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Hauntings in Detroit Lakes, NY Mills found in book

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The thrill of being scared is an attraction of listening to stories about spooky things going bump in the night, but the comfort comes to people after the fact because the story's origin usually isn't in their backyard.

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But what if that safety net is yanked away and these hauntings and paranormal activity are closer than one thinks?

That insulation of comfort was nowhere to be found at Chad Lewis' "Haunted in Detroit Lakes" presentation Monday at the Historic Holmes Theater.

Lewis' presentation consisted of legends and facts about various haunted locations in Minnesota.

"We have found so many ghosts in Minnesota, that I have dubbed it the land of 10,000 ghosts," Lewis writes in his book he co-authored with Terry Fisk entitled The Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations.

With over 13 years of experience on paranormal investigations, Lewis also holds a master of science degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin -- Stout.

He has vast experience in the paranormal after trekking across the world in search of the abnormal and strange, includes tracking vampires in Transylvania and looking for the Chupacabras in Puerto Rico.

But his focus Monday was that of haunted locations in the immediate area and in Minnesota.

Lewis' research starts by looking into legends and myths which abound, either by newspaper clippings, libraries or word of mouth.

"Usually, stories are so vague that it does take a lot of work researching," Lewis said. "And when you do come across something which is connected to the legend, that is a great find."

Lewis and Fisk have written a number of books about different states' haunted locations, and it takes about a year to write each one.

"For instance, in Wisconsin, we visited and researched about 400 cases and had to narrow them down to 100," Lewis said. "There's at least three months of travel time visiting each site."

The closest haunt that hits home came when Lewis was giving a presentation in Perham some years ago.

A lady came up to him after the presentation and told him of her childhood house in Detroit Lakes.

"She said her and her family would hear kids running up and down the stairs and rapping on the window," Lewis said. "Then, when the family was out of town, neighbors would report loud parties going on in the house.

"When the family returned, there was nothing wrong inside the house or no signs of a party."

He continued that the parents were even pushed out of bed by unknown entities. The family later moved out of the house.

"I don't divulge where the house is in Detroit Lakes, because it is a private residence," Lewis teased Monday's audience. "So when you go back to your house tonight, you may think, is this that house?"

In The Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations, one of the locations Lewis and Fisk write about is the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

The history of the Cultural Center includes it being a general store, and the previous owner committed suicide in the building, according to the book.

Some paranormal activity which has been reported were "ghostly footsteps being heard throughout the building" and "pieces from the gallery move around on their own."

But Lewis and Fisk interviewed several staff members who believe the story of the store owner committing suicide to be untrue, but that the building was once, in fact, a general store.

There wasn't any documentation about the storeowner, either.

After interviewing other staff members, there are reports of voices being heard and footsteps on the hardwood floor when no one else is in the building.

The Whistle Stop Inn in New York Mills is also featured in the book, with footsteps being heard in the main house and a presence being felt in the train cars on the property, which are also rooms.

Lewis said many different types of people have talked to him about their personal paranormal stories. There isn't just one typical type of person who has had experiences.

"I have had skeptics tell me their stories, saying 'I don't believe in ghosts, but..." and then tell what happened to them," Lewis said. "There are young and old who have had experiences and on all education levels."

Times have also changed and business owners are more willing to open up with tales.

"There was always a concern for business owners who I used in my books that no one will come if they thought it was haunted," Lewis said. "But then I received calls back from them saying about how many people come here just because they thought it was haunted."

Lewis used the Palmer House in Sauk Centre as a business which hasn't been hurt at all because it is reported to be haunted.

"People don't clam up as much now," Lewis included. "People want to visit these sites because they are curious and interested."

Cemeteries have also been a reoccurring theme in Lewis' books.

One of his favorites is the Sanborn Cemetery in Lamberton, where the legend has a young girl being buried alive there.

Back in the early part of the 1900s, being buried alive was not as uncommon as one would imagine, either.

Family members of a departed relative would even set up bells, with a string going down to the coffin six feet under, in case the deceased would wake up. They then could pull the string to ring the bell to signify they were alive.

Witnesses have reported hearing the sounds of a female crying and certain grave sites glowing.

Lewis has personally done hundreds and hundreds of investigations on the locations he writes in his books, as well.

Although he hasn't experienced anything which has been "100-percent paranormal," he still believes.

"I do believe, because there are just too many credible people out there who have had experiences that I have talked to," Lewis said. "But don't take my word for it, go out there and experience it for yourself."

Lewis' work can be found at www.unexplainedresearch.com.

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