Photo by Chad Lewis

Paranormal Investigators Kevin Nelson and Noah Voss investigate Boy Scout Lane in Central Wisconsin in 2008.  Both Nelson and Voss live in Sun Prairie.

Sun Prairie residents present at Unexplained Conference, detail haunted Sun Prairie, UFO sightings and werewolves

Kaitlin Warriner, Associate Editor

04/22/08 - The Star

There is a rumor that if you crawl over the tallest grave marker in the Sun Prairie Cemetery on the northeast side of town at midnight of a full moon, you will be cursed. Do you dare? Is it just an intriguing tale only to end in injury and disrespect of the dead?

Bet you've never thought little, old Sun Prairie could be haunted. The thought of UFO's streaking across Sun Prairie's skies probably never crossed your mind. Crop circles? No way.

For anyone who has ever experienced something unexplainable and everyone that has ever wondered if it's possible ... this Saturday is your opportunity to learn more about local legend and lore.

The Alliant Energy Center in Madison will be hosting an Unexplained Conference in the exhibition hall, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison. The April 26 conference starts at 7 p.m., and doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Parking is free and tickets are $9 at the door for adults. Children 12 and under will be admitted for $5.

The Unexplained Conference is geared for the general public and will feature causes of the strange and paranormal in Wisconsin including: Ghosts and hauntings -- spirits of former patrons continue to haunt Capone's Bar, visitors report seeing strange apparitions in the Capitol building, and a local cemetery filled with wandering spirits, and many more; UFOs seen in Wisconsin's Skies -- from unidentified bright lights to unknown aircraft, witnesses have spotted mysterious objects in the Madison sky for many years; Crop circles in your own backyard - unknown crop designs found in area fields -- farmers are baffled by bizarre circumstances; Wisconsin's werewolves and strange creatures - from Bigfoot and phantom animals, to gnomes and sea serpents, witnesses report more than deer roaming the woods and forests of Wisconsin; and bizarre stories of the afterlife - cases of those who have died only to return with vivid memories of their death.

Both Noah Voss and Kevin Nelson reside in Sun Prairie, practice paranormal investigating and will be two presenters at the conference on Saturday.

Voss keeps busy running numerous websites. UFOwisconsin.com details Wisconsin's UFO phenomena with over 1,000 reports archived, GetGhostGear.com was the first of its kind to exclusively offer paranormal investigating equipment for sale worldwide. Voss has also recently authored a non-fiction book focused on Wisconsin's UFO phenomena.

Voss is a regular presenter and lecturer with the Unexplained Conferences, the longest running paranormal program of its kind in the world, and largest in America. Voss takes great pleasure in traveling and thus far he's traveled to all but four states in the United States, along the way researching ghostly St. Augustine, Fla., investigating the mysterious Winchester Mansion in California, haunted highways in Hawaii, looking for Bessie in Lake Erie, scanning for flying saucers on the summit of Mt. Saint Helens, werewolves in Wisconsin, ghosts of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, the Historic Bullock Hotel of wild-west Deadwood, Voodoo in Jamaica, UFOs in Mexico, and searching for Sasquatch in British Columbia.

Continued below . . .

Noah Voss

Kevin Nelson

Unexplained Conference at Alliant Energy Center

"I've learned so many things from my travels that it is at times both tragic and motivating how much more there is to learn," Voss said.

Nelson, who has lived in Sun Prairie for almost 25 years, has investigated hauntings on ABC's Scariest Places on Earth, searched for werewolves on Discovery Channel's Mystery Hunters, and tracked vampirism in America on Discovery Channel's Travelers. Nelson has also been a guest on The Unexplained Radio Show. His mission is to seek out, record, and preserve a rich heritage of urban legends and modern folklore.

There are several areas in and around Sun Prairie that have a haunted or mysterious reputation. Just down the road from Sun Prairie near Lake Mills is Aztalan Park, named after a mysterious civilization of mound builders that once thrived in a large walled community.

Voss tells their story: "The Aztalan flourished in the area for many years until some researchers theorize that they flooded their own settlements and moved on. Some researchers have made connections to the lost city of Atlantis, while others have connected these people to the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations found throughout southern Mexico. I've received reports of people feeling unexplained emotions while visiting the parks, especially when climbing to the top of the earthen mounds that lie there.

"Others still report pyramid structures on the bottom of nearby Rock Lake that includes its own lake monster and mysterious lights rising from its depths. Sun Prairie has a rich history of indigenous peoples that could have very well been connected to those at Aztalan. On the north side of town we have the now-named Patrick Marsh area. There have been several trails used by the local indigenous peoples that intersect in that area. Much as with our intersecting Interstates of today, the foot paths of yesterday had their own developments."

In Middleton, there are several buildings that have been around since the 1800s, Voss said. The historic downtown section of Middleton has reports of small ghosts appearing on staircases, unusual noises, and sensations that have been reported from local businesses.

One story Voss has heard even reports a ghost that repeatedly visits one particular room at Sun Prairie High School. The general reports were of papers mysteriously flying off a table and general unexplained sounds.

The April 26 conference will have authors of more than a dozen different titles on hand to sign books and speak with.

Both Voss and Nelson will speak about cases they've been involved with, leading theories regarding paranormal phenomena, and where the paranormal field stands today. They will also offer a question and answer opportunity for the audience.

There will be interactive tables full of unusual artifacts and tools available for conference visitors to get their hands on things that are not easily found anywhere else in the world in one place. The researchers and investigators presenting on Saturday have traveled most road around Sun Prairie and Dane County and beyond and have spent many years on national and international excursions into the unknown. There will be several paranormal-focused short films being shown: "The Ridgeway Phantoms," "Legend Tripping - Werewolves," and "The Walker House Inn," all by Totally Confused Productions, a local and independent film crew.

"I'm always amazed at how many folks show up at our conferences that have a minimal interest in the paranormal. I'm not surprised that by the end they have had a very enjoyable evening and the same faces start showing up year after year," said Voss. "Chad Lewis has been holding these Unexplained Conferences since 1995 and as a result has refined the event to only the best of over a decades worth of experiences."

Voss mentioned a few UFO sightings in and around Sun Prairie, including two reports from May, 2004 detailing a sighting of a flying triangle, multiple sightings in 2002 of a triangular shaped aircraft and a disk-shaped light moving fast between Token Creek and Sun Prairie in December 1999.

"There have been a fair amount of UFO sightings, along with haunted homes, businesses visited by ghosts, an entire culture of peoples societies evolving before western settlers arrived in the area too that of lake monsters in near by Madison," said Voss. "Some of the reports more local to Sun Prairie have been everything from silently flying black triangle shaped UFOs witnessed by several people in 1989, mysterious noises heard and shapes sighted in local businesses, and two ancient civilization earthen mounds where unexplainable senses were experienced.

"One unique and unusual experience that left the witnesses more confused than anything was a visual anomaly reported to me as almost looking like a huge curtain of maple syrup, pouring from nowhere and draining into nothing. If that's not a head-scratcher I don't know what is."

During the day, Nelson works as co-owner of Dimensions Gallery & Framing, 730 West Main St. When he's not in the shop, Nelson indulges in another passion.

"I investigate and document alleged hauntings, UFO sightings and crop circles, urban legends, and psychical claims," Nelson said. "I've been researching paranormal phenomena since I was a teen. Eventually I got tired of reading about others' experiences. I wanted to experience it firsthand, and test my own theories. So I took it too the next step. I've been actively investigating cases for nearly a decade now."

Nelson spends most of his time reading the latest theories regarding paranormal phenomena, speaking at conferences, and conducting research.

"The average case usually involves travel, extensive interviews with eyewitnesses, and lot of background research," Nelson said. "One has to be a good problem solver. In general we find natural explanations for three out of four cases we investigate. The rest are due to unknown factors. Curiosity is our motivation. We don't charge any sort of fee to investigate a location. It all comes out of our pocket."

Nelson believes that every town has a haunted house ... or least one that is believed to be. He said Sun Prairie is no different.

"These kinds of urban legends lend flavor to local folklore. I know of a handful of local people who have experienced some pretty odd things here," Nelson said. "Curiously, a lot of odd phenomena seems to be centered around one particular neighborhood in Sun Prairie. A reputable witness told me he was driving his car through the area at night when a black mist or dark shape enveloped his car, blocking his vision. He stopped his car, and after a few moments the shadowy shape moved off into some trees. In the same area another individual told me he saw what he believed to be a ghost of a little girl, dressed in antique clothes, standing by the side of the road. After a few moments the phantom girl vanished before his eyes. Lastly, one of America's creepiest urban legends originated right here in Sun Prairie, The Legend of the Bye-Bye Man."

A group of kids who stumbled across an old Ouija board in 1990 were told the Legend of The Bye-Bye Man through the board. The children who learned of the Bye-Bye Man were said to have suffered from panic attacks, hearing Gloomsinger's whistle and seeing and hearing ghostly apparitions.

"I have yet to personally experience anything anomalous in town. I consider myself an open-minded skeptic; I believe anything's possible, but until I see something with my own eyes I prefer the term 'allegedly haunted.' A lot of it is timing, you have to be in the right place at the right time," Nelson said.

Voss considers himself an open-minded skeptic as well.

"I strive to not be of any one belief, rather open to potentials and possibilities," Voss said. "Having an open minded, objective perspective while observing the situation is crucial to quantifying experiences.

"For some this is what we do as our exclusive job, others this is what we put full time hours into but still have a day job to pay the bills. What we all have in common is a passion for the paranormal, an inkling of the unknown, and a strong appetite for adventure," Voss continued. "We are all happy to let you pass by and enjoy The Unexplained Conference in your own personal way or strike up a conversation that begs answers from some of the biggest questions humankind has ever asked. Whatever you hope to get from the evening's events, we aim to help you have a good time while doing it."

For more information on the Unexplained Conference Saturday, April 26 at the Alliant Energy Center call (715) 271-1831 or visit http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/conferences/madison_conference_2008.htm.

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