U.S. Hotel

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One of the biggest challenges to paranormal investigators is sorting through the various phenomena and trying to weave a theory to explain what we've found.

This is especially true in older buildings - and nowhere is the sum of our experiences harder to explain than the U.S. Hotel in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. The four story building, dating to the canal era of transportation (1830's) has a murky and checkered history: it survived fire, neglect and renovation - and constantly offers new surprises.

If Allegheny Mountain Ghosthunters (AMG) has a "club-house" then it is "The U.S.", as we fondly shorthand the name. The building is owned and operated by the Yoder family and they have been generous and patient in letting us explore more than a dozen rooms at all hours of the day or night. One fruitful, investigation ended as Easter morning 2001 was dawning.

A non-hunting meal later that month served up on of our best EVP's. Casi Fries (a member and associate producer for the TV production company chronicling the group) visited the women's bathroom: not for the usual reason, but to see if she felt a "sick" feeling commonly reported by many when in the room. After five seconds (and a bout of queasiness) she returned, her ever-present micro cassette audio recorder running. Clear as a bell on tape an unearthly male voice clearly declared "I miss you".

Several of our investigations and adventures have been recounted in books, on television and in Fate magazine. But words and photo's don't do justice to a sudden storm of orbs in IR - some of them seemingly purposeful straight-liners to an unknown goal - dramatic temperature changes, EVP... and reports of powerful emotions and visions from those members who are more psychic and intuitive.

Casi and Al Brindza appear to have "the gift" especially Al. The rest accused Al good-naturedly of showing-off during prep one evening when in pointing to an area of the room and saying "over there" he shot picture after picture of perfectly rounded orbs.

Al has found the U.S.'s entities disagreeable on occasion standing in a hall beside his wife - just moments after we opened the door to a 'hot" room - Al felt shoved to the floor as though he were in someone's way. IR later showed at least two orbs exited the "hot" room when the door was thrust open - a second or two before Al collapsed some 15-feet away.

EVP's, orbs, EMF, historical research and input from the intuitive group members hint at death by fire, violence against at least one woman and a man, a frightened young child and - more recently - a "stinky man" reveal themselves at different times. It seems this entity-rich building (with a beautiful turn-of-the-century, solid cherry bar with a brass rail and spittoons) has a paranormal smorgasbord to complement a pretty awesome daytime lunch and supper menu!

We will post investigation reports complete with evidence as time permits.

The U.S. Hotel (just one block off the Pennsylvania Rt 22 at Wayne and S. Juniata Street in Hollidaysburg) is open every day for food service (and the bar in popular!). While the upper floors are off limits to the public, the curious....at least, women....can freely snoop the public restroom on the chance the lecherous entity is active that day.

Visit the Hotel's own site http://www.theushotel.com/ for history and other interesting facts.We should note that old newspapers have surfaced recently that indicate the hotel once sat across Wayne St. (See photo above) on the opposite corner, and that a jail may have originally occupied the extant property.

The more we learn, the less we know!



A New Perspective on an Old Friend

By Jon McClintock
AMG Investigator

A long-anticipated visit by a leading figure in Pennsylvania (and national) paranormal research highlighted January 2002 for AMGhosthunters.

Kelly and John Weaver of the Capital Ghost Forum visited with members and joined us for a haunted dinner and investigation at the U.S. Hotel on a Saturday night. John's background in the scientific tools of the trade and Kelly's documented prowess as a renowned psychic were welcome additions to a storied building we've snooped for more than a year.

The Yoder Family, who have recently restored the bloom to this turn-of-the century rose, welcomed all with open arms on a busy night, and we endeavored to tiptoe into the restricted areas upstairs.

(Kelly has been featured on MTV's Fear and with John co-hosts a weekly radio show Wednesday nights [8 p.m.] on http://www.pawebcast.com)

In an effort to control as many variables as possible, the Hotel investigation was a one-off, invitation-only affair. But was well documented; three IR camcorders (digital and analog), countless audio microcassettes, EMF meters, digital still cameras (SONY PS-5 & Kodak), a motion detector and temperature probe helped create a log of an enventful night.

AMG members remained studiously silent around Kelly about previous findings and anomalies. Only Kelly, investigators Jon McClintock and Ben Mazur, both also video documentary producer's from Digitize-Media, comprised the first touring group to investigate the paranormally-active 2nd and 3rd floors. (The first floor has a resident ghost or two. Nicknamed Sarah by the Yoders and waitresses, Sarah is apparently playful and benign and visits guests during meals as well as moving the odd item or two overnight. Kelly's long earrings fascinated Sarah).

We set up base in a Parlor atop the steps from the second floor. Member Al Brindza, the most intuitive and sensitive AMG member, was awaiting this night for a year. While the rest of us measured activity and gathered EVP and visual anomalies, Al reported a half-dozen encounters resulting in physical and emotional symptoms. The AMG, to a person, knew Al experienced things others couldn't - but Al wanted and needed an iron-cinch validation. He paced the room as McClintock and Mazur trailed Kelly.

A few words about Kelly and John) Weaver: They live in the suburban Harrisburg community of Camp Hill where Kelly has a full schedule of clients and engagements. Most want some form of psychic reading, and the ones that please her the most involve PETS. From a horse to a dog who commented on his master's flatulence, Kelly has reunited old friends with a variety of hooves and paws. She also does past-life regression work and is an expert on aromatherapy.

Pay a visit to www.kellysmagicalgarden.com for more on Kelly.

She carries herself with class and adapts well to the company and each circumstance. "Classy is a word that may make her blush, but it's true of her and John and they "fit" perfectly after only a few minutes. A detailed report on the investigation is elsewhere on the site.

I was tasked with escorting Kelly down the labyrinth of halls and rooms that AMG members know by heart (and have labeled with pet names). Among the more significant observations (and validations of scientific/empirical evidence) was Kelly's immediate contact with a "greasy-haired, foul-smelling guy with rotten teeth," a man from another time who was rough and gruff and felt he controlled the (now) abandoned top floors.

The man, whose name Kelly immediately felt was unusual and began with an "S", was angry at the intrusion. Perhaps the feeling justified. EVP collected in April, 2001 yielded one name: Spiro. The immensity of this validation cannot be overstated. AMG member's have woven several theories that involve violence about anomalous readings in certain rooms. Our pet name for an especially large orb is " Spiro-Class". That the dominant "personality" and one of the few non-residual hauntings at the U.S. Hotel was a stinky guy - possibly Spiro - has our head's shaking.

Equally interesting was Kelly's description of the full-time resident.

Many of us recall an October investigation that almost never got started, thanks to a stinky event.

We arranged a pre-Halloween 2001 visit to accommodate a newspaper reporter. Al barely had time to make it in the door on October 14th, just as he set down his equipment he got up and nearly ran from the room and out of the Hotel. He reported later that "some guy" (who looked to Al as real as anything) ran to him menacingly and told him to leave.

Kelly advised Al, just a month before, to use a "safety" ritual involving smudging with burning sage as a protection-with the belief Al was on a journey to becoming a psychic medium. After smudging, Al ventured upstairs and returned when he began to feel what he has since learned are symptoms of an active entity. All was fine for a moment - then waves of nausea swept over him and his head came to rest on his arm on the table.

Al later said (and illustrated with a sketch) a character came up behind him in the room we use as "Central" and clasped his hands around his lower neck - tightly, but not in an attempt to hurt. The stubble-bearded entity "smelled like meat that went bad in a warm refrigerator" ad pressed his face against Al in an intimidating way. The incident passed in about three minutes and Al told worried group members what had happened. We'd never encountered closely such a character and, as it seemed appropriate, he was dubbed "Stinky Guy." As Spiro was "born" in an EVP and no one reported any physical contact, no one ever connected the two.

Until Kelly Visited

photos by Jon McClintock © all rights reserved

Some thoughts on a January 2002 visit to the U.S. hotel by psychic Kelly Weaver and husband John, from an AMG member who is on a first-name basis with the Hotel's entities.

by Al Brindza,
AMG Investigator

I have investigated the U.S. Hotel in Hollidaysburg, Pa. since the fall of 2000. It's hard to think of a time of day or season that several of our paranormal investigators have not been at the historic site, including sunrise one Easter morning. Day and/or night, I've been part of teams in search of answers to the inexplicable activity that occurs in this place...answers that are just now being validated...while many more remain a mystery.

This wonderful, old hotel building has a long (about 160 years) history, some which is literally missing from the public record. And so we wonder what really went on there, that it would produce so many restless souls?

Before I get into why the AMG (and I, especially) wanted Kelly and John to visit this site, here's a little background on some of my personal experiences.

It all started on fall night as another investigator and I entered a 2nd floor hallway and the temperature started dropping at an amazing rate. As we opened a nearby door (and tried to snap a picture), on the bed was an apparition of a young woman. She was perhaps in her late teens or early 20's and was holding her head in pain. My first thought was that she had to have been attacked with an axe, or similar object. The image lasted only a split second, mind you...and as all investigators experience occasionally, my camera failed to work.

Later the same night I saw a shadow figure standing in the doorway of the same room. It appeared to be holding something with a long handle that I later reasoned was the weapon used on the woman.

This shadow figure, we would learn in subsequent visits, would become an important character in our investigations. I cannot swear this is the same entity we had begun to call Spiro, a name taken from an EVP that I got on my audio recorder. We are just now beginning to call him Stinky Guy in light of Weaver's visit and another encounter I had.

We do believe that this entity is the dominating spirit at this hotel...and one of the most active.

There are apparently several other resident entities, one that the hotel staff call "Sarah." (I feel her name in life was Mary, based on an EVP I captured on the first floor, where she is usually found).

Mary/Sarah is a friendly, harmless spirit who seems to remain on the first floor, which is an upscale restaurant and bar. Stinky Guy is bad news and mainly confines his escapades to the vacant second and third floors.

I've learned a little more about our main male character at the hotel, getting bits and pieces of information about him and where he can be found. He has also figured out who I am. I suspect it was he who visited me at home for several weeks trying to intimidate me late at night while I slept.

How have I "learned" about a vaporous entity? Well, first I have to say I've always seen things other people don't. It's happened my whole life - including the appearance in my yard a year ago of a spirit I believe to be a Scotsman, who warned me to be cautious of certain people and later this warning proved to be true. I'm learning to trust my instincts more and, in some cases, things I can smell, feel, hear and see.

Still, it was more than my insight that gave Spiro or "Stinky Guy" a personality. Less intuitive investigators captured EMF changes and pictures of orbs where I sensed Spiro, and the team that regularly visits the Hotel with IR camcorders has literally chased orb activity from one room to another.

Finally, in October 2001, we were conducting an investigation with a reporter doing a Halloween newspaper story - and right from the start Spiro was in my face. Later that night he let me know how vulnerable I was, right there in the room while surrounded by my friends and fellow investigators. Try and picture this: I was getting a drained feeling (my way of knowing an entity is at work) in front of everyone; this - thing - was right behind me with his hands around my neck, his face up against mine and whispering something. I could feel his beard stubble against my skin and he stunk so badly I could feel myself getting ready to barf. Imagine the smell of rotten meat as you open an unplugged refrigerator.

Everyone could see I was looking bad, but no one had a clue as to what was going on. If I could have told them at the time, scared isn't the word for it! How could this be happening, this can't be for real?

I managed to draw a sketch of the entity a little while later and showed it to Jon McClintock. We called him Stinky Guy, shook our head, and I put it away in my backpack. Kelly came to the Hotel three months later, totally unaware of the October event. As she began reading the place, Kelly gave members a description of a guy standing near her, and later I had a chance to compare notes. Imagine our surprise when learning that we both saw the same entity right - down to the stubble of whiskers! There was just one difference from my sketch; when he harassed me he was wearing a hat. Kelly also noted that the man's nose was more pointed than what I had drawn.

Spiro (or Stinky Guy's) presence during Kelly's visit was fundamental to her whole evening. While sitting on the steps relating what she saw, heard and felt, she sensed that he wanted to push her down the stair. I was keeping my distance from Kelly's walk-through ( in another room) because I didn't want to influence her in any way. She insists that she go into an investigation "cold", with little or no background while she "is wide open." Sitting in the Hotel's former parlor, I was sensing that Stinky Guy was very angry with me for bringing Kelly to the hotel. I could hear him saying "Why did you bring that B**ch here? Get her the hell out of here!" He must have been going back and forth between where Kelly was at the time, and to me. We were both getting signals from him, but different ones! I was so intrigued and alarmed that I immediately told videographer Ben Mazur to mention this to Jon, who was leading Kelly on the tour.

For a few moments I feared for Kelly's safety. Ghosts, we believe as a general rule, do not intentionally harm people (though scaring and draining a live person is easy enough), but I felt the need to be cautious with this one. I've always had a belief that the way a person lived their life on earth is how they would be when they cross over. In other words if you were mean and nasty in life, then in death you would remain the same.

No harm befell Kelly, but she was very aware that Stinky Guy didn't like having someone around who could see him at work! For me, there was a degree of relief that a respected outsider came to visit the U.S. Hotel and verified the existence of a rather nasty entity I'd met. We now both believe Stinky is a nasty piece of work, but feel his actions are in the past and/or only on view on the other side.


Manifestations and Malfunctions in the US Hotel-By John Weaver

On Sat, January 12, Kelly and I joined members of the Allegheny Mountain Ghosthunters for an investigation at the historic and haunted U.S. Hotel in Hollidaysburg, PA. Socially, it was a wonderful visit, capped by a dinner in the Hotel's superb restaurant with a fine group of people. From a ghosthunter's perspective, it was also a great experience to work with this very dedicated group in an extremely active location.

Other than viewing some prior clips of anomalies filmed at the U.S. hotel, Kelly nor I had any details of where the actual activity took place here. This is especially important for Kelly, as she wants no preconceived notions of "where" or "when things happen. Our investigation was well-coordinated, and began with Kelly staying separate from another intuitive., AMG's Al Brindza, whom she has been working with on better understanding his "gift", and most importantly, protecting himself from the very real hazards such individuals face in this sort of research. Kelly was led throughout the 2 upstairs floors, which are currently unoccupied, but indeed where most of the paranormal activity in the building takes place. She was filmed in IR as this was being done, and still photos were randomly taken. This step comprised her normal "walk-through" - where she moves throughout a structure suspected of being haunted and gives her psychic impression of what is "there" - be it the more common residual energies or an actual "intelligent" spirit entity. At the U.S. Hotel, both of these were clearly present.

I will only touch briefly on Kelly's intuitive observations; these, and how they compared with both what Al Brindza has encountered in many prior visits and what the AMG has learned about the place are documented in articles written by Al and Jon McClintock. I can only say that again, Kelly certainly correlated a lot of things already known, and furthered the understanding of those who have remained here after their physical life ended. As for my personal mission, which is to record documentation of what my wife finds in a haunted location, this was met not only by capturing substantial activity on the IR camcorder, but in witnessing some of the strangest equipment malfunctions I have ever seen in 6 years as an active ghosthunter.

After her walk-through, while Kelly and Al were comparing experiences in the 2nd floor parlor set up as a "Control Room", Jon took me to a stairway leading to the 3rd floor where he explained they invariably filmed orb activity. At the same time, he mentioned that an adjacent bedroom across the hallway was also very active. I decided to locate my motion detector in this room, turning it toward the bed where Al has seen an apparition. This is where the first strange malfunction took place: I placed it on a dresser and turned the device on, and when walking away passed through the area covered by the sensor. Naturally, this set it off, but quite un-naturally, it continued to sound it's alarm even after I was out of the sensor's scope of coverage!

For some reason, we chose to ignore this, and turned our attention to the stairs. I began filming in IR while Jon stood on the stairs about 4 feet from me, and almost immediately captured several bright orbs passing by him, following a trajectory suggesting they had come down the stairs. Amazingly, one of these could be seen leaving the right side of the frame and heading for the adjacent room, but it suddenly did a 180 and started back up the steps, as if the annoying beeping of the motion detector had driven it off! Truly spectacular video evidence, which regrettably, was ultimately negated by strange malfunction number 2: My viewfinder suddenly went blank - as if I had turned the camera off! No warning, nothing - it simply shut down! Drained batteries are nothing new to me or many ghosthunters; indeed only weeks before I had experienced once again the a-too familiar drain of an almost fully charged battery at Gettysburg's mysterious Triangular Field, and area known for disrupting all sorts of cameras. I was ready to install another battery when I once again turned the camera off/on, and voila-full power! My joy was short-lived however, when rewinding to view the great action I had filmed revealed that, even though the "REC" icon was clearly displayed in the viewfinder, over 3 minutes of footage had simply not recorded!

Fortunatley, my camera worked flawlessly in the same location a bit later when Kelly took a seat on the stairs, and similar activity was filmed around her. During this, thermal readings showed a 12 deg drop as I "walked" the beam down a sequence of 4-5 stairs above her. Others present at the time also confirmed feeling the drop in temperature; the fact this a was short-lived event and not constant rules out a rational explanation such as a draft. Stangely, activity subsided once Al joined Kelly on the stairs, and all felt it was time to move on. this is where yet another strange event took place: Ben Mazur went into the room where the motion detector was still blaring it's annoying warning, and when reaching for it to retrieve it, the device turned off by itself! (I checked it late that evening in another part and it functioned in it's normal manner).

Although I have a long standing interest in the paranormal, I am basically still a skeptic. That is why I focus on gathering whatever :evidence" possible to support what my wife is saying about the place. She has worked with me on my sensitivities, but I cannot imagine ever approaching her ability to know when a spirit is present. However, when bizarre malfunctions such as I experienced this night occur, it only furthur proves to me that something is indeed there!

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