Oakhurst, CA. (Vocus) September 15, 2009 –
Each year millions of people flow through California’s Gateway to Yosemite to explore the scenic American icon, as well as the numerous attractions throughout Madera County. A smaller group of visitors come for something very specific: the haunted attractions of the region.
“The Madera County region is steeped in rich history as settlers first started making their way during the gold rush of 1849,” said Dan Cunning, CEO of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau (http://www.yosemitethisyear.com) which promotes the region. “The result is numerous sites of historical significance, and many that are considered by paranormal researchers to be haunted.”
Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park recaptures the flavor of 19th Century life in the Sierra Nevada foothills and mountains of Central California. According to researchers with the Central Valley Seekers, the first group to actually investigate the reports of ghost activity at Fresno Flats, some of the structures are also home to spirits still attached to the historic buildings.
“When we first started investigating we didn’t get too much evidence because of the type of spirits. It’s family oriented and we got the feeling they thought we were invading their space. When they got familiar with us, with Laura (Huddleson, facility caretaker) telling them we were there to get to know them, they started communicating with us,” said Peggy Armer. She said the spirits now have really started opening up, and as a result they have captured numerous EVPs or electronic voice phenomenon.
Huddleson echoed Armer’s statements that the spirits are family oriented and friendly, as she said guests are left with a positive feeling. “We’ve talked to several people here that say based off of EVPs and other equipment that it’s a happy, contented place. You don’t get weird feelings, nothing mean or angry. Just happy, positive spirits.”
Armer’s group works with the historical society to take people interested in learning more about the history and the spirits on tours during the normally closed evening hours. To book a tour or to learn more, contact Armer at (559) 779-9400. More information on the Fresno Flats Historical Society can be found at http://www.fresnoflatsmuseum.org.
One popular attraction in Oakhurst is the Golden Chain Theater Known for its production of melodramas for the past 42 years. Theater owner Mary Lou Finley says in addition to the memorable stage experiences guests come away with, many others take home stories of other, more supernatural, experiences.
“We have a large huge cast of people who were in shows for 42 years who on occasion want to visit. The way in which they visit is both exciting and positive,” said Finley. She went on to say that many of the experiences are ones normally associated with spirits. “Cold spots, lights turning off or on,” she said.
Finley said while some people have been there for years and never had anything out of the ordinary happen to them, others have some great tales. “I personally have had strange things that I can’t explain that are exciting.”
Another popular stop with deep rooted history is the Sierra Sky Ranch Resort. Built in 1875, the resort was once the largest cattle ranch in California, a tuberculosis hospital for children in the early 1900’s and a military hospital during World War II. This diverse history has made it an active location for paranormal activity.
“We’ve made believers out of a lot of nonbelievers,” said Ted Roache, the general manager of the property.
“The most common story we get is guests saying they hear kids running up and down the upstairs hallway all night long, and we’re a single story building, plus we have no kids on property at the time,” said Roache.
Roache said another common tale is of people saying they felt a push while in bed as if their spouse were nudging them over despite being alone.
The kitchen is also another center of activity. “There are stories of two chefs at the property who weren’t friends in life. Apparently that dislike has carried over into the afterlife, as people would experience things like items in the kitchen moving or being thrown, or things falling from the shelf that shouldn’t have,” Roache said.
While unnerving, Roache said the happenings have never proven too much for someone. “We’ve never had someone leave scared. They just leave with some good stories,” he said.
The Sierra Sky Ranch Resort is located just north of Oakhurst. For more information on the property, log on to http://www.sierraskyranch.com.
The region has hosted numerous celebrity ghost hunters, as crews from TAPS (That Atlantic Paranormal Society) and A&E’s Paranormal Kids and more. Armer said true ghost hunting is not just the search of answers about life after death, but a lot of research into the history of a region. “The reason we started because of the historical value to it. We get a lot of information that we get to research. That’s why I got in to it, I get to learn a lot of history.”
Armer said with each trip, they come away with a little more understanding. “Each time we go we get a little more evidence,” she said.
To learn more about this or other haunted sites, and other attractions in California’s Gateway to Yosemite, go to http://www.yosemitethisyear.com.