Just How Haunted is Minnesota?
To hear Chad Lewis tell it, we really should be known as the "Land of 10,000 Ghosts", not just the 10,000+ lakes we get to enjoy. Chad Lewis is a researcher, author, and lecturer on topics of the strange and unusual. He was also the first guest of the Owatonna Library's Fall Author Series for 2019. Lewis has traveled the world for the past 20 years, doing his own research into the strange and usual. This includes paranormal activities and cryptozoology (think Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster).
Monday night at the Owatonna Library, there were close to 100 people in attendance to hear Chad Lewis speak. Both believers and skeptics were there, myself being one of the skeptics. I don't believe in ghosts, but, I do believe that there are things that cannot be explained. Lewis, to my delight, was informative, entertaining, and very humorous.
He had several locations identified that he wanted to talk about, and they did cover the entire State of Minnesota. Locally, well local to Southern Minnesota, he talked about the Jackson Cemetery, Mankato's Calvary Cemetery, and the Winona area. He kept mentioning dares that the locals have for people to complete when visiting one of these locations. If you do the dare, you can be cursed with bad luck, etc, for years, if not the rest of your life.
A couple of locations were well known to his audience; they included the haunted doll in Janesville, as well as West Hills, right here in Owatonna. He did not go into much detail about West Hills, as most locals know the lore. I really appreciated that he gave us the lore, then did his research to find out what really happened, so you get the stories that are passed around, then the actual history of the place. You are then invited to come to your own conclusions about the validity of the ghost stories.
One thing that was said at the beginning of the presentation really stuck with me, "It's easier watching these places on television than in person." I can believe it.
Lewis had several of his books for sale, and I got an autographed copy of "The Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations." You can find his books on his website, and I was surprised to see that my hometown, Albert Lea, has its own ghost story. He mentions the Mantorville Opera House, and the Grand Kahler in Rochester in the book as well.
I went in as a skeptic, I am still a skeptic, but, I had an enjoyable evening learning about the history of our state that isn't always in the books. Several people shared interesting stories at the end of the presentation and we got a chance to meet the author.