begin planning your summer vacation, why settle for
the average trip to some amusement park when you could
be chased by hellhounds, go camping with ghosts or
sleep in a haunted bed and breakfast?
Best of all, most of these exotic trips are less than
a day away and catalogued in the recently published
"The Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted
Locations" by Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk, co-hosts
of "The Unexplained" radio and television
programs. Fisk was in Winona on Saturday signing books
at Book World in the Winona Mall.
Their last three years have been spent tracking down
ghost stories and investigating haunted places.
"In 90 percent of the cases, the information that
people gave us was wrong," Fisk said. "They
were just stories or urban legends. Oftentimes, they
never gave directions, and when they did they were
That still left the other 10 percent.
For those cases, much of the ghost hunting didn't take
place in cemeteries or in old, abandoned houses.
Research happened mostly in libraries and courthouses.
Fisk said most ghost stories center around a violent
or tragic death like a murder or suicide.
"Sometimes we can show that nothing happened in a
place. We're able to debunk a myth," Fisk said.
"Even so, some people still believe. Then there
are hauntings for unknown reasons. People create urban
legends to try and explain what's happening."
Other people like going ghost hunting for a thrill,
whether they believe in it or not.
"It's thrill seeking. It's like going to an
amusement park or bungee jumping or going to a horror
film," Fisk said.
And he looks the part of a paranormal investigator n
shaved head, goatee, black suit and black pants. While
he's dedicated his life to exploring the supernatural
or paranormal, he's also disliked and sometimes
distrusted by everyone.
"The believers believe what they want and don't
like you because you don't," Fisk said.
"Then the cynics tell you there's no evidence and
you shouldn't even study this."
Fisk remains skeptical of many of the stories.
"If you're afraid of ghosts and never want to see
them, then become a ghost investigator," Fisk
But several encounters have nudged Fisk closer to the
believers than the cynics.
Lewis and Fisk were investigating a haunted lighthouse
on Rock Island in Door County. Because no vehicles are
allowed on the island, they had to hike to the
lighthouse on the other side of the island. Arriving
after dark, they found the lighthouse padlocked.
Shortly after they pitched camp, they heard the
banging of a door against the wall inside the
"It startled us," Fisk said. "We
thought the wind could have caused it, but there was
no wind. We listened again and it happened. We don't
know. It's possible it could have been an
That possibility of something extraordinary rattling
the door is what keeps people fascinated.
"Every culture in the world today and in history
has a belief in ghosts," Fisk said. "It's
something inside of people. They want to know if they
survive. Hauntings give us some assurance of survival
beyond the grave. It does have to do with a fear of
"The Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted
Locations" is available at Book World in the
Winona Mall, 1213 Gilmore Ave.
Authors Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk plan to write a
guide to haunted locations in Minnesota. They also
plan a second volume for Wisconsin in a couple years.
One spot highlighted in the Wisconsin book is in the
town of Sumner in Trempealeau County at the
intersection of Highway 53 and County Road H.
According to the book, there have been reports of the
ghost of an Indian dancer spotted at the intersection.
While an Indian teenager was killed in the area more
than 20 years ago, it was not at the site where the
dancer has been spotted.
For more information, log on to www.unexplainedresearch.com.
Terry Fisk, co-author of "The Wisconsin Road
Guide to Haunted Locations" and a co-host of the
Unexplained, shares some frequently asked questions.
How do you know whether a place is haunted?
Besides seeing apparitions, Fisk said that common
tell-tale signs of haunting include rooms that have a
cold spot in them or will, without reason, become
drafty. Many reports of hauntings include smelling a
certain perfume or odor associated with someone who
has died, for example, a certain brand of pipe
Why do hauntings always happen at night?
"One theory is that nighttime is when the veil
between the living and the dead gets thinner,"
While it seems that most ghostly encounters take place
at night, there are very few good explanations he's
heard which cover this topic.
Are all hauntings the result of tragic deaths?
"The top ghost stories we hear always go along
with hangings and accidents," Fisk said.
Whether that's the stuff of urban legends, Fisk
doesn't know. His own theory of ghosts centers around
spirits that are lingering and haven't passed into
"They haven't passed the way they should. They
may not realize they're dead. Some may need
assistance. Others weren't ready," he said.
Is every cemetery haunted?
Fisk defers that question to Peter James, a noted
psychic and television host, who believes that most
cemeteries are not haunted. Rather, most hauntings
take place at the site where something — tragic or
not — happened.
"For most people, cemeteries are a psychological
thing," Fisk said.