Ghosts On The Mississippi: 2016 Haunted America Conference Recap

98 – Ghosts On The Mississippi: 2016 Haunted America Conference Recap

This weekend Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts, Wendy, and I had the privilege to attend the 2016 Haunted America conference in Alton, IL run by one of the Midwest’s spookiest storytellers, Troy Taylor.

mike wendy allison troy taylor
See You On The Other Side meets Haunted America’s Troy Taylor!
We’ve been to Alton, Illinois before. In episode 30, we interviewed one of the area’s haunted tour guides, Luke Naliborski in a live podcast/performance! It’s a small town on the Mississippi River known for being the birthplace of Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in history at 8 feet 11 inches tall! Known as the Alton Giant or the Giant of Illinois, Wadlow was known for his gentleness, but sadly died at only 22 years old. Both Sufjan Stevens and Andrew Bird have played songs about him.

robert wadlow statue
That’s one big dude!
But we weren’t there just to feel short, we were there for ghosts, spirits, and all the weirdness that we could handle! Friday night, we got in pretty late so we missed the first panel, but we did make it in time for the masquerade ball. Hands down, the best costume was the shadow people. At the party, we all got to share some stories of paranormal experiences and that was a lot of fun, but my favorite was the theory that “The Titanic was an inside job”! I had never heard that one before, so it was fun to learn a new conspiracy theory.

shadow people masquerade ball
Shadow people dressed up at the masquerade ball. I turned the contrast up a bit in the pic, but that’s pretty close to exactly what their costumes looked like. Pretty good, huh. I think they might have actually been Shadow People.
Saturday morning, the first presentation was by Dr. Alan Brown, who regaled the crowd with stories of his visits to haunted bed and breakfasts across the United States. Of course, his most provocative location was the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana (and you can hear our in depth exploration of the Myrtles Plantation in Episode 77.)

Up next was Paranormal Sarah , who we also saw at the Paradigm Symposium in May, but this time she focused more on the psychology of why we are attracted to the paranormal.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley took the stage after that and you’ll have to listen to this whole episode to really get our take on it. I’ve been, of course, a fan of Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s books practically since I first started getting into reading about strange topics and her latest obsession is the Djinn, a malevolent force that was banished by God after the creation of man to another dimension. They talk about the Djinn in the Koran and it’s what eventually we would call in the West, genies. But we’re not talking about I Dream of Jeannie here. She uses the Djinn as sort of a paranormal unified theory, that they’re shapeshifters who are also responsible for UFO sightings, Bigfoot, Shadow People, and more.

genie djinn robin williams
You ain’t never had an evil shapeshifting friend like me!
During the breaks, we kept on visiting the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult with Greg Newkirk and Dana Matthews of Planet Weird. From cursed blades to a terrifying idol they call “Billy”, to a strange cursed Appalachian totem and a haunted Ouija board planchette, the museum was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to bring them on the show.

allison milwaukee ghosts greg newkirk dana matthews planet weird
Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts with Planet Weird’s Greg Newkirk and Dana Matthews (and Billy!)
One of our favorite objects was the black mirror, that people say if you stare into it, you’ll start getting dark thoughts. So, of course, we had to take a look!

wendy lynn cursed black mirror
Wendy looks into the cursed Black Mirror and can’t believe what she sees!
mike cursed mirror
Mike is terrified at what lies on the other side of the mirror
After lunch, Troy Taylor came up with his writing partner, Rene Kruze, and he talked a little bit about some of his favorite investigations. It was fun to listen to a master storyteller at work and talk about some of his weirdest encounters. Troy, having founded the Alton ghost tours, is of course a man after my own heart and he also doesn’t trust orbs in ghost photos, so we really have something in common!

Scotty Roberts from the Paradigm Symposium then gave a presentation on his own paranormal experiences in Egypt, while also getting into who might be perhaps the historical Moses. There’s a great article right here where he goes into some depth on who he feels might be the real Moses and it gave some fascinating background on a personal experience that he later had at that man’s tomb.

allison wendy scotty roberts
Intrepid Magazine and Paradigm Symposium’s Scotty Roberts with Wendy and Allison
After Scotty, it was Sherri Blake from Haunted Heartland Tours talking about the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV and the history of a very dark place. She had some great research and pictures and the one photo I wish I could have taken all weekend was the reaction shot of Wendy when she saw a picture of where the surgical icepick goes in during a lobotomy (hint, it’s in your eye socket)!

frontal lobotomy
Ouch!
Allison went to a spiritual protection seminar with Rosemary Ellen Guiley afterwards and in the episode she shares a little of Rosemary’s wisdom about protecting your soul and your psyche (even from the Djinn!)

Overall, the Haunted America Conference was a fun couple of days and well worth the 6 hour drive from Madison. We’re always looking for kindred spirits in the paranormal field (see what I did there?) and we made a bunch of new friends and inspirations for show ideas. One of the most exciting things about conferences is meeting other people with open minds and open hearts when it comes to the mysteries of the universe. It’s easy to forget how amazing and wonderful the world can be and just dwell on the worst aspects. The pointlessness, the boredom, the indifference… the more you focus on those things, the more they rot you from the inside.  It’s easy to be “Cynical” and that’s the title of this Sunspot track, but it helps when you meet other people who are as excited about the possibilities of this universe as you are.

As I sit here just existing,
Nothing moves me I am listening,
Desperate for some inspiration,
To break my lowered expectations.

The graffiti on the wall,
Might as well be a Bible,
There’s no justice of fair play,
There is no Hell or Judgment Day.

I look out of my window,
and I’m blinded by monotony.
The darkness of a world so bright,
It makes me want to shut my eyes.

So cynical,
The world will eat me whole,
If I let it get the best there is of me.
Trapped in a rut,
The world has kicked my butt,
And I will look no more for truth or meaning again,
I will look no more for truth or meaning again.

When I say I’m realistic,
I really mean I’m nihilistic,
If we’re gonna be solipsistic,
We might as well be hedonistic.

I look out of my window,
and I’m blinded by monotony.
The darkness of a world so bright,
It makes me want to shut my eyes.

So cynical,
The world will eat me whole,
If I let it get the best there is of me.
Trapped in a rut,
The world has kicked my butt,
And I will look no more for truth or meaning again,
I will look no more for truth or meaning again.

3 thoughts on “98 – Ghosts On The Mississippi: 2016 Haunted America Conference Recap”

Share your thoughts on this episode!