Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Return to the Mineral Springs Hotel

The first Mineral Springs post was my second post on the site, and this past weekend I returned with a fresh batch of victims. As we come up on the 5 year anniversary of CC&G, I've been dragging Francis to some of the places he missed in the early days. Keith had also missed this one, so he and Sarah joined us for the Saturday night tour.

At the Mineral Springs, some things have changed and some things are depressingly the same (or worse). The ballroom is still beautiful. What was once the hotel bar, and later an ice cream parlor, is now a cluttered "antique store" of the vintage junk variety. The BBQ joint that was there the last time we were in Alton has vanished without a trace. Parts of the second floor are still under construction, but progress as been made (as in, more gutted than the last time).

The really big deal is that the Torture Museum that was on tour the last time is now a permanent fixture. It's a little odd that there is a decidedly low-budget Torture Museum in a building full of stores and apartments and a beautiful ballroom that overlooks the river, but for what it is, it's very informative  Last time we weren't allowed to take pictures, but this time we just didn't, because Janet has clearly put a lot of work into this and is an expert on the subject, so it's worth your $5 when you're in the area.

As for the tour these days, I really have to give them credit for toning down the language. We heard from many of the same ghosts (Charlie, Cassandra, and the Jasmine lady), but there was a lot less warning, prompting, leading, or assertion of facts unproven by historical records. There was a lot more honesty about historical records and information obtained via psychics, and that was really refreshing and a lot more accessible.

A note on dowsing: handing an amateur the type of rods with loose, spinning handles is bogus. Only professionals know how to use those properly, and in the hands of an amateur they will spin like a weather vane  and that is not any "activity" other than physics. On a lighter note, here is my attempt to teach Francis how to hold the type without spinning handles (balanced loosely rather than gripped tightly).

There was still a seance, of course, though it was more relaxed this time and I didn't feel like anyone was trying to force us to experience something. There was a lot of noise from upstairs that was interfering with everyone's concentration. We didn't experience much other than the EMF in the center going a little nutty, and I couldn't begin to tell you what that means. Something about energy. This is a good example of how little the Mineral Springs Paranormal Research Center people "helped" with the tour, despite the fact that it seemed like they never shut up.

Let's be honest about something, Paranormal Research Community. Public walking tours do not make for a good investigation. I don't want to get all ranty, but some of the "pros" on the tour were not very professional. They were fairly salivating over the D300 because supposedly "good" cameras pick up more activity, but this is the ONLY ghost tour I've ever been on where anyone has insisted that we "got orbs" just by looking at a digital camera screen. We faked several photos, including waving a camera in front of a thermostat, and were upfront about it, and they still kept trying to say we got "activity". There were also a few instances of walking in the dark without announcing it during the seance (I could see them near me but could hear people across the circle whisper "what was that?"), and a LOT of talking in the back while Wayne was talking. Overall, this was a better tour than the 2008 version, and Wayne is great, but I think you should go into it aware of and ready to filter out some of the nonsense. If you want to do an investigation instead of a walking tour, I'd recommend haunted overnights in the pool area. You can find their monthly schedule on their website.

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