Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread—and I can prove it


A month or so ago (after a visit back home with my sister Shawn and her family) I posted this on Facebook:

“Spent the day with my 6 year old niece Sophia running from barking dogs, eating too much raspberry ice cream, exploring a 'secret garden' & snooping around a rural high school that shut down 50 years ago.  I AM WIPED OUT.”

One of the responses I got was this: “I want to know who would go on an adventure like that without a camera in the first place!”  I couldn’t agree more, and made a promise to take my camera along on my next visit.  And this past weekend, I did just that.   (As much as I love my little niece, I was anxious to visit that strange school again.)  So after a tasty dinner of grilled chicken & corn on the cob, off we went!


The school in it’s heyday, circa 1910;  here’s that same entrance now, with my brother-in-law Jim; that black iron fire escape on the right can be seen in both photos 

Located just “a ways” up the road  from my sister’s house, the school (surprisingly large) sits alone on a quiet corner near some woods, it’s north and south entrances overgrown with vines and greenery. 

Many of the windows are boarded up, some broken, the intact ones clouded with age.   But the grounds are well kept, giving it a surreal feeling of both care and decay.  

The opposite entrance, the steps are barely seen

Ever since my first visit to the school, I’ve tried (in vain) to find out more about the place; all I know is that it was the area’s first high school, it’s been closed for approximately 50 years but made a brief comeback with some makeshift apartments before closing up for good.  

I was also intrigued when my sister informed me that our mom may have attended a school dance there, in the early 1950s.  So what were the plans for it?   Would it be torn down eventually, or would Mother Nature claim it for her own?  And why did the place give me a weird feeling, have I been watching too many ‘paranormal investigation’ shows where these people go into old abandoned buildings and make contact with old abandoned ghosts?

Apparently, yes.  Shifty

While walking about the property, I knew I had to get some interior shots.  Fortunately, there was a window at ground level with no glass and I was able to get my camera in there and take a couple pictures of the main entrance.  I couldn’t have been there for more than a minute when I heard a slight ‘shuffling’ sound from somewhere within.  I figured it was probably a bird or small animal (and prayed it wasn’t some hobo ready to bonk me over the head with his whiskey bottle) and I called out very softly “Hellooo… is anyone here?”  Nothing. 

I then heard a light creaking sound and I quickly held up my camera and snapped a picture of the stairwell in front of me.  I cursed under my breath for forgetting to turn on the flash, so I hit the auto-flash and took a second pic.  When I looked down at the tiny preview screen on the back of my camera & pressed ‘Review’, my eyes almost popped out of my head at that first picture.   An orb!


The first photo taken without a flash, the second with the flash on; where’s a digital voice recorder, EMF detector, ghost box & psychic when you need one!

Now I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for that ectoplasmic orb hovering above the steps in that first shot, RIGHT WHERE I HEARD THAT CREAKING, but it’s not a reflection of anything I’m aware of and it wasn’t a “dust particle” caught in any flash.  So I wonder what that was?  

When I showed the picture to a few friends, I got the following responses:

  • JAMIE:  Hmm...
  • JULIE:  Breaking and entering?  Fresh I am so proud of you!
  • ERIN:  Doog, that’s pooky! 
  • KATHY:  McDougal I think you have caught a ghost on your camera.
  • JEFF:  Chuckle!  (He was laughing at the re-enactment of my double-take after seeing that orb for the first time)

Happily I began doing some orb research on the internet and grew more excited as my ghost orb didn’t meet all the ‘dust orb’ requirements.   

You may be just a dust orb if you have a weak luminous center (mine didn’t), was taken with a flash (mine wasn’t), taken in a location with lots of dust (ok um), or taken with a digital camera (rats)

oh wait, now some pictures are showing up of dust orbs captured on a digital camera without a flash...

Oh who am I kidding?  Mine was just a damn dust orb!

orbie          orbie          orbie

Well, it was fun while it lasted (I really thought I had something) and this doesn’t mean I’ve stopped believing in all paranormal phenomena just yet.  I suppose if I really want to do some ghost hunting someday, I’m going to need some real equipment--and probably a good partner too.  Oh, I have just the right person in mind!


  1. Urban Explorer Doug! Loved the pics. Although I am not a big believer in phantoms, the atmosphere encourages these thoughts. Such a shame that large old buildings like that are not utilized by the community. Great blog, once again!

  2. Love stories like this. Love ghost stories and abandoned buildings.

    I believe I shared this with you a while ago...

  3. Anon (I know you are--heh heh), thanks for the great feedback here, I always enjoy your thoughts :) And hey David, thanks man--me too! I think I've seen that link before but I'm curious to look at it once more--thanks again :)

  4. How have I never seen this post!? That school looks amazing!

  5. Thanks very much Chip! (Yeah, this kind of thing is right up your alley, you should check it out for your SWPA blog) :) I actually have a follow-up to this piece I plan to do soon.


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