POINT - Seated in the passenger seat of a Kia station
wagon, waiting for the ghosts of a slain Boy Scout
Troop to emerge from the woods, I couldn't help but
reflect on how I'd arrived in this position.
Ghost-hunting, after all, does not appear in the job
description for most entry-level reporters.
A couple of weeks earlier, I'd received a press
release about the Unexplained Conference, a meeting
place for those who have an interest in ghosts, UFO
sightings and such scheduled for today in Stevens
Point. Being curious by nature and pretty darn brave
in my opinion, I decided to try my hand in paranormal
investigation. One phone call later, I'd set up a tour
of Stevens Point's "haunted spots" with Chad
Lewis, an Eau Claire-based paranormal investigator.
Chad is not what you'd expect of a paranormal
investigator. To begin with, there is nothing spooky
about him: The short 20-something is friendly, quick
with a joke and slow to cry "Ghost!" In
fact, Chad said he's never had a paranormal experience
himself. But that doesn't keep him from searching.
"If these things are not happening, then what is
it about human perception that makes us think UFOs
exist and that there are ghosts? I'm not sure if these
things exist or not. I'm keeping an open mind,"
When Chad and I set out on Tuesday night, Stevens
Point was in the midst of a thunder storm - not the
best weather for this first-time paranormal
Our first stop of the evening was a dead-end road in
the town of Linwood, appropriately named Boy Scout
Lane. One local legend says that a Boy Scout troop was
murdered along this road by their bus driver, another
claims that the troop perished in a forest fire. Lewis
explained that ghosts of the Boy Scouts are rumored to
haunt the road at night carrying lanterns.
"There have been sightings throughout this whole
area," Lewis said, pointing into the darkness on
each side of the road. "You could see a bus
driving along here or ghosts of the Boy Scouts."
is no record of a Boy Scout group's disappearance and
the road actually was named for its intended use as a
Boy Scout camp. But neither of those facts eased my
worries as I waited silently in the parked car for a
ghostly Scout to come tapping at my window. My
delusions of bravery were beginning to wear off at
Rolling down the passenger-side window, the sound of
rain slapping the trees became clearer. I listened
more closely. A high-pitched screech not unlike a bus'
breaks emanated from the woods. Chad told me it
probably was frogs nearby. I exhaled.
After about 15 minutes of staring nervously at the
forest at the end of the dead-end road, we decided it
was not to be. Either there were no ghosts on Boy
Scout Lane or if there were, they weren't up for an
Chad restarted his car, I realized I was clutching the
arm rest with a sweaty palm. So much for those
delusions of bravery.
On the ride back to Stevens Point, Chad dropped a
bombshell on me: "We've found that people who
come out with us often have weird things happen to
them in the days and weeks after."
I thought to myself, 'That's something to sleep on.'
final stop of the evening was along the Highway 66
bridge over the Plover River northeast of Stevens
Point. This small bridge has acquired the name
"Bloody Bride Bridge" because legend has it
that a young bride was killed in an auto crash along
the bridge on her wedding night. Paranormal buffs in
Stevens Point claim that if you drive over the bridge
at midnight and look in your rearview mirror, you will
see the ghostly bride sitting in your back seat in her
Approaching the bridge, I was fairly confident we
wouldn't be adding a ghostly passenger. Still, I
looked to the back seat in the visor mirror as we
passed over the bridge. No bride. A second pass, a
third pass and then a fourth - nothing.
the ride back from the bridge I couldn't help but
reflect on what my guide to the paranormal had said
about why he chooses to do what he does. Here's a man
who never has seen a ghost, never spotted a UFO, never
communicated with spirits - but still spends hours
researching these things and writes books about the
possibility of their existence.
never much of a believer in the paranormal myself, I
found myself hoping to see something peering back at
me from inside the woods or on the bridge. And I don't
think it was just the journalist in me looking for a
good story. Somehow the idea that there was nothing
else out there in the night was more haunting to me
than any ghost.