Ghost stories

Ghost hunters take hobby seriously

Believing is not always seeing

By Don Ward

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (January 2004) – They don’t like to talk about it much with strangers or “nonbelievers” for fear of ridicule. Most people just don’t understand their curiosity. In fact, many of their own family members and friends think they’re nuts.
But they persevere.
Some like it that way. It makes the challenge of finding tangible proof of their cause even more exciting. In doing so, they find camaraderie among their group members and enjoy sharing their experiences through photos, videos and regular social outings at restaurants or in group members’ homes. They communicate via newsgroups, email and message boards on the Internet.

Carrie Galloway

Carrie Galloway

They are ghost hunters, and their numbers are growing throughout Kentuckiana. There are about a half-dozen clubs in Louisville alone. Some belong to more than one club, but more groups continue to sprout up because it is better to keep them small in number, explains ghost hunter Carrie Galloway, 34.
She teaches a how-to class on ghost hunting at the University of Louisville. An office administrator by trade, she became interested in the hobby after attending a seminar at Lexington (Ky.) Community College taught by certified ghost hunter and author Patti Starr, president of Ghost Chasers International Inc. Galloway came away from that seminar two years ago thinking, “I can do this.”
She wrote a curriculum for a continuing education course called “Ghost Hunting 101” and submitted it to U of L. The college accepted her proposal, and the next thing she knew, she was signing up students who yearned to chase ghosts in the night. Her next class session – the third of its kind – begins in March 2004. It meets on Tuesday nights for five sessions and costs $99.
“A lot of people come into the class thinking we’re going to sit around and tell ghost stories, but it’s more hands on than that,” said Galloway, a Kentucky representative of the American Ghost Society who says she saw her first ghost at age 14. “It’s an instructional class that teaches you what tools to use and how to go about documenting what you see during an on-site visit.”
Or perhaps what you’d like to see. Or thought you saw.
Galloway’s 27 students come from all walks of life – warehouse workers, a psychologist, an office administrator, a computer technician, a mailman. The list goes on.
Galloway teaches them how to approach property owners about gaining permission to visit a home or building or cemetery. They take with them cameras, video equipment, tape recorders and other electronic gadgets in hopes of capturing something – anything – that may hint at the existence of a ghost, or “orb,” as they like to call them.
At parties, they share their photos and recordings with each other and plan their next trip to a supposedly haunted location.
Sometimes they must get in line. Rumors of such locations are often inundated with calls from other ghost-hunting groups wanting to visit. Some property owners refuse; others make quiet arrangements with the promise that their location won’t be advertised to other such groups, or – eghad! – the press.
That’s apparently what happened last Halloween when Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Byron Crawford published a story and large photo of a Carrollton, Ky., couple who live along the Ohio River in a supposedly haunted house. The couple received so much attention from ghost-hunters that they refused to participate in our report for this issue of RoundAbout.
You can’t blame them. But the ordeal further illustrates the growing popularity of this hobby in the area.
One of the better-known locations among Louisville ghost hunters is Waverly Hills, a former sanitarium in Pleasure Ridge Park in the southern end of Louisville. Though its entrance is protected by security guards, ghost hunters often find a way to get in. In fact, the guards have gotten good over the years of playing tricks on the ghost-hunting intruders so that they go away with stories to tell, further propagating the myths that ghosts in fact lurk in the midst of the now-empty sanitarium wards.
Galloway has been there and says that the organized trips that allow the ghost hunters in usually attracts so many people that no ghost would be caught dead there that night.
“You need to have a small group when you go on a visit; you don’t want a bunch of people tromping around,” she says.
That was part of the reason Galloway broke away from a previous ghost hunters group and formed her own – it became too large and unwieldy to function. Now Galloway’s group, Kentucky Paranormal Research, operates as a separate society of like-minded folks investigating paranormal activities wherever they can find it. Their most recent trip was to a well-known cemetery in Louisville.
“It was awesome,” said group member Tanya Okes. “Just being there in the middle of the night gave you goose bumps.”
Okes, who runs a landscape firm with her husband in Bullitt County, just south of Louisville, and her mother, Pam Rogers, took Galloway’s class at U of L after seeing it in the class listings. “I’ve always been curious about the spirit world, and this was something we could do together,” Okes said. “It’s fun, and you meet a lot of interesting people.”
But what about meeting ghosts?
“I believe they are there,” she says as she flips through a binder of photographs she has taken on ghost hunting trips that reveal faint balls of light, or orbs. “This is a good one. And you can see one there if you look real hard.”
The search for tangible evidence of the spirit world has been practiced by people on this planet for centuries. And if the old adage, “Seeing is believing,” still rings true, then rest assured that these ghost hunters are on the job.
If you want to learn how to become one yourself, then you can take Galloway’s class. Passing the course does not require seeing – or even believing – in ghosts. But I’m sure it helps.

• To learn more about Galloway’s club, visit: www.kyghosts.com. To learn more about Patti Starr’s Ghostchasers International, visit: http://ghosthunter.com. To inquire about Galloway’s class, call U of L at (502) 853-6456 or visit: http://delphi.louisville.edu/enrichment/recreation.html.

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