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21 Sep 2009


Something spooky at the Old Baraboo Inn?

By Christie Taylor / News Republic



While it will take some time to arrive at final conclusions from an investigation early Sunday of the Old Baraboo Inn’s strange happenings, an area paranormal research group said there’s definitely something going on there.

James Schilling, the lead investigator for Tri-County Paranormal, said he was convinced there were at least 10 "active spirits" in the building.

The group worked from 1:30 a.m. until about 4:30 Sunday morning, scanning the bar for electromagnetic fields and asking questions of the seemingly empty rooms.

At one point, investigator Nadine Leder said, she and two other members of the group heard a series of three taps in a basement cooler, after they had asked for a signal.

And a video camera with the night vision setting captured a flicker of light that could have been energy from a spirit, Schilling said.

Mysteriously moved objects, children’s voices, taps from icy fingers, and strange apparitions have all been reported at the Old Baraboo Inn since it reopened in 2002 after a fire closed it 14 years earlier.

Owner B.C. Farr said he counts among his regulars a cowboy, a blonde prostitute whose name, he thinks, is Mary, former owners John and Rose Dombrowski, and several children who can be heard playing in adjacent rooms.

Old Baraboo Inn employee Jim Berg said he’s felt cold fingers in his hair, and seen lights floating in windows. Sandy Radke, Farr’s fiancee and a frequent presence behind the bar, once felt several strong taps on her head after "egging on" a spirit to appear.

The former brewery and brothel, which has stood on Walnut Street since 1864, has been visited by dozens of psychics, and several paranormal research groups, Farr said. Two of those groups left early because, he said, "it was just too much for them."

And close study of audio recordings from those previous investigations, Farr said, have turned up phenomena to match what he’s observed, such as hollering from, he thinks, the cowboy spirit.

"The first time I heard this, I got goose bumps," he said.

Schilling, whose Wisconsin-based team has investigated more than 60 reports of paranormal activity since 1994, said analysis of their data — videos, photographs, and five hours of audio recordings — would tell them more about who the spirits were and what they wanted.

"Your audio tells you a  lot," Schilling said. "You can walk out of a place saying, ‘This was dead,’ and then you listen to your audio and say, ‘Wow we weren’t the only ones there.’ "

During the investigation itself, he said, a device that translates electromagnetic forces into words came up with the name, "Lester," of a spirit that owner B.C. Farr said had been mentioned by psychics in the past.

But this time, Schilling said, they got a last name — "Potter."

"We’re going to start digging up Lester," Farr said. "We’re hoping to find out who some of them are and why they’re here, why they’re trapped here."

Zwitter, who was in the process of analyzing the audio recordings, said he had already uncovered dozens of audio phenomena, some in the form of toneless, quiet voices which seemed to be responding directly to the investigators.

At one point, for example, he believes he hears "the cowboy" answering a question about the year of his birth.

"The response I got was, ‘Somewhere around 1880,’ " Zwitter said.

Regardless of the results, Farr said, he was making peace with the possibility that he worked with the supernatural.

"You need to learn to coexist," he said. "They were here first, and they’re still here."


Send e-mail to ctaylor2@capitalnewspapers.com

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