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I want to tell you a story, not mine exactly, but about a friend who, on his first paranormal investigation to a haunted hotel, decided he wanted to test the rumors and stay in a supposedly haunted room.  It's also a story about a town in Nevada made famous for its gold and silver mines known as the Comstock Lode and about The Gold Hill Hotel where two owners have been residing for 100 years. 

     The Past:

     There is some debate when the Gold Hill Hotel was originally constructed but whether it was 1859 or 1861, it was built during an era in U.S. history known as the "Old West".  No rhinestone cowboys here!  Life was hard for the men and women who came to seek their fortunes under the earth in the mines of Virginia City; where one of the world’s richest ore strikes occurred; where Mark Twain made a name for himself and where the Comstock Lode became a legend.  The gold and silver taken from the Comstock was of such significant value leading President Abraham Lincoln to declare Nevada a state on October 31, 1864, even though the sparse population did not constitutionally authorize statehood.  Reason?  The amount of gold and silver mined during this time was needed to finance the Civil War.

     The Gold Hill is the oldest operating Hotel in Nevada and throughout its history it has had many owners and just as many names; starting with a partnership between Miss Louise Forster and Alfred Riesen, The Riesen House; The Vesey Hotel owned by H.M. Vesey; The Capital Hotel; the Gold Hill Bar and Hotel bought by Fred and Dorothy Inmoor in 1958 after having been a private residence since 1907 and ending with the current owners, Bill & Carol Fain.

     Due to the boomtown atmosphere in mining and construction during the years between 1860 and 1880, deeds, partnerships and other transactions filed with the County for the Hotel leave a lot to be desired.  By 1880, the Virginia City and the Gold Hill areas had started its economic decline and would not begin to recover again until its discovery as a tourist attraction over 100 years later.  However, we do know that by 1890 the now Gold Hill Hotel was named The Capital Hotel according to the November, 1890 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for the Gold Hill area. 

     The time line may be a bit off because not all the documents from this era survived the times, but according to a still living 86 year old granddaughter, The Capital Hotel was owned by a married couple, Joseph and Sara.  They had at least 3 children and all lived at the Hotel.  Sara was renowned for her homemade rose water which she sold commercially and Joseph was a gambling, cigar smoking ex-miner who supposedly won the Hotel in a poker game.  Joseph, Sara and 2 of their children died at the Hotel.  It is during this time that our story begins.

     The Present:

     On July 21, 2004, CCPI was in Virginia City with Ghost Trackers and Movie Mix Productions to film a documentary, Ghosts of Virginia City. (Now available)  Imagine being in Virginia City, a town rich in American history of the Old West.  A member of the team was newcomer Steve Pristavok, who was excited to stay in a haunted hotel.  So excited it seems,  he decided to spend the first 2 nights in the two most "haunted" rooms of the Hotel as an experiment. You know that old adage? "Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true"?  Well, the first night was in Sara's room #4 and nothing happened but the second night in Room 5, Joseph's room, Steve got what he was looking for, his experiment was about to become a success. 

     Now, before I continue, let me tell you about Steve.  He is a regular, down to earth kind of guy, over 21, levelheaded and not prone to wild stories or a crazy imagination.  He is practical, logical and a professional photographer by trade.  And yes, he is new.  But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

     On the second night shortly after retiring, there was a knock on our door.  It was Steve.  He was pale, visibly shaken and could hardly talk.  He emphatically stated he was not going back to that room, no way, no how, not ever and could he please sleep on the floor in our room.  Steve definitely had some issues but it took some time for him to calm down before he could tell us what happened.  He was lying down in bed reading with the lights on, all the lights, including above the bed and even the bathroom when he heard footsteps in the hallway and scratching at the door.  He was concerned but dismissed it thinking it was someone in the next room.  Then he felt the bed move like someone had hit or kicked the mattress. Now he was alarmed but still trying to rationalize and thought it was just his imagination, he waited, it wasn't a long wait.    

   A couple of minutes after the first incident, suddenly the whole mattress shook, not the bed frame, just the mattress like the proverbial rag doll.  He was up, out the door and down the hallway quicker than you can say, "Great Ghosts of the Gold Hill Hotel!"  He made his way down to the bar where the bartender and 2 customers were sitting and told them he wanted another room and why.  The bartender asked him, "Aren't you one of those ghost hunters?"  "Yeah" he replied, "But I'm new."  Unfortunately, the inn was full and no other rooms were available.  Steve even considered sleeping in the hallway, not his of course, but knocked on our door instead.

     By the time Steve had finished his story, it was 2:30 AM and we decided to go back to his room to investigate.  That's what ghost hunters do, right?  We grabbed our cameras and made our way to Room 5.  Our findings did not reveal any significant temperature or EVP readings but what I captured with my digital camera was this:

Now, this may be hard to see as it is the original and just as it appeared on my computer when I first reviewed my pictures after our investigation.  In fact, my focus had been on the chair but seeing nothing I almost deleted it and even had my finger on the button when my attention was drawn to the mirror.  As a rule, I don't take shots of mirrors, too many variables like light or reflections, etc.  But I detected something and then I started to analyze, lightening, contrast, gray scale, enlarge, crop, rotate, etc, etc, etc.   This is what I found.

 

The Face in the Mirror (contrast)


Cropped & Grayscaled

This picture shows what is directly across from the mirror and taken right after; same light reflection from wall sconce, smoke alarm and no imperfections on the wall. As a side note, I went back to VC recently and showed the image to the bartender at the Hotel. He’s seen a full apparition on 2 occasions in the bar, (Joseph);seen a photo of Joseph at 50 yrs old and positively identified this image as Joseph.

It’s always an adventure to investigate buildings for paranormal activity that have such historical significance of the Old West but then to come away with a good story and a picture to back it up. Such is the Gold Hill Hotel in Virginia City, Nevada. Thanks Steve for letting me tell your story and now you know, this is what we do. . . . . . . . . . . J

A Steve Update: He is alive, well & still ghost hunting.