Preston Castle has been re-discovered by many who weren't ever aware of its existence by shows like "Ghost Hunters" which have investigated its abandoned, but quite haunted hallways.
I had the opportunity of a lifetime this past Saturday night--to investigate the Castle myself, along with friends and listeners and others. Specifically, a NINE HOUR investigation that would find us roaming the historic structure from 7pm until 4am when the gates would be unlocked for our departure.
Preston Castle is in Ione, California--a pleasant and pretty town of just over 7,000 people about an hour from Sacramento.
It officially opened in 1894 as the Preston School of Industry and was a reformatory school for young boys and men (some wards were in their early 20s). It was created by the California Legislature in the hopes of rehabilitating these young males through structured and rigorous schooling and training in various trades--from shoe making to butchering.
Keep in mind that the Castle had somewhat of a dark history as well. Boys were locked up for anything from murder and assault and burglary on one extreme end to drinking, smoking, and fighting on the other end.
And unfortunately, as will happen in many such situations, the boys were not always treated all that well. There were fights, riots, and death. One teen attempted several escapes and on his third attempt, was shot and killed by guards.
The boy, Samuel Goins, is believed to be one of the many spirits who still haunt Preston. Many have tried to contact the spirit of Joe Lopez, another teen who died under mysterious circumstances sometime after trying to escape along with Goins.
One of the most infamous incidents to occur in the Castle's history was the brutal murder of housekeeper Anna Corbin. She was bludgeoned so badly that she was initially unrecognizable. We visited and investigated the very spot where her crumpled body was found, stuffed behind a storage nook near the kitchen. Her murder remains an unsolved mystery to this day.
This was a dream come true investigation for a paranormal investigator like myself. I had been looking forward to this for months since I purchased my ticket along with about 10 other people.
Driving up to the Castle was a life changing moment. You feel yourself in the presence of something really big and important. I literally felt a vibration coming from this building sitting atop the hill where it has stood for more than 100 years. It felt...ALIVE. There are few buildings or structures that give me this sense. The WWII aircraft carrier USS Hornet docked in Alameda, California (and the site of another investigation of mine) also gave me that feeling.
The sense of being observed was very strong and we all entered the Castle with a sense of wonder, but also of deep and utter respect. Whether the energy we were to encounter were friendly or dark, we always approach it with the utmost RESPECT.
What people forget is that spirits aren't monsters. They are the spiritual remains of a once physical human being. Many ghost hunters treat spirits as if they are lab animals to be prodded and tested. Like with the living, I have found you get more using sugar than vinegar.
The knowledgeable and friendly docents led us through the basement and first two floors of this incredible building. It is in various states of disrepair and the Preston Castle Foundation is doing an amazing and commendable job of raising funds to restore it to its original majestic glory.
The third and fourth floors were either too inaccessible or under re-construction for us to explore it's many areas.
Picture us, breaking off into small groups, navigating passageways illuminated only with flashlight and night vision from our video cameras.
There were many personal experiences. People witnessed everything from shadows to audible moans and humming right next to them. Investigators were poked and spoken to by things not physically present with us.
I was struck with the WORSE headache I have had in YEARS at the spot where Anna Corbin's body was found and at the same time that my best friend, fellow investigator, and medium was seeing mental images of her massive and fatal head injuries.
It was so intense, it felt like someone was forcing my eyeballs out of my head from the INSIDE OUT. I almost had to excuse myself, the pain was that intense. I asked if the spirit of Anna Corbin or others were doing that, if they could please back off of me. Within minutes, the pain was gone and never returned that night.
Some of us had paranormal devices that spit out words using a robotic voice. These tools are influenced by surrounding electro magnetic fields (which spirits are believed to influence, create, and feed off of). I was honestly not a firm believer in these devices and saw them as more of a novelty item.
But my mind was changed when we all heard it utter words like "Castle tours" (the odds of it putting those two words back to back are incredibly slim I think we could agree) and the names of investigators--including yours truly!! It said "SPENCER" which is bizarre to say the least. And "George" and "Jon", two gentlemen who were also on our team.
Within the past several weeks alone, others have witnessed the full bodied apparitions of a doctor in a lab coat walking the hallways and a young red headed boy manifesting at the base of a staircase.
Despite the exciting activity most of us witnessed, it was considered a "slow" night by docents who have witnessed far more than that.
I cannot wait to begin analysis today of the various hours of audio and video I personally recorded during our nine hours at Preston.
As any paranormal investigator will tell you, the bulk of paranormal activity will be documented as audio recordings known as "EVP" or Electronic Voice Phenomenon. These are "spirit voices" which are not heard by witnesses at the time, but clearly heard on recorded media such as digital or analog voice recorders, audio from video cameras, etc.
Between the two of us, my friend and fellow investigator have collected literally THOUSANDS of these voices over the years. Some are friendly or neutral. Some are downright threatening and chilling.
There's nothing quite like playing back audio to suddenly be jolted by an obvious EVP that just "pops" seemingly out of nowhere.
If Saturday night was in fact a "slow" night by the standards of the phenomenon that happens at Preston on a typical day or night, then I predict a lot of EVPs captured in evidence.
Well, I have found from experience that sometimes the seemingly "quiet" investigations yield the bulk of the EVP captures. Which means that even though it might have SEEMED as if no spiritual activity was going on during a hunt, it was in fact a chatty night for the spirits after all.
Are you interested in investigating Preston Castle? Or would you prefer a daytime tour of the historic building? Maybe looking for a cool place to take the whole family for fun, Halloween activities? Perhaps you have time or money or other resources to contribute to the rehabilitation of the structure? Please visit the Preston Castle Foundation's informative and easy to navigate website, www.prestoncastle.com and help Save the Castle.
And maybe I will meet you on the next hunt. I know I will be back. The Castle beckons. I can feel it.