Author explores ghostly goings-on

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The book “Colorado Ghost Tours” was just published, but the idea has been with the author for many years. Ann Westerberg of Littleton said she sold a house to a woman friend in 1979, who spoke of a house on Josephine Street that was haunted. A former camp counselor had lived there and regaled her charges with spooky stories.

Several years later, by then interested in haunted research, Westerberg found a newspaper article relating the author’s experience in a very “spirited” house with a similar address. She was able to locate the family who had owned the house from 1939 until 1948. The book relates a series of incidents reported by the Hendee family and the Rosenbergs who followed them. The 1979 residents, in apartments in the house, had no experiences of paranormal activity.

Then recently, Westerberg’s musician friend Mike Johnson (leader of Your Father’s Moustache) told her of a house on Josephine where he and other band members had lived in the 1970s — and some, but not all, had stories of resident ghosts …

“I felt like I had stuck my finger in a plug,” she said, when different sources came together.

Then Westerberg and her daughter Terry joined a ghost-hunting group for a weekend in Manitou Springs — “Manitou” means spirit, she said, and the location is said to be a vortex for spirits. After a fruitless evening at another supposedly haunted house, she and her daughter retired in the upstairs room at an old cottage. Her daughter was certain someone, or something, visited them there. She heard feet dragging on the carpet, but was not able to awaken Ann.

The new book reads like a chat with the enthusiastic author, who has lived in Littleton for 24 years. It gives history of the buildings (“the meat and potatoes,” she said) as well as reported accounts of otherworldly residents.

It is divided into sections: “The Denver Group — self-guided tours”; “Cemeteries, Past and Present”; “Haunted Inns and Restaurants” (including Littleton’s Melting Pot); “Those Creepy, Crenulated Castles” (Westerberg’s previous book on Colorado castles is also in print); “Not Available to Tour (But Too Much Fun to Ignore)”; “Ghost Tours Outside of Denver” and “Ghost Hunting.” Available at the Tattered Cover in paperback ($16.95), it will presented at a Littleton Museum talk and signing event — probably in July.

The last chapter includes information about needed equipment and ghost hunting organizations that allow participation-usually for a price.

Westerberg also discusses some spots that are labeled “NLGF,” No Longer Ghost Friendly, where for various reasons owners don’t wish to talk about it.

“But is it Science?” is an introductory discussion she wants the reader to absorb. “While relatively modern thought has relegated belief in the spirit world to a box labeled ‘corny hoax,’” there are interesting explanations out there.

Joshua Warren, a paranormal investigator, asks: If all matter breaks down into cells and molecules, atoms and finally electric particles, is our body is one giant electromagnetic, three-dimensional energy field? “Could it be possible even if our physical being is destroyed, our electromagnetic self is not?”

Russian scientist Semyon Kirlian developed a way of photographing energy given off by a person or even an object in the 1940s — auras. Special cameras capture auras at times and the electromagnetic detector is the most popular tool for a ghost hunter. Other tools — from elemental to fancy:

• A flashlight, note pad, still camera with flash and EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recorder.

• Infrared camera, EMF (electromagnetic field) detector and video camera.

• Expensive toys like a thermo-camera and heat translator.

And then there’s protocol: 1) Never investigate alone; 2) Always ask permission if you’re intruding on property — although many groups are invited in; 3) Absolutely no use of drugs, smoking or drinking; 4) No perfume or aftershave as fragrances are sometimes signs of paranormal activity; 5) Always be respectful of the spirits; 6) Be sure you record all readings and weather conditions.

Above all, be skeptical, Westerberg suggests. Look for rational explanations. “Bon Voyage,” she says as she lists contact information for ghost hunting groups.

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