The same little blue face. Wearing a bonnet, she is young and has a glow around her. Her appearance isn’t that intrusive, but the staff who now care for the 19th century hotel know her well after seeing her unexpectedly appear in their photographs.
“We’ve had two to three photographs circulating among the staff,” says Riverside Inn co-owner Ken Falkenhagen. “On cell phones or cameras, they’ll be doing a group shot of people going out, and they’ll see her.”
Visitors best know the Riverside Inn for its dinner theatre productions, but this Cambridge Springs icon may be host to another audience: the paranormal.
Teaming with Rogue Paranormal, Riverside Inn holds Ghost Hunter weekends to answer the question: Is the Riverside Inn haunted?
“We invite the public in,” says Falkenhagen. “They have the run of the hotel, have access to some of the places the general public doesn’t.”
Last year, the Sharpsville group headed by Dave Getway contacted Falkenhagen to investigate the inn. While the previous owners declined, Falkenhagen gave the green light.
“We try to find out what’s actually going on before we say it’s paranormal. We’ll go in thinking it’s not paranormal,” said Getway, explaining his team’s operational style. Getway and his wife have explored the paranormal for 15 years—just for fun. Rogue Paranormal doesn’t charge for their services.
“You get a lot of teams that swear up and down everything’s paranormal. Gives us a bad name, and then the public ends up thinking we’re phony.”
“It’s also probably called crazy by other people,” said Maribeth McCarthy, who works at the inn. She says she has a “kooky sixth sense” that allows her to see things others can’t—like the little blue-faced girl, whom she calls “Rebecca.”
“I see her a lot on the third floor, sometimes the second,” she said, “but ghosts will choose who to reveal themselves to.”
For the most part, according to McCarthy, the paranormal don’t want to be bothered—or bother you. She says that only when the ghost is agitated do people experience that cold feeling associated with a paranormal encounter. Otherwise, “you feel like something is pressing behind your shoulders.”
McCarthy often also sees “Greg,” easily identified, she says, by his black handlebar moustache.
“He’ll show up if people are arguing, when things aren’t going well. He probably used to oversee the inn. You can tell he was in a higher position from his dress; he just has that look to him.”
McCarthy, who’s been on ghost hunter weekends, gives the crew thumbs up, although they approach the paranormal differently. “They see things through science; they know what they’re doing.”
After a dinner and get to know you session, which McCarthy likens to a “college orientation,” weekend guests get a seminar on ghost hunting, including how to use equipment. Rogue Paranormal uses sensitive audio and video recording equipment to document paranormal activity. They’ll spend eight to nine hours a night recording, and Getway says it sometimes takes up to three weeks going through material.
Although Rogue Paranormal doesn’t charge for their services, Riverside Inn requires ghost hunters to pay a fee to cover housing and food. Falkenhagen has deemed the weekends wildly successful—all ghost hunter weekends in 2010 and 2011 sold out quickly. He expects to host three to four next year.
So is Riverside Inn haunted?
“Is it real? Are we haunted? I’d leave that up to the individual who’s doing the investigation,” said Falkenhagen, who’s skeptical about calling Riverside “haunted.” “I’ve been here nine years and never seen anything, but there are too many stories to discount.”
Have you seen Rebecca? Do you have any photographic evidence of the paranormal? Tell us about it. Post photos in our community photo album.
Interested in having your own ghost hunter investigation? Find Rogue Paranormal at www.rogueparanormal.com and the Riverside Inn at www.theriversideinn.com.
Find this shortened column in print, October 7.