researcher Chad Lewis has traveled the
world searching for the unexplainable.
From looking for vampires and werewolves
in Transylvania to the Loch Ness monster
in Scotland and Big Foot in Canada, he
has spent more than 14 years researching
the bizarre history of places around the
This Saturday, Lewis is offering two
free presentations in Eau Claire to
share some of this strange history. But
it won't be the history of Transylvania
or Scotland or Canada - these stories
will be from right here in the Chippewa
Valley. Lewis said the presentations
will show strange things don't happen
only in far-off exotic places, but that
there are a lot of interesting stories
even around here.
"This presentation illustrates that
there are a lot of weird things going on
… in people's own backyards," he said.
"The theme is the odd history … and not
just odd reports in the newspaper … it's
going to focus on the weird side,
everything from ghosts and sea serpents
to UFOs … and strange people as well."
The stories he will tell will mostly be
set about 100 years in the past, but
they haven't been altered. Most of them
came directly out of old newspapers.
"You're hearing these stories from the
town gossip or like you just picked up
the newspaper from your front porch,"
For example, in 1908, a man took a giant
swordfish out of the Chippewa River, he
said. Swordfish live in salt water, and
so how it got into the river is a
Also, there's a story about a meteor
that struck Eau Claire, and hundreds of
residents saw it fall. However, no one
could find it, and after days of
looking, they eventually gave up.
"(The stories) are a fun mystery for
anyone who maybe wants to solve them,"
The first of the two presentations will
be at 2 p.m. at the Chippewa Valley
Museum, 1204 Carson Park Drive. It will
be a family-friendly version, he said,
because the museum attracts a lot of
families with children. The presentation
will be free with museum admission,
which is $4 for adults and $2 for
children or students.
the family friendly presentation, Lewis
will present a more adults-only version
at 6:30 p.m. at Bonnie's Labor Temple
Lounge, 2233 Birch St., which will be
completely free. Lewis did a book
signing at the Lounge once before, and
he said it seemed like a cool place to
talk about the paranormal.
"When you're talking about weird history
of the Chippewa Valley," he said, "…
what better place than a saloon in
Liz Fisher, the Community Programs
Coordinator at the Chippewa Valley
Museum, said she is looking forward to
the presentation and is curious to see
which stories he will choose to present.
She has a copy of one of his books,
"Hidden Headlines of Wisconsin," and
she said it was an extremely interesting
"I read the book in about a day and a
half because I couldn't put it down,"
she said. "(It) is a collection of the
craziest newspaper articles from … all
over the state … odd things that have
happened, odd people. … He doesn't tell
you what to think of them, so it's left
open for your own interpretation."
Fisher is interested to see the sort of
reaction the museum will get because of
"Odd history is something we haven't
really covered here, lately," she said.
"Something people are interested in is
the bizarre, the unexplainable.
Especially if it happened in the past,
it just makes it that much stranger
because you can't go back and figure out
what the problem was … it's intriguing,
and I think it will bring in a new
audience that we haven't been able to
Lewis became interested in the
paranormal when he was fairly young. He
grew up in Eau Claire, he said. He added
that the city is not too far from
Elmwood, Wis. - one of the UFO capitals
of the world.
"When I was a high school student, I
remember reading about (the UFOs)," he
said, "… and I really got interested in
why people believe in the paranormal."
He studied psychology at UW-Stout and
was intrigued by what made certain
people believe in the paranormal and
others not. At first, he was just
focusing on people's beliefs when it
came to the paranormal, but people
started asking him questions, he said,
or telling him stories.
"It kind of went from researching to
kind of investigating," he said.
Because of his investigating, Lewis has
had the opportunity to travel all over
the world. He recently returned from
Nicaragua, and he's also been to
England, Ireland and Belize, among
others. His line of work allows for many
one-of-a-kind experiences, he said.
"You get to meet a lot of unique people
and a lot of interesting stories, and
there's certainly less exciting things
to be doing. … I never complain," he
Junior Amy Beckett said a shiver ran
down her spine when she heard one of
Lewis' stories. She definitely thinks a
lot of people would be intrigued by his
"It's so tempting," she said. "Is it
real? Is it not real? It hasn't been
proven, but it hasn't been disproven."
Fisher thinks the interest lies in the
"Bizarre happenings," she said. "It's
something you don't hear about a lot."