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Port Gamble Ghost Conference to discuss things that go bump in the night | Kitsap Week
The historic town of Port Gamble, with its pristine grounds and buildings, looks as if it is a movie set.
But exactly what type of movie? Perhaps the ghostly variety.
“In historical sites that are well maintained, ghosts tend to be well kept too,” said Neil McNeill, a Seattle-based paranormal researcher and educator.
McNeill is among the seven lecturers speaking at the second annual Port Gamble Ghost Conference held during the last weekend of October.
The conference, which began as an offshoot of the popular Port Gamble Ghost Walks, allows people to explore and dig deeper into the paranormal.
Founded in 1853, the mill town of Port Gamble has a history of unexplained happenings that take place throughout the small town.
In the community center (where the town morgue was housed in the basement), people have reported hearing voices and footsteps above them —when no one is on the top floor.
In the old service station, which is now Mike's Four Star BBQ, Pete Orbea was working in the back room when he said a tool flew six feet, banged against the wall and crashed to the ground. Scary? Yes. The event was even more frightening considering Orbea was the only person in the room.
When a worker was fixing some pipes underneath one home in town, he stumbled upon an old doll. Thinking it was intriguing; he took the doll and then later realized his cell phone was missing. Believing that the two events were somehow connected, he brought the doll back to where he found it and the next day his cell phone was sitting on the front porch of the house.
But perhaps the most bone chilling, goose bump producing building in Port Gamble is the Walker-Ames home. Built in 1888, the Walker-Ames is a prominent building on the main street of town. With its Victorian architecture and delightful paint colors, it’s hard to believe from the outside that scary things have been reported on the inside.
Port Gamble employee Kayla McAfee said the Walker-Ames is the only property in town that makes her uncomfortable. On a recent tour of the home, McAfee said, “I always get achy in this house.”
The grand staircase, stained glass windows and ornate woodwork in the home is juxtaposed with peeling wallpaper, a stained bathtub and a basement that could frighten Stephen King.
“The Walker-Ames house is one of, if not the most haunted locations in Western Washington,” McNeill said.
According to McAfee, it's believed that a male spirit haunts the basement. The rumor is a boy once lived in the Walker-Ames home and suffered from a mental illness. His mother didn't know how to care for him and kept him locked in the basement. Because of that, he isn't fond of females and has been known to pull women's hair. Camera and cell phone batteries that are fully charged have been said to completely drain when brought into the basement.
The town’s general store is next door to the Walker-Ames home and witnesses report seeing a woman and child in the upstairs windows —and the home has been vacant for years.
Different paranormal investigating groups have spent the night in the home and often try to lure the spirits with toys, candy and crayons, but always try to keep in mind to be respectful. A topic covered at the conference is investigation protocol and how to be respectful and ask for permission of the spirits. Inside the Walker-Ames house there are designated areas marked with yellow caution tape where the ghosts can seek refuge —and investigators are not allowed in those areas.
At the conference, McNeill will discuss the notion of mind over matter in his lecture “Exhibit X: The proof and problem of paranormal evidence.” He believes that some investigators create evidence of ghosts —such as images on film, sound recordings and electrical disturbances —unintentionally.
“It's a radical idea but one generally thought to be what happens with a poltergeist,” he said.
The theory goes that stress-induced feelings manifest in energy that cause doors to slam and books to fall. And often the blame is placed on ghosts when it should actually be directed towards humans.
“The idea of parapsychology is really spooky and interesting in itself,” McNeill said.
Among other topics discussed at the conference are “Haunts of the Pacific Northwest” and “Are all churches ‘against’ the paranormal?” Authors Gregg Olsen and Karen Frazier discuss the paranormal in their writing.
The conference includes a Ghost Walk on Friday night and optional ghost investigations on Saturday evening.
“Anyone with a remote interest in ghosts, or just wants to get in the mood for Halloween should attend,” McNeill said. “They'll learn, have fun and get the chance to explore a real haunted house.”
Port Gamble Ghost Conference
Oct. 28-30. Cost is $75 and includes a catered lunch and a T-shirt. Optional ghost investigations on Saturday night are $10 . For information and registration: www.portgamble.com