I am what some call an Urban Archaeologist. In layman's
terms, I infiltrate buildings that are about to be torn
down, abandoned, or otherwise inaccessible. Sure, it's
illegal, but oddly enough some people think that we learn a
great deal. Many Urban Archaeologists have championed the
saving of many historical buildings. Further, we do at the
very least document what we find, preserving it for
posterity. My stories, of which there are a handful, come
from experiences that well, as the title says, sometimes you
1996: Demorest Georgia.
My first real investigation occured at "Piedmont" college.
While there I was tipped off that behind the school, some
200 yards, there was the remnants of an old railroad and
trestle. These had been abandoned since the late fifties;
and I felt it would be amusing to explore. As I walked
further back in the woods, following the trail of ballast
and some roadbed, I noticed that it was getting cooler. The
further I went, the colder it got, until I was nearly
freezing. Then, oddly, things changed. Standing there in
the sun, I warmed up some. However, it started to get
progressively warmer, until I felt like I was standing near
a very hot fire. Leaving the location, I happened to comment
to a professor about this. He informed me, that the site I
was at, was said to be very haunted. Apparently, a train
had derailed there, killing several people.
2000-2002: Vidalia Georgia.
I moved to Vidalia sometime in 99. In fact, it may have
been right around New Years. Shortly after that, I started
working at a local department store. I realise it's
somewhat cheesy to say "It started with the small things"
since nearly every story has that in it. Thing is, it's
true. Every night when I closed, something would happen.
Whether it was seeing a kid run past the office door, to
hearing someone tapping on the door, to the doors of all the
dressing rooms being suddenly closed after I'd gone to the
trouble of opening every last one of them. One night in
particular, I remember hearing the sound of boxes being
thrown around in the shoe department. The sound was
horrible, sounding like a person was standing there throwing
everything they could find from the shelves. I even went so
far as to call my manager. He heard the sounds over the
phone and rushed over. We both turned on the lights,
searched the store, but found no evidence of any problems.
I quit not long after that. I never found out what the
cause of that was, though I have talked with others who
worked there and there seems to have been similar incidents.
2005-06: Vidalia Georgia:
Ever get that creepy feeling you're being watched? Seems
like I get that more times than I want to count. Again,
working as a UA, I actually found myself on the legal side
of the hobby. I was recently asked if I minded
investigating a series of buildings that had been sealed off
at one time or another. These buildings were going to be
renovated; but needed someone to document the historic
points of them. One, in the "bad" section of town, had this
odd third floor that had been sealed since some time in the
fifties or sixties. When the door was opened, the workmen
claimed that it was like opening a mason jar. Air was
literally sucked inside. When I investigated it, I noticed
this odd scorched smell about the place. The walls had been
painted a nice green at one time, though that had faded into
a more puke color. Around one door, I noticed a slight
charring...to which I attributed the scorched smell. Thing
was, that smell was recent. Wood that had been burned over
time wouldn't produce that smell. Plus, It seemed to follow
me. Entering the last room on the floor, all the while
taking notes and such, I was presented with a nice gentleman
in a button down shirt sitting at an office chair. He had
this look on his face, like he was waiting on someone.
Since the floor had recently been opened, I expected that he
knew the owner. Apologizing profusely, I backed out of the
room and left. Later, I was shown a picture of the building
as it looked in the forties. The man I saw was pictured in
one of the last ones, along with a clipping about how the
building was the scene of a murder/arson. The man, a rather
controversial newspaper writer at the time, had been killed
and then the room set on fire to cover the murder. The
killer was never found, and the family sealed the upper
floor rather than fix it.
Jan 12, 2006: Downtown Vidalia.
Recently, I decided to run my happy butt down to my favorite
coffee shop for a drink. I'm not sure why, but when I
stepped out into the street, coffee in hand, I started to
wander. Down the alley I walked, looking at the architecture
and trying to find remnants of the past. Turning at the
corner, I found myself walking in the direction of the old
"pal" theater. They were renovating it and I guess, part of
me wanted to see what changes had been made. Reaching
there, I found myself turning to wander down the alley
beside the building. It's a very quaint little stretch of
concrete, nestled right in between the two buildings. If
you look at one point, you can see the remnants of an ad for
a store that went out of business in the thirties. Walking
down that alley, I found myself listening to the footsteps.
Which was odd, since I was wearing sneakers. The footsteps
were right behind me, sounding like someone in leather soled
shoes pacing my every move. My first thought was that a
Police officer, seeing me turn down this alley, wanted to
ask me why I was there. Stopping (the footsteps also
stopping) I turned to address the officer I expected to see.
I was alone in that alley way, no one behind me. As I
stood there, I shrugged, thinking I was hearing things.
Turning around I continued on. After walking a short
distance further, I distinctly heard a person turning around
and walking out of the alley.
I have recently learned, that there is something of a legend
about that alley. Local stories tell that back when the
alley was more enclosed, bordered by buildings on either
side (other than the current parking lots) a man turned to
use the alley as a cut off. He managed to get a short
distance down the alley before he was struck by a falling
brick from the theater. The man died where he lay. Local
story holds that if someone is aimlessly wandering, the man
will follow them around, only to turn and walk away after
they pass the spot he died.