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Sometimes....You Wonder..

February 2006

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 wonder.

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 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.

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