WereWoofs Investigating Team:
Lead Paranormal Investigator for WereWOOFS, Curtis Wimer
The Woofdriver, Bill Helman
Photographer Doug Sanford
Paranormal Investigator ChrisP
WereWoofs Support Crew: “Dan the Man” Williams and Scott Gilman
Parapsychology Consultant Para Anne
of the Coffee with the Dead podcast/YouTube channel
and her husband and Data Wrangler Evan
By half past 10 o’clock, everyone had arrived at the arranged meeting site. The dogs had gotten out for a nighttime mush, and it was their time to relax while the rest of of the team got started. The first site for the Werewoofs team: Tunnel Trail outside Blain, PA in the Tuscarora State Forest.
The Newport and Shermans Valley Railroad operated over a span of forty years, transferring lumber harvested locally to the larger trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad. At one point, the construction of a tunnel through the Conococheague Mountain was begun, but it was halted when, fewer than 100 feet into the mountain, the tunnel failed. Who worked the beginnings of that tunnel? What could they have thought and felt as the tunnel failed? Could some part of them have stayed behind, watching the forests return to the mountains, watching people hike in and out of the place that had played such a monumental role in their lives? Did they have something to say? If so, we wanted to give them an opportunity to be heard. Body cams, headlamps, and infrared cameras were distributed, and we hiked the half mile to the failed tunnel.
One of the main pieces of equipment being deployed to encourage communication is called the Ovilus 5. It detects changes in the electromagnetic spectrum and uses a software algorithm to analyze the nature of those changes and match the results of the analysis with a word from an onboard dictionary.
As we were getting ready for the trek up the trail to the abandoned tunnel, the Ovilus 5 began saying “Ike! Ike!” Curtis smiled, saying that he and Bill had visited Pennhurst Asylum somewhat recently, where they met “Ike”, a spirit who led them throughout the asylum until they found a coloring book which seemed to have been important to him. Now, it seemed, Ike had decided to follow them from time to time. As we began to walk the trail to the tunnel, however, the Ovilus 5 fell silent. After a walk that is probably beautiful in the daytime, but was rocky and slippery at night, we came to the abandoned tunnel. Immediately upon entering, the ambient temperature dropped at least ten degrees. Perhaps a temperature drop when entering a cave is to be expected, but then again…
Aside from that, nobody felt any particular reaction to our group entering the cave. Curtis’ K2 Meter, a device that measures spikes in the Electro-Magnetic Frequency spectrum, occasionally would light up a little, from green to yellow, while Para Anne’s also gave occasional signs where she stood, farther into the tunnel. Curtis and Para Anne spent several minutes asking questions of any spirits who would care to answer, and if they would spike the meter to red. It happened once, but requests to repeat the feat went unanswered. The investigators decided to provide a few minutes of silence. It was then that the Ovilus 5 began to speak again, repeating a single word: “sacres”. French for “sacred things”, but in French Canada the word is used to refer to taboo language or blasphemy
At this point, another piece of investigative equipment came into play: the Portal. The Portal consists of an amplifier, a noise reducer, and a reverb unit. It connects to another device such as a Spirit Box, or even a smartphone app that takes advantage of your phone’s own EMF-receiving antenna. The portal processes these signals, removing noise, and making any words clearer. In this case, the words heard were:
- “Get out.”
- “Get out of the tunnel”
- “The local (unintelligible) are dead”
While this was happening, Dan had his Kinect SLS Camera running. This camera uses the Kinect device from an Xbox360 to project IR light, which it sees as dots. A microprocessor analyzes the motion of the dots to determine when a group of them are moving in a way that indicates that they’ve been projected on a person, determines where their joints are, and draws a stick figure. In a game, this stick figure would be the result of a player, and the gaming console would know how they were moving. And if the camera sees a stick figure where no living person is standing, as it did in the abandoned tunnel?
While the first thought upon hearing “Get out of the tunnel” may be to take it as a warning to the team, the fact that nobody felt any sense of unease or unwelcome undermines that idea. Perhaps the warnings were not meant for us. Perhaps they, along with the other words, were an echo of the most terrifying, and perhaps final, moments of some people’s lives.
This is a good place to talk a little bit about the history of Pennsylvania’s forests, particularly Tuscarora State Forest, where the tunnel is located. By the end of the 19th century, lumber and iron companies had harvested and mined central Pennsylvania’s forests into near-nonexistence. The mountains were barren; the local forests were dead. Some time not long after construction on the railroad tunnel was halted, the area was acquired by the newly-formed Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters. The department was dedicated to bringing back the once abundant hardwood forests; an act of contrition. In 1971 the he Department of Forests and Waters was rolled into the Department of Environmental Resources.
After delivering those warnings from the past, a little after midnight, the investigators’ equipment fell silent. It was time to move on to our second site for the evening. Sadly, Para Anne and her husband had to leave, but the rest of the crew pressed on.
At close to 2:30AM, we arrived at the second site: a small plaque mounted on a stone just off a dirt road near the top of the mountain.
On Oct. 26, 1956, Air Force aircraft number 51-8026 departed Sewart Air Force Base in Tennessee, headed to Olmsted Air Force Base in Middletown, Pennsylvania on a cargo airlift mission. Flying through rain and fog, at 3:11PM, the pilot was given permission to descend to the airfield. At 3:15, 40 miles west of the west of the landing strip, the cargo plane crashed into Tuscarora Mountain and exploded, apparently the victim of rapidly changing weather conditions and zero visibility. Four men died instantly. Not until 50 years later were the lives of these servicemen memorialized with a plaque beside the dirt road near the crash site. Perhaps they would have something to say about being forgotten, or about being remembered after so long?
We parked about 200 feet from the memorial and walked over. Unfortunately, in the dark it was impossible to find the actual crash site, so the group headed for the monument. Would spirits have gravitated towards it as a source of attention?
As we approached the memorial, the Ovilus, which had been silent for most of the last half hour, spoke up:
This remarkable initial outpouring was soon followed by additional stick figures appearing on Dan’s SLS Cam, detecting human figures where no living person stood. But the phenomena proved short-lived. After some initial spikes on Curtis’ K2 meter, all the investigators’ devices fell silent. The monument, which has been in place for 14 years, appears well tended. Someone has left solar walkway lights in front of it along with 4 American flags, of the size you would hold in your hand. The flags appear to be no more than a few months old. It may be that any spirits here are grateful that they are still remembered, and are able to rest easy, in spite of the suddenness of their departure from this world into the next.