PARKERSBURG - After more than a decade together, the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters have not only seen and heard unexplainable things, it has developed favorite places to hunt.
"There are a number of places we love to go because there is so much going on there," said Tom Moore, founder of the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters.
In 2000, Moore and his brother Jim Moore established the group, which explores paranormal activity and frequently visits historical places in search of paranormal and spiritual activity.
"With the history and the old buildings in the area, my brother and I started the group to investigate alleged hauntings around the Mid-Ohio Valley," Tom Moore said. "We use our senses as well as technology, including digital cameras, voice recorders and video cameras to catch things we cannot see or hear and to back up what we thought we witnessed."
The group, which currently includes 10 members, has investigated dozens of businesses, historically-renowned buildings as well as private homes in search of supernatural occurrences.
"We do a lot of investigations at private houses," Moore said. "In fact, the majority of our ghost hunts are at people's homes, but we also really enjoy going to the places everyone talks about."
During the past 13 years, the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters have not only appeared on television shows West Virginia Ghostly Encounters and three episodes of Creepy Canada but Moore has also spoken at the 2008 Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant and hosted the 2008 and 2010 Haunted West Virginia Ghost and Paranormal Conferences.
"We try to do investigations as often as possible, so we have been to a number of locations and, of course, we have our favorites," Moore said.
"But, no matter where you go, some outings are uneventful while others are filled with strange happenings."
The group has investigated a number of locations that are believed to be haunted, including Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Ky.; the old West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville; Silver Run Tunnel in Cairo; Eaton's Tunnel near Walker; the Van Winkle Mansion in Parkersburg; Quincy Hill; Fort Boreman Park and Riverview Cemetery.
"Even though we have been to a number of places and seen and heard a lot, the two areas I love the most to go to are The Anchorage in Marietta and the Twin Cities Opera House in McConnelsville," Moore said.
"There's always something going on in those two places and we never leave disappointed."
Evidence collected by members of the Ghost Hunters at The Anchorage, which was built in 1859, not only has supernatural tall tales of spirits, including original owner Eliza Putnam, but also of those who lived there when the stately home was an elder care facility.
"We have seen and captured shadow figures and the full-bodied apparition of a little girl with long hair and old style white dress with ruffles, heard doors opening and being slammed shut when no one is close to it and have heard disembodied voices," Moore said. "There is a lot of energy in The Anchorage that seems to be changing lately and we don't know what is going on, but are excited to see where it goes."
The Anchorage is also the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunter's home base, Moore said.
"We have worked with the Washington County Historical Society (owners of the facility) on a number of projects and at the home for a long time and we think of it as home," he said. "A photo of The Anchorage is on our shirts and we plan to continue working there for a long time."
As for the Twin Cities Opera House at 15 West Main St. on the Village Square in McConnelsville, Moore said there is always something going on there.
"My brother James and myself have felt and heard the spirit of Everett, the usher, doing his rounds," Moore said. "We saw nothing, but heard someone walking through the theater and right by us with no explanation for the sounds."
The opera house was originally built to be a theater and town hall in 1889, but because of a lack of funds, the building was not finished until 1892.
As far back as the 1960s, people have reported ghost sightings and paranormal activity in the theater.
The spirit of usher Everett Miller was reportedly seen by 18 children in the auditorium about 30 years ago while employees have quit their jobs at the opera house following personal experiences.
Many of those who have seen or heard unusual or unexplained things have been reluctant to go into certain areas of the building alone.
A previous owner of the opera house lived there for several years and ran out of the building one night after he encountered the Lady in White on the stage.
"No matter when we go there, even in the middle of the day, something always happens," Moore said. "The opera house is just a great place to go if you're interested in ghosts and the unexplained."
Moore said people are often drawn to ghost hunting because of the excitement of possibly hearing or seeing something as well as curiosity about the spirit world.
"Many people get hooked after their first experience," he said. "Once you catch an EVP (electronic voice phenomena) or see a figure you can't explain, it's a rush you can't wait to feel again."