Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Wait, My Office is Haunted?

This is a little long of a post, but something happened today, and I want to share the whole story.

So, I go to work today, just like most other days. Grab a quick bite and head out for the 75-mile drive to lovely Fort Irwin.

Not a bad drive today, traffic was pretty light, drove full speed all the way there (I did get passed by two CHP cars, but I wasn’t going fast enough to draw their interest).

The Soldier at the gate checked my id and greeted me using my retired rank (I like it when they still call me sergeant). And since my record is devoid of any past or pending felonies, he waved me thru the gate.

Got to the office, nothing unusual there. Checked email and got ready to do some painting on the OH-58 display.
Now, I have been working in the Heritage Center building for just over a year.

There have been some weird things happen, but for the most part I came up with logical explanations. Keep in mind, I’m alone in the building 99% of the time, and I have the only keys to the doors.

First there was the sound of a trapped puppy crying coming from the HVAC system. I figured it was a bad bearing on a fan, echoing thru the duct work. No issue – put in a work order.

Then there was the open maintenance panel in the men’s room. Maybe I just never noticed the only panel in the restroom was open for several months (there is an open space behind the panel large enough for a couple of people to fit. Lots of pipes and graffiti).

I would also hear people talking when I was in the bathroom (most of the building is kind of loud, the HVAC is almost always on and it’s loud, turns out the quietest place in the building is the bathroom). Chalked it up to the roll-up door on the other end of the building creaking in the wind.

Yesterday, I noticed that the conference room (which is between the main part of the center and my office) was considerably colder than the rest of the building, so much so I wondered if the AC was on in that room. Might need another work order.
The conference room, my office is just thru the open door.

Here is where it starts getting really weird.

When they remodeled the building, they installed two separate lighting systems. The first was a LED system. The system has three-foot LED strips on long rails. That system is divided into 4 zones, each controlled by a separate light switch. The system also has sensors that turn off and on the zone when it detects movement. When the sensors turn off the lights, they just go out. When you use the switch, the lights dim and then go out.

The second light system is rail mounted spotlights for the museum displays.

Because the LED lights would come on indiscriminately when I had the museum lights on, I disconnected the motion detectors. 

Since then, the lights come on and go off when you operate the switch. 

At least until yesterday. 

I only turn on the lights in the section that I’m working in (hey, I am at least a bit energy conscious).

Yesterday, I walked into the event room in the center of the building and one 3-foot section in the middle of the zone was lit. Not the other 24 or so sections. Not sure how power could by-pass most of the sections and only light the middle, I figured I needed to put in yet another work order. 
The red arrow points at the only led section that was lit.

I tried to switch on and off the entire zone, but the switch had no effect. About three hours later, it shut off by itself (remember the sensors are disconnected). 

 Which brings us to today. 

 I started painting, things were going well. Then the lights shut off. Yep, they dimmed and then went out. Like someone used the switch to turn off the lights. 

I went over and turned them back on. 

 A few minutes later, I closed the paint can with a hammer, put the hammer on a metal table next to the helicopter. I moved the flight crew mannequin back next to the aircraft and bent down to adjust the flight suit over the boot. 

Suddenly there was a very loud band right next to me.

I jumped up and started looking around to see what might have fallen over. Everything was right where I left it. Everything. 

I walked around the entire building; I couldn’t find anything out of place. 

 I went back to the metal table. I looked at the items on the table, picked up my hammer and dropped it from about a foot off the table. That was the noise I heard. 
The red arrows point at the uniform I was adjusting and the location of the hammer, just out of view

I stood there for a few minutes, trying to come up with an explanation for the sound. I left the building.

I went for a long walk, stopped by and told a couple of friends what happened (BTW they now both refuse to come to my building). 

Finally, I made a visit to the chaplain’s office. 

Several of the items in the center have connection to people who are no longer with us. 

One lady served during WWII and helped open the Armed Forces Network in Berlin after the war. She died alone with no family. I have read several of her letters from just before the bombing of London, and several from a young man she tried to help migrate to the US after the war. 
Letter home from London

I also have the personal possessions of a Major General that served under Gen. Patton. I have read his briefings and some of the personal letters. Also in his footlocker is his harmonica and his West Point uniform brass. 

Another personal possession is General George S. Patton’s horse's bridle bit. He thought enough about it to save it from his missions in the early 1900’s. 
General Patton's horse bridle bit

The Chaplain came over this afternoon, he blessed the building and the contents. 

Hopefully, that will be the last of it.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Grafton Ghost Town

For our last day in Springdale, we decided to check out Grafton Ghost Town.

It’s a short drive from Springdale (about 6.5 miles from where we were staying), But the last part is a dirt road. Not a problem in a jeep, but I wouldn’t drive my sports car there.

According to the Grafton Heritage Partnership Project’s Website, the town was first settled in 1859, at a site just downriver from the current ghost town.

Nathan Tenney led a group of five families from the town of Virgin to a new site on the Virgin River. 

The families worked together to plant crops, build irrigation ditches as well and build homes.

Grafton farm land

The community flourished when cotton became scarce at the start of the US Civil War. They planted so much cotton, they didn’t have the land to plant enough corn and other crops to feed their families. In the following years they scaled back cotton production and planted more foodstuffs.

The Virgin River also caused the settlers some problems.

A January 1862 flood destroyed much of the settlement and washed away several homes. The residents of Grafton rebuilt on a second site, which is where the ghost town now sits.

The river also washed out the irrigation dams and clogged the irrigation ditches with sand. This required constant maintenance.

In 1866, Grafton became a ghost town for the first time when the Mormon Church instructed members to form into larger towns of at least 159 to ward off attacks from the Native American tribes in the area.

Things settled down over the next couple of years and Grafton was resettled in 1868.

The schoolhouse was built in 1886 using lumber hauled for Mount Trumbull, a mere 75 miles away. The adobe building still stands in the center of the town.

The Old Schoolhouse

In 1906 the men of Grafton helped build the Hurricane Canal, which brought water from the Virgin River to the flat wide Hurricane bench area. Many of the families packed up everything, some including their houses, and moved to the more hospitable new town of Hurricane.

In the 1940’s the remaining settlers either passed or moved on leaving the ghost town of Grafton behind.

One of the remaining homes in Grafton

The town has been the set of several movies starting in 1929. They include:

In Old Arizona, 1929 (First talkie filmed outdoors) and nominated for five Academy Awards including best Picture. Starring Warner Baxter (who won the Academy Award for this role as The Cisco Kid), Raoul Walsh, Edmund Lowe, and Dorothy Burgess.

The Arizona Kid, 1930. Warner Baxter and Carole Lombard.

Ramrod, 1947. Starring Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Preston Foster, Charles Ruggles, Donald Crisp and Lloyd Bridges.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969. Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherine Ross (won four Academy Awards)

Child Bride of Short Creek, 1981. Diane Lane, Helen Hunt, Christopher Atkins, Conrad Bain.

The Red Fury, 1984. Wendy Lynne, Calvin Bartlett, Katherine Cannon, Juan Gonzales.