Brown River Queen cover art

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Things That Go Bump #1: Thomas House Edition

I've always wanted to spend the night in an alleged haunted house.

Finally, the time has come. Soon I'll be joining the Historical Haunts crew for an overnight stay at the famous Thomas House Hotel, a site rumored to be positively teaming with ghosts, spectres, haunts, haints, boogers, poltergeists, shades, revenants, tulpas, pookas, shadow people, and at least one confused Irish leprechaun who wishes people would stop laughing at the buckles on his shoes.

Seriously, the Thomas House has a certain reputation for frequent unexplained phenomena that stretches back quite a few years. Built in 1890 by the Cloyd family, the Hotel was a lavish estate, catering to the wealthy who flocked to the area to partake of the hot mineral springs thought at the time to promote health. 

There was a golf course, riding trails, and at one point a pet bear was housed on the premises. There were also a number of deaths (a child drowned in a swimming pool, and a rider suffered a fatal fall from a horse) and several fires. 

Most of the activity seems to be fairly typical -- knocks, disembodied voices, cold spots, dragging sounds, even a few moving apparitions. 

People have captured a few interesting experiences. Here, for instance, four musical notes sound and are captured by a video camera:


And here is a clip of a child's voice, in a room where no children were present:


I'll be thrilled if I can catch anything so clear.

Since I plan to focus primarily on capturing EVPs on this visit, I'm bringing out the big guns. Namely, my homebuilt parabolic microphone, which I plan to install in a quiet place somewhere, preferably with a nice long line of sight. 

I've added a new feature to the parabolic. This time, it will be connected to an old Dell netbook, which will record directly from the mic. This way, I'll be able to quickly scroll through the recording while I'm at the Thomas House, without waiting to dump the audio file from a tiny digital recorder before sitting down to listen to the whole file. 

Here's what the whole rig looks like. Please excuse the state of the lab; Igor is visiting relatives in Transylvania all this month.

The parabolic element (the clear dish-shaped thing) is actually a $20 'squirrel shield' built to hang above bird feeders. The tripod is an old junker with a bubble level that does a nice job of holding up the dish. The mic is held at the dish's focal point by a band of sheet metal. A small battery-powered preamp boosts the signal, and the little Dell netbook records it live, using Audacity sound processing software, which is free.

Here's a close-up of the Audacity monitor screen:

The pre-amp has a gain control, and I can also adjust input levels from the Audacity dashboard. So once I'm at the actual location, I'll tweak everything to catch very faint whispers, and just let it go.

That's just one piece of gear I'll be taking. Next week, I'll show another. 

Anything captured on a recording will also be revealed here. 

If anyone has any suggestions for other gear, let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment