GRAND CANYON CAVERNS - The owners of Grand Canyon Caverns have hired a ghost hunting crew from California to determine if the place is haunted.
The Orange County Ghosts and Legends Paranormal Team are investigating some of the things going bump in the darkness. The team uses special equipment that measures electrical fields, motion sensors, video and audio recorders in their investigations.
According to Orange County Ghosts and Legend's website, www.orangecountyeventsandtours.com, the team has been trying to solve ghostly mysteries across California for the last nine years. It frequently offers tours of some of the most haunted sites in Orange County and will even investigate claims of other worldly activity in people's homes or businesses.
"A lot of people have seen some weird things around here," said Patty Wilkins, who works at the caverns. Tour guides and visitors alike have reported seeing strange figures, halos around objects in photos, dancing shadows on the rock walls and hearing chanting and other noises.
According to the cavern's owner, Mike Kadletz, the caverns have been the scene of at least eight deaths and another four people with strong ties to the caverns have died young in the last 50 years.
The most frequent ghostly vision is that of a man standing in the elevator, either at the top or the bottom of the shaft, opening and closing the doors. Cavern's employees believe he is Walter Peck, the man who found the original opening to the caverns in 1927 when he was walking to a poker game. Peck stumbled and nearly fell into a large hole in the ground.
The next morning, Peck returned with some friends and some rope. He was lowered approximately 150 feet into a large, dark cavern. Spying some rocks with a few sparkles in them, he brought them back to the surface.
When his is hope for a gold mine literally turned out to be rust, Peck started charging people 25 cents to be lowered into the cavern.
Peck also found the skeletons of two men and a saddle on a ledge near the entrance. Tests in the 1960s determined the skeletons to belong to two members of the Hualapai Indian Tribe. The men had died in 1917 from the flu. They were part of a group of men cutting wood in the area who became trapped by a snowstorm. When they died, the group buried them in the cavern because the ground was too frozen and they didn't want to risk bringing the disease back to Peach Springs.
Visitors who have stayed in the Grand Canyon Caverns suite, located 22 stories underground in one of the caverns have reported seeing shadows dancing on the walls and hearing chanting, Wilkins said.
She and two other women stayed in the suite the night before it opened to the public in 2010. The women took lots of pictures of the new suite, and when they looked at the pictures the next day, they were full of mysterious halos.
The women hadn't seen the halos the night before when they were taking the pictures, and all of the pictures seemed to have at least one halo in them, Wilkins said.
Other strange sightings on the property include a tour guide who died just outside the caverns and is still seen giving tours, and a report of seeing a man who hung himself on the property.
The investigation concludes today.
For more information on the Grand Canyon Caverns, visit www.GCCaverns.com. The caverns are located 63 miles northeast of Kingman at mile marker 115 on Route 66.