Posted by Tasha on October 22nd, 2010 in Culture
Sometimes a ghost story just isn’t enough.
Sometimes, especially at Halloween, only meeting a ghost face to face will do. Thrill-seekers and serious paranormal enthusiasts alike can do exactly that thanks to our very own Paranormal Investigation Team of Tulsa, which hosts ghost tours at some of T-Towns most historic spots.
I caught up with Karol Olten, a top member at PITT, to ask her a few questions about her experience as a real-life ghost hunter.
TDT: Where do you think is the most haunted place in Tulsa?
Olten: On our tours we take everyone to some of the most haunted places in Tulsa: the Gilcrease home and museum, the Cave House on Charles Page Boulevard, Cain’s Ballroom, Brady Theater, Tulsa Garden Center and The Tulsa Little Theater, just to name a few.
We really feel that the Gilcrease home is one of the most haunted houses in Tulsa due to the quality and quantity of evidence that we have received over the years and on every investigation that the team has done there. Mr. Gilcrease is often seen both in the home and in the museum by the staff there. The home was an orphanage for the under previlaged children of the five civilized tribes for a while and we believe that the children come back and visit as well.
TDT: Have you ever spent the night at a haunted place? If so, what went down while you were there?
Olten: When we do investigations we often stay all night or the majority of the night in the location, so many things happen over the course of the evening. The times that I have actually spent the night in haunted hotels have been very uneventful, though. I know that the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, AR, is very haunted, along with the Basin Park Hotel in the downtown area there. We have investigated the Tioga in Chanute, KS, and believe it to be haunted as well. While in our room at that hotel, the door locked seemingly by itself. Pretty interesting! The Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City is very active and was investigated on numerous occasions by one of our team members when he lived there and prior to the renovations and reopening of the hotel. I heard that a basketball team that was spending the night there was kept awake all night because of the haunted acitivity.
Those are several haunted sites that are close by and worth checking out. The founder of our group, Teri French, and our science advisor, Russel White, are getting married at the end of the month and plan on spending a night or two in the very haunted Stanely Hotel in Colorado while on their honeymoon. I can’t wait to hear about that experience!
TDT: What types of equipment do you use to investigate paranormal activity?
Olten: We are fairly old school when it comes to equipment. We use standard cameras – 35mm, digital and polaroid, along with video cameras that have night shot vision. We use both analogue and digital recorders, EMF (electromagnetic field detectors) meters of various types, EMF arrays (that stand alone and visually show changes in EMF using lights), temperature gauges and security alarms that go off if anything passes between them and more.
TDT: Why do you think the PITT ghost tours are so popular here in Tulsa? They sell out sometimes months in advance each year.
Olten: I believe that everyone enjoys learning more about the place they live, and the tours are a wonderful source of information on the history of Tulsa as well as the hauntings. Hauntings are also something that always peaks the interest of people around Halloween time and the tours are about the real thing and are not geared to be likened to the spook houses or other amusements that are readily available this time of year. I think people appreciate the fact that we have personally investigated almost every sight we visit or talk about on the tours. They usually enjoy the EVPs (electromagnetic voice phenomena – sounds and voices not heard during the investigation but that are captured on either video or audio equipment and are discovered later during data review) that we have gotten over the years, and also that we can relay personal experiences from our investigations of each location. That really brings the hauntings to life for those who have not experienced them before. It might even help to change the minds of non-believers on occasion.
TDT: What made you decide to be a paranormal investigator?
Olten: I grew up in a house where there was some paranormal activity, and I have always been sensitive or aware of those types of things going on around me. It just seemed to be a calling – wanting to help others who are experiencing things that they cannot explain or need help to understand and deal with. If you haven’t experienced a haunting (and sometimes if you have!), it can be very scary and even make you feel like you are loosing your mind. I think it’s very helpful to talk to someone who understands what you are going through and who can also give advice on how to deal with it. That’s what keeps me going in this field of research and interest.
TDT: What’s the strangest/most interesting thing that has happened on a PITT investigation?
Olten: I wasn’t on the first investigation of the Tulsa Garden Center, but the team had some very interesting experiences there: They actually experienced teleportation. Some flyers moved from a shelf on the wall nine feet to the center of the room and landed in a perfect, straight pile on the floor. They were advertising the Cherry Street Farmer’s Market. Someone joked about the spirits at the Garden Center wanting to tell us to investigate the market. Two weeks later the team was called by a business at the location where the market was held and asked us to investigate activity occurring there. Another thing: There were six team members in the room at the time this happened, and six flyers moved to the center of the room. I think that was pretty nifty!
TDT: What should amateur paranormal investigators explore this Halloween?
Olten: We never advocate that people investigate or visit sites without the permission and knowledge of the owners, of course. That leaves locations that are publicly accessible. One really cool location that is not well known as being haunted is the Gypsy Coffee House, at 303 North Cincinnati Ave. in downtown. Much of the paranormal activity occurs during the day there, and they have awesome coffee and desserts and free wi-fi to boot! Brady Theater would be another great place to explore. Be sure to check out the basement if you can get down there! Cain’s Ballroom is haunted as well, so keep your eyes peeled during events and and listen carefully while using the restrooms there – you just might not be alone when you think you are!
Another place that we feel may prove to play host to paranormal activity is our new BOK Center. It was built on top of the original Tulsa graveyard at 2nd and Frisco, and bones were found during the excavation for the building site. The graves were supposed to have been moved when Oaklawn Cemetery (11th & Peoria) was designated as the city’s official cemetery in 1904, but many bodies apparently remained there, undiscovered until the roads and buildings were built. We believe that the bodies that were not moved and were found during the excavation for the building site is due to many of the unmarked graves as well as Indian burials on or near the site. Hopefully your readers will let us know if they experience anything there in the future.
Tasha’s note: Teri French, PITT founder, has just released her new book that details many of Tulsa’s haunted spots. If you’re interested in learning even more about haunted T-Town, look for the book under the title Tulsa’s Haunted Memories.
MORE: Find many of PITT’s older case files and (really freaky!) EVPs are on their website, pittok.com.