A team equipped to detect ghosts will be in Marmarth this weekend, hoping to find evidence that apparitions of local lore really do exist.
Black Mountain Paranormal Research will bring a load of equipment into the tiny western town on the Little Missouri River to see if modern technology can tune into the fourth dimension.
There is wonderful history and a fair share of inspiring and abandoned buildings on the cottonwood-lined streets of the old railroad and shipping town.
Black Mountain partners Adrian Wilson, of Billings, Mont., and Westin Dent, now of Elgin, hope to tap into the rich lore of ghost stories that are still retold around the campfire or at the bar late at night and come away with something that’s real proof.
Dent said there are two ghost stories they found on the Internet that are particularly compelling.
One is that people claim to still hear the squeaky wheels, pounding hoof beats and hollering voices of the old Deadwood stagecoach pulling through Marmarth.
Another is the ghost of a little girl seen throwing rocks into the Little Missouri, though it’s unclear if the child drowned or what basis the story has in the town’s history.
Wilson said Black Mountain Paranormal will bring a night vision camera, meters that detect the electromagnetic field, motion detectors, digital cameras, and directional microphones and sound recording equipment.
“We’ll set up and observe. We’ll be of Marmarth, but we won’t disturb it,” Dent said.
Merle Clark, a Marmarth rancher and local historian, said he hasn’t heard of any ghosts that could be disturbed Marmarth.
The closest he’s seen, and not for the past 60 years, are what the old timers called “mineral lights,” same as swamp lights down South. They were lights seen along the river bottom or up side creeks that would seem to bob along at about the same height that a man would carry a lantern.
“I’ve been out every hour of the day and night and never seen anything,” Clark said. “I think ghosts come along with bad whiskey. They used to call it having the snakes.”
Dent and Wilson’s research into paranormal activity started as a hobby and has grown into a more fully fleshed sideline. The two men, along with other paranormal enthusiasts, investigate ghostly activity for their own purposes, or at the request of others.
“Some people like to go tailgating and have a barbeque. We go out and look for things that go bump in the night,” Dent said.
All sound and image data will be collected during both daylight and night hours — “Ghosts don’t wear a watch,” Dent said — to provide a baseline for comparison.
“Paranormal activity doesn’t happen just at night, but night takes out the human factor,” Wilson says.
The sound data — recorded at decibels way beyond the range of a human ear — and image data is run through computer program filters, layer after layer peeled off, in search of something that can’t be explained away.
Dent said he’s a diehard skeptic and balances Wilson’s belief in ghosts. In fact, it all got started over a hot debate between them whether ghosts exist.
“One day, we decided to go out and do it, check it out,” Dent said.
As many as six paranormal seekers will be in Marmarth and they’ll divide into observation teams.
They’ll keep journals of anything they see and hear, switch observation posts and compare journal notes.
They’ll take the sound and image data and comb it for shadows and for sounds.
“If we find it, we catalog it,” Wilson said. They aren’t associated with a television show and nor do they even keep a Web site, since any images posted there just get ripped off for other sites, Dent said.
Wilson is enthused about the potential in Marmarth.
“If we get a lot, we’d like to come back,” he said.