Paranormal investigation takes aim at rumors, mine shaft in Nevada City

The “Paranormal Investigation at The Stone House” is scheduled for June 22, June 29, and July 6. The event is part ghost hunt, part tutorial.
The “Paranormal Investigation at The Stone House” is scheduled for June 22, June 29, and July 6. The event is part ghost hunt, part tutorial.

Robert X Trent remembers sharing attic space with a ghost.

In 2010, Trent was renting out the top story of The Stone House, a historic building in Nevada City. He was “moving stuff in and checking stuff out” when he ventured into the attic space to see about some wiring.

“I just felt this energy and it freaked me out. ... It was palpable,” said Trent. “I would say it was a human life force.”

Trent now runs Outlandish Experiences, a marketing platform for guided adventures around Grass Valley and Nevada City. So when a local ghost hunter asked him to organize a paranormal tour, he had some ideas for the location.

The “Paranormal Investigation at The Stone House” is scheduled for June 22, June 29, and July 6. The event is part ghost hunt, part tutorial.

Ghost hunter Tammy Petty will be the tour guide. Petty has been hooked on ghost hunting since she bought her first K-II electromagnetic frequency meter several years ago. She’s a ghost-tech enthusiast with an arsenal of gear, including electronic voice phenomenon recorders, infrared thermometers and a Kinect structured light sensor camera to map out spirits.

Petty will show guests how to use the equipment and demonstrate her techniques for making contact with spirits.

“I talk to them like they’re people,” said Petty. She believes spirits aren’t necessarily trying to hide; they may just need some extra help to communicate.

“I call out and say, ‘If there are any spirits here that want their picture taken, come on over.’” Then she counts to three before taking the picture.

“I talk out everything,” said Petty. “I believe you can get a lot more activity that way.”

Home to prospectors and a brewery

The Stone House was one of many breweries built during the Gold Rush. Mining was thirsty work. Many prospectors came looking for gold and discovered beer instead.

The building is part wood, part stone, with a facade of quarried granite and lime mortar.

These days, The Stone House is a restaurant, bar, and all-purpose events space. People go there for dinner shows and Sunday brunches, private parties and receptions.

And some people go there to check out the ghosts. A number of spirits are rumored to wander the premises, and the crew from the TV show “Ghost Adventures” even stopped by to film an episode.

Restaurant manager Honna Carandante is more worried about the customers than the ghosts. “I don’t want people to be afraid of coming to The Stone House thinking its haunted ... because its not,” said Carandante. “I feel if there is any activity, it’s very playful. I’ve done my own clearings. I’m a very spiritual person, and I feel safe here.”

“Out of this whole entire place, the cave is the only place that I feel uncomfortable,” said Carandante. “I just feel like there are spirits in there. ...There’s a lot that hangs out in that cave.”

The cave

The cave is built into the hillside behind The Stone House. It was originally used by the brewery to cool and store barrels of lager.

These days, it’s an event space. The entry tunnel is just off the patio, yards from parking lot. The tunnel bifurcates, continues on for several feet, and then dead ends – except for the trap door in the floor of the cave.

This is the door to Nevada City’s underground tunnels, where entry is strictly forbidden.

The tunnels are the source of local legend. The granite walls of the brewery and cave were the work of Italian stonemasons and Chinese immigrants. According to rumor, a group of Chinese laborers died below ground when one of the tunnels collapsed. The ghosts of the workers are among the spirits said to wander the grounds of The Stone House.

The Paranormal Investigation at the Stone House will include a trip into the cave.

Petty uses techniques involving ultraviolet lights and strobe lights. “You have it going in a completely dark space, and then you tell the spirit, ‘This is going to slow down so we can see you.’”

“I’m going to do all my darkness stuff in the cave,” said Petty.

Back inside The Stone House, Petty will conduct a live EVP session, where ghosts and guests can attempt a real-time conversation using headphones and a spirit box.

The tour will wrap up with drinks (all tour dates) and hors d’oeuvres (June 29 and July 6 only).

Guests will be given a protective talisman, a tree of life wrapped around an obsidian stone.

Petty will release the spirits with an ending prayer and warn them not to follow the guests home. Not that she thinks they would.

“I think that when you die, you go to the light and then you can do whatever you want,” Petty said. “And I think that the ones that were mean in life ... they see the light and say, ‘Nah ah, I’m not gonna go to Hell.’ And if you could, why wouldn’t you go to The Stone House? It’s a unique place and that cave is wonderful.”