Haunted Road Trip: The Winchester Mystery House  

Winchester Mystery House

Previously: Dead Woman’s Crossing, Weatherford, Oklahoma.

Sarah Lockwood Pardee was in her early 20s the year she married William Wirt Winchester. A well-educated and beautiful woman, Sarah was known as the Belle of New Haven; William, meanwhile, was the son of Oliver Winchester and heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. It was considered an excellent match, and they said their “I dos” on September 30, 1862 in New Haven, Connecticut. For the first years of their marriage, they lived a life of happiness and luxury, moving in the best circles of New England society—only to have their happiness come to an abrupt end in 1866 when their only child, Annie, died of marasmus in infancy. After the death of her daughter, Sarah fell into a deep depression; no one, however, had any idea how long that depression would plague her, and to what lengths she would go to assuage it.

Fifteen years later in March of 1881, William Wirt Winchester passed away from tuberculosis at the relatively young age of 45. The spiritualism movement was in full swing in the United States at the time, with séances, spirit photography, and the like being all the rage; as such, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Sarah sought help from a medium following the death of her husband. Whether this medium truly could channel the spirit world or whether she was simply a fraud taking advantage of a wealthy and distraught widow remains to be seen; whatever the case, though, she is said to have told Sarah that both her family and her fortune were haunted—haunted by the spirits of Native Americans, Civil War soldiers, and any and all others who had met their ends at the end of a barrel belonging to a Winchester rifle. Her husband and her daughter, Sarah was told, had both been victims of these spirits; there was a good chance that Sarah herself was next.

But there was a way to fight these spirits, the medium said. It required great sacrifice on Sarah’s part, as well as constant vigilance—but if she did as the medium bid her, she could keep herself safe from the angry spirits seeking her blood. The answer was this: Sarah was to pack up the remains of her life travel west to California. Once there, she was to begin construction on an immense mansion—a house for the spirits. As long as construction on this house never ceased, the spirits would be appeased and her life would be spared. So in 1884, Sarah moved to California with her sister and her niece; in 1886, she purchased an eight-room farmhouse that stood on 161 acres of land in what is now San Jose, and began work immediately on what eventually come to be known as the Winchester Mystery House.

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The Most Dangerous Games: Elevator to Another World

OtisPreviously: The Dead Poet’s Game.

This game appears to originate on a Korean website some may recognize as the source of a particular comic that pops up every few months or so on sites like reddit. Unfortunately I don’t speak Korean, so working off of the rough translation found here, I’ve tried to tease out a clearer version of the rules and instructions.
It’s unclear whether the Otherworld to which the elevator delivers you is the Shadowside referred to by FableForge in his various games and rituals, or whether it’s something else; regardless as to what it may or may not be, however, as always—play at your own risk. 

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Unresolved: The Lead Masks Case on Vintém Hill

lead masks

Previously: The Curious Case of Kaspar Hauser.

Flying a kite on an idyllic summer day might sound like the perfect day off—as long as you don’t stumble upon two dead bodies while you’re doing it. That, however, is just happened to a boy in Niterói near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 20, 1966: As he flew his kite on the Morro do Vintém—Vintém Hill—he noticed something peculiar in the brush. When he went to investigate, he discovered the bodies of two men, dressed to the nines in what looked like their best suits. There was no sign of a struggle; they were wearing raincoats over their suits; and lying nearby were two wet towels and an empty water bottle. The strangest detail of all? They were also wearing lead masks.

The boy summoned the police, but due to the Morro do Vintém’s difficult terrain, authorities were unable to reach the bodies until a day later. Upon arrival, however, they also discovered a small notebook at the scene. Written inside was the following:

16:30 estar no local determinado.
18:30 ingerir cápsulas, após efeito proteger metais aguardar sinal mascara

Which translates from Portuguese to English as:

4:30 PM be at the determined place.
6:30 PM swallow capsules, after effect protect metals wait for mask signal


Curiouser and curiouser. Who were these two men? Clearly they had gone to the location of their deaths knowing that something was to happen—but what? Had they been given instructions? What was in the capsules they swallowed? Was that what had killed them? And perhaps most pressingly, what on earth was the deal with the masks?

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Creepypasta of the Week: “Anansi’s Goatman Story”

Stevenage woods

Previously: “The Disappearance of Ashley, Kansas”

I’ll confess that I’ve never been quite as enamored of “Anansi’s Goatman Story” as a lot of the Internet is; it is, however, one of the more popular cryptid creepypastas, so I feel it deserves an entry here. It originated on 4chan’s /x/ paranormal board, and though it could be better written, the idea of it taps rather effectively into the whole “monsters among us” trope (see also: John Carpenter’s The Thing,  the Twilight Zone episode “Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” Invasion of the Body Snatchers, etc.). If only the editor in me didn’t want so badly to break out the red pen and go to town on it…

Also, for those unfamiliar with the term a cryptid is a creature or plant whose existence has been suggested, but not scientifically proven—think Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Wendigo, the Chupacabra, and so on.

Here’s my story:

>be 16
>be black and have family down in Alabama
>they farm and own a huge amount of land down in Huntsville
>uncle owns a big house and a bunch of trailers they put out in the woods for hunting or camping
>down south cousins suggest that we go out there to camp
>know I’m a city kid from Chicago so they tease the fuck out of me
>collect food, kill a pig and some chickens, and bring necessities to camp out for a few days
>we get to the camp and it’s obvious something is weird
>air has this weird electric smell like right before a storm, like ozone
>we think nothing of it and unpack and go down to a little creek to swim for a few hours
>All of a sudden some older white guy and a white teenager come out of the bushes
>he has a shotgun in the crook of his arm and says hello and ask us what we’re doing this far back in the woods
>tell him about my uncle, who he knows, and say we’re camping out
>he tells us we need to be real careful out here and stick together there was a big animal in the woods
>His son, who is my age asks if he can stay and hang out with us
>he says OK

I’m going to stop greentexting because the story is fairly long and the format is harder to write in.

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Abandoned: Hashima Island’s Ghostly Remains (Photos)


Previously: Pripyat and the Chernobyl Disaster.

There are an impressive 505 uninhabited islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. The most haunting by far, however, is one you’ve probably seen before in photographs or on film, although you may not have known it at the time. Once a thriving coal mining facility, Hashima Island, sometimes called Gunkanjima or Battleship Island due to its shape, has seen no inhabitants for 40 years.

The first shaft mine was opened on Hashima in 1887, leading Mitsubishi to purchase the island three years later in 1890. The goal was to build it into a facility capable of extracting coal from undersea mines, a venture which would lead to many innovations in Japan’s industry. The company built Japan’s first large concrete building—a nine-story block of apartments to house the mine’s workers—in 1916, with the material being chosen specifically to offset the possibility of destruction by typhoon. At its height, Hashima produced 410,000 of coal per year; by 1959, over 5,000 people populated the island.

But in the 1960s, petroleum replaced coal as Japan’s primary fuel source. As demand for coal diminished, the profits of Hashima sank as well, causing Mitsubishi to shut down the 84-year-old mine in 1974. It became a ghost town overnight; in the decades since, nature has gradually reclaimed the decaying buildings, making it the perfect place for a dastardly movie villain to build his lair. In fact, Hashima is such a perfect “evil lair” location that it served as the inspiration for Raoul Silva’s (Javier Bardem) base of operations in the James Bond flick Skyfall. You may also have seen it in the first season episode “The Bodies Left Behind” of the History Channel’s Life After People.

Although it still looks totally abandoned, though, Hashima is currently living a second life as a tourist attracting. The island remained off limits until 2009, at which point a dock and walkways were built to allow intrepid explorers access to the island. In 2011, three-hour guided tours of Hashima began taking place; you can visit it today if you’re willing to shell out 4,300 yen (about $54)—and travel all the way to Japan first, of course.


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From the Vaults: Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren’t

Hey gang,

It’s come to my attention via the wonders that are analytics that a lot of you are finding your way to The Ghost in My Machine by searching either for “Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren’t” generally, or stories I covered once upon a time in “Creepy Things” specifically. As such, I’ve decided to make it a little easier for you to find them all: Starting today, you’ll see a new permanent page called “From the Vaults” in the sidebar (below the “About” page). It’s got direct links to some of the more popular “Creepy Things” features—Killswitch, This Man, Slender Man, the Dionaea House, etc.—as well as a link to the complete “Creepy Things” archives on Crushable. Bear in mind that the articles were written back in 2011, so the info in them may be a little out of date; in case you’d still like to read them, though, feel free to head on over there are check ’em out.

Thanks for taking the time to explore this strange little corner of the web, as well as for your continued patronage—and as always, if there’s something you’d like to see covered on TGIMM, leave me a comment  or Tweet me @luciapeters. Happy reading!

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A Selection of “Ghosts” Currently Haunting the Daily Mail: Big Foot, the Blair Witch, and a Spirit Who Just Wants a Sandwich

sheet ghost

Wow, man. Those spectral beings really love the Daily Mail, don’t they? Maybe we’ll make this a regular feature. Since our last edition of “A Selection of ‘Ghosts’ Currently Haunting the Daily Mail,” a huge variety of other supernatural occurrences have been reported in that venerable (HA) publication’s sensationalist pages. They’re a little more run-of-the-mill than the previous ones, but I still get a kick out them. Let’s take a look at a few, shall we?

1. Haunted Mansion That Has Witnessed TWO Mystery Deaths Goes On Sale

The emphasis on “two” is the Mail’s; apparently they wanted to drive home exactly how haunted this house is, and as we all know, there’s nothing like ALL CAPITAL LETTERS THAT LOOK LIKE YOU’RE YELLING AT YOUR READERS to get it done. Anyway, as of May 5, this “mini-mansion” in Joliet, IL is on the market for the astonishingly low price of $159,000—due, apparently, to its dark and terrifying past. Here’s what it looks like:

Hirum Scutt mansion

The house was originally built in 1882, and as you can see, it’s absolutely gorgeous; once owned by Civil War veteran and barbed wire inventor Hiram Scutt, it has been, at various times, a private home, a school for girls, and a boarding house for women. Despite its long and storied history, however, the two “mysterious deaths” touted in the Mail’s headline didn’t occur until quite recently: A man was fatally shot during a party held at the house in 2004; then, in 2007, a 29-year-old John Wilkes Booth impersonator who had just bought the house intending to turn it into a museum died suddenly and without warning. Visitors to the mansion have reported hearing voices and felt fingers running through their hair, and the “doll room” on the third is believed to be a particular hotbed for paranormal activity.

The realtor has noted, however, that the low price on the house is due to the renovation work it so badly needs, rather than due to any ghosts or spirits. She hopes whoever buys it will turn it into a bed and breakfast. If that happens, maybe we’ll have a new Haunted Road Trip location to add to our itinerary!

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