me. I understand that I am only a curious guest there … one who is a little worried about getting shot as I continue to explore the grounds. I think I might need to add some blaze-orange to my wardrobe.)

OUR VISIT

When Ogre and I visited there were no hunters. (Apparently, though, turkey season has since started.) The access roads were closed to vehicles due to muddy areas, resulting from a recent thunderstorm, but we were encouraged to grab a map and walk in.

In our two and a half mile walk, we saw a flock of turkeys, a herd of deer, a variety of birds, and this little guy:

Carlos Avery April 2015 garter snake

It’s early spring here, so the park felt quite open and well lit. It was quiet, though some frogs were calling from the wet areas. Overall, it was peaceful and pleasant. At no point did I feel unsettled or uncomfortable.

Of course, this was just a taste of the WMA, in of one of the most frequently accessed areas of the preserve. I have not yet located the specific sites of the tragedies I referenced in part one of this series, so I cannot say that anything bad or traumatic happened here. I would be surprised if there was even much hunting this close to the park entrance.

It does appear that gunfire is common though.

Carlos Avery April 2015 gunfire evidence

OTHER LARGE PREDATORS & DEAD THINGS:

It’s important to understand that this is a huge tract of land, ( 23,000 acres,) containing a variety of zones which are dedicated to diverse purposes.

This particular WMA includes the Wildlife Science Center on its grounds.

This center “was founded as a federally funded research facility in 1976, in order to observe and document the physiology and behavior of a captive population of gray wolves.” (WSC)

Now, in 2015, the center houses more species than just the grays.

I know this not just because I can use google, but because I was once a regular volunteer there.

Yes, I’m admitting that I have spent a great deal of time on the Carlos Avery property, without realizing it.

In my defense, the Wildlife Science Center feels very distinct from the rest of the WMA. You visit the center by going through this arch, which is visible from a well-trafficked two-lane highway:

2013-0326-CarlosAveryGameFarm

“Carlos Avery Game Farm” by Bobak Ha’Eri – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The white structures you can see in this photo are part of an eleven building complex built between 1936 and 1941. (I have never been inside any of these buildings.)

After you go through the gate, the road curves to the left, past the complex.

The section of the property which houses the Wildlife Science Center is composed of modern barns and sheds, as well as the main building, which is just a modified, late 20th century, residential house. Large, chain-link, animal enclosures stretch back into the park, providing homes for animals. (Resident species include: gray, red and Mexican gray wolf; coyote; fox; bobcat; lynx; cougar; black bear; porcupine; and several different kinds of raptors.) The entire center is well fenced and only open to public tours on Saturdays.

During the week, the yard of the center is over-run by a pack of 20-30 large-breed dogs which belong to the center’s director … or at least that was true when I was working there ten years ago. (There were also several wolf-dog hybrids.)

Most of my job was dealing with dead things. I chopped up gophers, which had been turned in for a bounty, then laced them with vitamin supplements, so they could be fed to the raptors. I boosted road-killed, maggot-infested, deer into a wheelbarrow and carted them over to the wolf enclosures. (This was very hard for me. I have a particular aversion to maggots.)

I wasn’t permitted to handle the live creatures, (other than the dogs,) though I did once get to stroke an anesthetized adult wolf who was having a medical procedure done.

HOW DOES THIS FIGURE INTO THE HAUNTING?

All of this is a digression, really. Yes, I did feel watched–even hunted–sometimes when I was moving around in this part of the WMA, but that’s because I was being watched, and watched intently, by large predators who wanted my carcasses. Even when I wasn’t toting a corpse around with me, I still reeked of flesh and blood and decomposition. I’m sure I seemed likely to be quite tasty.

(By the way, I loved the work … well, not so much the tasks I was assigned, but the larger work. I’d still be doing it, but I screwed up and got myself dismissed. That’s an embarrassing story for another day, though.)

I will say this: The wolves (and other canids) like to howl. On still nights, and quiet, overcast days, I imagine their chorus can be heard throughout many acres of the WMA. That sound would absolutely contribute to a sense that the area is haunted.

A BRUSH WITH THE SKUNK APE

As long as I went off on this tangent, I might as well share one more interesting tidbit about the Wildlife Science Center. Its director, Peggy Callahan, has appeared as a wildlife expert on an episode of History Channel’s MonsterQuest (Swampbeast, 2007, S1E5.) For the show, she devised and conducted an experiment meant to determine how long it takes for the body of a large beast in the wilderness to decompose and completely disappear.

A RESIDENT CRYPTID & PHANTOM VEHICLES

My quest for accounts of paranormal events associated with Carlos Avery is only beginning. An internet search revealed two primary legends.

One that amused me is our old friend, the Linwood Woolly Beast. If you’ve been reading The Paranormalist blog for a while, you may have run into one of my posts about this creature:

My best guess is that folks are seeing a large, perhaps albino, deer. If you’d like to know more about the critter, feel free to click on one or both of the above links. I won’t be spending a lot of time watching for the Beast. If I spot him, I’ll be sure to let you know.

The second commonly told legend of Carlos Avery is more interesting to me. Apparently several people have reported seeing phantom vehicles in the park. Headlights and taillights are seen shining from areas that are actually inaccessible to a vehicle. (From the middle of a pond, or swamp, or otherwise road-less spot.) This is a legend I can pursue. The WMA is open to visitors from 4:00 am – 10:00 pm. I should be able to legally spend some time driving around in there while it’s dark, once the roads are open.

Though I have some feelers out in search of local people who have had unusual experiences in and near Carlos Avery, I haven’t yet been contacted by anyone other than “Rebecca” my original source.

If you are reading this page because you searched for information about Carlos Avery after encountering something unexplained in or near the preserve, please contact me to share your story. To remain anonymous, send me a PRIVATE message at my Facebook page. Our conversation will be confidential, and you will determine how you will be identified if I quote you or include your experience in this series.

HISTORICAL RESEARCH

A FEW DETAILS OF THE EARLY LAND USE

Last week, I mentioned that this region of Minnesota was first utilized by fur traders in the 1700s, then by loggers in the early to mid-1800s. After that, some of the land that now makes up Carlos Avery was purchased by a carpet manufacturer which wanted to use the wire grass that grew abundantly there. (Wire grass is similar to sisal.)

Based on these facts, I am assuming that the land has been witness to some significant human activity in the past couple of centuries. I have not been able to confirm any particular settlements prior to 1890, but I do know that the carpet manufacturer created three camps on this property which, at one point, employed 100 men and used 250 horses. (I do wonder what camp life was like at that time, and how this activity could have contributed to the atmosphere of the area.)

After WWI, the carpet industry faltered, and the land became tax delinquent. Many acres reverted to the state’s ownership.

The Carlos Avery Game Park was established on about 8,000 of these acres in 1933. In 1935, the project was approved for WPA status and expanded. Since then, it has been subject to an evolving system of wildlife management.

And so ends my speculation about the pre-1933 era.

UNLESS I STUMBLE ON MORE THINGS LIKE THIS …

My continuing search through old newspapers has turned up a 1911 murder that occurred in Linwood Township, (which now borders a portion of Carlos Avery.) I have not yet ascertained how close this location is to the boundaries of what is currently the Carlos Avery WMA. (Remember, in 1911, the preserve had not yet been established.)

It’s an interesting, if brutal story, so I’ll likely share it in a future post. For now I’ll give you a glimpse of one James Dugart:

James Dygart Linwood Murder 1911

NEXT WEEK

Starting next week, I’ll provide the details of at least one of the historical events that could be contributing to a haunting at Carlos Avery.

This is going to be a busy week for me, so I’m not sure I’ll have time to do any on-site investigations, but I will try. (Once I figure out how to not get shot.)


This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: April 6 – 12, 2015

Availability status updated on Aug 3, 2015.

~YOUR MUSICAL AUDITORY INTERLUDE~

Deathly Spirits: A Ghost Story (and cocktail recipe) from Ted Raimi

A huge thanks to my daughter, Pooka, for finding this and sharing it with me.

If you only watch, play, or read one thing from this list, it should be:

movie poster whiplash

[EDIT] Now that I’ve found and added the sneak peek video for the 8th season of Ancient Aliens, though, I’ve got to say the TRAILER (at the very least) is not to be missed.

(See below.)

~THE MOVIES~

NEW ON NETFLIX & IN REDBOX:

Nothing exciting in the releases this week, but The Babadook is coming next week! Wait, here’s something: A movie called Monsters: Dark Continent will be coming to theaters soon. I’ll share that next week. Right now, you might want to check out its forerunner. (What’s the the correct name for a movie that spawns a sequel?)

Monsters (2010) R

Available on DVD from Netflix.
Available streaming on Netflix.
Not Available from Redbox.
This film has surprisingly good reviews. Not sure how I missed it entirely back in 2010.
On IMDb here.

Whiplash (2014) R

Available on DVD from Netflix.
Not yet Available streaming on Netflix.
Available from Redbox.
I forgot to mention Whiplash last week. It’s not horror, of course, but it’s definitely intense and suspenseful. And weirdly inspiring for artist types.
On IMDb here.

Housebound (2014) NR

Available on DVD from Netflix.
Available streaming on Netflix.
Not Available from Redbox.
O.M.G. This one is fantastic. I’m not even done watching it yet, but I had to pause it so I could come here and add it to the list. Because I missed it on Monday this week, I’ll feature it next week too.
On IMDb here.

NO LONGER IN THEATERS:

Ex machina (2015) R

Available on DVD from Netflix.
Not yet Available streaming on Netflix.
Available from Redbox.
UPDATE: It took me a couple of weeks after posting this entry to get to this one, but it was one of the best movies I saw in the month of April. This is scifi with a generous dollop of straight-up horror that takes over the middle of the film … in a good way. I have an issue with A.I. that goes all the way back to A.I. (2001) and this movie did not soothe me at all. There is just no good reason to be pursuing such technology. Decent acting. Interesting visuals. A head full of thoughts when you leave the theater. All in all, a good entertainment value.
On IMDb here.

~ON TV~

Ancient Aliens | HISTORY (not H2) | Fridays | 9/8c

(Eighth season begins April 10th.)
I cannot wait! This is my favorite sleep aid of them all.
Webpage here.

CANCELLED: The Returned | A&E | Mondays | 10/9c 

(First season complete; there will be no second season … on A&E)
I’m catching up with this series this week. I missed it when it came out, but luckily all the episodes are available On Demand through my cable provider. To be honest, I had it confused with ABC’s Resurrection, which I tried and abandoned last year. This show has nothing to do with that. It is an American version of a French television series which began in 2012 and went on to win an International Emmy for Best Drama Series in 2013. I’m three episodes in, and I’m liking it so far. If you have the opportunity to see it from the beginning, give it a shot. This one might have some legs.
On IMDb here.

BUT THERE’S AN UPDATE, OF A SORT: I didn’t go back for it after I wrote the above piece, and now I’ve learned that A&E has decided not to do a second season. That’s the bad news. The good news is that French version has become available on Netflix streaming. So let’s try that again, shall we?

The Returned / Les revenants – FRENCH TV SERIES (subtitled)

Available on DVD from Netflix.
Available streaming on Netflix.
Not Available from Redbox.
On IMDb here.

The Lizzy Bordon Chronicles | Lifetime | Sundays | 9/10c

(First season complete; there will be no second season. Not yet on Netflix.)
Sorry I missed this, Guys. I’m not a Lifetime watcher, but I’m thinking of giving this one a go, because I love Christina Ricci.
EDIT: Ok, I’ve given it about 15 minutes. So far I see two characters that I could maybe love, existing in a show that might be too chaotic and experimental for my tastes.
On IMDb here.

The first full episode is available online right now, at Lifetime.
The movie that came first is available on Netflix streaming now too.

~***~

Recent Macabre & Mysterious Media links here.

The color of each title is keyed as follows:
Black = Not yet watched. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Watched. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Watched. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Watched. Recommended. A good movie that lives up to its reputation.


The Sailing Stones of Death Valley

Paranormal Deck of Cards – Eight of Mysteries

pdoc 8 of mysteries sailing stones corrected

The Sailing Stones of Death Valley

When I was formulating the idea for this PDOC series, I began by creating a list of 52+ potential topics which intrigue me. Then I divided them into four categories: creatures, psychopaths, haunts and mysteries.

I’m still trying to fill out the list of haunts that I want to explore, but I had no trouble immediately coming up with (more than) 13 mysteries. I always knew that the mysteries suit would be my catch-all for things that didn’t fit neatly into any of the other categories. I also knew it was likely to be my favorite suit. I am fascinated by odd occurrences, strange places and perplexing objects.

In my initial brainstorming stage, one of the first things I jotted down was the Sailing Stone of Death Valley. At the time, I did not expect the phenomena would be definitively explained before I could even write about it.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I certainly did not plan for this project to be about debunking, dismissing, or solving my beloved mysteries.  Like many of you, I enjoy knowing that I can’t know everything. I appreciate being wonder-struck and baffled. But I also like to learn new facts and gain increased understanding of how the world works.

So I guess it’s all good.

If you’re tapped into the same (or similar) sources of information that I am, you may already know that the phenomena of the Death Valley Sailing Stones has been scientifically explained in the current issue of the journal, Plos One. If you are not connected to such sources, however, you may not even know what all the fuss is about.

Let’s start there … with what was known about the stones before a crack team of scientists, armed with the latest technology, figured out was going on.

Racetrack-Playa-Death-Valley-2.jpg
Racetrack-Playa-Death-Valley-2” by Daniel Mayer – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is (was) here
first upload in en wikipedia on 04:23, 28 October 2002 by Maveric149. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

THE HISTORY OF THE SAILING STONES:

In 1915, a prospector named Joseph Crook is reported to have discovered a remote, flat area in Death Valley where stones appeared to have left trails in the desert as they traveled across the barren ground. The mechanism of the stone movement was a mystery.

WHY THIS IS WEIRD:

The area Crook discovered is a playa, which is a dry lake-bed. It is a little less than than three miles long and a little more than a mile wide. The playa is extremely flat, with its southern edge being about one and a half inches lower than the northern. Interestingly, the stones often seem to move up the incline, from south to north. The trails inscribed by the wandering stones “are often tens to hundreds of feet long, about 3 to 12 inches wide, and typically much less than an inch deep.” (Wikipedia) Many of the trails are long and straight, but some curve, zig-zag or double back on themselves. These trails are not etched in dust or sand, but in hard-baked clay. One can walk out to the stones to examine the engraved trails and not leave a mark on the ground. Though no one (until 2013) had observed the active movement of a stone, periodic checks on the locations of  individual rocks revealed that the they were moving and leaving new trails.

The stones have been “sailing” – without apparent interference from humans or animals – for at least a century. I’ve listed several notable scientific investigations that have been conducted at the playa below, but one specific study was of particular interest:

HOW FAR DO THEY SAIL?

In a study that began in 1972, the location of thirty stones, (with what appeared to be fresh trails,) were marked. Each stone was given a name. Over the next seven years, changes in the stones’ locations were recorded.

Ten of the stones moved in the first winter. One, named Mary Ann, moved 212 feet. In two of the next six winters, multiple stones moved. By the end of the seven-year study, 28 of the named stones had moved. The smallest stone to move had a diameter of 2.5 inches; the largest was 80 pounds.

One stone – estimated to be over 700 pounds – was named Karen, and it did not move during the monitoring period. It was believed that its original trail, which was 570 feet long and very straight, may have been drawn when it originally tumbled onto the playa.

After the study was complete, however, Karen seemed to disappear from the playa. It was rediscovered in 1996 by a geologist who located it about a half mile from its 1972 position.

THEORIES:

Over the years, multiple theories had been advanced to explain this phenomena. Modern, conventional, scientists has always believed that some combination of water, ice and wind were responsible. It is likely that the inaccessibility of the area during winter months prevented the first people who studied the rocks to think along such lines. The earliest scientific theory was that there was a magnetic anomaly in the area, but this was proved to be unlikely when the rocks themselves were revealed to be entirely non-magnetic.

The playa’s relative proximity to Area 51 led some theorists to the conclusion that the phenomena must be connected to alien activity. My absolute favorite theory in this category is detailed in a blog called, Villains & Vaudevillians. I’ve provided the link to the full article below, but here’s a snippet from it:

Are the sailing stones pieces of a spacecraft that met its untimely demise during prehistoric times? Was the object that the crashed in Roswell, New Mexico really an extraterrestrial salvage vehicle sent on another mission to located the long vanished spacecraft, only to succumb to the same fate. Is the wreckage at Area 51 giving off a beacon in the form of a magnetic field to call its lost brother home?

It really is a must-read, if you have a few minutes to spare.

THE MYSTERY OF THE SAILING STONES, SOLVED:

It turns out that the modern scientists were right — this is a phenomena caused by water, ice and wind.

The following set of photographs was published in a paper entitled Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion, in the journal PLOS One.

journal.pone.0105948.g001

“Image acquired with a handheld digital camera on January 9, 2014.”

Take a look at the stone indicated by the red arrow and compare its position as it changes – in less than 30 seconds – in relation to the two (non-moving) stones indicated by the blue arrows.

This was not the only movement observed by this team.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the paper which explain quite well how the stones sail:

Observed rock movement occurred on sunny, clear days, following nights of sub-freezing temperatures. Steady light winds and morning sun caused floating ice to break-up near mid day, accompanied by widespread popping sounds from fragmenting ice panels. Ice initially broke into floating panels tens of meters in size that became increasingly fragmented and separated by open rippled water as melting continued. Floating ice sheets driven by wind stress and flowing water, pushed rocks resting on the playa surface, in some cases moving >60 rocks in a single event.

*****

A necessary condition for the rock motion we observed is the existence of a playa pool deep enough to submerge the southern section of the playa, yet shallow enough to leave many rocks partly exposed at the pond surface. Other repeating features of rock movement events that we observed include the presence of floating ice, temperatures and sunlight sufficient to create melt pools in the ice, and light breezes that are steady enough to drive floating ice. Although the ice breaks up around rocks, even thin moving ice sheets can generate sufficient force to drive rocks across the pool. All observed rock movement events occurred near mid-day when sufficient ice melting had occurred to allow ice break-up. Creation of rock trails is difficult to observe because trails form below the ice-covered pool surface where they are often not evident until the ice has melted, and liquid water has been removed. In addition, rock movement is slow and relatively brief—our GPS instrumented stones traveled at speeds of 2–5 m/minute for up to 16 minutes—so casual observation is likely to miss rocks in motion. Weather station data show that the freezing temperatures necessary for ice formation, and winds in excess of 3–5 m/s are common phenomena at Racetrack Playa during the coldest few weeks of winter. Therefore, the extremely episodic occurrence of rock motion (years to decades) is likely due to the infrequency of rain or snow events sufficient to form winter ponds.

Citation: Norris RD, Norris JM, Lorenz RD, Ray J, Jackson B (2014) Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105948 (Please find link to full article below.)

MISCELLANEOUS FACTS:

First observed / reported:
1915
Mystery solved:
2013 – 2014

Location:
Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California
Coordinates: 36.6813°N 117.5627°W
NOTE: Racetrack Playa is approx. 140 miles from Area 51

Racetrack Playa from space.jpg
Racetrack Playa from space“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Geography (from Wikipedia):

“The playa is in the small Racetrack Valley between the Cottonwood Mountains on the east and Nelson Range to the west. During periods of heavy rain, water washes down from the Racetrack mountain area draining into the playa, forming a shallow, short-lived, closed-system lake. Under the hot desert sun, the thin veneer of water quickly evaporates leaving behind a surface layer of soft slick mud. As the mud dries, it shrinks and cracks into a mosaic pattern of interlocking polygons.”

Climate & meteorology of the area:

Daily summer temperatures can reach 120 °F (49 °C). In the winter, the temperature can plunge to 15 °F (−9.4 °C), though the average winter night temperature is closer to 39 °F (4 °C). Annual precipitation is 3 to 4 inches.

Notable Scientific Investigations:

  • 1948: two geologists mapped the area’s bedrock and mentioned the sliding rocks in a report in the Geologic Society of America Bulletin
  • 1952: a National Park ranger detailed observations of trail lengths, widths, and courses
  • 1955: a geologist published a paper discounting the prevailing theory that winds were strong enough to move the stones, even when the ground was wet
  • 1972: a long term project was begun to track the movement of the stones over seven years
  • 1995: a research group determined that at least some of the stones were moved in a large, contiguous ice-floe
  • 2006: a NASA scientist developed a “table top model” that suggested small ice rafts formed around individual stones and reduced drag so that even light winds could trigger movement
  • 2013: actual stone movement was recorded with GPS sensors and time-lapse photography

The Sailing Stones of Death Valley in the Media:

Books:
  • The World’s Weirdest Places by Nick Redfern (at GoodReads)
  • Mysteries of the Unknown: Inside the World of the Strange and Unexplained (at Amazon Books)

Note: That second book is actually scheduled to be released on Sept. 16th, 2014. I wonder what they are going to do about the chapter on the Sailing Stones.

Internet:

1) Atlas Obscura – THE SAILING STONES OF RACETRACK PLAYA
–Lots of great photographs of the stones and their trails.

2) Jon Sullivan’s commentary from a trip to Death Valley on 08/23/2003
–I have no prior knowledge of Mr. Sullivan, but in my research, I found his first-person account of a visit to the playa interesting.

3) The Mystery of Death Valley’s ‘Sailing’ Stones from The Weather Channel
–31 excellent photographs and some outdated information about two former theories.

4) Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion 
–The published scientific paper at PLOS One.

5) Weird History: What are the Sailing Stones By CURTISRX
–the source of the re-assembling, pre-historic, spacecraft theory I mention above.

Documentaries:

Weird or What? (embedded below.)

The following video is one  episode of a series called Weird or What?, which airs on SyFy and is hosted by William Shatner. This episode is currently available for viewing online, courtesy of the YouTube channel, Documentary Hub.

The Sailing Stones are covered in the first segment of this episode, which runs for approximately 15:38 minutes.

(Video availability on the internet comes and goes, so if the above viewer doesn’t work, try searching for “Weird or What sailing stones.” Because this has been internationally broadcast, the season and episode numbers are conflicting, depending on which version of the show turns up in the search engine.)

Note: right now the search engines are flooded with the news that this mystery has been solved. If anyone knows of a documentary made BEFORE the announcement, please leave a comment so I can track it down.

pdoc_deck_fanned_590x590

Click for PDOC homepage.

Note:

This is an early entry in my PDOC series. I’m working on creating the deck’s homepage. If  the image above doesn’t yet link to a new page, it soon will.

–Renae


Fall 2014 television schedule: TV for lovers of horror, paranormal, dark fantasy, suspense (and retro.)

halloween countdown 9 orange

It’s still hot and sultry here in Minnesota, with no hint of autumn weather to lure me outdoors. Last week, I provided a selection of Halloween-themed crafts and hobbies that can be started now, in the dog days of August and September. This week, I’ve scoured the web to  find and curate a list of  new and returning television shows to watch while crafting or hobby-ing. (Or simply escaping the weather.)

Disclaimers: I like my television paranormal, gothic, fantastic, and/or mysterious. (I don’t watch much in the way of personality-based reality and/or investigative shows like Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State. Documentaries are another story entirely, but I’ll save those for another post.)  I also have a taste for juicy historical and retro shows.

Information: I’ve included the premiere dates for new AND returning shows that are likely to appeal to my readers. (But I don’t watch them all.) For returning shows, I’ve researched the availability of past seasons, just in case you think you maybe made a mistake in the past by not making room for a particular show. (I regret not watching Grimm from the beginning.)

Tips: If you click on the pic, you’ll be taken to either IMDb (for new shows) or Wikipedia (for returning shows.) If the series has specific page provided by the network, I’ve linked to it with the word ‘homepage’. If the series is available via Netflix, I’ve linked to the appropriate listing to simplify your queue management.

SUMMER SHOWS FINISHING UP

under-dome-season-2-spoilers

Under the Dome | CBS | Mondays | 10/9c | resumed June 30th
(2nd season, 9 of 13 episodes have aired.)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs. Season 2 can be reserved, but is not yet available.
From the homepage:
“Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel about a small town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by a massive transparent dome.”

tv show witches of east end
Witches of East End | Lifetime | Sundays | 10/9c | resumed on July 6th.
(2nd season, 7 of 13 episodes have aired.)
Season 1 is available on Netflix streaming.
From the homepage:
“Inspired by Melissa de la Cruz’s New York Times best-selling novel, “Witches of East End” centers on the mysterious Beauchamp family: free-spirited artist Joanna (Ormond) and her two grown daughters, wild-child bartender Freya (Dewan Tatum) and shy librarian Ingrid (Boston), both of whom are unaware that they are gifted (and cursed) with a magical birthright.”

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Extant | CBS | Wednesdays | 9/8c | debuted July 9th, 2014 | NEW
Episodes 4-10 are available at the homepage. (Apparently it will have 13 episodes.)
From the homepage:
“In a thrilling drama, Berry will play an astronaut who returns home from a year-long solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.”

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The Strain | FX | Sundays | 10/9c | debuted July 13th | NEW
All  previously aired episodes are available IF you can access them via you service provider. Click “VIDEO” tab at this link and follow the instructions, or just check to see if they are available on your TV ON DEMAND. (My Comcast Xfinity has them.)
From the homepage:
The Strain is a high concept thriller that tells the story of “Dr. Ephraim Goodweather,” the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself. Co-Creators, Executive Producers and Writers Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan co-wrote the pilot script for The Strain, which was directed by del Toro.”

THE FALL TV LINE-UP

Oh. My. God. Have you heard about THIS?!?

Utopia | FOX | Tuesdays | 9/8c | Sept 7 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“Behold UTOPIA, a bold new series based on the hit Dutch program. Watch what happens as 14 pioneering Americans wave goodbye to the lives they’ve known, move to a remote location, and set out to create a society from scratch. They’ve got limited supplies, wildly diverse backgrounds, and zero bathrooms…” No, seriously go read the rest here.

Okay. Back to sane TV:

tv show haven

Haven | Syfy | Thursdays | 10/9c | Sept 11  (RETURNING – 5th season)
Seasons 1-4 are available on Netflix streaming. (Formerly only available via disc.)
from the homepage:
“Syfy’s one-hour drama series Haven, starring Emily Rose, is based on the novella The Colorado Kid from renowned author Stephen King. The series follows the shrewd and confident FBI agent Audrey Parker (Rose) as she arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine on a routine case. Before long, her natural curiosity lands her in the epicenter of activity in this curious enclave, which turns out to be a longtime refuge for people that are affected by a range of supernatural afflictions. The truth about Audrey’s mysterious past (which she can’t fully remember) starts to come out as well.”

Z_Nation__01_

Z Nation | SYFY | Fridays | 10/9c | Sept 12 (NEW)
From the homepage:
Z Nation starts three years after the zombie virus has gutted the country, a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood. Although the antibodies he carries are the world’s last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them all. With humankind’s survival at stake, the ragtag band embarks on a journey of survival across three thousand miles of rusted-out post-apocalyptic America. Z Nation comes from The Asylum, the production house behind Sharknado and Sharknado 2.”

tv show sleepy hollow

Sleepy Hollow | FOX | Mondays | 9/8c | Sept 22nd (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Seasons 1 is available on Netflix discs.
from the homepage:
“In this modern day twist of Washington Irving’s classic, Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers. Revived alongside Ichabod is the infamous Headless Horseman who is on a murderous rampage in present-day Sleepy Hollow. Bound to the Headless Horseman by a blood spell cast on the battlefield of the American Revolution, Ichabod quickly realizes that stopping Headless is just the beginning, as the resurrected rider is but the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

gothem poster
Gotham | FOX | Mondays | 8/7c | Sept 22nd (NEW)
From the homepage:
“GOTHAM is an origin story of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. GOTHAM follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering between good and evil, and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.”

tv show the-blacklist-poster

The Blacklist | NBC | Mondays | 10/9c | Sept 22 (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) has been one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as “The Concierge of Crime.” Now, he’s mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: He will help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen, an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it’s going to be one hell of a first day on the job.”

forever poster

Forever | ABC | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Sept 23rd (NEW) –
Update: Episode 1 is on Mon. 22, then show is regularly on Tuesdays, starting the 23rd.
From the homepage:
“Doctor Henry Morgan, New York City’s star medical examiner, has a secret.  He doesn’t just study the dead to solve criminal cases, he does it to solve the mystery that has eluded him for 200 years—the answer to his own inexplicable immortality.  This long life has given Henry remarkable observation skills which impresses his new partner Detective Jo Martinez.  Each week, a new case and their budding friendship will reveal layers of Henry’s long and colorful past.  Only his best friend and confidant, Abe knows Henry’s secret.”

tv show agents of shield

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D | ABC | Tuesdays | 8/7c | Sept 23rd (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“Clark Gregg reprises his role of Agent Phil Coulson from Marvel’s feature films, as he assembles a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Together they investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.” Executive producer: Joss Whedon

NCIS new orleans

NCIS: New Orleans | CBS | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Sept. 23rd (NEW)
From the homepage:
“NCIS: NEW ORLEANS is a drama about the local field office that investigates criminal cases affecting military personnel in The Big Easy, a city known for its music, entertainment and decadence. Leading the team is Special Agent Dwayne Pride, aka “King,” a native of New Orleans who is driven by his need to do what is right. Working with Pride is Special Agent Christopher LaSalle, who plays hard but works harder; and Special Agent Meredith “Merri” Brody, a charismatic and tough interrogator who transferred from the Great Lakes office in search of a fresh start. Supporting them is coroner Dr. Loretta Wade, who is as eccentric as she is smart. This colorful city that harbors a dark side is a magnet for service personnel on leave, and when overindulgence is followed by trouble, Pride’s team is at its best.”
NOTE: This is clearly more crime drama than paranormal, but: New Orleans (!) Scott Bakula (!) & Lucas Black(!)

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How to Get Away With Murder | ABC | Thursdays |10/9c | Sept 25 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“The brilliant, charismatic and seductive Professor Annalise Keating gets entangled with four law students from her class “How to Get Away with Murder.” Little do they know that they will have to apply what they learned to real life, in this masterful, sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller.”

once-upon-a-time

Once Upon A Time | ABC | Sundays | 8/7c | Sept 28th  (RETURNING – 4th season)
Seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix streaming.
From the homepage:
“This is Fairy Tale Land. It’s filled with magic, monsters and all of the characters we all know from stories growing up. It’s real, and so are the people in it. But unlike the “happily ever after” you may have heard about, their stories continued, and The Evil Queen cast a Dark Curse over the land….This is Storybrooke. It’s a quiet, little, New England town filled with people who go about their everyday lives with no idea who they really are. The Queen’s Curse has trapped them here and placed her in near-complete control. They have no real memories and no real hope.”

NOTE: There is a special scheduled to air on Tuesday, Sept. 2nd, at 8/7c, called: The Story of Frozen

cast-of-resurrection-season-2

Resurrection | ABC | Sundays | 9/8c | Sept 28th (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“The people of Arcadia, Missouri are forever changed when their deceased loved ones suddenly start to reappear. An 8-year-old American boy wakes up alone in a rice paddy in a rural Chinese province with no idea how he got there. Details start to emerge when the boy, who calls himself Jacob, recalls that his hometown is Arcadia, and an Immigration agent, J. Martin Bellamy, takes him there. The home he claims as his own is occupied by a 60-year-old couple, Henry and Lucille Langston , who lost their son, Jacob, more than 30 years ago…”

stalker-official-trailer

Stalker | CBS | Wednesdays | 10/9c | Oct 1 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“…a psychological thriller about detectives who investigate stalking incidents – including voyeurism, cyber harassment and romantic fixation – for the Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD. Det. Jack Larsen is a recent transfer to the Unit from New York City’s homicide division, whose confidence, strong personality and questionable behavior has landed him in trouble before – but whose past behavior may also prove valuable in his new job. His boss, Lt. Beth Davis, is strong, focused and an expert in the field, driven by her traumatic personal experience as a victim. With the rest of their team, young but eager Det. Ben Caldwell and deceptively smart Det. Janice Lawrence, Larsen and Davis assess the threat level of cases and respond before the stalking and intimidation spirals out of control, all while trying to keep their personal obsessions at bay.”
Note: Another crime drama, but I do love Dylan McDermott.

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Gracepoint | FOX | Thursdays | 8/9c | Oct 2 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“When a young boy is found dead on an idyllic beach, a major police investigation gets underway in the small northern California seaside town where the tragedy occurred. Soon deemed a homicide, the case turns neighbor against neighbor and sparks a media frenzy, which throws the boy’s family into further turmoil and upends the lives of the town’s residents.”
NOTE: Okay. It’s ANOTHER crime drama, but there’s certainly a creepy vibe.

AHS freakshow poster

American Horror Story – Freakshow |  FX   |  Wednesdays | 10/9c | Oct 8th
(RETURNING – BUT ALSO ENTIRELY NEW, IN THE WAY OF AHS)
Season 1: Murder House & Season 2: Asylum are available on Netflix streaming.
Season 3: Coven – Not yet available on Netflix.
For some reason, FX has not yet provided us with a new homepage for AHS: Freakshow.
From Wikipedia:
“The fourth season will be set in Jupiter, Florida in 1952. It will be centered around one of the few remaining freak shows at the time, as its members do anything to keep the business alive. The season will focus on the conflict between the freaks and the “evil forces” who do not understand them. The season will also feature a “clown killer” and a “bearded lady”.”

walking dead season 5

The Walking Dead | AMC  | Sundays |Oct 12 (RETURNING – 5th season)
Seasons 1 – 3 are available via Netflix streaming.
AMC is pretty great about doing marathons before a new season begins … keep an eye out for season 4.
Homepage here. I trust no story description is necessary?

constantine poster

Constantine | NBC | Fridays | 10/9c |Oct 24th NEW
From the homepage:
“Based on the wildly popular comic book series “Hellblazer” from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine is armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and a wickedly naughty wit. He fights the good fight – or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he’s decided to abandon his campaign against evil until a series of events thrusts him back into the fray, and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the innocent. With the balance of good and evil on the line‎, Constantine will use his skills to travel the country, find the supernatural terrors that threaten our world and send them back where they belong. After that, who knows… maybe there’s hope for him and his soul after all.”

tv show grimm

Grimm | NBC | Fridays | 9/8c | Oct 24th  (RETURNING – 4th season)
Seasons 1 – 3 are available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“Grimm” is a drama series inspired by the classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales. After Portland Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt discovers he’s descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as “Grimms,” he increasingly finds his responsibilities as a detective at odds with his new responsibilities as a “Grimm.”

Stuff on The CW:

I don’t watch this network, but it appears to be overflowing (like a heaving bosom from a tight bodice) with paranormal / horror shows. Here’s a few highlights, but if these kind of programs are your thing, it’d be best for you to explore the whole CW line-up.

The Vampire Diaries | Thursdays | 8/7c | Oct 2nd (RETURNING – 6th season) 
Seasons 1 – 4 available on Netflix streaming.

The Originals | Mondays | 9/8c | Oct 6th (RETURNING – 2nd season) Vampires & New Orleans!! 

Supernatural | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Oct 7th (RETURNING – 10th season)
Seasons 1 – 8 are available on Netflix streaming.

SHOWS WE’LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT FOR

Penny Dreadful | HBO | Season 2 expected spring 2015 (Season 1 not available via Netflix.)
NEW: The Whispers | ABC | “coming soon”
NEW: Aquarius | NBC | “coming soon”
NEW: Emerald City | NBC | “to be announced”
Salem | WGN | Season 2 will air Apr 2015 (Season 1 is not available via Netflx.)
Hannibal | NBC | Season 3 expected spring 2015 (Seasons 1 & 2 available on Netflix discs.)
NEW: Wayward Pines | Fox | 2015 – mid-season replacement | Juliette Lewis, Matt Dillon. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (I’m excited about this one!)
The Following | FOX | Fridays | 9/8c | 3rd season expected January 2015 (Season 1 available on Netflix streaming.)
Downton Abbey | PBS | Sundays | 5th season expected Jan 4th, 2014 (Seasons 1-4 available on Netflix discs.)
Bates Motel | A&E | Mondays | 10/9c | 3rd season expected early 2015 (season 1 on Netflix streaming.)
Mad Men | AMC | Sundays | 8th (and final) season is likely to begin in Apr 2015
Lost Girl | Syfy | Sundays | 10/9c |5th season expected 2015

Cancelled, but:

CANCELLED: Crossbones | NBC | – | John Malkovich as Blackbeard (Can watch all episodes online.)
CANCELLED: Believe | NBC | – | (Can watch all episodes on Netflix discs.)

Did I miss anything you love? What show are you most looking forward to?

FOR MORE HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN ARTICLES VISIT THE MAIN INDEX

halloween countdown main fridays

 

 


H. H. Holmes: Gilded Age Con Man & Serial Killer (1861 – 1896)

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H. H. Holmes: Gilded Age Con Man & Serial Killer (1861 – 1896)

H.H. Holmes is considered by many to be the first documented serial killer in the United States. He built a convoluted hotel / rooming house / office building in Chicago just before the beginning of the 1893 World’s Fair. Some of the rooms were designed to be airtight and sound-proof gas chambers. He hired and fired several different contractors to complete the building. One benefit to this behavior was that he was able to avoid paying laborers and contractors by claiming that a firing was due to improperly done work. Perhaps more importantly, for Holmes’ purposes, no one other than Holmes himself really understood the design and layout of what eventually became known as the Murder Castle or Murder Hotel.

Holmes killed for two distinct reasons. He is most well-known for the murders of women in his hotel. At least some of those murders seem to have been committed simply to entertain Holmes. He also killed for practical and financial reasons. Holmes was a criminal in many ways. He ran various cons, including stealing bodies from graves, then cleaning and selling the skeletons, as well as insurance fraud schemes which sometimes led to murder. He was also a bigamist that was married to at least three women. Interestingly, he never killed any of the women he married. (Though he did kill a mistress.) He is known to have fathered one child.

Some theorists believe that H.H.Holmes was responsible for at least one of the Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel, London. Though Holmes and Jack the Ripper were contemporaries, there is no evidence that Holmes ever traveled to England. (It is possible, however.) What little evidence there is, in support of this theory, lies in a similarity of handwriting between letters written by Holmes and those sent to various news outlets from people claiming to be Jack.

I am disinclined to believe that a an organized, hands-off, voyeuristic  murderer like Holmes would change his signature drastically enough to commit any of the savage, up-close and intimate murders attributed to Jack.

Dr. Henry Howard Holmes (Herman Webster Mudgett)

MISCELLANEOUS FACTS:

AKA:
Herman Webster Mudgett; Dr. Henry Howard Holmes

Active years:
1888 – 1894
Most murders took place during the 1893 World’s Fair.

Location:
Chicago, IL, USA
In a hotel he built especially to house the fair goers.

Number of murders:
Holmes confessed to 27. Nine were confirmed. Some estimates credit him with up to 200 murders.

Typical victim:
Type A – people, usually women, taken specifically for the purpose of terrifying, torturing and killing within the walls of his “murder hotel.”
Type B – people, male or female, adults or child, whose death / disappearance benefited Holmes as he played out his financially motivated con games.

Trial:
Convicted of 4 counts of 1st degree murder & 6 counts of attempted murder.

Ultimate fate:
Executed by hanging on May 7th, 1896 at the age of 34.

Burial:
Holmes was buried in an unmarked grave. His coffin was encased in a concrete vault to deter grave robbing and / or vandalizing.

Grave site:
(Info obtained from findagrave.com)
Holy Cross Cemetery
Yeadon
Delaware County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Sec. 15, Range 10, Lot 41, graves 3 & 4
GPS (lat/lon): 39.92854, -75.25771

H.H. HOLMES IN THE MEDIA:

Books:
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (at GoodReads)
  • A Competent Witness by Judith Nickels (at GoodReads) – See comment to this post by the author of this novel.
  • The Torture Doctor by David Franke (at GoodReads)
  • Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America’s First Serial Killer by Harold Schechter (at GoodReads)
  • Confessions of the Serial Killer H.H. Holmes by Mudgett (aka H.H. Holmes), Herman Webster (at GoodReads)
  • Bloodstains by Jeff Mudgett (at GoodReads) – NOTE: This a controversial account of Holmes’ crimes and the legacy of them, written by his great-great grandson. It’s unclear from the description and reviews if it’s intended to be fiction, based-on-true, or biographical (and autobiographical.)
Movies:
  • Rumor has it that Leonardo Di Caprio may play Holmes in a film version of The Devil in the White City. It looks like this project has been in discussion for some time, though, and no progress has been made.
Internet:

1) Chilling tour inside serial killer H.H. Holmes` `Murder Castle` (Fox 32 News Chicago)

–This article includes a video tour of some tunnels under a Chicago Post Office that was built on  the site of the murder hotel. Some original brickwork may have been incorporated into the newer structure.

2) H.H. Holmes Murder Castle Site Basement Footage (Embedded below.)

–five-minute video featuring a possible EVP, by Adam Selzer, for the Mysterious Chicago Blog (aka Chicago Unbelievable).

Documentaries:

H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer (streaming on Netflix)

–1 hour and 4 minute documentary that focuses on all of Holmes’ crimes rather than on the World’s Fair, which is mentioned but not detailed. This is more sensationalized than the two listed below.

Madness in the White City (streaming on Netflix)

–45 minute documentary which – like the book of the same name – divides its time between discussing Holmes and the World’s Fair.

H.H. Holmes Full Biography on bio.com (available in full on Bio.com)

–45-minute treatment of the story from the folks at Biography, plus three shorter video snippets.

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Click for PDOC homepage.

Note to my regular readers:

This is the first entry in my PDOC series. Tonight I’m working on creating the deck’s homepage. If  the image above doesn’t yet link to a new page, it soon will.

–Renae


Macabre & Mysterious Media (Special Edition): MeTV & Svengoolie

MeTV & Svengoolie

MeTV-Logo

For  a couple of months now, I’ve been enjoying the offerings of a channel called MeTV. It’s a haven for paranormal folks, especially old-school types and those of us who … have been consuming macabre media for a while now, and who enjoy a dose of nostalgia.

Here’s what I catch when I have time:

  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
  • Columbo
  • The Fugitive
  • H.R. Rufnstuf (!!)
  • He Man and the Masters of the Universe (Ok, I’m a child.)
  • Night Gallery
  • Perry Mason
  • Thriller (with Boris Karloff)
  • The Twilight Zone …

…Oh, there’s just so much. (Lots of westerns, from Rawhide to Bonanza & comedies from Make Room for Daddy to Bosom Buddies & more.) You can see the complete show line-up here: MeTV Featured Programs

I’m going to be honest, I don’t often watch these blast-from-the-past shows from start to finish. I’ve found the station to be great when I just want to catch a little something while I eat a quick bowl of cereal, or when I’m trying to fall asleep.

There is one show, however, that I actually record to watch: Svengoolie.

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I discovered MeTV, in fact, because I was looking for an old-fashioned Horror Host — someone like ElviraSir Cecil Creape, The Ghoul, or Vampira — that I could watch now. I went off on google quest one day and found that I could get Svengoolie via my cable provider, Comcast / Xfinity.

I wasn’t looking for stuff that I could watch on my computer; I really wanted something that would be similar to my experiences as a young teen, when I’d watch Hammer House of Horror movies in the late night, or to an even earlier time, when our non-network channel (remember those?) played some b&w syndicated horror host from Chicago on Sunday afternoons.

The closest thing I’ve found so far is Svengoolie.

I have to say, I’ve seen better. (After all, Mystery Science Theater originated here in Minnesota, for God’s sake. It’s hard to compete with that.) And we’re all spoiled by the slick re-packaging that was done for the the likes of Elvira. Still, there’s fun to be had watching Svengoolie.

This guy is camp and schlocky. He’s a big fan of puns and rubber chickens. The movies he introduces, however, are pretty good. He just wrapped up a series of Creature From the Black Lagoon spin-offs. This week, he’ll be doing Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman. (Click that link to see the promo that is running right now.)

The show is broadcast on Saturday nights, at 10/9C.

I have to manage my DVR-ing because my provider doesn’t list the program as “Svengoolie” but rather as the name of whatever movie he’s featuring. With any luck, your provider will be smarter.

Find your provider here: MeTV interactive map.

I’d love to live-tweet with some of you one night while watching. Let me know if you’re up for it.

PS: Because of a fabulous comment that came in to this post, I have to share a video clip of one of the horror hosts, Sir Cecil Creape, at work. Imagine meeting this guy when you’re five. You’d probably scream in his face too … even if he was a personal hero.


Gorgeous Graveyards: The Old Burying Ground, Beaufort, NC

In June, my son and I went to North Carolina to see my daughter and her beau. It was our first vacation in many years and we had a wonderful time. We toured several attractions in the beautiful state, but my favorite stop, by far, was The Old Burying Ground, in Beaufort, NC.

We came across the cemetery by accident, and when we found it, we had only about twenty minutes to explore before the property would be closed for the night. I knew I’d want to share as many pictures as possible here at the blog, so I hurried through the gates, a madwoman on a mission.

Old Burying Ground, NC gate

Just a couple of yards into the graveyard, though, I had to slow down and breathe. The peaceful, timeless atmosphere under the ancient oak and magnolia trees would not allow me to feel rushed. As I stood in the cool dappled shade, taking in the historic beauty of the place, all the tension in me melted.

Below, you’ll find more information about The Old Burying Ground and some of the graves I saw in the cemetery, but before we get to that, I invite you get a sense of what it felt like to actually wander through this sacred place by watching this video:

(For best picture, click on “watch on YouTube”, then full-screen.)

Have you ever seen such a gorgeous graveyard? I wish I could have done it justice, but I hope I captured the feel – at least a little – for you.

On to the details.

THE OLD BURYING GROUND

Address: 400 Block of Ann Street, Beaufort NC, 28516

http://www.beaufortishistoric.org

Established 1709

The Old Burying Ground originally came into use in the area surrounding a building used for sessions of the Court and for reading the service of the Angelican Church in St. John’s Parish. The earliest graves were marked by shells, brick, or wooden planks. Large swaths of the cemetery appear to be sparsely occupied, but an archaeological survey in 1992 confirmed there are many burials in such open areas.

In 1731, the cemetery which had come into existence around a courthouse-cum-church was deeded to the town of Beaufort.

Currently, the entrance of the cemetery is flanked by two churches: a red brick First Baptist and a white clapboard United Methodist. The graves lie nestled between the two buildings until the property opens up a bit at the back. This makes it look and feel like a real churchyard, as you will see in some of the photographs that show the gravestones snugged right up next to the churches.

Beaufort itself is one of the oldest towns in North Carolina. In the early 1700s, when the notorious pirate Blackbeard was going about his business along the coast, it was known as Fish Town. In 1722 it became an official seaport. During the Revolutionary War, it was the third largest port in the state, according to the Beaufort NC homepage.

In 1997, the wreckage of what is presumed to be Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered two miles from Beaufort Inlet, approximately 20 feet below the surface of the water.

This town has seen a lot of living, and a lot of dying.

Old Burying Ground, NC  sign

Captain Otway Burns (1775 – 1850)

In the War of 1812, Captain Burns was considered a great naval hero. He received “Letters of Marque and Reprisal” from the United States, which allowed him to plunder British ships. (The letters made him a sort of  legal pirate, otherwise know as a privateer.)

His monument features a cannon removed from his ship, Snapdragon.

Old Burying Ground, NC cannon grave

Nancy Manney French (1821 – 1886)

In the video, I mark this grave with the caption: “A sad love story.” Here’s the tale, drawn from the guide pamphlet that was available just inside the gates of the graveyard:

Nancy fell in love with her tutor, a man named Charles French. Nancy’s father disapproved of the relationship. Charles left Beaufort with the intent of finding his fortune and earning the right to ask for Nancy’s hand in marriage. In the ensuing years, both Nancy and Charles tried to maintain their romance through letter writing, but the postmaster in town – who was a friend of Nancy’s father – intercepted all the letters. Years later, upon his deathbed and stricken by guilt, the postmaster confessed what he’d done to Nancy. Later still, Charles returned to Beaufort. He was an old man, but he’d never been able to forget his love. He found that Nancy was dying of consumption. The two married anyway. Nancy died just a few weeks later.

Manney grave

The Rum Keg Girl (1700s)

An English family had settled in Fish Town, but a daughter, who had been only an infant upon arriving in the colonies, wanted to see her homeland. The girl’s mother did not want the child to travel, but the father convinced her it would be all right, and promised to bring her home no matter what. The girl reportedly enjoyed her visit to England but she died on the return trip. Traditionally, she would have been buried at sea, but the father chose instead to purchase a barrel of rum from the captain, so that her body would be preserved and she could be buried in the town graveyard.

As you can see, visitors to the burial ground have been touched by the story. Of all the graves in the cemetery, this was the only one displaying grave goods on the day I was there.

Some light research into the possibility that this cemetery is haunted revealed that some guests have reported seeing a young girl playing among the stones, then disappearing suddenly. Sometimes, some of the trinkets from her grave are found in other parts of the cemetery when the gates are opened for the day.

 

 Vienna Dill (1863 – 1865)

This very young child died of yellow fever and was buried in a glass-topped casket. Later, curiosity reportedly led vandals to dig up the grave to see the corpse. According to legend, the girl’s body appeared intact and life-like. The vandals supposedly then opened the coffin, only to have the body disintegrate.

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One thing I wanted to draw your attention to is the massive vines that stretch over the area above her monument. If you look very closely, you can see how the thick vines are wound around what looks like a fallen tree trunk.

The graves and the headstones were fascinating and touching, but they are not the only reason this graveyard is so beautiful. Many of the trees, vines, flowers and ferns are breathtaking to a Minnesotan like me.

Resurrection Fern

I was particularly taken by the Resurrection Fern that grew on many of the nearly horizontal branches of the oaks. Apparently this plant causes no harm to its hosts. I’ve read that very dry conditions will cause the ferns to dry up and appear dead, but that providing water will revive them nearly instantly.

I’ve probably rhapsodized enough about this distant-in-time-and-space place that somehow felt like home to me. I’ll leave you will a sincere wish that you find such a place yourself.

PS: I thought it might be a good idea to give you an extra resource, which I found useful when I was looking at these photographs.

Click the following link to see a guide to some of the grave markers you’re likely to see in southern graveyards. Regionality matters. In Minnesota, for example,  I’ve never seen a “table tomb” like the one pictured below.

PreserveALA’s guide to grave markers.

Old Burying Ground, NC vista 6

 

 

 MORE OF MY FAVORITE SHOTS

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