PHOTOS BY HILLARY EHLEN
Last October, West Fargo’s Bonanzaville began giving ghost tours of their pioneer village and museum that includes 43 historic buildings. On one of the tours, a person showed special events coordinator Missy Warren a photo they took inside the Houston House.
The person’s great-grandmother had died in one of the beds in the house and every time a family member visits the village, they take a picture inside the house. But this particular photo had something stand out: an unusual orb in the corner.
Stories like this are nothing new at Bonanzaville. And that’s why it has brought back the ghost tours for year two and added a new paranormal investigations tour. The six ghost tours sold out in less than 24 hours last year. This year, there will be three ghost tours on every Saturday night in October, and the paranormal investigations are held every Friday.
“You’re definitely going to find something out here,” Warren said. “I was not a big believer in most of the things people were telling me when I first started working here. But I’m here to tell you there’s definitely things moving around this village.”
The two tours offer different experiences. The ghost tour is more of a storytelling experience for groups no bigger than 12 people.
“We take actual historical events that have happened here and we take them through our village using that story for our basis of the tour,” said Kaci Johnson, a curator at Bonanzaville.
The paranormal investigations are more intimate with an expedition in groups of six. You are given equipment and do the investigating yourself in the Brass Rail Saloon, the Houston House and the church. A staff member is there to supervise, but groups are free to investigate on their own.
While attendees are permitted to bring their own approved equipment, each person will be provided an EMF detector and voice box/spirit box.
The theory behind the voice box is that an entity will use the radio frequencies to project their voice. The box cycles through FM and AM radio frequencies very quickly, so quickly you can’t pick out a distinct station. But sometimes you’ll catch bursts of words or short phrases like “murder,” “mother” or even someone’s name.
An EMF detector measures electromagnetic fields. Their legitimate purpose is to measure waves from microwaves and similar appliances. However, the theory is that a ghost or a paranormal entity will harness the energy around them and you’ll get a reading if something is appearing. That’s why it’s important for phones to be on airplane mode during the tours. And it’s also important to make sure the buildings don’t have electricity. Conveniently, a majority of the Bonanzaville buildings don’t have power.
“Just so everyone knows, because I know the question will be brought up when we go to the Houston House, there is power in that house,” Warren said. “We will cut all the power to the houses and we’ll actually show them we have readings because we have electricity. We’re going to cut the breakers and now we don’t have anything. That way people know there won’t be any false readings.”
1351 Main Ave. W, West Fargo
For reservations, call Bonanzaville at 701-282-2822. Space is limited and will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Paranormal Investigations: Every Friday in October at 7 p.m. $50 per person for 90-minute investigation.
Ghost Tours: Every Saturday in October at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. $25 per person for a 45-minute tour.