Paranormal Series Part 1: A Spirited Forum Basement

My fascination with ghosts began at the age of six. To this day, I vividly remember encountering a hooded figure walking out of the attic in my parents’ old farmhouse. At the time, I was frightened, but as I grew older I sought out experiences that could potentially put me in contact with the other side. It wasn’t until I encountered malevolent forces in an old apartment that I gave away my tarot cards, threw out my ouija board, and stopped actively summoning spirits.

That was… until our AreaVoices team decided to write a Halloween series that would explore paranormal activity in various locations. I was hesitant to become involved because of my previous experiences, yet, I longed for the thrill of a good scare. So I agreed to focus my exploration on the basement of the Forum Communications Company building.

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Our series came together quickly and within no time we had contacted the Midwest Paranormal Files out of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. They agreed to aid us in our venture and we set the exploration date for September 25 at 10 PM.

Leading up to the investigation we spoke to many  long-time FCC employees to gain a sense of what we were getting ourselves into. Would we really encounter a ghost in the basement or is the old building just that—‘an old building?’ Why was there so little historical documentation about the Forum? Did something tragic happen to cause concern over ghosts?  We didn’t know. But upon chatting with Jack Zaleski,  the editorial page editor for The Forum, fear began to infiltrate our group. “I don’t go down there,” Jack said. “I just don’t.”

‘We Don’t Have a Token Psychic — We’re Not that Kind of Group’ – Midwest Paranormal Files

Fully prepared to run away from any demonic forces we may encounter, Danielle Teigen and I wore tennis shoes the night of the investigation. We also donned rosaries. I don’t think either of us truly believed we would be meeting malevolent forces, but the sacred tokens provided contentment and the running shoes prepared us for the worst.

The Forum basement was the 54th investigation for the Midwest Paranormal Files. The group is made up of seven members, but only four were able to make it to our investigation. We led the investigators to the basement where they began to casually inspect each space. We focused on the cutting table, located on the south side of basement. Some employees say they feel as though they’re being watched  and felt cool air on their necks when using the machine.

This area of the basement is positioned beneath the sidewalk of First Avenue, rather than directly under the building. The lack of lighting adds to the uneasiness many workers may feel. Following the initial tour, when the investigators got to the know the space, the team scattered cameras and monitors throughout the basement and muted the already scarce lighting. I said a final prayer as we settled in for three hours of potential paranormal encounters.

A Learning Experience

I don’t mean to disappoint, but the night was far from terrifying. However, I am quick to admit it was rather fascinating. We learned a great deal about the group and the job of a paranormal investigator.

Investigators Use Logic

The paranormal investigators were not out to create a fascinating ghost story for all of my readers (despite what I was hoping for). They didn’t care what we were going to encounter; they only really cared to present an accurate interpretation of our case. The team seemed to thrive on anticipation and that’s exactly what the night brought us—anticipation that nothing would turn into something. But if a paranormal encounter occurred the team was adamant that the experience be recorded accurately. So almost immediately they asked us to turn off our phones. This was when they taught us the science of contacting spirits.

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Electromagnetic Fields Play a Role

The biggest lesson was a surprising one., Often,  when a person experiences fear or uneasy feelings, they can be easily explained. Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are the invisible forces caused by electromagnetic radiation. In other words, if you are sitting in a room where many electrical devices are turned on, you may feel tingling or prickling sensations and confuse this with a spiritual presence.

When we experience those sensations, we automatically assume  a demonic being is moving around us… so we call a team, like the Midwest Paranormal Files, to investigate. Although human experience can be interesting, it is not always reliable, which is why the investigators come equipped with EMF monitors.

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Oddly enough, Danielle and I experienced this firsthand as when we held an EMF monitor over the cutting machine. The numbers on the scale rose dramatically indicating the presence of electromagnetic radiation. That was the exact location where people had described their feelings as ‘off’ and ‘shaken.’

Old houses tend to get a bad wrap for being haunted, but the dated wiring is usually to blame. It disrupts EMF more than the wiring in a newer home might. And, even if your house is truly haunted, the Midwest Paranormal Files asserts that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing; spirits just want to be known and remembered, so learning to have a peaceful existence is encouraged.

Sage Burning Cleanses Spaces

In the case that a peaceful existence isn’t possible, sage burning may help eradicate spirits. The herb serves dual purposes, as it is also good for calming nerves in young children, sterilizing your home, and blessing a space. As the team wrapped up their research, they gifted sage bundles to both Danielle and I.

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I drove home that night feeling at ease. The experience was far more relaxing than I ever predicted it would be.

Curiosity Quenched

Once the investigators finished reviewing the material, they contacted us to say no paranormal activity had been recorded in the Forum Communications basement, and they were unable to find anything that struck them as odd (phew).

I have to admit, I am relieved we didn’t encounter spirits in the basement, but I am glad to have learned that investigators are logical, well-balanced people; ghosts aren’t always responsible for random shivers; and sage can bring peace when spirits are lingering. I am comforted when I look around at my coworkers knowing we are not among spirits.

But like Jack Zaleski, I, too, will not be taking any additional excursions into The Forum basement. After all, it is better to leave well enough alone.

Have a happy (and safe) Halloween!

Part 2: The Kirkbride – A Symbol of Timeless Terror and Tragedy
Part 3: The Haunted Memories of a Gruesome Pig Farm Murder
Part 4: A Midnight Trip to the Graveyard

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A special thanks to the Midwest Paranormal Files for coming out to Fargo and indulging  our curiosity!  

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