Lewis County Historical Museum hosts after-hours ghost tours led by local paranormal investigators


Believers and skeptics alike had a chance to explore the allegedly haunted Lewis County Historical Museum after hours thanks to a set of tours hosted on Saturday by members of the South Sound Paranormal Research Team and Independent Paranormal Research Organization. 

Those who took the tours looked through areas normally closed to the public, including the storage and archive space in the attic, where a lot of paranormal activity has been reported in the past, organizers and past museum directors said. 

The most memorable instance of such activity involved an employee at the museum who years ago, after the museum closed for the day, encountered a woman in Victorian-era clothing asking when the train was arriving. The employee informed her the museum — originally a train station — had no trains stopping anymore and hadn’t for years. 

After the brief exchange, the woman is said to have politely thanked the employee, walked off and vanished. 

Patty Valdez, of the South Sound Paranormal Research Team, began the tour with a brief talk about what ghosts are, describing her first encounter with a haunting presence at the age of 5 while living in Germany. 

“To this day, I’m 62 years old now, I can’t tell you what a ghost is, and nobody can tell you what it is … People have said, ‘well a ghost is the spirit of someone who has passed on,’” Valdez said. “And I said, ‘that’s interesting. What is your proof of that?’”

What society perceives as ghosts are actually energy in Valdez’s opinion, and the energy can be both positive and negative. 

“Not evil, that’s in your own mind, but energy can be negative toward you,” she added. 

Valdez also gave a brief history lesson on the museum’s building, an old train station originally constructed in 1912. Back at the turn of the century, train stations would often hold the bodies of the recently deceased or receive bodies returning from war. 

The energies of both those mourning the deceased and the deceased themselves may linger, Valdez said. This led to a lot of energy being concentrated in one area, which is why many old train stations such as the museum are suspected to be haunted, she said. 

Lewis County Historical Museum Executive Director Jason Mattson, who took over the position in 2017, said he has experienced his fair share of paranormal activity during his tenure. 

He has come in to open and noticed shaving cups having switched positions in exhibits overnight when nobody was around, and an old 1928 Winlock phone book randomly pulled off a shelf it could not have fallen off of by itself. 

These aren’t the strangest things he’s encountered while being the museum director, Mattson said. 

“I was here after hours and it was just starting to get dark outside, typing away on my computer and I looked up at the door (to my office) in front of me, there’s a dark shadowy thing (going back and forth),” Mattson said. “It was kind of like a ‘did I just see that?’ sort of thing.”  

Valdez has spent many hours investigating the energies in the Lewis County Historical Museum along with her fellow paranormal investigators, and they have recorded audio evidence of paranormal activity, she said. 

It consists of electronic voice phenomenon, or EVPs, which are noises, grunts, words and sometimes full phrases spoken on audio spectrums human ears can’t detect, but modern microphones can. During the tour, they played some of this evidence.

One investigation in particular involved them examining jewelry stored in the museum’s attic. An investigator can be heard commenting on the beauty of one particular item when a voice not belonging to any of the investigators can be heard saying, “put that back.” 

In another attic investigation involving not just South Sound but other local paranormal groups, three out of four audio recorders captured a phantom voice singing “walking on sunshine, woah-oh-oh.”

“Somebody was singing that up here and it was none of the investigators,” Billi Oberlander, of South Sound Paranormal Research, said. 

Oberlander added that former museum directors before Mattson have had books and other various items thrown at them while in the attic. 

While there are many apps now for smartphones that claim to be able to pick up EVPs, John Butera of the Independent Paranormal Research Organization cautioned against using them, as the software could actually be manufacturing EVPs. He recommended using professional-level audio recorders.

“Our group uses Roland and Sony Zoom,” Butera said. “They record from 20 hertz, all the way to 30,000 … If you get that broad range, you’re likely to catch (EVPs).”  

While exploring the attic, no paranormal activity was encountered by The Chronicle, though that is sometimes the case when investigating the unknown, Valdez explained. The most recent overnight investigation she conducted last month in the museum yielded no evidence.

In some investigations, she’s been able to successfully debunk paranormal activity and find conventional explanations for what some people are experiencing. 

Valdez cautioned those who seek out self-proclaimed paranormal researchers to help them solve mysteries they might encounter at home or elsewhere. 

“There are (paranormal) teams that say, ‘oh we’ll investigate your place for free, but if we find anything, we’ll charge you $300 for the information,’” Valdez said. 

Both South Sound Paranormal Research and the Independent Paranormal Research Organization conduct their investigations free of charge. Those in need of paranormal investigators in the Pacific Northwest can contact either group on their websites, http://www.sspri.org/ and https://independentparanormal.org/.  

Both websites include more evidence of paranormal activities the groups have captured. 

The Lewis County Historical Museum is located at 599 NW Front St. in Chehalis. For more information, visit https://lewiscountymuseum.org/