Ghost Walk at the Sweetwater County Library
Posted by World Weaver Press Guest Blogger
Kristina Wojtaszek shares the following adventure from a Wyoming ghost walk:
“What was that?!” someone wheezed, voicing my very thought as I whirled, taking in the bug-eyed faces around me.
Others had heard it too — children’s laughter, erupting suddenly from the dark and abandoned hallway behind us. I surprised myself by grinning, and had to keep from outright laughing with joy! We’d heard something; not just a bit of garbled noise from the crackling Ghost Box, but a real, human sound! Our guide, Ellie Davis, a spiritually sensitive librarian who has led many tours and had numerous encounters over her lifetime, thanked the spirits around us, then reluctantly told us that the ghost tour had come to an end. Sadly, we made our way through the dark hall and down the steps, past the old black and white photograph of Green River’s first librarian. Elizabeth Moriarty, who lived from 1890 to 1964, is said by several of the current librarians to work there still, aiding them by finding missing books and keeping watch over the building at night. She had not reached out to us that evening, but in her resolute countenance in the photograph I could almost see the devotion she had for the place, and hardly doubted that she still made her rounds among the shelves.
Our group stumbled back into the only lit room, where another crowd of hopeful ghost hunters waited. I had to ask myself if they had been the ones I’d heard laughing and not spectral children after all. I gazed around at them, standing in small clusters, all of them sober eyed and expectant; one woman reached over to us to inquire if we were “all right.” They didn’t seem to be in a laughing mood, nor did their hushed, deep voices sound anything like that of the merry, high pitched laughter we’d heard. But perhaps I just didn’t want a logical explanation. After all, that laughter had been the absolute highlight of the tour for me.
Our tour began in the women’s bathroom, where many sightings and other oddities have been said to occur. I wondered what significance it had, if any; what had happened on this tiny segment of the earth centuries before the library existed, and whose bones might lie beneath us still? The Sweetwater County Library was built over the old CityCemetery, dating back to 1892. Whenever renovations had been done that involved digging, remains were found and carefully placed in the new Riverview Cemetery just up the hill from the library. Still, there may be a few remains left, and according to the many accounts of unexplainable activity in the library that spanned from its birth to the present, it seemed that their spirits were determined to stay. I admit, standing there in the dark with a row of mirrors at my back, reflecting our shadowy faces and the stall doors that hung open in front of us, my heart was hammering through the soles of my feet; I was terrified! I could imagine the faucet suddenly turning on in the sink I was leaning against, or a floating face appearing in the mirror… What if all of the stall doors began slamming open and shut? I’ll tell you this, if any of that had happened, the tour would have ended right then for me because I’d have shot out of there like the proverbial bat out of hell!
What happened instead was that Ellie told us the most interesting story. Tell me a story, and I just might wipe off my sweaty palms and stay awhile (even if the woman next to me just claimed she’d felt fingers touching her ear, and you can be certain it wasn’t me!). Some years ago, Ellie said, a woman came out of this bathroom looking pale and upset and asked Ellie if there was a little girl in the bathroom. An odd question that Ellie was unsure how to answer, so she waited while the woman stepped outside to collect herself. When she came back in, Ellie asked the woman if she’d mind telling her what this little girl looked like and what had happened. The woman said that when she’d come out of the stall and walked toward the sink, she saw a young girl standing in the corner and absent mindedly said hello as she began to wash her hands. The girl said nothing, and the woman looked up again, realizing that what she’d seen didn’t seem quite right. She’d observed that the girl had on a long, white nightgown; when she looked up again, no one was there.
Other than the woman who claimed to have been touched and another who saw one of the stall doors slowly opening and shutting an inch or two (which I couldn’t see with my poor night vision), we had little happen in the bathroom. I have to admit, I was more relieved than disappointed at the time. Ellie continued her tales as we moved to the children’s section of the library, including one I’d heard her tell before about seeing a man in civil war era clothing give her a sarcastic smirk as she called out to him that the library was closing one evening. Why should he care? He simply slipped into the impossibly narrow space between two shelves and disappeared. I also learned that the librarians thought there were at least a dozen children haunting the library. Before we started the tour, Ellie and Bianca (another wonderful librarian in awe of resident specters), showed us a few of the pictures and sound recordings they had taken on previous ghost walks that can be found on their blog, High Spirits: The Ghost Log Blog. My favorite is of a little boy who showed up in a photo taken behind a woman in the children’s section of the library. I personally think it looks like he is holding a book; regardless of what he’s doing, you can clearly see a hand and his little face and even dark hair when looking at the close up image. These spectral children were what I began to focus on because as a mother, the idea of those little lost souls was more sad than frightening.
We stopped at a couple of other places in the library without a whole lot of action, other than one incident where both KII meters lit up into the red simultaneously. These devices respond to the fluctuations in electromagnetic fields. We also used a Ghost Box (a scanner of a.m. radio waves that theoretically allows for spirits to speak through it and directly communicate with people, even giving specific answers to questions) but I found myself mistrustful of the bits of speech we did pick up as there were a lot of bits of radio broadcasts picked up as well. There are, however, some interesting sound clips on the High Spirits blog where the radio signals seem to cut out and an eerily raspy voice clearly respond to questions. The EMFs were interesting in that the green light always stayed on without flickering and the other lights rarely lit up. We laid them on the floor, untouched by anyone and away from other electronic devices, and after much pleading with any spirits that might be present, the meters finally lit up into the red. Could it have been caused by something else, perhaps some random electrical current in the air? Possibly, but after watching them stay in the green for so long, it sure seemed uncanny.
I got to use another type of EMF detector which produced a steady set of ticks when the button was held down, as it searched for disturbances in the surrounding electrical magnetic field. As we hovered in the upstairs staff lounge, I held the button down as I moved the sensor around a chair. It erupted into sounds like whale squeals and clicks and practically screamed as I lowered it to the floor by the base of the chair. Anywhere else I waved the device, it was starkly silent. I couldn’t help thinking of the possibility of a little child kneeling by the chair under the table. This was when Ellie told us the story of how she and her friend once heard the odd sounds of children laughing, as though through a tunnel, in a house she had rented next to the library. She explained that long after it had been a cemetery, but before the library was built, there was a playground there. She often wondered if what she had heard was an echo through time. She went on to clarify the difference between a true haunting, where the spirit is conscious of the contact being made, and a residual haunting, in which a visual or audio record slips forward in time from a place or event, often where strong emotions occurred. This was the very moment when the sound of laughter bubbled up from the hallway behind us. My fear had all but vanished by this time, and as I thought about spectral children and misplaced bits of history, the sound of that laughter caused me more wonder and joy than fright. As we were led back into the light and said our goodbyes, I wanted only to tag along for the next tour, to see, hear and feel what else might be encountered. Instead, I went home to my sleeping children and my husband, and pondered how much of what I’d experienced was real, what the afterlife has in store, and why some handful of spirits might choose to linger behind after death, perhaps even trying to reach out to us. What is it they have to say? And are we ready and willing to listen?
Whatever your beliefs on the matter, having an open mind and respect for the unknown can’t hurt. Best of all, the tales told about these experiences are some of the most intriguing stories you’ll ever hear, and for a writer like me, it’s a paradise of ideas, just waiting to give me chills.
Kristina Wojtaszek grew up as a woodland sprite and mermaid, playing around the shores of Lake Michigan. At any given time she could be found with live snakes tangled in her hair and worn out shoes filled with sand. She currently resides in the high desert country of Wyoming with her husband and two small children. She is fascinated by fairy tales and fantasy and her favorite haunts are libraries and cemeteries. Read her short story “Cinder,” available now in Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales, or her lyrical fairy tale novella Opal.
About World Weaver Press Guest BloggerWorld Weaver Press invites many guest bloggers to join us in our discussion of fantasy and science fiction. Opinions expressed by guest bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of World Weaver Press, its staff, or authors.
Posted on October 4, 2012, in from the authors of WWP, ghosts, guest blogger, World Weaver Press and tagged ghosts, inspiration, Kristina Wojtaszek, Specter Spectacular, World Weaver Press. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.