the "biggest skeptic around" until several years later when she personally saw what she believed to be the same ghost. From that moment on, Nicole has continued to see ghosts. In a recent Noblesville ghost tour, Nicole says that one even "slapped her on the neck."

In addition to telling stories, Nicole also undertakes more formal research into paranormal activities. To wit, she uses audio and video recording equipment (while downplaying the value of EMF detectors). Despite this empirical bent, she admits that there may be inherent difficulties in the scientific study of ghosts. "I’ll be the first to admit it, everything we deal with in paranormal research...we can’t test anything against anything else because for the most part...we can’t get things to recreate. ... I think we would like sometime to be able to carry on that conversation and 'pick the brain of a ghost,' so to speak, and to ask what is it like over there, and why can’t we capture you on film definitively, and why can’t you do the same thing twice, and why aren’t you guys coming out here to prove that you’re real..."

After our stop at the jail we circled the downtown square and Nicole told us similar ghost stories in front of businesses like Syd’s bar, Alexander’s ice cream parlor, and the Antiques Mall. In spite of the growing number of supernatural occurrences we heard about, it turns out that corporeal hazards are of greater concern to Nicole. "There are a lot of areas that we’d love to do tours in, but there are some areas that we will not walk in. And there are some areas that if we have not investigated something, or if we don’t have a first hand account of a fairly recent haunting, we’re not going to do a tour there. ... There are a few areas of Indianapolis that I would not take people through." I asked if she gets any unsavory characters on the tours, and she made it clear that the majority of people were quite friendly, but "We did have one group of people, near Halloween our second year, that came absolutely crocked to our tour, and they were very very 'happy' drunk, but they decided they would be 'non-rule-following' drunks, and so we have a very strict policy: if we think you’ve been drinking, and you’re going to be a problem, we have the right to kick you off. ... Yes, you do get some crackpots out there."

From the square we headed south towards a residential area. While stopped in front of a home to hear a story, a cat suddenly materialized and became interested in our group. A bit too interested, perhaps? I wondered aloud to Nicole: was there any significance to this? Nicole demurred, saying that there was nothing to it at all — it was just a cat. I must have been under the influence of Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery, thinking that this cat could have been like "Winston Churchill" (AKA Church), back from the dead. Despite Nicole’s reassurance, I still found this cat’s sudden appearance uncanny. But then again, I’m a dog person.

By then it was quite dark, just in time for a stroll through... a graveyard! Because really, what ghost tour worth its ectoplasm would not include a graveyard after dark?! This was my favorite part of the tour for several reasons:

As a favorite horror movie trope, graveyards are places foolish people go when they are about to be killed. Not that I wanted to be killed, but I had some fun imagining that I was unwittingly in a horror movie, and I could almost hear the voices of the audience, imploring, don’t go in there! And yet I still did, just like they do in the movies. Go figure.

Graveyards are inherently spooky. I don’t care if you’re Michael Shermer, walking into a graveyard after dark will get a few hairs to stand up on your neck.

And perhaps most obviously, there were dead bodies decomposing directly under our feet. Yes, yes, I can coolly claim skepticism, but standing in that graveyard after dark really did conjure up a wicked pastiche of b-horror movie scenes, imagery from gothic horror novels, and other macabre visions from what I’ll confess is a slightly overactive imagination. Despite all of this, I didn’t see any ghosts, or feel anything except the itch of mosquito bites on my legs. But Nicole later relayed to me that someone from our tour contacted her and said that she "saw something" while they were investigating a gravestone.

As I walked back to my car after the tour, I had the chance to talk with the "skeptical" mother and son on our tour about their experience. They were unconvinced, and remained deeply skeptical. I must admit, I too share their skepticism. But despite this, I still found the tour to be an enjoyable, offbeat way to spend a summer night in Indy.


1. Aug 10, 06 08:40 AM | Dustin said:

Great story -- I never knew these types of tours existed. Exactly the type of information IndyScribe is good for. Now I'm going to look into one of the Westfield tours. It turns out one of them is fairly close to my neighborhood, and it's interesting that the town is described on the website as "very haunted." Is there any truth to that, or is it simply marketing puffery designed to get me to sign up for the tour? I guess I might find out in a couple of weeks.

2. Aug 10, 06 09:01 PM | Jim Chalex said:

If you decide to go on the Westfield tour I hope you share your impressions, Dustin. Despite my skepticism going in (and leaving) the Noblesville tour, I had a good time -- mainly because of the historical and architectural information, as well as Nicole's friendly attitude.

3. Aug 15, 06 08:46 AM | Rachel Wolfe said:

Great article, Jim! I've taken ghost walks in York, England and Edinburgh, Scotland -- they're very fun, and I'll have to try one here. Even if you're a skeptic, I think the sheer storytelling aspect of a ghost tour is highly entertaining...

4. Aug 15, 06 10:43 AM | nolandda said:

This is a very fine article Mr Chalex. These operations are often treated very uncritically in the press. They are mostly harmless and let's face it running around spooky places in the dark is good fun. But the fluff articles about ghost tours commonly found in the entertainment section of newspapers contribute to that 51% that believe in ghosts. I am glad your article chose the skeptical point of view. The Indiana Skeptics salute you.

5. Oct 29, 06 09:50 PM | Paul D Coon said:

If you truly are skeptical then try spending at least two hours out a a place called Witches Bridge in Zionsville then e-mail me with your skepticism. I have seen things out there that would make your skin tingle.

6. Oct 30, 06 07:44 AM | Steph Mineart said:

If you decide to take Paul's challenge, Jim, I'll go with! Sounds like fun. Paul, you wouldn't have a google map location for that, would you?

7. Oct 30, 06 08:55 AM | Rachel Wolfe said:

Is that what's also known as "Screaming Bridge"? I heard stories about it when I was in high school--ghosts, Klan meetings, etc.

Edited to add: Check out this site -- it has a list of "haunted" places in the area...

8. Oct 30, 06 07:23 PM | bmundy said:

If anyone makes a trip to 'Screaming Bridge' be sure to bring an audio recorder. If you are able to record any spectral screams, I'd love to hear them :)

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