Visit-if you dare

By Jeremy A. Jensen

01/30/08 - The Chetek Alert


Lewis, co-author of the book "Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted Locations," will be giving daring souls the opportunity to learn all about the best sites for the unexplained in northwestern Wisconsin-including one in Chetek-when he visits the Barron Public Library Thursday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m.

The presentation takes the audience on a ghostly journey to some of the most haunted places in Wisconsin. It covers the entire state, from wandering ghosts of the north woods to haunted bed and breakfasts in Milwaukee. From phantom creatures prowling the woods to graveyard apparitions located in many backyards, no place in Wisconsin is without its own haunting. Complete with photos, case history, eyewitness accounts, ghost lore, and directions, Lewis says his unique presentation encourages the truly adventurous to visit these places for their own ghost story.

"The main thing I want people to realize is that through this presentation and the book, I am not passing judgement on whether these things truly exist, I am merely giving readers a tool to use if they want to search it out for themselves," Lewis states. "I want people to get out there and 'see' for themselves, so to speak."

Lewis knows a few things about ghost stories. After graduating from UW-Stout in Menomonie with a master's degree in applied psychology, Lewis says he stumbled upon the field of paranormal research almost by accident.

"I was always into the strange and unexplained, and I began looking into UFOs and alien abductions," Lewis explains. "I started wondering what it is about some of us who believe and some of us who don't. Is it gender, education, religious beliefs, background, etc.?"

Lewis started touring and giving presentations on some of his initial findings combined with some of the phenomena he had encountered. At the presentations, people started coming up to him and asking him to investigate unexplained experiences.

About 10-12 years ago, Lewis took a gamble and started his career as a paranormal researcher. He trekked across the world in search of the paranormal. From tracking vampires in Transylvania and chasing the Chupacabras in Puerto Rico, to searching for the elusive monster in Loch Ness, and pursuing ghosts in Ireland's castles, Lewis brings more than 13 years of research experience to his presentations. Lewis has also been featured on the Discovery Channel's "A Haunting," ABC's "World's Scariest Places," and hundreds of radio interviews, TV appearances, and newspaper articles. He is the author of the Hidden Headlines series-his latest works-and also the co-author of the Road Guide to Haunted Locations book series. Chad has presented at hundreds of libraries, universities, schools, and private functions for crowds of seven to 700.

While his worldwide travels will certainly spark interest, it's Lewis' daliances in local lore that are the centerpiece of his presentation.

"I absolutely love the lore of northern Wisconsin," Lewis says. "The area is rich in local stories-stories that are not mere 'ghost stories' but actually have some historical facts to back them up. Those are my favorite kinds of stories."

For instance, Lewis tells of a bridge near Siren, known as "The Haunted Bridge" or "The Dead Bridge." According to legend, if you drive slowly over the bridge, a little girl's voice will come through the car's radio, saying "Help me, mommy" or "I can't get out." Local history shows that years ago, during a Halloween blizzard, a family was driving home down CTH B when their car skidded off a bridge and overturned in a swampy stream. The parents and their young daughter were trapped in the car and all drowned. Lewis says researchers have examined the site, but cannot confirm the phenomenon.

Of particular interest to Chetek-area readers may be what Lewis refers to as "the ghost of Highway M." Legend has it, according to Lewis, that if you are traveling east on CTH M outside of Chetek, you will run across a woman along the side of the road. As motorists approach the woman, it becomes apparent that she is almost transparent. The legend then says that the woman gives the motorist an evil look and attempts to put her head inside the vehicle as it passes, no matter how much the motorist tries to avoid the "crash." Lewis adds that there is no known reason for this particular "ghost."

Other sites that will likely be mentioned in Lewis' presentation are a haunted home next to the post office in Cameron, a bar in Spooner, and many other hidden gems across the Indianhead region.

When asked if he has ever experienced such an encounter himself, Lewis chuckles.

"In the almost-14 years I have been doing this, I have not had any experiences," Lewis admits. "One thing I have found, though, is that for most people, seeing is believing. But there seems to be a certain connection with believing equals seeing. It seems that if people go into a situation expecting to see or feel something, there is a much higher chance of something actually happening. Now, is this because the person is overly sensitive to what is going on, or is it because they are open to it that they can experience it?

"As you can see, after this many years of doing this, I still have more questions than answers," Lewis says.

Lewis will be available for questions and book signings as part of his appearance. For more information on the unexplained in Wisconsin, Lewis, co-author Terry Fisk, or Unexplained Research, LLC, please visit www.unexplainedresearch.com.

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