Tracking Down Spirits at a Former Indiana Train Station

Looking for things that go bump in the night is a serious, fact-finding endeavor for Mike McDowell, president of the Indiana Ghost Trackers.

Stories of possible haunting at the near-century-old former Pennsy Station, now used as Chamber of Commerce offices, bring the Highland resident to Hobart on a gloomy, rainy Monday afternoon.

“We’re here hoping to find proof,” McDowell said at the start of his investigation.

The tools of his trade include a recorder used to tape a series of questions asked of the possible spirit or spirits, a compass to determine if there is a shift in the magnetic field and other machines used to measure ion counts and even cold zones.

“Why are you here?” is just one of the questions McDowell asks on a recording he’ll later play back in amplified form on his home computer.

“Nothing jumps back at me yet,” he said of his initial investigation that includes the main level of the brick building and the cellar.

Mike Adams, the chamber’s executive director, said he’d like to have an explanation for some 50 unexplainable experiences he and his administrative assistant, Lisa Cavazos, have witnessed while working in the building off Lillian Street for close to two years.

“There might be some logical explanations,” Adams said. “Either way it adds character to Hobart. It’s fun.”

He and Lisa have heard their names being called when no one else is around. They’ve seen lights and a ceiling fan go off and on unexpectedly, and they’ve both had that eerie feeling that someone is watching them.

“There’s a general feeling of anxiety, especially if you go downstairs in the cellar,” Adams said.

People who used to work at the building when it was a gift shop have their own ghost stories to tell.

One woman, whose name The Times agreed not to use, said she was working in the building about 10 years ago and had already locked up when she saw something she can’t explain.

She said she saw a man dressed in old, worn-out boots, denim jeans and a duster coat standing inside the store.

“As I slowly lifted my head he kind of went away. I immediately knew what I’d seen, and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It was the most vivid thing, and I’ve never forgotten it even 10 years later,” she said.

Adams, a former U.S. Marine, said he’s not the type of person who could be called a believer in the supernatural.

“I’m generally an explainer and there’s some things I can’t explain,” he said.

Still, knowing the history of the former train station, a place where people said goodbye to loved ones who went off to war and never returned, it seems possible to him that spirits could remain.

“This is the logical place, in a railroad station with all that emotion,” Adams said.

And although McDowell said he won’t know if the old train station is haunted until he goes over his findings, Adams isn’t exactly comforted.

Adams said he wouldn’t agree to spend a night alone in the old train station for all the money in the world.

“I would choose not to,” he said.

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