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Midwest Beat Magazine - N.W. Indiana's Ghost Trackers: Looking For Things That Go Bump In The Night

Midwest Beat Magazine - N.W. Indiana's Ghost Trackers: Looking For Things That Go Bump In The Night
© 2000 Midwest Beat Magazine -
Kelly J. Calton

Halloween tends to bring out the ghost hunter in all of us. People do things they normally wouldn't do, such as visit supposedly "haunted" areas in the region, go to grave yards, etc.. There is a local club in the Chicagoland area that does these things on a monthly basis.

N.W. I. Ghost Trackers is a local club in the region. Their goal is to unite individuals into a community wherein together they may "shine light" into stories and myths of our area. Old and new phenomena will be researched and investigated with an open mind and a rational logic.

There are two different kinds of hunts provided by the Trackers. The first type occurs during daylight hours, and is for the more squeamish individual and children that are not "spooked" by tales of hauntings. Founding member Mike McDowell says, "I think overly spooky situations should be avoided with children. Occasionally our group will do some daytime ghost hunts which I would deem acceptable for kids. These daytime ghost hunts deal more with the history of the haunted sites and less with the actual investigation of them. Of course if a child doesn't deal well with spooky stories they may not enjoy these hunts as much as the adults do.

"Parents should be sure their children can deal with scary stories without affecting the child's emotional state," he continued. "Generally the daytime hunts the we do are okay for kids. On nightime investigations we ask that no children be present. Of course age is subject to the individual. Some kids are simply more mature then others."

The ghost hunts are also very educational and pass down area history and myths to children. "I think the history the kids learn on these hunts could spark interest in learning more about area history as a whole. This is a way they can learn area folk tales," says McDowell.

Through pictures and audio recordings, the Trackers set out to get proof of paranormal existence. Can these types of recordings prove the presence of paranormal activity? "Photographs and audio recordings can sometimes show existence of something that is beyond the normal realm of human perception," explains McDowell. "When we slow things down and take a look at them it allows us to take a glimpse of these things. I believe that the ghosts become visible on these recording media due to the type of energy they give off. Does this prove it's a ghost? I think no matter what kind of proof you have, you will always have people that doubt it's validity. In some cases mistakes are made and things that might look like ghosts could be a camera strap or a reflection. It is always important to scrutinize your photos for these kinds of mistakes. Once you eliminate these errors what you are left with is something we have yet to understand."

The group usually covers three or four locations during a typical hunt. Armed with camera's, (both conventional and digital), camcorders, recording devices, compasses and flashlights, they cover the area of the hauntings, hoping to get a picture or a sound recording of paranormal activity.

Many of the unusual photographs taken by the group can be viewed at their website. While the new age of digital technology helps the investigations, McDowell warns, "Some ghost researchers will not accept pictures of this nature because of the lack of hard evidence and proof that the images haven't been tampered with. Digital image tampering is the biggest concern. I've seen digital cameras do a tremendous job of capturing phenomenon. We have gotten some awesome pictures with a digital camera and in some cases we could notice the anomaly right away. As a whole I think it's a great way of getting some interesting pictures but whenever possible digital images should be backed up with film."

There are many locations the group regularly visits, and they also take leads from individuals having paranormal experiences in their own backyards. "Gypsy Cemetery, Bachelors Grove Cemetery and other haunted cemeteries in the area and among the sites for ghost hunts.

"One of our members has a haunted barn that has been very interesting," says McDowell. "Some of the documented stories in the ghost books available have been used to visit various houses or locations. Reeder Road in Griffith and Cline Avenue in Hammond are rich in stories. There are many others out there that people don't know about. I hesitate to mention their locations for fear they could become flooded with crazed Halloween Partiers. An abandoned boys school in Cedar Lake just made it over the airwaves of a popular radio show. I had been told previously about this location and it's strange phenomena. Now, thanks to the exposure, ghost hunters will be unable to check out the school for some time."

Membership is open and free of charge to anyone who would like to participate. The club currently has around 35 members, and anyone interested in participating in upcoming hunts should email McDowell or visit their website at:

There are two ghost hunts scheduled for the bewitching month of October. The first is a night hunt scheduled for October 7th. There are "specialty people" like psychics coming to this hunt, and it is being held at a secret place. You can find more information at the website. The second ghost hunt is a day time hunt scheduled for October 14th.