Month: November 2019

Ghost Hunt at Hotel Conneaut with Ghosts n’at Paranormal Adventures Team

Hotel Conneaut
Conneaut Lake, Crawford County, Pennsylvania
Saturday, October 18, 2019

During the Halloween season while Conneaut Lake Park hosted its Ghost Lake 13 Levels of Fear, Hotel Conneaut hosted a real haunted tour of its own. For the second time, I returned to Hotel Conneaut for a ghost hunt with Ghosts n’at Paranormal Adventures. 

The lobby
The stairwell with vintage park photos on the walls
Gauger family photo album

My husband Mark came with me, despite being one of the biggest skeptics and ridiculer of all things paranormal, but I was grateful for his company. We checked into the lobby around 5:30 p.m. where professional ghost hunter Patty assigned us to our room. After walking up two floors to the third level, we found our room along the same horizontal hallway as I stayed before. This time, the room was on the opposite side of the hall than last year and on the same wing and side as the most haunted room: suite 321-323. Our room was #305 and had been adopted by the Gauger family who took great care in remodeling it with a fresh coat of paint, new furniture, and all the knick-knacks to pull off a golf theme. A photo album on the dresser showed the progress of the remodel and noted the great memories this family has had at Hotel Conneaut. 

The view from our room

The doors to the ballroom opened at 6:30 for the dinner buffet and everything was set up quite differently than last year. Last year the ballroom had rows of chairs set up in the style of a wedding ceremony and this year the room read more like a wedding reception. Round tables draped with white tablecloths and surrounded by chairs filled the room. A buffet was set up along the wall right of the entrance past the Ghosts n’at booth and equipment at the head of the room. Last year the buffet had been in the basement, or the ballroom’s lower level. 

At 7:30, the event began after all the amateur ghost hunters filled the chairs and focused on the front of the room where Ghosts n’at began their presentation. Owner Brett McGinnis talked a bit about their group and how they started out by going to people’s homes to investigate. When they saw a desire for regular people to be able to investigate real haunted locations, they started Ghosts n’at Paranormal Adventures to make that idea possible. Over the past few years, they have hosted ghost hunting events at several haunted locations around Pennsylvania and New York such as Castle Blood, Hull Family Home and Farmstead, Hill View Manor, and Nemocolin Castle. Brett stated that Hotel Conneaut is by far their favorite location to investigate and they always find great evidence, though most of it is subtle. He did talk about the various ghosts and the legends behind them, stating that nothing to explain these ghosts has been recorded. Though these events cannot be substantiated, he said that did not mean they never happened. He introduced the team which was much the same as last year and included Tim, Patty, and Joshua. The older Tim that headed up the investigation in the basement last year had retired and now the other Tim’s son Ricky took his place. They divided us into groups and our group was sent off with Joshua for our first location.

Location #1 – Ballroom Lower Level

The stairs leading down to the ballroom’s lower level (doors at the left) and to the rear parking lot outside

Joshua led us out of the ballroom to the left and down the staircase leading to the lower level. The lower level ballroom was actually the dining room that I had described in the last ghost hunt. The windowed walls at the far end of the room looked out into the garden and beyond that, Lake Conneaut. Double swinging doors at the left of the entrance led to the kitchen and the room had a bar with a large screen television behind it. No doubt this location bore witness to countless weddings. 

Lower ballroom

I was disappointed with how the lower ballroom hunt went this year. Last year was very interactive and we had the chance to walk around and take photos, even explore the kitchen. This time, workers were going in and out of the kitchen and the screams from the Ghost Lake haunted amusement could regularly be heard from outside, so all of this was very disruptive.

I think we had a fairly bashful group, for though Josh encouraged us to ask questions to the Spirit Box, even providing us with a pile of folded papers containing pre-written questions, no one really spoke up. No one besides a fellow ghost hunter, Brent, who proved to be quite a distraction the entire night. It was initially Brent’s girlfriend who piped up, saying that she could feel someone stroking her hair. I inwardly rolled my eyes because I immediately took note that she was sitting directly under an air vent, something everyone else either failed to notice or did not mention. I did not speak up and break the bad news because I did not want to be subjected to nasty glares. Brent then decided that the spirits liked his girlfriend and were continuously flirting with her, thus setting the theme for the entire ghost hunt. At every single location he never failed to ask if the spirit liked his girlfriend or something of that nature. 

Location #2 – Ballroom Upper Level

Next, we returned to the Crystal Ballroom, or Elizabeth’s Ballroom where we sat facing the front of the room where Tim’s son Ricky led the second session. 

Ricky had the PhasmaBox app running on the computer. He also had a prop dog on the floor, a Vortex Trigger Basset Hound to be exact, of which when touched by a spirit, is supposed to trigger lights on its collar. Ricky said that this light had gone off during the last session. However, we sat there in awkwardness as nothing happened with the dog or the PhasmaBox. The only interesting tidbit about this session occurred when Ricky mentioned that the bodies of two men killed in a nearby fire were brought into the ballroom before they were picked up by the authorities or funeral home. They are said to haunt the ballroom. This is the first time I had ever heard of this. My mind immediately went to Arthur Bigelow and William Kleeb, the park employees killed in the 1936 cottage fire, and so badly I wanted to shout their names out, but I was far too shy to do so. I was feeling especially self conscious because I was there with my husband and I think if my friend Robin had been there instead, I would have piped up. Ricky invited us to ask questions for the spirits and I longed to ask Arthur and William by name if they were present. However, I did not want my husband to scoff at me and so I remained silent. Of this I regret and hope to gain some bravery before the next ghost hunt.

Location #3 – 2nd Floor Hallway and Room 182

We met Tim in the second floor hallway where he led an EVP session attempting to contact the little boy Nick who fell down the stairs on his tricycle. A toy tricycle was placed in the stairwell just outside the second floor hallway to see if it would move, but it never did. We each had the opportunity to ask a question. My husband Mark asked Nick if he missed his parents. I asked my tried and true, “Are you happy?” On playback, I did receive a couple syllable response, but it was unfortunately too garbled to make anything of it. Last year, I received a very clear “Of course!” in reply.

We had a boy in our group named Derek, about pre-teen age, who had come with his parents and they lived in our neighboring town of Warren. Derek asked Nick if he wanted to play with him and a voice on the recorder responded with a definitive, “Yes!”

We then filed into room 182 where we sat on the two beds. A grumpy old man ghost is said to haunt the room. Tim led another EVP session and we each had a turn of asking a question to the voice recorder. I asked, “Do you like it here?”. Brent asked, “Do you want to touch my girlfriend?” to which we all laughed uneasily. Mark asked “Were you married?” and on playback, the voice recorder had picked up a very slow, sardonic laugh that did not come from anyone in the room. We all thought that was amazing evidence and translated the laugh as being from someone who either had been unhappily married or never married because he thought of marriage as pointless. Someone asked where the spirit was in the room and an EVP was caught. I heard it as “By the window” but Tim was adamant that it said “In the bathroom right now.” With that information, Tim brought out the spirit box and asked the ghost if he was still in the bathroom which it replied, “Yes”. Tim asked jokingly, “Are you going #1 or #2?” The spirit box replied very distinctly, “Number one.” We considered this location to be quite the success despite it being one of the more lackluster spots on last year’s hunt.

Location #4 – Room 321-323

Our group headed to the third floor and into the most haunted room: suite 321-323. We spread out in the room, sitting on two beds and some chairs. Mark and I sat on the bed farthest from everyone else by ourselves. Brett McGinnis led the session and he talked a bit about the activity in the room. He said that on many occasions, people sleeping on the other bed across the room from where I was sitting had been touched in their sleep. One girl had woken up to her leg being tugged and the feeling that someone was attempting to pull her out of the bed. As Brett talked, his K2 meter and a ghost prop ball sitting on the dresser lit up at the same time. He laughed at that and said it was strange because the vibrations of him pacing in the floor would not be enough to set those off and something would have had to touch them. He went on to say that during a session in the February ghost hunt, a couple had been present where the girlfriend had dragged her boyfriend there despite him being a skeptic and he had come simply to appease her. The boyfriend had been standing against the partition separating the two doors that led out of the room. During that session, a white filmy humanoid creature rushed out from under the bed Mark and I were presently sitting on and shot out across the floor, disappearing through the door leading to the hallway. The boyfriend was so terrified that he spent the remainder of the session pressed against the door. I wish I had been there for that because our session turned out to be fairly stagnate and though Brett caught some EVPs, they were not anything noteworthy.  

Location #5 – 3rd Floor Employee Hallway

For our final location, we were directed around the corner and down the hall past the stairway to my favorite location from last year: the employee hallway. As Patty met us and invited us to walk down the long, dark hall, I realized how different it appeared from last time. A little nook had been opened up off of the left hand side that contained a seating area. We passed a glass door that revealed a large stairwell leading down to the bar that was for employees only. After that, to the left was a room we went into that had a couch at the opposite end. Patty had her laptop with the PhasmaBox app running within the small room that we all squeezed into. Patty said we were welcome to go in and explore any of the open rooms in the employee hall except for the ones that were locked and occupied by employees. However, no one accepted her invitation to do so and I felt trapped in the room and unable to explore. Instead, we chatted with the PhasmaBox but the voices coming through were very difficult to understand and when they could be understood, were speaking nonsense. Brent had reached the apex of his shenanigans and was continuously taunting the PhasmaBox. Derek and I held the two K2 meters while Derek and Brent sat on the couch where Derek’s K2 meter continuously lit all the way up. Whenever his meter lit all the way up, mine would light up partially and only once lit fully up. Brent decided that the spirit did not like him sitting on the couch because the spirit liked Derek and was trying to sit next to the boy. I could not decide if he really believed this or was just making a joke of it at this point. His girlfriend seemed quite embarrassed and disconnected at this point. This combined with the screams clearly heard directly below us from the Ghost Lake haunted tour that erupted every few minutes was extremely distracting and made for a very unproductive ghost hunt. I could not figure out where exactly in the hotel the Ghost Lake was set up, but I will never again pay all that money to do a ghost hunt in October while Ghost Lake is running. 

After Hours

After the session ended, we regrouped in the ballroom for closing remarks. The winner for the raffle was announced and the lucky person received a key to stay in the most haunted room in the hotel. It was 11 o’clock and time for the mingle in the Spirit Lounge but the Ghosts n’at crew separated off and there was no mingling at that point. The lounge and lobby were filled with locals and the atmosphere did not seem as welcoming as it had earlier. Tim and Patty came down the stairs with a large and gorgeous dog, no doubt leading it out the front doors for a bathroom break and exercise. They told us it was a Chow-Chow when Mark asked what kind of dog they had. Tim had told us earlier that Patty has to travel with her pets and they even had a rabbit in their room. I admired them all the more. We did not hang out for very long and did not ghost hunt on our own. I would have liked to but Mark was not interested and we needed to get some sleep in order to pick up our two young children from my parents’ house in the morning.

I was fairly disappointed with the entire experience, though Ghosts n’at did a wonderful job as they always do. In the future, I will avoid going to a ghost hunt at the hotel around Halloween because the Ghost Lake feature was so disruptive. However, seeing the hotel again and having an opportunity to explore its historical halls made me so happy. In the morning, as we headed down to the lower ballroom/dining room for breakfast, the sun could be seen shining through thick fog rolling off of Lake Conneaut. The image was simply breathtaking and I wish I could wake up every morning with such a view. I picture summer visitors of yesterday enjoying a hot beverage on the porch while watching nature’s spectacular morning show. 

After breakfast, Mark and I walked along the boardwalk on that chilly morning and soaked in our beautiful surroundings. As the fog dissipated the lake took shape and the gentle waters lolled in the breeze. Several boats in the harbor bobbed upon the meager waves and the atmosphere felt calm and embracing. I was greatly reluctant to leave my favorite hotel but I am so grateful for each opportunity to visit. Hopefully next time I will have my partner in crime, Robin, with me and our experience will be more eventful than this one!

Bench in memory of Courtney Shook, Hotel Conneaut’s bar manager who died tragically earlier this year.