In Duluth and beyond, ghost stories continue to captivate

The typical depiction of a lost spirt looks more like a ghost got caught around a white bed sheet. The room is black as night. Lying still, the temperature suddenly drops as chills shiver up your spine. Suddenly, a heavy whisper. You roll over to see a dark human-like figure standing in the corner, quietly awaiting.

Silhouettes of transparent beings, spiritual awakenings, mental hallucinations, Casper the Friendly Ghost? For thousands of years, the idea of paranormal hauntings has turned on night-lights around the world. For others, ghosts are simply stories told when there’s a flashlight illuminating the face of someone trying to terrify a little brother. So what is the truth?

“I think people believe in ghosts because they want to feel there is something out there in the world after someone dies, whether it's good or bad,” said UMD student Jesse Fails. “The idea of once you die and it all ends is more terrifying than sensing a trapped soul in the same room as you.”

Ancient tales of the supernatural come from the theory of spirits leaving the body of someone deceased. The spirit is then supposedly pulled to the Heavens or Hell. However, some spirits become lost and wander the living world for eternity. Of course, from today’s more entertaining perspective on ghosts, we find a more intriguing angle. Who could ever forget the 1990 Patrick Swayze film Ghost, which obviously makes being dead far more romantically inclined?

With a few simple clicks of your fingertips on a search engine today, hundreds of sites pop up with headlines addressing possibly haunted locations. So why is the idea of the living dead so fascinating to the living? In 2013 the Huffington Post took a poll: “45 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, or that the spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations.” Duluth itself has been known for a few lost souls lingering in the corners of our everyday lives.

Duluth native Nick Atkinson believes he and a friend experienced a haunting at a younger age, during which he described seeing a bright, translucent man standing in front of him at a distance, in silence.

“I believe what I saw that night,” Atkinson said. “But I don’t like to say I believe in ghosts because I don’t like the idea of paranormal things.”

Duluth has its very own paranormal society; back in October 2012 the society investigated the historical William A. Irvin ship due to multiple claims of wandering sailor spirits. The ship was declared haunted.

“There are hundreds of theories on ghosts, but our perspective is simple,” said Andrew Paszak, lead investigator for the Duluth Paranormal Society. “Ghosts may be an entity that once lived on earth and are now in spirit form. Duluth has endless amounts of cases and claims.”

The Duluth Paranormal Society investigates household claims of haunted beings in the community. The group will also be investigating the haunting of the William A. Irvin again, sometime in the upcoming week in search for more ghostly activity.

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