Porter County is a rich source of ethereal encounters for the Indiana Ghost Trackers, according to the members of the group.
The group will do its second round of tours of Maplewood Cemetery in Valparaiso in September, and they have visited City Hall, the old Porter County jail, the Porter County Home and other locations, including people's homes and the Chellberg Farm and Bailly Homestead.
They've done investigations and held talks and tours at Val's Famous Pizza in Chesterton, which is reputed to be haunted by a past owner. During a recent public talk attended by about 60 people, ghost tracker leader Mike McDowell said he led nine separate groups on tours of the basement.
McDowell said some had recorders and others had cameras, and he said almost every group found evidence of something or someone that wasn't supposed to be there.
"We still go to the site of the old Porter County Home, where some ghosts still linger (although the building is torn down). It was very active when the building was still there," McDowell said. "People have gotten pictures of misty shapes that look like a human figure. The chapel is still there, and someone got an apparition of a man's face."
One member of the group stopped at the home and got apparent ghostly responses simply by sticking her recorder out the car window and asking questions.
"The state of mental health care wasn't very pretty in those days, and some of those patients are still there," McDowell said.
He said the old county jails in Crown Point and Valparaiso have yielded good results, and he felt something push him while visiting a prison in West Virginia, where more than 1,000 deaths reportedly occurred. But it was while visiting a home in Valparaiso, where a murder occurred, that he received what he said was "a nasty reaction from something."
"We do what we can to help people out in situations like that," he said. "Usually what we come in contact with are simply deceased people. We don't want to get involved with the negative stuff. I've seen a lot of stuff over the years, and some of it's a bit out there. It's been quite an adventure."