The Old Arnold Estate

The Old Arnold Estate, Harrisville, Rhode Island.

The old Arnold estate, a historic home in Harrisville, Rhode Island, became world famous after the release of the well-known horror movie “The Conjuring.” The real Perron family experienced several strange occurrences while living in the house during the 1970s. These occurrences then became the basis on which the scriptwriters, Chad and Carey Hayes, created a fascinating and dark story. The movie is a work of fiction, but the real history of the old Arnold estate is almost just as fascinating…

History of the Old Arnold Estate

the old arnold estate

This old farmhouse is located in Harrisville, Rhode Island. It was built in 1736 and was originally owned by a family called the Richardson. A few years later the Arnold family bought it and moved in. The house was then passed down to various owners, each leaving their own mark on the property. In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron purchased it and that’s when things started to heat up.

The Old Arnold Estate from 1736, was originally a small two-story structure. Over time, it was expanded and renovated by subsequent owners. And in the second half of the 20th century, it got its present look. Today, the house has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and dining- and living rooms. It is 110 feet long, has two stories, and a basement, and it is situated on over 200 acres of land.

The Perron family and their experiences in the house

So, this was the house in 1971, when Roger and Carolyn Perron purchased the house. They wanted to raise their five daughters in this large but unmodern house, in a peaceful, rural neighborhood. They wanted to just enjoy the beautiful nature and create their own haven. However, already on the day of moving in, the family started experiencing strange occurrences. They heard noises, witnessed objects moving on their own, and encountered ghostly apparitions. And they heard voices crying out… Sometimes a woman, sometimes a man, but most often they were children calling:

– Mama… Mama! Ma..!

On some occasions, the voices said:

– There are seven dead soldiers in the wall..!

A few examples of what they saw, according to Andrea Perron.

The real Conjuring house

Andrea Perron, one of Roger’s and Carolyn’s daughters, has written a book called House of Darkness, House of Light, about her experiences in the house. It was released in 2011, two years before “The Conjuring” came out. Here are a few of the events described by Andrea in the novel.

  • Already on the day of the move, two of the girls saw a man standing in the dining room. They saluted him thinking it was a neighbor or something. Later they learned that there was nobody there. The neighbor who had promised to help out didn’t show up until later.
  • The dog wouldn’t come in from the lawn in front of the house. They had to drag him in.
  • Most of the hauntings happened around Carolyn Perron. She seemed to be the one the entities focused on. Supposedly, the entity coming after Carolyn had a broken neck, possibly a victim of hanging, self-inflicted or not. This ghost was later interèpreted as Bathsheba Sherman.
  • A seance/Exorcism was carried out, during which at a certain point Carolyn was lifted off of her chair and violently thrown 20 feet across the room.
  • There were multiple events of poltergeist phenomena. Things moved around, were lost, and then found in strange places, doors opening and then violently slamming shut. But the family also witnessed chairs, furniture, bedlinen, and whole matrasses levitating and flying from one end of the room to the other.

III. The Story of “The Conjuring”

The story about the Perron family

“The Conjuring” is a 2013 horror film directed by James Wan and based on the story of the Perron family’s experience in the Old Arnold Estate. The movie to some extent follows the events chronicled in Andrea Perron’s book, but more so it was based on the witness accounts of Ed and Lorraine Warren. These were two self-declared paranormal investigators. More about them further on.

The movie “The Conjuring” follows the Perron family as they move into the Old Arnold Estate in 1971. Shortly after moving in, the family begins experiencing supernatural occurrences, including unexplained noises, ghostly apparitions, and objects moving on their own. They seek the help of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who uncover the dark history of the property and attempt to rid the family of the malevolent spirits haunting the house.

Does “The Conjuring” refer to what actually happened?

Although “The Conjuring” is supposedly based on the true story of the Perron family, the film does take quite a few creative liberties. Small things like in the movie the Perron family has only five members, while in reality, there were actually six. The film also portrays the haunting as caused by a single malevolent spirit, while the Perron family reported experiencing multiple entities.

But there are also bigger differences… In the movie, the mother of the family, Carolyn, is possessed by Bathsheba, the witch, and tries to kill half of her family. The 10 years are also heavily compressed into just a few weeks to fit the film medium.

The label “based on” is ambiguous. The story could have been based on the Perron family’s own 10 years in the house, but instead, it’s almost completely taken from Ed and Lorraine Warren’s case files.

The old Arnold Estate
Andrea & Cindy Perron Courtesy of Gage Skidmore under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

The film “The Conjuring” was a huge commercial success, grossing over $300 million worldwide on a budget of around $20 million. It then spawned a franchise of sequels and spin-offs worth many hundreds of millions. It was praised for its storytelling and photo. But it was also very appreciated for the intense performances, particularly from Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. It received a mindblowing 86% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it went ahead to win and be nominated for a long line of minor awards and accolades.

The Possibility of Supernatural Activity

So how can we decide if the events were the result of real supernatural activity, or that they were just the result of natural phenomena, or simply a hoax?

The first thing to do is of course to go to the Arnold Estate and investigate. And here we find the first difficulties. The house was owned until 1980 by the Perrons, then by the Schwarts family. From 1987 til 2019 the property was owned by Norma Sutcliffe.

In all those years, no “significant paranormal” activity was reported, and as the house was private, no paranormal investigations were made.

The court case between the owner of Arnold Estate and Warner Bros.

After the release of the film in 2013, hoards of YouTubers, self-proclaimed ghost hunters, and all kinds of thrill-seekers have invaded the premises. It was so invasive that Mrs. Sutcliffe sued Warner Bros. and other producers in 2015. She claimed her property was being vandalized constantly and trespassers continued to show up, even at night. All as a consequence of the film.

Something interesting that came out of the court proceedings was that neither Sutcliff nor Gerald Helfrich, who lived there before her, had ever noticed anything out of the ordinary… Ever.

The real Conjuring house

That could have been a somewhat tactical testimony, though. Something to say to try to get rid of the uninvited visitors. In an interview from 2013 before the release of the film, Norma Sutcliffe admitted that she and her family have had experiences, though not very dramatic. Footsteps, a door opening, and such.

Notcliff sold the house in 2019, and since then it has developed into a tourist attraction. The Conjuring House is now available for visits. You just buy the ticket. It is even possible to participate in all kinds of ghostly activity, from full immersion night tours with paranormal experts to Content Creator Investigation tours targeted especially to YouTubers who want good footage for their channel. If you like, you can check out YouTube for the many semi-professional ghost hunters who have investigated or stayed the night in the house. These are, almost without exemption, from this year or last year.

Under similar circumstances, I would say, unbiased investigations are difficult to obtain.

What the experts say about the Arnold Estate.

The Ghost hunters visited The Arnold Estate in the seventh episode of the second season, titled “Two Houses,” from 2005, well before the film. The conclusion is much like most other episodes, nothing conclusive but a lot of scraping audio registrations, sudden cold spots, and strange noises.

The New England Society for Psychic Research (NESPR) has investigated the house, and they found all kinds of paranormal phenomena. But NESPR was founded by Ed & Lorraine Warren, so that doesn’t really count… Or does it?

Ed and Lorraine Warren – The self-proclaimed Paranormal investigators.

Famous Paranormal investigatore
Ed and Lorraine Warren

Let’s take a look at the Warrens who helped the Perrons to shed some light on the phenomena, and who also assisted the filmmakers when shooting The Conjuring.

It has been said that they were called to the old Arnold Estate by the Perrons. The truth is, though, that they simply showed up one day. Obviously, they had heard about the hauntings and wanted to check it out.

In 1952, the couple founded the New England Society for Psychic Research. It was a success. Well, maybe success would be an understatement. Their efforts created mountains of documentation and they gathered hundreds of supposedly haunted objects. These objects would later be displayed in the Warrens’ own Occult Museum at their residence. In 1979 the first movie based on their investigations came out: The Amityville Horror. Many films based on their paranormal investigations would follow.

Here’s a list of their occult discoveries and the films based on them:

  • Annabelle. In 1968, they found the Raggedy Ann doll, possessed by the spirit of a young girl named Annabelle Higgins. Annabelle was turned into three films from 2014 til 2019 with a total gross revenue of $800 million on a budget of around $50 million.
  • The Arnold Estate from 1971… And here are the Conjuring films.
  • Amityville. George and Kathy Lutz were driven out of their house by an evil, demonic presence. The Warrens’ notes and documentation were made into no less than 27 films, many of which only have the name in common with the original Lutz family. The first and original movie grossed $80 million on a budget of about $5 million.
  • Enfield poltergeist. In 1977, the couple investigated a family in Enfield, North of London. That became the second film in the Conjuring series, This film together with Conjuring 3, and the spin-off sequel, The Nun, grossed a mindblowing $900 million on a budget of $100 million.
  • Arne Johnson, who killed his landlord and at the trial, attempted to plead Not Guilty by Reason of Demonic Possession. This case was the base for the third film in the Conjuring series called The Devil Made Me Do It.

As we can see, there are truckloads of money in this business, and whenever there’s money to be made, morality and honesty become negotiable.

Andrea Perron and Norma Sutcliffe before the release of “The Conjuring”.

More doubts about the hauntings of the old Arnold Estate…

Some of the claims made by Andrea Perron have been disclaimed.

When Carolyn Perron participated in the seance and she was thrown 20 feet across the room, some witnesses to the event say that she wasn’t thrown. It was more like she tipped over backward and dropped to the floor.

At that time, Roger, Carolyn’s husband was very skeptical and didn’t want all these people in the house. When his wife fell off the chair, Ed Warren rushed to her together with Roger, There was some sort of scuffle during which Roger punched Ed in the face.

The witch that was haunting the house according to Andrea Perron was called Bathsheba Sherman. In the middle of the 19th century, she lived in the house. She was supposed to have killed her own daughter as a sacrifice to the devil. She then hung herself. The apparition of a woman with a broken neck would be the proof.

Bathsheba Sherman – the witch.

The true Bathsheba Sherman, for all we know, was just a normal churchgoing wife and mother who died of a heart attack in 1885. And she never lived in the Arnold Estate. The first proposed name of the witch seemed to have been Laura Sherman, though. The Perron family had a dog at the time called Bathsheba, shortened Sheba.

After the release of The Conjuring, Bathsheba Sherman’s gravestone at Harrisville Cemetery has been repeatedly vandalized and was gone completely for four years. This has made even Andrea Perron come out and plead to paranormal enthusiasts to leave gravestones, other historical monuments, and houses in peace. Maybe as close to admitting that ghosts are not entirely a part of our reality, as a writer of horror novels can get.

Norma Sutcliffe after the release of “The Conjuring”.

So, what can we say? Is Arnold Estate haunted?

I do believe that the family’s experiences could have been true. Their testimonies seem credible, and I, as an outsider, cannot determine what really happened in the Arnold Estate between 1970 and 1981. But an experienced ghost isn’t proof of a ghost. There can be a multitude of explanations for doors closing, undefined noises, and feelings of unease.

So, considering everything and following the evidence where they lead us, it is hard to see any substance in all these stories. First of all, as stated before, when money is involved, the objective truth can be significantly bent to fit a profitable outcome.

Second, I always try to figure myself in their shoes, the people who have seen and heard the illuding entities. What would I do if I found myself in a house where invisible voices told me that:

– The next time we meet, we will both be dead.

One thing I can say without a shadow of a doubt. If that happened to me, I would be out of there faster than someone could say “Based on a true story…”.

I certainly wouldn’t stay in the house for more than ten years, living my everyday life, eating breakfast, molding the lawn, watching TV, and sleeping, while demons and dead witches roamed the premises. But I’m not used to hauntings, and I don’t personally know any ghosts… Or maybe I’m just not as courageous as the Perron family.

Back to the top of the page.


Compared to the number of claims and supposed paranormal activity on the old Arnold Estate, what comes out, in the end, is not very impressive. Still, The Perrons’ own words hold some intriguing vibration, some underlying darkness. I don’t know…


The Astor Place ghost train.

The Astor Place ghost train.

Astor Place subway station is tucked away in the bustling center of New York City. But although bustling and full of people today, there are legends and tales of strange things and ghostly apparitions connected to the station. The ghost train that occasionally passes through the station is perhaps the most intriguing of all the reported hauntings at Astor Place. Let’s dive into one of the most interesting phenomena of the underground network of tunnels and rails of the Big Apple… The Astor Place ghost train.

Astor Place ghost train

History of Astor Place subway station.

Astor Place subway station was first constructed in the early 1900s as part of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company. The station officially opened on October 27, 1904. It soon became a popular stop for commuters and tourists alike. It connects the green subway line (IRT Lexington Avenue Line) with several bus lines and is at a strategic endpoint in Lower Manhattan.

In the 1930s, the station was expanded to accommodate increased passenger traffic. New entrances and exits were added to better serve the surrounding area. Still, the station’s historic architecture has been preserved over the years. If you go there, you can still see many of the original design elements, including the distinctive white tile walls and elegant station entrances. Today, Astor Place is nr. 85 of New York’s busiest subway stations, with an average of almost 20,000 travelers passing through daily.

Ghostly sightings at the Astor Place subway station.

But we weren’t going to talk about the station and its history, as much as about the legendary ghost train passing through there. First, let’s consider that there have been quite a lot of other reports about strange occurrences and ghostly sightings. Subways (and trains, carriages, boats, and all kinds of travel means), are popular to attach to paranormal phenomena. And the subway stations are particularly adapted to have phantasms in them, with the dark, creepy tunnel, on each end, having the train appear from nowhere… And then disappear into the shadows again. It’s creepy.

Astor Place ghost train

So, many station employees have reported feeling a sense of unease or being watched, hearing unexplained noises, and even seeing stuff and people who weren’t there. There is supposed to be a ghostly figure lurking right at the point as far as the light from the station reaches inside the tunnel. Others have reported hearing disembodied voices and footsteps.

The legend of the ghost train.

The most intriguing of all the reported hauntings at Astor Place subway station is that of the ghost train. It is said that the train can be heard passing through Astor Place station on occasion, even though no train is visible on the tracks.

There are two distinct ways it shows and two distinct ways it is explained.

  • The train is heard arriving but not seen. You can hear the phantom train rumbling through the station, you can hear the screech of metal on metal, the sound of wheels grinding to a stop, and possibly the frantic cries of passengers. It seems to be right there but can’t be seen or perceived in any other way than with your ears and your body sensing the vibrations.
  • The second type of apparition is the actual train. It is an early 1900s luxury train in perfect condition. No one is onboard but some say it stops, opens the doors, closes them, and takes off again. An eery detail is that it is numbered 6. It would be recommended to never just get on a train without first checking the number above the driver on the front car.

What is it that makes train nr.6 re-occur at Astor Place station?

American financier and constructor
August Belmont Jr.
  • A train carrying passengers on the Lexington Avenue line derailed and crashed in the early 1900s. The impact was deadly and at the time security in the tunnels was almost non-existent. The crash and the following fire killed everyone on board. The ghost train is that same train driving at high speed toward its doom.
  • The second idea has to do with the looks of the train. Leather couches, silk curtains, and even a wood-burning stove have been witnessed inside one of the cars. It is said that it is an exact copy of the private vehicle of August Belmont, Jr., the CEO of the company that constructed the station.

So, again, is it true? Is there a real ghost train under the streets of New York?

Well, we don’t know. The difficulty here is obvious that it is very difficult to investigate. A house, a castle, a tunnel, or even an abandoned location that nature has completely reclaimed, these places can be checked. But a train, you never know when it shows up, that’s another story, If you don’t want to just sit down at the station and wait, it is almost impossible to have any decent evidence or any concrete result for or against it. With objects that just show up when they want, we’re kind of stuck.

Subway in New York
Astor Place Subway station

The testimonies of the Astor Place ghost train.

There is testimonial evidence about the train and its passing through the station. But the testimonies are mostly of a friend of an acquaintance type of evidence. “It is said that”, or “I have heard that” is the standard phrase in this context. When collecting testimonies, they are always about the first type of train, the non-visible one that rumbles through the station. Witnesses also always perceive it at night or late evening.

In 2006, a track worker named Frank Rivera was working on the tracks a short distance into the northern tunnel, when he felt a vibration as if a train was approaching. The vibrating train seemed to arrive, pass him, and continue out of the tunnel and into the station going south without any visible manifestation at all. He was unable to witness anything although the train apparently passed just meters away from where he stood. He claims the perception was that of a high-speed train that entered the station without any intention to stop.

Confirming the Astor Place ghost train.

Astor Place ghost train

There are a few facts to consider:

  • There was no tragic accident on Lexington Avenue. In fact, we had to wait until the 1970s before any severe accident occurred in Lower Manhattan.
  • Although someone might think that a luxury car like the one supposedly appearing at the station is unimaginable in a subway. The cars just don’t look that way. Still, as unlikely as it may seem, August Belmont Jr. had such a private subway car. Mostly for impressing wealthy acquaintances, but even so, it exists. And it has a nickname… the Mineola. Belmont used it on a private track from Hotel Belmont to Grand Central and from there all the way to Belmont Park in Elmont. Just like his father, August Belmont Jr. was an enthusiastic racehorse breeder.

Final thoughts.

Transportation in all its forms as well as locations connected to transportation; stations, tunnels, bridges, etc are frequent when paranormal activity is claimed. From ancient times, traveling, passing from one part to another has always been connected with uncertainty, and as such always provoked our fear of the unknown.

The ghost train of Astor Place is probably an urban legend. Hearing invisible trains passing isn’t unusual at all. Then, there are perfectly natural explanations about how our perception when underground, in a closed context with active mechanical engines and electricity, emitting infrasounds can be unreliable. The fact that almost no testimonies are direct and that even second-hand and third-hand testimonies always occur in hours with few people on the station is suspicious.

But, by all means. If you live in New York or have the possibility to visit, please go down to the Astor Place subway station, sit down on one of the very few benches there, and wait.

… And if you should hear or see a train, please register the sound and take a photo.

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Even if it is difficult to say whether the train is really there or not, the details of the case have many similarities with an urban legend. That fact alone is not absolute confirmation, but it’s pretty likely that the ghost train is just a story.


Volterra psychiatric hospital

Volterra psychiatric hospital Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra.

The history of Volterra psychiatric hospital.

When the hospital was established and why.

The Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra was established in 1888 as a part of the charity congregation, an Italian institutionalized effort to help the poor. The psychiatric ward was set up inside the grounds of the 15th-century convent San Girolamo. Interestingly, it was labeled “Moral agency”.

volterra psychiatric hospital

Today, it is not one building but several pavilions, spread out inside a beautiful forest situated on the hillside west of the city. During the decades and with increasing requests from the surrounding area as well as from other parts of the country, the hospital increased its capacity to receive patients. In the mid-1900s it was the biggest psychiatric hospital in Italy.

The modest first years of Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra.

In the late 1800s, mental health care didn’t have much to do with the word care. Many people with mental illnesses were frequently treated as outcasts that needed to be hidden away. The hospital’s goal obviously was to provide therapy and support to the patients. But in reality, mental hospitals at that time were much more warehousing than actual medical treatment.

volterra psychiatric hospital
Statue of Luigi Scabia

From around 1900 until 1934, the manager of the hospital was Luigi Scabia. Although firmly rooted in the ideas of the 19th century, he introduced new projects to the institution. His goal was to create an internal universe inside the hospital. A world with jobs, recreation, and even some sort of family structure. He created a carpentry shop, a bakery, a laundry, an electrical workshop, and even a furnace for making bricks to be used in the pavilions to be built. For a period the hospital even had its own postal service as well as a currency for use inside the premises.

In these years new buildings were added. And the patients were divided into sections based on the type of treatment required. There was a pavilion for agitated patients, and another for those who were calmer. There were pavilions for patients affected by infectious diseases. In 1933 due to the increased number of patients the Maragliano Pavilion was built. This building was a sanatorium exclusively for male TB patients.

When the second world war broke out, Volterra psychiatric hospital had become a vast structure that could house thousands of patients. In 1900 the average daily number of patients in the hospital was not more than 150. In 1939 that number was 4794.

Ospedale psychiatrico do Volterra after Luigi Scabia and after the war.

The years following the biggest conflict the world has ever seen were hard in Italy. Resources were lacking on all fronts, and budgets for psychiatric care were easy and straightforward to cut. So, the clinical ideas of Scabia were slowly abandoned for a more authoritative and rigid regime.

volterra psychiatric hospital

One could say that caring for the mentally ill in Volterra psychological hospital degraded in the forties and fifties. The reasonably caring hand of Luigi Scabia was gone, and the years of the fascist regime and the war had made an impact on how society looked upon “mad” people.

To that came the construction of the huge Ferri pavilion. This was a Judicial department with new types of patients… Criminals, and political prisoners. We can read in the documents how nurses and other medical personnel were called Guards, and how the patients were labeled Interns.

From 1963, the conditions inside the hospital very slowly started to improve. It would take until 1973 to see any real difference, though. The funds were unprioritized and the hospital was notoriously overcrowded.

Treatment methods used at the hospital have changed over time.

The hospital’s treatment strategies changed as medical knowledge increased. But it also depended largely on funds and willingness to help those unfortunate enough to be committed. The strong influence of scientific racism that swept over Europe during the 1920s and 1930s threatened even the idea of any treatment whatsoever of the mentally ill.

At Volterra psychiatric hospital, Scabia, who was a follower of the so-called positivism and the philosopher Roberto Ardigò, had already introduced no-restraint practices. That should not be confused with total freedom to do what you want. The idea was that forced restrainment and blunt violence should be used to a less degree.

After the war and as time proceeded new methods were tried out in psychiatric care. Many of those methods didn’t do anything to help though. Instead, the goal of the treatment was often to make the troubled patient more compliant, e.g. sedated. And if drugs weren’t readily accessible, the way to make mentally ill patients compliant was by going back to restraint and violence, or by threats of restraint and violence. Methods that Scabia had already limited 40 years earlier.

In the 50s and 60s treatments like insulin shock therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and psychotropic drugs started to gain acceptance. But just as in the case earlier, these methods were very often used without any real understanding of their effect, efficiency, or even side effects. Some patients saw improvements in their conditions, but, again, the effects were very random.

Disputes involving the hospital, such as allegations of patient mistreatment.

Much like other Psychiatric hospitals, The Volterra psychiatric hospital has experienced many claims of staff mistreating and abusing patients throughout its history. Numerous former patients have spoken out to share their experiences of being mistreated, restrained, and put through experimental treatments without their permission.

There are many testimonies of neglect, unhygienic conditions, restraining by physical force or coercion, and a generally violent environment. These reports are much more common from the period during and from the decades after the war than from earlier times.

In 1978, the hospital was closed.

In 1978, the so-called Basaglia Law (law 180) made big Psychiatric hospitals in Italy superfluous. They were gradually replaced with a whole range of community-based services. So, The Volterra psychiatric hospital was closed and the patients were moved to other locations or released into the neighborhood. Some of the buildings were left to deteriorate, of them the infamous Ferri pavilion.

Abandonded psyciatric ward Italy

The hospital village created by Luigi Scabia is still in use today. The Santa Maria Maddalena hospital operates several healthcare facilities. There are two hotels and even a museum covering the history of the psychiatric hospital. From here you can also visit the buildings otherwise closed to the public.

The hauntings of the Volterra psychiatric hospital.

The abandoned halls and decaying structures of the Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra are rumored to be haunted by the spirits of former patients. Over the years, reports of ghostly sightings and paranormal activity in and around the buildings of the hospital have surfaced, attracting ghost hunters from around the world. But reports are not evidence. It’s at the very best, reports. And sometimes not even that.

Reports of ghost and paranormal activity within the hospital.

Many visitors to the hospital have reported seeing shadowy figures, and feeling a sense of unease or fear while exploring the premises. Some have claimed to have seen the ghostly apparitions. When contact with the spirits is established (almost always through an EVP recorder) the identity is always of former patients of the hospital.

Many claims to have heard footsteps, whispers, and voices crying out. And some have experienced sudden changes in temperature, and things moving around.

What is said is that the ghosts are patients of the hospital who died there, who were treated cruelly or unjustly, who were experimented upon, and similar stories. Their names are many, and according to the “experts”, they can be found all over the area. Local investigators claim that ghostly apparitions are typically concentrated in and around the Ferri pavilion. Another supposedly haunted location is the cemetery Sanfinocchi a mile (1,5 km) to the north.

The Ferri pavilion was, until 1962, more of a prison than a psychiatric ward. It was isolated by walls and barbed wire surrounded the whole building. There was a large gate at the entrance guarded day and night by the staff of the ward. Today it’s a ruin.

Accounts of patients who died in the hospital and their restless spirits:

The general idea is that the souls of those who died at the hospital remain trapped within the decaying buildings, unable to find peace. It is easy to see some logic to that. A mental institution from the past is a perfect stage for all kinds of scary performances. The tragic life of the recluded patients tells us something about how cruel and heartless society can be. It is also a witness of the very thin line between either us being looked upon as humans or being regarded as something else and as such being denied even basic human rights. Once you divide humanity in this and that, we and them, atrocities become possible.

Mentally ill patient in Sicilly

At one time as many as 6000 patients were living in Volterra psychiatric hospital. That gives plenty of possible ghosts if we look at the criteria above.

Legends of the hospital being cursed or haunted by a malevolent spirit.

Ghosts of former patients are unsettling enough. But there are also darker legends from much older times. The church of San Girolamo and the attached Franciscan convent was built in the 15th century. The chosen site accidentally was on top of an old, abandoned Etruscan burial place. In fact, when the foundation for the buildings was dug, the old graves were destroyed and bones from hundreds of dead were scattered around the neighborhood. The long-dead bodies were so disturbed that they awakened something that had been dormant. And that entity is much more dangerous than mumblings on EVPs or moving chairs. Because that is a demon.

Conclusive investigations in and around Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra.

And this is as usual shorter and less intriguing part of the article. Because although there are truckloads of homemade or semi-professional documentation, very little has any real data to show.

In 2006 the Italian Society of Parapsychology investigated the premises. They didn’t find any paranormal activity at all.

Volterra overlooking the valley

Italian YouTubers frequently visit the hospital, and there are many reported encounters with ghosts and phantoms. But the amount of videos being presented as proof of these encounters is much less in later years, because of the buildings being closed to the public.

And that leads us to an interesting reflection: The environment itself is very attractive as a location for supposed hauntings. After the closure in 1978, the various pavilions encountered different destinies. Some were abandoned while others were restored, refurbished, and are now in use. These latter don’t seem to have any paranormal activity in them at all. The modern hospital facilities are “clean” although they share the history with the crumbling ruins further up the street.

Could it be that ghosts generally prefer locations that are old, rusty, dark, and spooky? Or is it that these ambients are better suited for video recording?

A ghost caught on film.

Still, some small indications of hauntings creep forth every now and then. As in this video from 7 years ago. A small group of young YouTube ghost hunters is filming outside the Ferri pavilion. The guy in the center is talking about the famous Nof-wall, while something is seen in the lower right corner of the window behind him, immediately to the left of his glasses.

The video is in Italian but here are the time stamps:

  • 2.21 Normal speed and color.
  • 2.34 Normal speed. Lightened.
  • 2.38 Normal speed. Lightened. Zoomed.
  • 2.52 Slow motion. Lightened. Zoomed.

That’s it. Now you make up your own mind.

Final thought.

The history of Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra is very interesting. It is an important testimony of local events in and around the city of Volterra, and of life and health care in the 20th century.

But much more important is the picture it paints of how mental patients have been abused, mistreated, and oppressed over the centuries.

My own take on it is that we, as humans, have a strong inclination to see the world in terms of we-them, and in-out. That way of thinking leads to a defective worldview. We feel we need to defend our little group from the other groups. That can be the correct feeling if our nation is invaded by soldiers with weapons.

Fernando Nannetti alias Nof4
Detail of the Nof wall

But if we give in to that sort of feeling without reflecting on its usefulness, we can possibly see threats from any kind of outgroup… People from other nations who are not invading us, people with another skin color, people of another gender, people of another faith, and of course crazy folks. And if so the only thing that holds us back from committing atrocities is the fact that we anyway see them all as humans, just like us. When that final frontier breaks, the true horrors begin.

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Not very haunted. One extra star is conceded for the history of the hospital and its extraordinary environment. More stars will be given if the video above can be confirmed as having recorded a real spectral entity.

Facts about Volterra psychiatric hospital.

  • The Volterra psychiatric hospital was established in 1888 and closed in 1978.
  • It was the largest psychiatric hospital in Italy.
  • The total area was 100 acres (40 hectares).
  • The total building area was 320,000 square feet (30.000 square meters), distributed in 13 wards/buildings.
  • Most of the area is cordoned off but some of the abandoned buildings that are not in use can be visited through the contact below.
  • For visiting, contact Mueso Lombroso at +39 0588 86099
Fernando Nannetti
Fernando Nannetti, also known as Nof4.

Facts about Nof4, the artist.

Nof4, Enrico Zaccarini, was a well-known Italian painter who spent a significant portion of his life at the Volterra psychiatric hospital. He was born in Faenza and began painting at a young age. He studied Arts at the Bologna Academy of Fine Arts, but it was his time at the Volterra psychiatric hospital that would influence his artistic style and career in an explicit and definitive way.

Nof4 lived from 1948 until 1973 in mental institutions. First in Rome and from 1958 at the Volterra psychiatric hospital. Between 1959 and 1961 he stayed at the Ferri pavilion. While locked up there he completed graffiti that covered the outside wall in a total length of 180 meters, the so-called Nof wall. After his release, he continued living in Volterra until his death in 1994.


The Truth about the Goatman Bridge

The Truth about the Goatman Bridge

A short history of Old Alton Bridge.

In Denton County, Texas, there is an old iron truss bridge called Old Alton Bridge, also called the Goatman Bridge. The King Iron Bridge Manufacturing Company constructed the bridge in 1884, and it was a vital thoroughfare for over a century. The bridge was built to connect the towns of Alton and Denton and to provide a crossing over Hickory Creek. The old Alton road over the bridge was at the time the major road between these two locations.

Building a bridge

goatman bridge

The construction of the bridge started in 1884 and finished in 1885. It was built using iron truss technology. Iron truss was a common technique for building bridges at the time, as it was a relatively simple and economical manufacturing technique. The builder was a well-known company in the bridge-building industry. The truss components for the bridge were put together on-site using bolts. The construction was finished by laying the wooden planks for the roadway across the trusses.

Restoration and reconstruction

In 2001 a new bridge was built slightly to the north of the Old Alton Bridge. That new bridge is the one that is used today. It is a modern construction using reinforced steel and concrete. It has sidewalks for pedestrian use and most importantly two lanes of traffic. The old bridge was one lane, and to prevent accidents or other simple problems when crossing, the automobile driver was instructed to stop and signal before driving up on the bridge.

Why is Old Alton Bridge called The Goatman’s Bridge?

goatman bridge

A brief explanation of why the bridge is known as Goatman’s Bridge

The origins of the name “Goatman’s Bridge” can be traced back to the early 20th century, when a black goat farmer named Oscar Washburn lived near the bridge with his family. Washburn, who was also known as “Goatman,” was well-established in the community and earned his fair deal selling goat milk and products like cheese and hides to his neighbors. There are various legends about him and most of all about how he died but they all connect to the label “Goatman”.

Washburn is said to have put up a sign at the Denton side of the bridge reading “This way to the Goatman” to promote his products and to show the way for his customers.

Why does it have the reputation of being haunted?

There is more than this legend though. Through the years other possible explanations for the hauntings have come forth. And for each possible cause, more people become convinced that something supernatural is going on. Today, the supposed hauntings have reached a point where it’s difficult to even get close to the bridge without bumping into a YouTuber, some satanic worshipers, or simply local youths showing up there to smoke joints.

The various Legends of the Goatman

Description of the three main legends about the Goatman:

Oscar Washburn.

Racism in gthe US

Poor old Oscar is actually the main character in two legends.

1. The first legend tells about how Oscar, who was a very successful individual, was associated with the devil. A group of locals decided to investigate these rumors and set out to confront Washburn. When they arrived at his home, they found that he was not there, but instead discovered a noose hanging from a nearby tree. They searched for his body but it was never found.

2. The success of the Goatman as well as the sign at the bridge agitated the local Ku Klux Klan. A black man who was a successful businessman could only mean one thing. He had struck a deal with Satan himself. One night in the 1930s, a lynch mob stormed Washburn’s shack and dragged Washburn to the bridge. There they put a noose around his neck and flung him over the side. But when they went down to affirm their gruesome handiwork, they found only an inexplicably empty noose dangling over the river. The Klansmen panicked, rode back to Washburn’s house, and set it on fire killing Oscar’s wife and children.

Both these legends have Washburn roaming the bridge and the surrounding area seeking revenge. According to some stories he will attack anyone who has klansmen in his bloodline.

According to yet another interpretation, it is the wife of Oscar who is haunting the bridge. She seeks her dead children.

Jack Kendall.

Another legend involves a man named Jack Kendall. He supposedly crossed the bridge in the moonlight in 1945. On the far side, he encountered the Goatman and died from a heart attack on the spot.

A porthole to hell on goatman bridge

But Jack Kendall could also have been a slave who was involved in the Texas slave insurrection panic of 1860. A lynch mod caught him right where the bridge would later be built, and hung him from a tree. The distance to the creek below and the long line had a terrible effect. When the rope stretched the force was such that it separated the head from the body. The cowboys then watched in horror as the headless body raised itself from the creekbed mud, and ripped off the head of a nearby goat to replace his own, still dangling in the noose!

Satanists who opened a porthole to hell and let a demon come through

The third legend involves a group of Satanists who were said to have opened a porthole to hell on the Old Alton Bridge, allowing a demon to come through and terrorize the surrounding area. Many visitors to the bridge report feeling a sense of unease and dread when they hear the story. It also draws a fair deal of Satanists to the area.

Confirmation of paranormal activity:

And now to the evidence, proof, and trustworthy testimonies of paranormal activity at Goatman Bridge… If there is any. We can easily determine that any credible observation should be easy to find since there are mountains of investigations on and around the bridge. Mostly, but not only, by the many YouTube channels covering ghosts, phantoms, and haunted locations. Unfortunately, there isn’t much substance. If you have a lot of time, please look through the material for yourself, and get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Haunted crossroads
  • Nuke’s Top 5 visited Goatman’s bridge in 2021. It was more like a Sunday walk in the park than an actual paranormal investigation though. They visited in daylight and that could have had something to do with it.
  • Sam and Colby were there in 2022. They filmed in the dark but still, nothing came out of it.
  • BuzzFeed Unsolved Network visited in 2017. They tried all the known tricks about how to summon the Goatman, but they didn’t get any answers. Although while walking through the forest they claimed they encountered a demon called Steve.

The best shot so far.

Ghost Adventures investigated the Goatman bridge also in 2017. They actually encountered something. While three of their crew were underneath the bridge, Aaron Godwinn was standing alone on the bridge. Suddenly a black, shadowy entity threw him 6 meters across the bridge. He hurt his arm and damaged his jacket in the fall.

Regrettably, although the team is loaded with cameras for daylight, nightlight, and any other sort of light, and although they have a truckload of electronic equipment, nothing was caught on camera, or on any other device. And that is very unfortunate because it could have been an undeniable piece of evidence of hauntings at the Goatman’s bridge. No definite evidence, but still something.

Goatman’s Bridge today.

The site is famous, and it is situated on the outskirts of the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington Metropolitan area with an estimated population of 6 million. It is easily accessible. The locals don’t seem to regard it as very haunted, and nothing really, apart from the many paranormal experts, points to the Goatman bridge as being anything more than an old abandoned bridge.

Maybe the true origin of the demons is the many young adults who go there to smoke. Just maybe the only Goatman someone would be able to summon is the one connected to the use of hallucinogens and mind-altering substances. And if that’s the case, the number of ghosts around Goatman bridge should be considerable.

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No, Goatman’s Bridge, Old Alton Bridge is just a bridge. Steel, bolts, wood, and gravel… But no goatmen.

Tips on what to do and what not.

goatman bridge
  • Knocking three times on the iron rail should summon the goatman.
  • So should passing over the bridge in a car with the headlights off. (Something you can’t do since the bridge is closed to traffic).
  • If you are connected to the Ku Klux Klan or have someone in your past bloodline who was, you should keep away.


The abandoned Clark Airbase Hospital.

The abandoned Clark Airbase Hospital.

Clark Airbase Hospital, located in Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines, is now an abandoned ruin of concrete, graffiti, and empty window frames. But it once was a thriving institution catering to the needs of the US Air Force personnel and their families. In modern times, it has become a popular destination for urban explorers and ghost hunters due to rumors of paranormal activity.

It is easily accessible within a large park area, and that could be why it’s become so popular with paranormal enthusiasts. Clark Airbase Hospital has become a hot spot for investigators of ghost stories… And at least as far as stories go, there is no lack of substance.

Clark Airbase hospital

From World War II to Volcanic Eruptions. The Timeline of Clark Airbase Hospital.

The Origins of Clark Airbase.

Clark Airbase was established in 1903 as a US Army airfield. In 1942, the Clark Airbase was occupied by the Japanese. They held it until the battle of Manila in 1945 when the US army took it back. In the few years of conflicts of the Pacific War, it was severely damaged. After the war, the base was rebuilt and expanded. In 1947 the US Air Force was established as a separate branch of the US armed forces, and the Clark base became a major US Air Force base in the Pacific region.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Clark Airbase was home to a variety of aircraft, including bombers, fighter jets, and cargo planes. The airbase had again undergone significant expansion and the number of personnel was increased radically.

The Construction of the Clark Airbase Hospital.

From the beginning of 1903, there was a hospital at the airbase, to provide medical care for the soldiers and their families. After the war, as much of the base had to be restored and amplified, a new hospital was planned. It took until 1964 to make it a reality though. But at that time the hospital was equipped with ultra-modern medical equipment. Trained medical personnel were also present in the hospital. It provided services for local Filipino residents as well as members of the US military stationed nearby.

Clark Airbase hospital
The Vietnam War 1955 – 1975.

The Hospital’s Role in the Vietnam War.

The hospital was crucial during the Vietnam War. In the final years of the war, doctors and nurses worked nonstop to treat the many wounded and injured soldiers, flown in from the war sites in Vietnam.

As Clark Airbase Hospital had a state-of-the-art burn unit and a trauma center it could provide expert treatment for typical Vietnam War injuries such as blast injuries and burns.

Why it was abandoned.

The base and hospital suffered a significant setback in 1991 when Mount Pinatubo, a nearby active volcano, erupted, causing widespread destruction in the area. The ash and debris from the eruption caused significant damage to the base’s infrastructure, including the hospital. The hospital was eventually forced to close its doors and was abandoned when the US military left the Philippines in 1992.

Clark Airbase after the Americans left.

So, the United States Air Force turned over the base and all the buildings to the Philippine government. After that, the base was abandoned for several years, and the Clark Airbase Hospital was systematically looted by the locals. It was later named Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone (CFEZ). Clark International Airport (CIA) still operates from inside the old Clark Airbase, and some Philippine Air Force-owned and -operated facilities in the neighborhood still use the label, Clark.

American military airbase in the Philippines
Clark Airbase in 1989.

Paranormal stories from the Clark Airbase Hospital.

Clark Airbase Hospital is supposedly one of the most haunted sites in the Philippines. People who enter the abandoned hospital have reported feeling uneasy and experiencing strange sensations, such as cold spots. They have heard unexplained noises, and sometimes they claim real ghosts can be seen inside the premises. There is a myriad of testimonies, even from officials like the guards, and guides. Here are a few of the supposed hauntings:

  • A ghostly nurse who is rumored to wander the hallways is one of the most popular legends surrounding the hospital. The nurse was allegedly killed during Mount Pinatubo’s eruption, and ever since, her ghost has been imprisoned in the hospital. Hospital visitors have described seeing a figure dressed as a nurse walking the halls or standing at the foot of patients’ beds.
  • Another frequent story tells of a headless ghost that haunts one of the hospital’s operating rooms. The legend has it that a patient was brought in for surgery. Due to complications, unfortunately, the patient died on the table. Some visitors have reported seeing a figure without a head in the operating room or close by.
  • There have also been claims that a spectral young girl reportedly haunts the hospital. Some visitors have reported seeing her playing in the hallways or peeking out from behind doors. It is unclear who the little girl was or why her spirit has remained at the hospital. Other reports include flickering lights, doors that open and close by themselves, and strange noises coming from empty rooms.
American Airbase at the end of WW2
Clark Airbase in 1945.

Confirmed” ghost encounters.

All these stories of encounters and shadowy entities are interesting but don’t really provide any documentation. So, what do we have of more “serious” investigations? It turns out that the material is meager. But here are a few of something that with a vivid fantasy could be claimed as evidence:

Ghost Hunters International:

In episode 20, named Unknown Soldier and aired on February 11, 2009, the team visits Clark Airbase. Although they witness some of what they were told about the Clark Airbase ghosts, flickering lights, a white shadow behind a pillar, and a face at the end of a corridor, nothing really comes out of it. They get EVP recordings that with much help from suggesting team members could be interpreted as: “Help!” and “I’ll take it!” (… When a ghost is offered a cigarette.). Still, there is no there there.

Clark Airbase
Ghost Hunters International Team.

National Geographic – I wouldn’t go in there:

In the episode, Philippines: Haunted Hospital, aired in 2013, the urban explorer Robert Joe takes us through the building. It is spooky and uncanny. The shadows in the corners seem to take life, and the light of the flashlight sometimes reflects in an uneasy manner. He actually catches some cool EVP sounds, but more than “possible”, and “supposed” hauntings are hard to see in the footage.


There are many of the usual YouTube videos local urban investigators documentation out there. But none of them shows anything out of the ordinary. Many are evidently trying to create a dark feeling, adding sound effects, and acting scared when something is heard further down the corridor. Others are right-out fakes.

My Opinion on Clark Airbase Hospital.

Whether or not Clark Air Base Hospital is truly haunted remains unknown for now. The stories and legends surrounding the abandoned hospital have created a sense of intrigue and fascination, making it a popular destination for those interested in the paranormal. And there is no lack of people interested in exploring abandoned and haunted sites.

Clark Airbase hospital

Are there any reasons why Clark airbase hospital would attract less serious investigators, that could possibly result in fake positives?

Well, two facts speak in that direction:

  1. It’s a hospital. Hospitals, especially if they are one of three categories, infection disease clinics, war hospitals, and psychiatric wards, are intriguing as haunted places. Abandoned hospitals often have old medical equipment, and hospital records lying around, which makes them very scary.
  2. And this is a game changer. Clark Airbase Hospital is completely accessible to anybody. You just walk in and start shooting your video.

Final thoughts…

I would say that those facts point to an old and very spooky building, full of debris, waste from vagrants, cracks and dark holes in the floor, and rats, but without any substantial paranormal activity at all.

Still, regardless of the truth behind the hauntings, Clark Airbase Hospital serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers in action, and of the horrors of war.

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No, the hospital is with all probability not haunted… Period!


Yun Shan Fan Dian and the ghost of Dowager Cixi

Yun Shan Fan Dian and the ghost of Dowager Cixi.

The history of Yun Shan Fan Dian, Chengde, China.

    Yun Shan Fan Dian was constructed in the early 1900s. The idea was to merge traditional Chinese design with a contemporary Western style. The architect wanted to fuse the best of both worlds. After its inauguration, in the beginning, the hotel provided upscale accommodation for important businesspeople. It was a melting pot for the local elite. Within a short time, it metamorphosed into an exclusive social arena, facilitating high-profile meetings and events. It also became an important base for private and official encounters between local dignitaries and influential politicians.

    Yun Shan Fan Dian
    Yun Shan Fan Dian front view

    However, despite its pretentious beginnings, with the passing of time, the hotel faced various difficulties. The management and ownership changed many times which led to its decline in status and loss of former glory. Still, Yun Shan Fan Dian still holds a significant place in the city’s cultural landscape. Nowadays aiming more towards an international market.

    Local Myths and Legends at Yun Shan Fan Dian

    The local myths and legends of the illustrious Yun Shan Fan Dian Hotel are as diverse and numerous as the spectral sightings that pervade its halls. Some accounts speak of vengeful spirits seeking retribution for past injustices, while others tell of star-crossed lovers tragically separated by cruel fate. Still, there are tales of secret societies and lost knowledge, carefully guarded by both the phantasmal and non-phantasmal entities that roam the hotel’s grounds. Among the many legends surrounding the Yun Shan Fan Dian, two distinct stories stand out.

    • The first speaks of Empress Dowager Cixi, the widow empress, often seen at the end of the hallway on the 8th floor, dressed in traditional late 1800s Chinese clothes, surveilling her former garden below.
    • Meanwhile, on the same floor, a gentleman dressed in Western-style clothes has been observed, adding to the mystique of the hotel and fueling the imaginations of those who dare to visit.
    Yun Shan Fan Dian
    Chinese Empress Dowager Dixi

    Paranormal Investigations of the Hauntings at Yun Shan Fan Dian

    Unfortunately, an absence of credible investigations has prevented the illumination of the strange occurrences. Finding any conclusive answers would probably require a multidisciplinary approach. What’s needed is not only paranormal investigators but also specialists in psychology and other relevant fields. But no such investigation has been taken to date. Yun Shan Fan Dian’s secrets are just not illuminated enough. We can’t answer the questions, and we can’t determine what are credible stories from what are just stories. And that is sad because Yun Shan Fan Dian certainly deserves a more thorough understanding of its secrets.

    Are the ghost stories at Yun Shan Fan Dian true?

    The stories and legends surrounding the Yun Shan Fan Dian establishment are a topic of debate and speculation among paranormal enthusiasts. Some ghost hunters are convinced that there is dark energy surrounding the building. Still, testimonies about spine-chilling encounters with spectral apparitions should be regarded as just that… Testimonies. And testimonies are, though evidence, not very strong evidence.

    It is correct to remain skeptical and wait to believe until we have more than stories that easily could be figments of imagination or have other physical explanations. The human brain is complex and sometimes we aren’t very rational. That makes it difficult to provide a definitive answer when all you have are stories.

    Yun Shan Fan Dian

    So, we don’t really know what’s hiding in the shadows of the old hotel. The corridors’ dark corners do not reveal anything, and on the outside, the many rooms don’t show anything more than just ordinary hotel rooms.

    But the lack of definitive answers could also make Yun Shan Fan Dian even more interesting. Having no result is closer to a positive result than already having a negative result if you know what I’m getting at.

    Final thoughts

    Haunted are special. They lend themselves to all kinds of fantasies. Many people, with many different personal life stories, some of which are troublesome, come together from different parts of the world. They live for a short while in a small restricted space. The many closed doors protect them from the outside world, and behind them, the guests continue their existence, just a thin wall away from each other… So close, yet so far away. It makes a perfect background for gruesome and terrible stories.

    Yun Shan Fan Dian has not been thoroughly investigated. That’s her drawback. But maybe that fact could be an asset from a larger perspective. The stories are there. So are the legends and the testimonies. But we can’t say how many of them are true if any. Yun Shan Fan Dian per se doesn’t seem very intriguing. It’s a perfectly reasonably functional modern hotel. The only way to know would be to go there… Book a room, walk to the end of the corridor on the 8th floor, and decide for yourself…

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    I wouldn’t exclude the possibility. But claims should be accepted when they have been demonstrated in some reasonable fashion. As for now, I would say Yun Shan Fan Dian is an unwritten chapter. I await correction…

    Travel Information

    Yun Shan Fan Dian is located in Chengde, China,

    • It is 30 minutes by car from the Chengde Puning Airport.
    • It is 500 meters from Chengde Railway Station.

    Here is some essential information if you’d like to try out the hotel.

    • The hotel has a four-star rating.
    • The address is 41 Wu Lie Lu, Shuang Qiao Qu, Cheng De Shi, He Bei Sheng, Kina, 067000
    • You can contact the hotel directly at +86 736 721 8888.


    Chengde. A Chinese city 100 miles northeast of Beijing

    Bodie the ghost town

    Bodie the ghost town.

    Nestled amidst the majestic mountains of California lies Bodie, the legendary ghost town steeped in history and intrigue. With its crumbling facades and abandoned buildings, Bodie is a testament to the fleeting nature of man’s dreams and aspirations. A ghost town that once bustled with activity during the gold-mining era of the 1800s, Bodie now draws visitors from around the world who come to explore its mysteries and unearth its secrets.

    bodie the ghost town

    A short background to Bodie’s fame.

    The history of Bodie reads like a thrilling novel, with twists and turns at every corner. Gold was discovered in 1859 and after that, Bodie quickly grew into a thriving metropolis that at its peak boasted a population of over 10,000. With its bustling streets and bustling businesses, Bodie was a beacon of prosperity and opportunity.

    However, fame and glory would be short-lived. As the gold began to run dry, the population dwindled. By the beginning of 1900, Bodie was on the brink of collapse, and many of its buildings were left to the elements. But just as the town seemed destined to fade into obscurity, fate intervened, and Bodie was reborn as a State Historic Park in 1961. Today, Bodie stands as a testament to the tenacity and resilience of the human spirit, a haunting reminder of a bygone era that still captivates the imagination.

    Paranormal activity in Bodie

    Reports of ghosts in Bodie

    The town of Bodie has long been renowned for its chilling paranormal activity, with countless reports of ghostly sightings permeating its eerie atmosphere. Visitors to the ghost town often report an unsettling presence, the faint echo of mysterious noises, and apparitions of a seemingly supernatural origin.

    Visitors have claimed to have seen the ghost of a little girl in the old schoolhouse. There have been reports of the apparition of a woman in a white dress walking about at the cemetery. Some have felt cold spots, sudden gusts of wind, and other spectral sensations, despite the stillness of the surrounding air.

    Bodie with mountains in the background

    Haunted locations in Bodie

    Numerous locations in Bodie are believed to be haunted, with the town’s cemetery being a hotspot of spectral activity. The cemetery is said to house the spirit of a man buried alive and the ghosts of several children who succumbed to a diphtheria outbreak.

    The old schoolhouse is also reputed to be a hub of ghostly activity, with visitors reporting inexplicable noises and sightings of mysterious apparitions. The Dechambeau Hotel, a popular haunt for ghost hunters, has been associated with spectral voices and inexplicable footsteps, with guests claiming to have encountered unexplained phenomena during their stays.

    Theories on why Bodie is haunted

    Several theories exist to explain Bodie is haunted, with some speculating that the town’s violent past has imbued it with a metaphysical residue that continues to pervade the town. There are speculations that the spirits of those who perished during the town’s heyday still wander the streets, searching for a means to ascend to the afterlife.

    Still, others believe that the gold that originally drew people to Bodie may have an esoteric energy that has imbued the town with an otherworldly presence. Ore that the town’s location on the fringe of a vast, untamed wilderness has attracted ghosts and paranormal activity, making uneasy presences approach from far and wide.

    We don’t know the reason but Bodie’s reputation as a haunted destination has only grown over time. More and more curious visitors come from all corners of the globe, eager to explore its eerie and enigmatic past.

    Ghost sightings in Bodie

    Popular ghost stories from Bodie

    Bodie the ghost town has many stories to tell. Among the most popular is the tale of the “little girl of Bodie,” a spectral child who is said to haunt the town’s schoolhouse. Visitors claim to have seen her apparition drifting through the halls, accompanied by the sound of her spectral laughter.

    Another chilling tale is that of the “hanging tree,” a gnarled old tree located near the town’s cemetery, said to have been the site of many lynchings during Bodie’s heyday. Visitors claim to have seen the ghosts of the unfortunate souls who perished there, still hanging from its twisted branches.

    inside the church of abandoned mining town

    Photos and videos from Bodie the ghost town

    Visitors to Bodie have captured photographic and video evidence of ghostly apparitions, lending further credence to the town’s reputation as a hotbed of paranormal activity. Photos and videos of spectral figures moving through the streets, mysterious orbs, and unexplained phenomena continue to circulate on social media and the internet, fueling the town’s eerie reputation and drawing in curious visitors from all corners of the globe.

    Strange appearances in Bodie

    Paranormal investigations and their conclusions

    Over the years, many paranormal investigators and ghost hunters have come to Bodie. Unfortunately, we don’t have any official, professional reports. The stories are mostly of private character, Youtubers shooting video footage during opening hours in the daytime. We have some of the normal scraping EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena), occasional touching, temperature drops, and other inexplicable movements of objects. Nothing decisive. The conclusions have been varied and inconclusive.

    Experts on ghosts and what they say

    bodie the ghost town
    Pat Garrett 1883

    Some experts on the paranormal have weighed in on the phenomena in Bodie, offering their own unique perspectives on the town’s haunting reputation. It is possible though that the town’s violent past, with its many lynchings and shootouts, has made Bodie a perfect target for unverified ghost stories.

    There is also the town’s isolated location and harsh climate to consider. It could be suggested that these factors may have contributed to the high levels of paranormal reports in Bodie.

    The legend about the curse of the stolen objects of Bodie.

    There is an old legend regarding Bodie. It is believed that if anyone takes something away from Bodie, they will suffer from a string of misfortunes until they return the artifact. Every day the Bodie State Historic Park receives letters and packages of stolen items with letters attached asking them to take them back.

    – Please take back this rock. After stealing it, I’ve never suffered such bad luck in my life.

    In past years, many visitors used to steal souvenirs from the town. That resulted in a massive loss of historical artifacts. One day a park ranger evidently came up with a solution. He simply invented the idea of the curse and started spreading it. And it worked.

    After some time, the park started receiving letters and packages containing stolen items with pleas to lift the curse. And possibly the fake legend will prevent new thefts because returning an old artifact doesn’t really solve the problem. Once the item is back in Bodie, it is out of its context. And it’s often not an easy task to understand from where it was taken. The risk is that it remains in a box in a warehouse forever.

    Other documentation of interest

    “Ghosts of Bodie” – a book by author Margie Kay, exploring the town’s supernatural phenomena

    “Bodie: The Town That Belongs to Ghosts” – an article published in the LA Times, examining the history and paranormal activity of Bodie

    And of course an abundance of video documentaries, but unfortunately, none are very convincing.

    Is Bodie haunted or not?

    Walking through the deserted streets of Bodie is a surreal experience. The abandoned buildings stand as silent witnesses to a violent past, and the atmosphere is heavy with the weight of history. The site is awesome and any sound or wind blowing across the empty streets just increases the eerie feeling

    Having said that, it’s not a paranormal spot. I can’t find anything pointing to Bodie being more than just an awesome old abandoned town… A historical document, a doorway to a violent past, and a reminiscence of the men and women who built the new world.

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    Bodie is a wonderful place, a ghost town in the mountains of California. But it is not haunted. Although the empty buildings, the windswept open surroundings, and the isolated position can easily make it seem that way.

    • Bodie is located in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains of California, about 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe.
    • Take Highway 395 to State Route 270, which leads directly to the park entrance.
    • The park is open year-round, but hours vary by season.
    • March – October, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
    • November – February, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.
    • The park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
    • Admission is $8 per person for visitors 18 years of age and older.
    • Visitors 4 – 17 years of age: $5
    • Under the age of 4 entrance is free of charge.
    • Visitors can purchase tickets at the park entrance.
    • Visitors are also reminded to not take any artifacts or souvenirs from the park, as it is illegal and can result in fines or prosecution. You may also be subject to the Curse of Bodie…


    Bodie from a distance
    Bodie in 1890


    KolmanskopA Ghost Town in the Namibian desert


    Kolmanskop, located in the Namib Desert of Namibia, was for a short period a bustling diamond mining town that attracted prospectors and their families from mostly Germany. From an economic and colonial point of view, the town thrived for a few decades before World War 1. Today, Kolmanskop is a ghost town, with its once-grand buildings now empty and left to the elements of the desert.

    A short history of Kolmanskop’s rise and fall.

    Kolmanskop was founded in 1908 after a worker named Zacharias Lewala found a diamond in the area while working on the railway line. Using the word “worker” might be misplaced in this context. The railroad, an important project in colonial Germany’s expansion plans, was built by slave labor. After 1908, it is possible that the workers at Kolmanskop were free and that they were treated reasonably well. It is said that the number of diamonds was such that one could go out in the moonlight and simply pick them up from the desert sand.

    Founder of  Deutsche Diamanten Gesellschaft
    August Stauch

    After Zacharias’ superior August Stauch and his associate Sönke Nissen had secured their ownership of the area, the news of the discovery quickly spread. Prospectors flocked to the area, hoping to strike it rich, and the town grew rapidly. The German authorities swiftly closed off the whole southwest part of the country in a so-called Sperrgebiet, Prohibited area. After a short period, Kolmanskop had grown into a new and very modern village with everything a demanding citizen could hope for.

    However, the boom was short-lived. After the outbreak of World War I, diamond prices dropped, and many of the German prospectors and workers left Kolmanskop to fight in the war. Namibia was a German colony until 1915 when the South African army invaded the country and defeated the Germans. After the first world war, Namibia was incorporated as a part of the Union of South Africa under the name, South West Africa.

    So, the Germans were gone but by that time, the town’s population had already begun to decline. In 1928 the richest diamond field ever known was found near Orange river, some 180 miles to the south. Many of the workers and managers just up and left. In Kolmanskop the mining continued on a smaller scale until 1956 when the town was finally completely abandoned.

    In its golden years, the town was a proud host of a hospital with all the latest equipment. There was also a ballroom, a school, a sports hall, an ice factory, and even a small theater where invited theatre companies from Europe performed.  

    Something about the colored “worker” Zacharias Lewala and his boss August Stauch.

    Zacharias Lewala, a railway worker, is credited with discovering the first diamond in the area. In 1908, while shoveling sand off the tracks, he noticed a shiny stone and picked it up. Unaware of what it was, he went to the railway inspector, August Stauch, and handed it over with the words:

    – Look here Mister, Moy Klip (Nice stone…)

    The supervisor suspected the stone to be a diamond and if so, he knew what to do with it. He associated himself with his friend and co-entrepreneur Sönke Nissen in Lüderitz a few miles west, on the coast. The two claimed a 75 km2 area around Kolmanskop where the diamond had been found. Only after that, they reported the finding to the German colonial authorities.

    August Stauch then established the Deutsche Diamanten Gesellschaft (German Diamond Company) and he was instrumental in the development of Kolmanskop. He built up the town. That is, he used underpaid and abused local labor to construct the buildings and equip the mining facility. The local population of Herero and Nama, were at this point just a fraction of their previous numbers since most of them had been slaughtered by the Germans in the Herero and Nama genocide between 1904 and 1908.

    And to label Zacharias Lewala a railway worker might be an overstatement. Although he actually single handed founded the mining industry in Kolmanskop, he was probably more of a slave than an actual employee. Read more about the concentration camps in Namibia here.

    Kolmanskop Ghost town
    Lewala Zacharias
    • August Stauch who was knowledgeable about industrial development became a very rich man.
    • Zacharia Lewala is said to have been given a horse, but that is unconfirmed. We also don’t know anything about his endeavors after 1908.

    What happened after 1956?

    After 1956, Kolmanskop remained abandoned for many years, with only occasional visits from researchers and photographers interested in the town’s history. The buildings continued to deteriorate as the years passed, and a lot of houses were damaged by strong winds and shifting sands.

    In the 1980s, however, there was renewed interest in Kolmanskop, and efforts were made to preserve the remaining buildings and artifacts. Also in 1980, the town was declared a national monument. Since then, restoration work has been ongoing.

    Today, visitors can tour the town and see the restored buildings and artifacts, including the old post office, hospital, and school. Some buildings have been partially restored, while others have been left in a state of “arrested decay,” preserving their historical value while allowing visitors to see the effects of time and the desert environment. Read about how to get to Kolmanskop here.

    I should mention that this isn’t the only abandoned mining facility in the deserts of Namibia. There are also abandoned towns that are not from the mining industry. Any of those can be just as spooky as Kolmanskop.

    Paranormal Activity and Haunted Sites in Kolmanskop 

    Many visitors to the old town report unusual sensations and events. That includes the sound of footsteps and voices when no one else is present, doors that open and close on their own, and ghostly apparitions that seem to disappear into thin air. Some visitors report feeling cold spots, and sudden changes in temperature.

    While these experiences have been reported throughout the town, there are certain locations that are claimed to be particularly haunted:

    1. The hospital – Visitors to the hospital have reported feeling a sense of unease, as well as hearing the sound of footsteps and doors opening and closing. Some have even reported seeing the ghostly apparition of a nurse walking the hallways.
    2. The theater – The theater is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former actor or performer, who has been seen walking across the stage or sitting in the audience.
    3. The power station – The power station is supposedly one of the most haunted sites in Kolmanskop, with many visitors reporting feeling a sense of dread or fear when they enter the building. Some have reported seeing the ghostly figure of a man walking through the building, while others have heard the sound of machinery and tools being used, even though the power station has been abandoned for decades.
    4. The old houses – Some of the old residential houses in Kolmanskop are also haunted, with visitors reporting strange noises, moving objects, and other unexplained phenomena… Or the ghostly apparition of former residents sitting or standing in the rooms.
    Kolmanskop abandoned diamond mining town

    Concrete examples told by visitors to the custodians of the site:

    • A group of visitors was walking down one of the hallways inside the hospital when they suddenly saw a woman dressed in a white uniform walking toward them. The woman seemed to be a nurse, and she was walking decisively as if she was on her way to attend to a patient. The party was startled by her sudden appearance. They were the only ones there and hadn’t heard anyone approaching. They tried to move out of the way to let the nurse pass, but as she got closer, she suddenly disappeared into thin air. 
    • A man from the US was walking across the stage of the theater when he suddenly saw a woman in a long dress walking towards him. The woman wore clothes from the early 1900s. The man froze in place, watching as she walked across the stage and then vanished into thin air. 
    • The powerhouse is often troubled by presences. Very often noises are heard in the early morning. Sounds of tools against metal as if someone was working there. In 2016 a group of visitors from Italy, suddenly heard a loud banging noise, from one of the rooms in the powerhouse building. They approached to see what it was. A tall figure was standing in the doorway. It was a man, dressed in clothing from the early 20th century. The worker was facing away from the group and was making the loud banging noise by hitting a pipe against the wall. He seemed unaware of their presence, but then suddenly he turned around and looked directly at the group. They were quite shocked by the man’s sudden and hasty movement, and they quickly backed away from the room.

    Scientific studies on Kolmanskop ghost town.

    One study was conducted by the Cape Town Society for Paranormal Research in 2009. The team used thermal imaging cameras, electromagnetic field detectors (EMF), and digital voice recorders (EVP). They had some interesting results, but nothing conclusive. The EVPs included the sounds of footsteps.

    On March 29, 2011, The Sy Fy television show, Destination Truth aired with an investigation of the site. They used normal paranormal equipment such as EVPs, EMFs, etc. Although claiming to have encountered strange and troubling phenomena, nothing really comes out of it. Just as often is the case.

    There was a study in 2016 by Gesellschaft für Anomalistik, Freiburg, Germany. They didn’t find any anomalies at all.

    So, nothing particular comes forth in the science department. Only the normal scraping EVPs, pantings, and screamings.

    kolmanskop ghost town
    The Namibian desert from the International Space station

    Is it haunted or not?

    Well, no. It’s probably not, even though I’d very much like it to be. The thing is that the surroundings, the environment is so breathtaking. The whole place with its location in the middle of the sand dunes, and with that same sand literally floating through the town is magical. Together with its disturbing past, and dark history, it just ought to be a paranormal hotspot. If any spot in the world deserves to be haunted, it’s Kolmanskop.

    But there isn’t really anything that points to phantoms, or eerie presences. It is just an awesome place to visit. And if Kolmanskop isn’t enough for you, you could check out Pomona, Bogenfels, Elizabeth Bay, Baker’s Bay, or any of the other ghost towns that lay scattered around Namibia’s vast and windswept countryside. Just remember to get your authorizations and permits in order before arriving.

    Back to the top of the page.


    As much as I would like it to be true, I can’t find any good reasons to believe in the ghosts of Kolmanskop. I have to add one star for the outstanding environment and the fascinating but sad history.

    Information if you would like to visit the Kolmanskop Ghost Town.

    Opening hours and tickets for 2013.

    • 9.30 – 11.00. Adults N$ 130 Children 6-12 N$ 50 Children under the age of 6 Free. This time frame doesn’t give you the authorization to take photos, not even private photos.
    • Photo permit N$ 330 This ticket lets you take photos for personal use. As the site is not fenced, with the photo permit, you can arrive and leave when you want. If you come early or stay late, it is recommended to leave the photo permit in sight behind the windscreen for the guards to see.

    How to get to Kolmanskop.

    • By car. Towards Lüderitz on the B4. 10 kilometers before arriving at the town, turn left. 
    • By air: There is actually Lüderitz Airport within walking distance from Kolmanskop… If you’re prepared to walk two kilometers on the desert sands. Check the timetable because there might be only two or three flights a week.


    The horrific truth about the first genocide of the 20th century.

    The horrific truth about the Namibia genocide 1904 – 1908.

    Not many people know about this dark corner of human history. But the horrendous crimes against humanity by the Nazis before, and during WW2 weren’t the first example of German ethnic cleansing. Namibia became a German colony in 1884. Before that, The coastal territory and the southwest, where the diamond mines are situated today, were mostly inhabited by Nama and Herero divided into more groups.

    Namibia genocide
    Ohamakari – The Waterberg

    Africa’s history is a long line of white supremacy, tyranny, oppression, and abuse by European imperialistic countries. But the Namibia genocide pushed the extent of the horrors to new limits.

    In 1904, an uprising among the Herero in Okahandja, led to the German Reichstag sending 7000 men under the command of lieutenant general Lothar von Trotha to Namibia. These men were equipped with the best and most modern weapons of the German armed force. After thoroughly preparing, Trotha attacked the Herero army at Ohamakari, the Waterberg.

    Commander of the Herero army 1904
    Commander Samuel Maharero

    Trotha completely overwhelmed the Herero army, but he left an opening for them to flee out into the Kalahari desert. Most of the Herero fighting soldiers died in the battle, but many of the women and children fled into the east. There they were chased by the German soldiers further into the desert. Trotha’s soldiers shot or stabbed to death any Herero still within the German territory, and it was officially declared that the aim was to liberate all of the lands of any Herero.

    The Nama uprising.

    The other ethnic group in the area, the Namas took up arms against the German troops. Under commander Hendrik Witbooi they effectively raided and attacked German forces between 1904 and 1905. Unfortunately, their rebellion was too small and too late. After many years of internal conflicts with the Hereros, Witbooi didn’t enter the war until well after the battle of Waterberg. And so Trotha’s army had already defeated the Hereros. As often the case in war, there was a lack of coordination.

    Still, Witbooi was more successful than his Herero counterpart Chief Samuel Maharero. Instead of facing the Germans head-on, he led the Nama in a reasonably successful guerrilla war. Being much better equipped with knowledge about local geography and nature, and having better stamina, he effectively slowed down the German advances. When he was killed in battle on November 29, 1905, the Namas surrendered.

    The butchering stopped.

    Chief of the Nama army 1904
    Chief Hendrik Witbooi

    But let’s get back to the Herero-German war. Finally, the counter-order came from Berlin, and after months of hunting the Hereros, Trotha had to stop the slaughter. Chief Witbooi had fled to Botswana together with a handful of men. The remaining Hereros, mostly women, elderly, and children were half dead from starvation and dehydration after months in the Kalahari desert. The war was finished but the Namibia genocide had just started.

    Because the German authorities in Namibia realized they needed manpower. And the indigenous groups other than Herero which they once could have depended on were now mostly avoiding them. And the Hereros themselves were obviously hiding. Still, it was deemed that it would be easier to lure out the shattered Hereros from the bush than try to battle other groups into submission or convince them to work for payment. Remember that by now, none of the Namibian peoples had any confidence left for the Europeans.

    So, they sent forth the only ones the Hereros still thought they could trust… The missionaries. With promises of sanctuary in ” rescue”-camps they were persuaded to come out from their hiding. They thought they would be given food, clothing, and medical care. The truth was that very little of that was offered. Instead, they would have to work harder and for a longer time than any human being should ever be forced to do.

    The concentration camps.

    The term concentration camp was first used by the Spanish in Cuba, and later by the US and the English. The intention was to keep freedom fighters away from the civilians that supported them. It was a military strategy. In Namibia, the Germans took the whole idea one step further. In Namibia, there were no freedom fighters left for the civilians to support.

    namibia genocide
    A concentration camp in Windhoek. 1905

    The camps were mainly of two types: Labour camps, and death camps. The labor camps were many and in different parts of the country. The camp intern got a number stamped on a metal tag, which he or she was ordered to wear at all times. The goal was to offer cheap labor to the German authorities, labor for which the army was paid. But the business was so profitable that even private enterprises entered the market.

    The shipping company Woermann-Line had its own concentration camp in Swakopmund. It provided free slave labor for mainly loading and unloading their ships. 

    The Namibian railroads 

    Many of the buildings in Namibia from the period between 1904 and 1909 are built by slave labor. Even the parliament was built by slaves. But the biggest project of them all, the railway was almost exclusively built by Hereros in the years from 1904 until 1908

    In the south, the railway connecting the port of Lüderitz to Keetmanshoop was constructed by Lenz & Co, a German railway construction and operating company. They too used slave labor from the concentration camps. In 1906 they were issued with prisoners to work at the railroad. The year after two-thirds of them were dead. Of 2014 prisoners in 1906, only 655 survived until 1907. 

    Slaves in namibia

    Shark Island.

    But the worst of the concentration camps was shark island. Today it is a peninsula connected to the mainland, but at the beginning of 1900 it was still an island, and it was a forbidden territory. The prisoners who came to shark island weren’t supposed to work or do anything… They were supposed to die. It was an extermination camp of a model we have come to know too well. 

    Shark island was off the grid, away from curious testimonies. The prisoners were apart from Hereros also Nama. The latter were according to the German authorities “of no use to the world anymore”. They were given very little food and water. And since there were almost no cooking possibilities, the prisoners had to eat the little rice or flower they had raw. The climate on the coast is cold and the prisoners had no clothing or enough blankets to protect themselves. Furthermore, they were inland people and not used to the strong and humid Atlantic winds.

    Just as with the extermination of mostly Jews during the Nazi reign from 1933 to 1945 in Germany, the transports of prisoners to the island were done in boxcars. The prisoners were also not told where they were going, so as to not cause alarm among them. The rumors about shark island were such that the Germans feared rebellion or simply that the inmates could prefer suicide to go to the death camp. 

    Shark Island prisoners together with Lieutenant von Durling
    namibia genocide
    Herero slaves in chains

    Eugen Fischer, one of the architects of racial hygiene during the Nazi’s Third Reich.

    Other connections to the war crimes by the Nazis later are illustrated by the German anthropologist Eugene Fischer. He came to Namibia in 1906, where he found a population of native African prisoners ready to be used in his horrendous studies. He and his colleagues did experiments on the prisoners. And the body parts of the dead were dissected and studied. 

    Eugene Fischer investigated and later shipped 778 conserved heads of concentration camp prisoners to Germany. These relics were stacked away in basements of universities and high schools until 2011 when efforts were initiated to return them to Namibia for burial. This was completed in 2014.

    Eugene Fischer’s ideas about race biology would later be influential in laws against mixed marriages. But further on they would be of much more importance than so. His work would become the backbone for racial hygiene efforts not only in Nazi Germany, but also in all of Europe, and other “western” countries until long after the war. Because we should never try to blame all of the race-thinking on the Nazis. These ideas flourished throughout the world, and maybe we still haven’t gotten rid of them completely even today.

    Eugene Fischer’s work.

    He co-wrote the book Principles of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene together with Erwin Baur and Fritz Lenz, published in 1921. That very book was thoroughly read by Adolf Hitler during his imprisonment in München in 1923, and it became the “scientific” basis for eugenic sterilization programs.

    namibia genocide
    German soldiers packageing skulls for shipping.

    So, what was it with his fixation with skulls? 

    He published several books.

    • In 1913 he published The Rehobother Bastards and the bastardization problem in humans. This work was described as combining the earlier Mendelism theories with anthropology. It would become something of a ground plate for the racial biology that swept over Europe in the early 1900s.  
    • In 1927 he co-wrote German heads of Nordic race, another book about heads. The theory was that one could determine characteristics by measuring the head of a person. Firstly, it was about “race”. But these theories were later used to identify all kinds of personalities… Criminal behavior, promiscuity, low intelligence, etc. And in countries surrounding Germany, these theories were used to maintain the possibility of forced sterilization all the way until the 1970s. 
    • In 1943 he co-wrote Das antike Weltjudentum (The ancient world Judaism). 

    In 1942 he retired from his position as rector for the Humboldt University of Berlin. He was never prosecuted in the Nurnberg trials and he never answered for his crimes. He died in 1967 after having published two more books in the 1950s. 

    What happened with the concentration camps after 1908?

    The shark island camp was closed in 1907. The remaining prisoners were transferred to another concentration camp near Radford Bay, where they initially continued dying. They were in such a weakened state. Even so, the conditions in the new camp made the survival prospects a little better.

    On April 1, 1908, the prisoner-of-war status for the camp interns was abolished. This meant that all of the concentration camps had to close. The surviving Hereros and Namas were distributed among German landowners and companies. The freed prisoners were also forbidden to own land and therefore they couldn’t go back to the pastoral activity they were used to. The situation didn’t improve in any radical way.


    Statue to honor German soldiers in the Namibia genocide.
    Reiterdenkmal. memorating the fallen German soldiers.

    After the first world war, Germany lost all its colonies. But instead of a free state, German West Africa, as Namibia was called, became a part of the new Union of South Africa, and as such under South African (at that time under British dominion) rule. South Africa became an independent state in 1961. But already in 1948 the National Party introduced Apartheid laws and the people of Namibia found themselves back in a white European racial domination once more.

    In 1966 the UN general assembly passed resolution 2145 that should bring the South African sovereignty to an end. But South Africa rejected it and kept its firm grip on Namibia. It would take 26 years to convince the southern African country to set its neighboring country free. On March 21, 1990, the Republic of Namibia was established. 86 years after the battle of Waterberg the Namibian people were finally masters of their own land.

    The free republic of Namibia.

    But the economy was still mostly in the hands of American, South African, and European companies… And is so til this day. And the land is continuously owned on a large scale by white descendants of German and South African landowners. Today, much effort is made to somehow equalize the economic situation even though many claim it’s not done enough.

    In 2021 Germany officially asked the Namibian people for forgiveness for the atrocities committed during German rule. The word “genocide” was used for the first time. Namibia was also granted €1,1 billion in aid by the German government. It is given in 30 years and that makes it less than €40 million a year. That makes it in line with the yearly German DAC mandate aid to Namibia for the years 1990 – 2021. 

    But what happened to the memories of the cruelties?

    • Shark island is now a camping site.
    • On top of what once was another camp in Windhoek today stands a German memorial statue, the Reiterdenkmal.
    memorial headstone shark island
    Courtesy of Johan Jönsson under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
    • A vast burial ground with unmarked graves of anonymous slave workers outside Lüderitz is now a popular motorcycle and quad track. 
    • At the foot of Ohamakari where the battle of Waterberg was fought, there lies a cemetery for fallen German soldiers.

    In later years memorial monuments are being built in many locations all over Namibia. The complete lack of remembrance of the cruelties committed in the first years of the 20th century was brought to attention. So, for many years there was nothing on Shark Island that recorded all those who suffered and died there. But now there is a striking white headstone reading

    We commemorate our Heroes. Captain Cornelius Fredericks. 1864-1907. With 167 men, 97 women, 66 children, the sons, daughters, and children of !Ama Community Bethanie Namibia.

    Final thoughts.

    I have no answers on how to compensate, how to restore, how to remember, or how to forgive. But I don’t think it is for the better to forget, to pretend that it didn’t happen.

    There is a very long row of examples of how the African continent was abused, raped, and shackled for hundreds of years by European colonial initiatives. The case of Namibia is a shameful chapter of human history. And it shows us what stupidity, ignorance, and ambition can do to men.

    But most of all is it a brutal vision of where illusions about supremacy and superiority can conduct us if we follow along in that direction. And as soon as we start thinking in terms of we, us, and those, the others, we have already taken the first step on that path. 

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    namib desert


    The truth about the hauntings in Hoia Baciu Forest, Romania

    The truth about the hauntings in Hoia Baciu Forest, Romania

    Hoia Baciu Forest, a 1,000-acre wooded area in Transylvania, Romania is known for its alleged hauntings and strange phenomena. People arrive from every part of the world to see the famous forest and maybe experience some of its secrets. There are many reported hauntings and experiences, famous legends, and accounts. But Hoia forest is somewhat unusual because there have actually been some serious scientific investigations. And the sheer number of paranormal sightings makes it stand out from other similar sites.

    Hoia Baciu Forest’s History.

    The Forest’s Origins.

    Hoia Baciu Forest is thought to have developed more than 10,000 years ago as a result of the last Ice Age glaciers’ retreat. It lies on the larger Transylvanian Plateau, which is renowned for its karst topography and limestone formations. Habitations of the area date back to the Paleolithic era. Humans have lived in the forest for at least 8000 years. And it has been used by local farmers and shepherds using the forest for thousands of years.

    hoia baciu forest

    Historical Occurrences Related to the Forest.

    Hoia Forest has a lengthy, illustrious history. The forest served as a source of timber and a hunting ground for Transylvanian nobility during the Middle Ages. The forest saw action between German and Romanian forces in World War II, leaving behind bunkers and trenches that are still visible today. The former village of Hoia, which was abandoned in the 18th century as a result of repeated raids by Ottoman raiders, was also located in the forest. Even now, the village’s ruins can be seen in the forest.

    But let’s get into the hauntings and the ghosts.

    Reports of Hauntings

    The Hoia Baciu Forest is known for being a hotspot for eerie activity. Numerous reports of strange events have occurred in the forest over the years, including sightings of UFOs, ghostly apparitions, unexplained noises, and strange time dilutions. Some visitors to the forest have described sensations of unease or being watched, and others have faced unpleasant physical symptoms like nausea or dizziness.

    The most well-known sighting in the forest took place in 1968 when Emil Barnea, a military technician took a picture of a disc-shaped object hovering over the trees. The image has drawn a great deal of interest and skepticism. Some say it’s a hoax, while others claim it’s real proof of extraterrestrial activity.

    … And there are ghosts too.

    Hoia Baciu forest

    There have been reports of ghostly apparitions in the forest in addition to UFO sightings. Some visitors have claimed to have been touched or pushed by an eerie force, while others have seen shadowy figures or heard voices that didn’t belong to them. Due to the forest’s reputation as a hotspot for paranormal activity, thrill-seekers, ghost hunters, and paranormal investigators frequently visit it.

    Many skeptics are still unconvinced despite the numerous reports of paranormal activity in the forest. Some claim that natural phenomena cause the sightings or that people’s overactive imaginations could be to blame. Others contend that the reports could be the result of the “suggestibility effect,” a psychological phenomenon whereby people are more likely to report paranormal experiences when they are in an area that is thought to be haunted.

    The Various Sighting and Experience Categories

    So, there have been many sightings. So many, in fact, that it would be overwhelming to list them all. Still, here are a few of the most frequently reported phenomena:

    • UFO sightings: The photograph by Emil Barnea is one of the most well-known sightings in the forest. Many other visitors to the forest have reported spotting strange, difficult-to-explain lights or objects in the sky.
    • Alexander Sift claimed he had experienced what he called “shadows”, certain presences that always seemed to be with and behind him. These shadows occasionally resembled a man and a woman. They disappeared as soon as he looked at them though. Even so, Sift was able to capture a picture of the man just as he was about to disappear. The strange creature is depicted while parts of its body were turning translucent.
    • Ghostly manifestations: Visitors have reported seeing eerie figures, hearing voices that don’t belong to them, and sensing the presence of ghostly beings. Some people have asserted that they were pushed or touched by an invisible force.
    • Strange noises: Visitors have reported hearing noises, such as footsteps or whispers, that are eerie and cannot be explained by any readily apparent cause.
    • Missing time: A few visitors have mentioned feeling as though they have been in the forest for a lot longer than they thought they had.
    • Physical sensations: Some visitors have described experiencing physical sensations like nausea or vertigo that they are unable to explain.
    hoia baciu forest
    Cluj-Napoca University

    Still, not every person who visits the forest reports seeing or hearing ghosts. Like always, it seems very much that what you bring in with you, you take out from the forest. The skeptically-minded person would probably see, hear, and experience fewer strange occurrences.

    Notable Narratives and Legends Related to the Forest

    • A shepherd went into the forest with 200 sheep and never came out. The shepherd and his flock are said to have vanished without a trace, and their whereabouts are still unknown.
    • A five-year-old girl who got lost in the forest and came out five years later, unaged and with no memory of what had happened to her.

    Some of the more scientific evidence of the paranormal in the Hoja forest.

    • Biologist and University of Cluj professor Alexandru Sift oversaw a scientific investigation of the forest in the 1960s. Sift was intrigued by the region’s peculiar vegetation, but he also observed the dense electromagnetic activity in the forest. He proposed that this might be the cause of the strange experiences visitors had reported.
    • Scientists from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca have made some investigations. They discovered that the magnetic field inside the forest was 30% stronger than outside. This could possibly depend on the presence of large quantities of underground water At the site. But they couldn’t determine the reason for the increased magnetism with any certainty.
    • The Romanian Society of Parapsychology carried out one of the most well-known of these studies in the 1990s. The group camped out in the forest for several nights and claimed to have encountered strange lights and noises. They were unable to record any concrete proof of paranormal activity, though.
    • In 2009 and 2012, a group of sleuths from the “Destination Truth” program on the SyFy channel visited the forest. To try and find proof of paranormal activity, they employed a variety of devices and methods, such as electromagnetic field detectors and thermal imaging cameras. Although they recounted a number of strange occurrences, they were “obviously” unable to conclusively prove the presence of ghosts or other paranormal activity in the forest.
    UFO over treeline

    The results – How should we interpret all these findings?

    It is also reasonable to suppose a certain bias. At least some of the groups doing the surveys certainly would very much like to find evidence. According to my limited experience, Destination Truth and The Romanian Society of Parapsychology do not hold up to scrutiny. Alexandru Sift was a biologist and maybe he too isn’t the right man to ask. But there are other issues…

    The photo In 1968 by Emil Barnea is one of the sharpest and best-focused ever according to many UFO experts. Still, when looking at it, I can’t liberate myself from the idea of a manipulated photo, but I’m no photo expert… You judge for yourself.

    The “witch” circle.

    Inside the forest, there is a perfectly circular area without trees. Nothing grows there other than grass, and the trees around it twist and turn seemingly trying to avoid the round opening. Biologists have studied the ground there to investigate if there is something preventing the vegetation from overgrowing the area. But there seems to be no obvious biological reason for the phenomena.

    paranormal activity in Romania

    The “paranormal” truth about Hoia forest?

    Some researchers claim the forest could be a doorway to another world or the source of a mystical or spiritual energy that dates back thousands of years. Others contend that the region has a long history of paranormal activity and that the reports of hauntings and other strange occurrences are merely a component of the forest’s folklore.

    The scientific community has been unable to fully explain the reported hauntings in Hoia Baciu Forest despite decades of research. Some scientists have hypothesized that the peculiar experiences that visitors have may be related to the forest’s distinctive geomagnetic field. Some reports of unusual sights or sounds in the forest have been attributed to infrasound or sound waves at a frequency below the threshold of human hearing.

    The Hoia Baciu Forest Hauntings: The Real Story

    Attitudes and Beliefs Towards the Forest

    Reported strange presents and experiences can obviously be a result of exaggeration, misunderstanding, or plain old fear and superstition. As normally, functional human beings we are prone to put our internal view of things into words and narratives about the external universe. We start with a conviction and then we adjust what we see and hear to confirm that conviction. And so, reports and testimonies should always be accepted very cautiously.

    Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania
    Cluj-Napoca. The town is close to the forest.

    The myths and legends associated with the forest may also create a “feedback loop” of expectation and belief. Visitors who have heard tales of the forest’s hauntings may be more inclined to anticipate having a paranormal experience, which in turn may make them more inclined to interpret ambiguous sights or sounds as proof of the supernatural.

    Hoaxes and intentional deceivings

    Many of the experiences that people have claimed to have had in Hoia Baciu Forest can actually be explained by less bizarre things like hoaxes, incorrect identification of natural phenomena, and even hallucinations brought on by stress or fear. Any more or less touristic spot on the map could gain or lose depending on the publicity it gets. Hoia forest definitely has a solid reputation for being haunted, and that of course leads to more visitors and more income. It is not far-fetched to assume that at least some of the reporting is made by people who are just trying to maintain that reputation.

    How Culture and Perception Affect How Paranormal Experiences Are Interpreted.

    Furthermore, how people interpret ambiguous sights or sounds may vary depending on cultural preconceptions regarding ghosts, UFOs, and other supernatural occurrences. For instance, a person from a culture where ghosts are strongly believed to exist may be more inclined to interpret a strange sound as proof of a ghostly presence.

    Final thoughts about Hoia Forest

    Hoia Baciu Forest
    Adrian Pătruț

    Adrian Pătruț’s work.

    Alexander Sift died in 1993, and shortly thereafter most of his documentation on the Hoia forest was stolen. The little that remained was collected by Adrian Pătruț, professor in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. He became one of the most important continuers of Sift’s effort. He also wrote a book about the forest, including material that for now cannot be scientifically explained.

    But just like so many other places with reported paranormal activity, we can’t really prove indisputably one way or the other. Even Pătruț, who is absolutely convinced of the reality of the phenomena, questions the results when he confesses that they totally
    depend on the person who enters the forest.

    – A skeptic will probably walk out of there unscathed.

    Final thoughts

    Hoia Baciu Forest is a very spooky and alluring location, no doubt about that. The forest in itself brings you to imagine all kinds of things. Although the reported hauntings in the forest are still not entirely understood by science, the experiences reported by visitors cannot be completely discounted. And at least some of the evidence cannot be easily excluded

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    Hoia Baciu Forest, I would say is very interesting. One would definitely like to see better images of UFOs or have better documentation of small girls disappearing for five years and then coming back without any explanation. The fact that it is a big area, a forest of 1000 acres so if the phantoms plan to stay out of sight, they can. Although increasingly touristic, it’s still a possible paranormal site.