Former Train Depot Still Has A Few Lingering Spirits

There were no "proton packs" in sight when a team of paranormal investigators gathered Saturday night to hunt spirits at the Depot Restaurant and Lounge on North Front Street. Nor were there any Peter Venkmans, for that matter. Venkman was the lovable, for-the-fun-of-it, Ghostbuster played by Bill Murray.

This team was more like a bunch of Egon Spenglers. Spengler, you'll recall, was the strait-laced Ghostbuster whose idea of a good time is to "collect spores, molds and fungus" for his research.

"We're all about trying to do it as scientifically as possible," said Nick Page, the barrel-chested, goateed young man checking the walls with an EMF detector.

With its computers, electro-magnetic field detectors and digital recording equipment, the team at the depot was definitely more Egon than Peter.

Calling themselves The PAST is Present -- PAST stands for Paranormal and Spirit Team -- the 15 people who gathered after the restaurant closed took their ghost hunting pretty seriously.

"We have the same drive to find data (as any scientist)," said Andrea Hinojosa, a 30-year-old Yakima County building and fire-safety worker. "We take all of the religious aspects out of it. We don't do any séances or anything like that."

"No Ouija boards," added Leah Lichtenberg, a 40-year-old freelance cemetery photographer from West Pasco.

Basically what the group does is set up a bunch of recording equipment -- video, audio, temperature, electro-magnetic -- and then spends the middle of the night trying to draw out any spirits. They were invited to the Depot by Karl Pasten, the restaurant's owner, who said his employees have reported strange sights and sounds in the century-old building.

"Some of that could be poor wiring," said Pasten, a self-described skeptic.

But he figured it would be interesting to see what the group could find.

"We've all heard weird music in the building," he said.

Alas, the ghost-hunters would not allow reporters and photographers to follow them throughout the investigation. It will be a week before they can analyze all of the data and determine if there was anything interesting, anyway. And the presence of extra people and cameras could provide false readings on the equipment, they said.

"To have solid evidence, we need to have a very controlled environment," Page said.


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