Reporter out to explain the paranormal
Investigators hope to sight ghosts at area's haunted spots

By Alex Shaine
02/23/05 -  Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune

STEVENS 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," he said.

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 investigator.

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."

There 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 this point.

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 interview.

As 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."

'Great', I thought to myself, 'That's something to sleep on.'

Our 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 wedding gown.

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.

On 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.

Though 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.

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