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Hunt investigates mysteries at Crossroads Museum

Amanda Lambert uses the iOvilus app and a K2 EMF Meter while attempting to communicate with the afterlife during the Crossroads Museum Ghost Hunt earlier this month.

Staff photo by Zack Steen

By Jebb Johnson

jjohnston@dailycorinthian.com

Seated silently in the dark on the benches inside the old caboose #2994 at the Corinth depot, a small group of willing believers patiently wait for a sign.

A knock, a whisper, a blip on the EMF meter — anything will do. The only sound is the steady rumble of an idling train engine on the nearby tracks.

Ghost hunter Shiloh Beene, wearing a hat that says "Gone Haunting," brings out the Spirit Box. Its crunchy white noise fills the narrow space as it sweeps rapidly through radio frequencies, offering spirits an opportunity to be heard.

"Will you please tell us your name," Beene politely asks.

A second or two later, a voice from the box utters the name "Brooklyn."

Is it evidence of a presence or merely a random word caught from a radio broadcast? That was left for amateur paranormal investigators to decide during a couple of nights of investigating at the Crossroads Museum on Oct. 12 and 13.

"This place is actually the very first public place that I investigated, so it holds a special place in my heart," said Beene, a resident of Jackson, Tennessee.

Now, several years later, she has investigations of famous ghost hunting sites like the The Stanley Hotel and Bobby Mackey's Music World on her résumé.

Some of those who have spent a lot of time in the depot building have often felt they are not alone.

"I do not prefer to go in the building by myself at night, period," said Executive Director Brandy Steen.

At the outset of the depot ghost hunt, a recording is played for the group of a recent voice mail left at the museum. In the middle of a woman leaving a message about Green Market, a young child seems to say a quick, "Hey." The woman pauses and says, "Hello?"

It is one of many oddities Steen has encountered in the historic building.

"During our first investigation when we came here," said Beene, "we actually did hear children's voices on the recorder when we played it back."

Based on her experiences in the depot, Beene does not believe it harbors any unkind spirits lurking in the corners.

"There's a cantankerous old fellow named John, but there's no bad, yucky stuff," she said. "The spirits that are here — they want to be here."

As the group gathers in the darkened artifact room to begin its hunt, Beene orders all smart phones to be set on airplane mode to eliminate possible interference with the tools of the trade. As another precaution, the heating and cooling is kept off throughout the event so as not to confuse air movement from the HVAC with a potential cold spot.

The Spirit Box is one of Beene's favorite means of attempting to confirm a presence.

"When you're using something like the Spirit Box, you will get a lot of interference and stuff that's just junk," she said. "But when it comes through and it's clear as day and in context to the location or the people, that's when you really know that you potentially have some evidence there."

She insists upon approaching the potential paranormal guests with kindness and none of the provocation that is sometimes seen on television.

"If there's any spirits in here that would like to talk with us," she begins, "we would really appreciate that " We would just like to say hello. We would really enjoy it if you could somehow show us that you're here. If you can talk really loud, maybe we can hear you, and if we can't hear you right now, maybe we can hear you later on our little recorders."

Later, in the main portion of the museum, a single pop is heard from somewhere overhead — perhaps the routine sound of a board expanding or contracting in the ceiling, or perhaps not. Less than two minutes later, another popping sound occurs — it's different than the last and nearby, and unexplained.

Activity seems to pick up a bit as the group gathers around some Civil War artifacts and Beene attempts to communicate through the Spirit Box.

"Is one of these buttons yours," she asks.

"Yeah" comes through quite clearly after the question.

Most of the first night's measurable activity seems to occur not inside the building but in the old red caboose, where an EMF meter becomes very active in the rear portion of the retired train car. One of the cameras being used to capture video also experiences a sudden battery drain, which many investigators take to be a sign of interaction with the paranormal.

But, it's better they drain batteries than people.

"Don't ever give a spirit permission to use your life force and your energy," said Beene. "And yet you see that stuff on TV from what I would call highly questionable investigators."

Beene also gathered a good bit of evidence from the caboose in her first investigation of the property.

"A couple of times, it did tell us to get out," she said. "We did not have headphones or a speaker, so we were not listening to it live. That is something I caught on the recorder when I reviewed the audio files."

That's a case of electronic voice phenomenon — voices captured on a digital recorder that may not be heard in real time by those present.

As the ghost hunt at the Crossroads begins to wind down, Beene advises the participants of the proper closing etiquette for paranormal interactions.

"The courteous thing to do would be to thank them for interacting with us," she said, "but also be very firm and say, 'You are not allowed to come home with us.' Set your boundaries before you go home."

(Want the opportunity to ghost hunt at the Crossroads Museum? A celebrity ghost hunt with Steven "Doogie" McDougal and Mike Goncalves of the Tennessee Wraith Chasers, who currently appear in the Travel Channel's "Haunted Live," is set for Saturday, Nov. 17, with a meet and greet from 7 to 9 p.m. and a VIP celebrity ghost hunt from 9 to 11 p.m. Visit hauntedcorinth.com now for tickets. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit museum and Autism Resources of the Mid-South.)