This is Steph's mom and she invited me to be her guest today so I can tell you about my ghost hunting experience at a haunted hotel.
A few years ago I attended a romance writing conference at a haunted hotel in French Lick, Indiana. It turned out to be the same hotel where my grandparents used to spend a lot of their summer vacations since it's only a couple hours from Cincinnati where they lived. It was also a favorite hang out for Al Capone when Chicago got a little too hot.
Before you start thinking the hotel's name is lewd, let me explain how the hotel got its name. French Lick is the name of the town. A "lick" is a salt lick for animals. There had been French fur traders in this area called "New France". Around 1812 a fort named "French Lick" was built to protect the settlers.
The luxury grand hotel came many years later in 1845 and was named after the fort. Tomato juice was invented here when they ran out of orange juice for their guests. Many big golf tournaments are played there.
But enough about that part of the history. Let's get to the exciting part.
My group kept hearing the hotel was "haunted" and that the west wing of the 13th floor was locked and had been for many years. Only the infamous "red elevator" went to the floor.
As you can see from the photo above, French Lick is a huge hotel. That picture only shows a tiny portion of the buildings. Thus we searched for days without finding the red elevator and we were beginning to think it was just a hoax.
Then we convinced a member of the hotel staff to take us on a tour starting with the basement. That felt pretty spooky, too, with all its nooks and crannies, its own jail, and several creepy satanic looking statues.
We were a small, intimate group and so there was no more than a dozen of us on the tour, not too many, but too many to squeeze into one elevator load. Downstairs, we finally found the red elevator. The door was of course, red. And of course, we took the tour on a dark, spooky night.
According to the staff, this elevator often opens and shuts and runs between floors by itself. Many think the ghost of the former owner, Thomas Taggart, is behind these mystical occurrences. Taggart supposedly also rides his horse through the ballroom and the halls. When I was there, we were just told it was a "ghost" but not who the ghost was. I since learned through research. See Indiana Paranormal for more details.
The elevator, unfortunately, was the same elevator that that was across the hall from MY room! That freaked me out, especially as I didn't have a roommate. If I had known then that a body is reported to be buried in the wall behind that elevator shaft and there is ritual graffiti that may be satanic, I would have run home to Cincinnati early, with or without aid of my car.
As we advanced from floor to floor, we had to take two groups whenever we went in the elevator. I was in the second group and when our elevator opened on one of the floors, my friend's husband jumped at us when the door burst open, and he went "Boo!" really loud making us all scream and making our hearts hammer our ribs.
The adrenaline was really flowing. By the time we worked up the courage to go up the 13th floor, we were jumpy as hell. My nerves zinged and snapped at every little sound, every flicker of a shadow. We stayed close, most of the time holding hands for safety and comfort.
When the door open on the 13th floor, everything was deadly silent except for the whoosh of the elevator doors and our breathing. We weren't sure we wanted to step off the elevator in case we got trapped on that floor with the ghost and his steed. But we finally got out and slowly made our way down the dim corridor to the iron-bolted door keeping us out of the section where the ghost rode his mighty steed throughout the closed wing. I had to wonder that a bolted door would hold in a ghost, especially as that same ghost had a penchant for playing with the elevator.
Although it was spooky and creepy and there's no way I would return to that hotel alone, that was one of the most fun times I ever had. I wouldn't have missed it.
That would be an awesome place to stay in October, especially for Halloween. If they offer ghost hunting tours or sayonces go!