It's a busy time of year for ghosts.
People like Mike McDowell, owner of Chaos Haunted Tours, march groups through old buildings and cemeteries, using recorders to pick up unheard voices and cameras to capture orbs and spectral beings.
The growing number of ghost hunting television shows has made the hunt more socially acceptable than when he started 15 years ago.
"People have seen so much of this on television, they kind of know what to expect," McDowell said.
But seeing it on TV is different than experiencing it firsthand.
McDowell recalled an incident from a couple of years ago. It was a dark and rainy night in a Valparaiso-area cemetery. As the visit concluded and the group made its way to the bus, a man in the back was panting, saying he would never visit a cemetery again.
"The guy was, like, panicked," McDowell said. "Even if he was acting, he couldn't have acted that well."
The man had been standing in the back of the cemetery, and the EMF meter (which detects electromagnetic field changes) in his hands lit red.
He looked up and saw a figure in dark clothing and a hat. The EMF meter rolled back to zero, and the figure disappeared.
McDowell can't guarantee a ghost sighting on every tour, but visitors will hear a good story. Northwest Indiana is rich in history and folklore, he said.
"There are a lot of really cool things that have happened in our past," McDowell said. "Even if people don't believe in ghosts, there's still the aspect of the folklore."
The four-hour bus tours are $30 per person, which includes bus transportation and costs associated with visiting the locations.
Lake County stops include the old court house and jail in Crown Point, Kahler Middle School in Dyer, the circus train wreck in Hammond and more. Visitors on the Porter County tour will see the old jail museum, Sunset Hill Farm and downtown Valparaiso hauntings, among other stops.
The company offers a midnight special tour, in which a group visits one site from midnight to 4 a.m. The week leading to Halloween will include ghost hunts in Region cemeteries and a seance on Halloween night.
McDowell also offers the Dark Shores Tour, which leaves from Chesterton and includes a search for Diana of the Dunes and phantom stagecoaches. One of the most popular tours is the pub crawl, where the group ducks into bars that have a haunted history.
The tours are seasonal, operating in October and early November. But, McDowell said people can book private tours year round.
For those willing to drive a little farther, a number of Chicago companies offer tours, including Chicago Ghost Investigations. The company bills itself as "Chicago's Only Interactive Ghost Tour." Tours, at $50, are offered year round.
Brian Maloy, lead investigator, CEO and founder of the company, said guests get a 40-minute crash course on communicating with spirits and using equipment to detect the presence of a ghost. Teams split up in the basement of the building, which once served as an Al Capone hangout. They regroup after a two-hour investigation and compare findings.
One woman recently communicated with her mom who had died in a 1996 car crash, Maloy said. Another tour member snapped a photo of what appears to be an apparition of a man in a suit.
Ursula Bielski's Chicago Hauntings and Weird Chicago Tours also offer visits to some of Chicago's most haunted sites.