Saturday, September 20, 2014

The I-35 Bridge and A Miracle

The I-35W Mississippi River Bridge, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was an 8-lane, steel truss arch bridge that carried Interstate traffic across Saint Anthony Falls at the Mississippi River.

During afternoon rush hour on August 1, 2007 this bridge suddenly collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145 more.

This bridge was Minnesota’s fifth busiest bridge, carrying 140,000 vehicles daily.

Ninety-three people were recued from the bridge after the collapse including a school bus with 50 children on board. This bus miraculously rode the concrete on the way down without tipping. No one on board was injured.

At the time of the collapse construction was underway on I-35, this slowed traffic down which resulted in many cars being on the bridge at the same time.

This extra weight and a flaw in the bridge’s initial design are cited for being the cause of this catastrophe.

Mathew’s Miracle

Mathew on Aug. 1st was headed toward the I-35 bridge to pick up a friend that lived on the other side. Because of the construction he was caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Mathew had been going through some hard times recently and being a man of faith he took the slowed traffic as an opportunity to pray for help.

Within seconds of his prayer he saw a “vision.” In it he saw the bridge shaking and then it collapsed. Confused he spoke out loud, “What is this? You need to talk to me.”

Then he heard a loud “STOP!”

At this point he was 100 feet away from the bridge. The voice told him, “You need to stop right here.”

Mathew recalls he resisted for there was an endless line of cars behind him. But he gave in and stopped. Several people behind started to honk their horns repeatedly.

The voice reassured him that everything was okay, that he needed to remain where he was. Then he heard the voice say, “Look.”

Several cars behind him moved to go around him when they came within 20 feet of the bridge it snapped and then collapsed. Mathew saw 2 cars go off the edge.

In shock, he got out of his car and walked over to look down. Several people approached him and said, “Thank you.”

It took several days for Mathew to comprehend what had actually happened for he was traumatized by what he had seen.

He realized that if he had not listened to the voice he would have been on the bridge when it collapsed--not to mention many of the cars that were stopped behind him.

He now often gives a silent prayer of thanks.

Casper’s Ivy House Inn

Casper Wyoming

Built in 1916 this beautiful Cape Cod style home is located in Casper, Wyoming. Mr. and Mrs. White had their roomy 3-story house built near the Rocky Mountains.

In the 1940’s they had two grand porches added to their home. Mrs. White died in 1995 at the age of 93.

In 1996, Tom and Kathy Johnson bought the home with plans to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast.

Ivy House
Neither believed in ghosts but they quickly changed their minds.

A Strong Presence

Mrs. White was known to be controlling while alive and in death this did not change.

As the Johnson’s renovated the old home Mrs. White let them know when she was unhappy with the changes.

Renovated Ivy House Inn
At one point as Tom was using a power drill it stopped working. He turned around to see the cord hanging in mid air before it dropped to the floor. On another occasion he saw his hammer move on its own out of the room he was working in.

These experiences changed Tom’s outlook on life and he became a paranormal investigator. The Johnson’s have allowed nine different teams to investigate their inn.

Guest Reports

Since the Bed and Breakfast has opened Mrs. White has been active on a regular basis. She particularly does not like guests to smoke or drink in her home.

Her two Siamese cats also haunt the home. Several guests have reported seeing them running throughout the inn. One female guest stated that a cat slept with her on the end of the bed. She reported it purred contentedly the whole night.

Another ghost seen at the inn is a man. He is often seen in the back parking lot. The inn’s alarm goes off repeatedly in this area. The Johnsons wonder if this might be Mr. White.

One guest reported seeing a male figure by her bed. She then heard him say, “Isn’t it funny how people get lost?”

1 of 5 bedrooms at inn.
In one downstairs bedroom guests all report having the same dream. It involves a young man who wanders back and forth between the closet and the sink.


But with all this activity it is felt Mrs. White makes the most appearances.

Many guests have reported as they walk though the inn they smelled old-fashioned aromas. These include: old menthol cold medication, the aroma of baking chocolate and the odor of a scouring pad on a skillet.

Mrs. White’s ghost is seen in mirrors, at windows and she is seen walking down a hall and walking through walls.

Guests report they heard someone knocking at their doors but when they went to answer it no one was there. Others report if they took their time answering the door they saw the doorknob twist.

It appears Mrs. White likes attention. Several photographs taken at the inn have an extra figure in them--Mrs. White.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle

Over the years a lot has been written about the Bermuda Triangle, which is more infamously known as the Devil’s Triangle.

This triangle is located in the western part of the north Atlantic. The area is called a triangle because it encompasses 3 vertices that include Miami, Florida, San Juan, Puerto Rico and the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda.

This small patch of ocean has been blamed for hundreds of shipwrecks, plane crashes and mysterious disappearances.

Over the years many theories have been put forth in an attempt to solve what was considered in the 1970s a scary mystery.

Today, over 40 years later some state that most of the stories written about these lost wrecks, crashes and disappearances were inaccurate or embellished. In some cases this is true in others it is not.

Scientific Theories

Over the years there have been many debates as to the cause of all these accidents and disappearances.

Excluding human error--most theories that have been put forth involve some kind of environmental force that made ships’ and planes’ compasses or navigational equipment malfunction, which caused them to go off course and become lost.

The list of the possible causes is too long so instead here is one of the most intriguing theories.

Dr. Richard Mclver an American geochemist and Dr. Ben Chennell of Leeds University in England purpose that Methane hydrates, which are sediments that bubble up from the ocean floor might cause ships to disappear.

Landslides on the ocean floor can release vast amounts of this gas--which would be disastrous because it could significantly reduce the density of the water.

What this means is it could make any ship floating above sink like a rock. This gas could also cause plane engines to ignite--causing them to explode.

Paranormal Theories

In past years there were so many spooky stories and theories told about the triangle that people literally became afraid to travel through this area.

Stories of alien UFO abductions and other paranormal phenomenon became as varied as the scientific theories.

The stories told of disappearances in the triangle, such as the Carroll A. Deering in 1921, and an entire squadron of Naval planes in 1945 fueled these more unconventional theories.

One stark example of this follows...

An English psychiatrist, Dr. Kenneth McAll put forth a theory in a book he wrote that the souls of black slaves had cursed the triangle and their spirits still haunt the area.

While traveling by ship across the triangle McAll stated that he and the crew heard continuous mournful singing everywhere on the vessel but they could find no discernable source for it.

He later did research and discovered the it was in the triangle region where 18th century English sea captains defrauded insurance companies by tossing African slaves into the ocean to drown and then cashed in on the claims.

Simplest Theory

Skeptics state that there is no mystery connected to the Bermuda Triangle.

They propose a simple explanation. The triangle is a relatively small region that has some of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world.

Because of this it should not be surprising that a large number of accidents occur in the area.

I must note here that vessels started to disappear in this region long before the area was heavily used.

Another problem with this theory is it does not explain why many of these 100s of planes and large ships, over more than a century, just disappeared without a trace.

The Wreck of the Mataafa

For those in peril on the sea…

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For these in peril on the sea!

         William Whitney, Eternal Father, Strong to Save, 1860

Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world.

This lake is used to transport goods, fishermen harvest its bounty, sportsman scuba dive and leisure boats enjoy its clear surface on sunny days.

But seasoned sailors know that Lake Superior has a treacherous side. Its rocky shores, hidden reefs and violent storms have claimed hundreds of boats and ships and thousands of lives.

Some believe that not all these unfortunate souls rest in peace.

An Accident

Howard as a young child had a near death experience where he almost drowned.

He was attending summer camp in Minnesota when he sank beneath the surface of a small lake--at first unnoticed by the lifeguard.

He panicked as he first hit the cold water but within moments he slipped into a warm dreamlike state. He then saw his grandparents beckoning to him. They wanted him to join them.

He then felt strong reassuring arms bring him to the surface where cold and blue he was unceremoniously dragged to shore.

Howard never told anyone except close family members about what he saw beneath the water that day. His family insisted after this he become a strong swimmer.

As it turned out this was not the last time he would see spirits beneath water.

When Howard grew up he became convinced that his near drowning had made him more sensitive to the presence of spirits.

Unforgiving Storms

In November hurricanes hit Lake Superior.

This is when the lake produces its most powerful icy winds and freezing waves, which rarely have pity or mercy for man. In 1905, the lake took more than 60 men--the highest recorded.

One of the ships that Lake Superior claimed that year was the Mataafa.

 A Fatal Decision

The Mataafa weighted 4,800 tons and was 430 feet long--it was an iron ore freighter.

On November 28th the captain despite the fact a storm was gathering decided to depart Duluth harbor. He was towing the consort barge James NasmythHis ship had barely made it to open water when he decided he had made a big mistake. The James Nasmyth was left at anchor. *

As the rain blinded his view the captain attempted to maneuver his ship around. As he did this enormous waves slammed into her side.

The currents at the entrance to the harbor pushed the Mataafa off course.

Her hull hit bottom and then she smashed into a pier. This force flooded the engines’ boilers with water. As these fires went out it left the ship powerless and drifting.

Four of the 24-member crew lashed themselves to the ship afraid they would be swept overboard.

An estimated 10,000 horrified people in Duluth witnessed this wreck. They watched helpless as the stranded vessel was just out of reach and hope.

By dawn of the 29th, nine of the crew had either drowned or were frozen and battered to death. The rest were rescued.

The aftermath of the wreck.
The storm that hit that November day is known as the Mataafa Blow.

* The James Nasmyth survived the storm intact.

A Scuba Dive

The wreck of the Mataafa is in shallow water close to the Duluth shore in three pieces.

Howard and a group of friends decided to dive and explore this wreck. He came to regret this decision. Underneath the water near this wreak he experienced what he described “as the fright of his life.”

Afterwards he vowed he would never dive in open water again.

For what he had seen was four sailors tied securely to the ship as it sank into the lake. A century after these four men died an agonizing death, Howard saw them straining against their bonds. They were screaming in terror as the ship carried them beneath the icy waves.

His friends that dove with him that day saw nothing.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scottish Highland Ghost

The Laird of Balavil, Allan Macpherson-Fletcher lives in a home that has been in his family since the 1790s.

Balavil Estate

Balavil was designed and built by Robert Adam for a wealthy Georgian, James Macpherson who made his fortune from the East India Company.

Later, the estate survived because a “good marriage” was made with a family that had attained their fortune during the Industrial Revolution.

Balaval today has 18 bedrooms, a large dining room, a gunroom, updated kitchen and no central heating. The estate includes 7,000 acres.

The Balaval estate was made famous when it was featured as Kilwillie Castle in the popular British television drama, Monarch of the Glen.

The Macphersons are the last of the old families in the great house of strathspey.

Most of the neighboring estates in the Central Highland near Inversness have already been sold off to billionaires from around the world.

These landlords who spend only 2 to 3 weeks out of the year at these estates are liked by the Scottish for they employ many locals year-round to maintain these properties inside and out.

During an interview with The Telegraph in 2013 Allan Macpherson-Fletcher announced he has put his estate up for sale, which means an end to an era in the Central Highlands.

 The Laird

Allan Macpherson while studying agriculture at Aberdeen University did not intend to become the Laird of Balavil.

But when the A9 had plans to built through the estate his elderly Aunt Peg begged him to help out. When she died he took over.

He fell in love with a local widow who was the daughter of a shooting tenant at Balavil. His wife Marjorie and him have 5 children and have been married for 38 years.

Macpherson has worked to maintain the estate as a commercial operation for the last 40 years.

In its heyday in the 1930s the estate had a carpenter, two foresters, four games keepers, six gardeners and eight farm staff. There was also fourteen staff in the house to look after the family.

During the seven seasons Monarch of the Glen was filmed at Balavil the 1000 pound daily fee helped the estate keep going.

These days Macpherson has a housekeeper and one gamekeeper. He brings in additional staff only when needed. Macpherson, who is 63 years old, is the estates’ gardener and landscaper.

He hopes to sale the estate for over 7 million pounds and plans to build a house for him and Marjorie on a corner of the estate and split the sale price between his children.

He is not sad about letting the estate go for his children have other plans.

The Estate’s Ghost

Macpherson mentions whomever buys the estate will also inherit the home’s friendly ghost.

The presence of this female ghost was first noticed while renovating the home’s kitchen. They opened a small room that had been sealed off under this room.

The ghosts name is Sarah and she has caused quite a stir over the years.

Her name is known for she at one time was a maid in the home. She fell in love with the butler but he felt she was beneath him in station.

Devastated, Sarah then threw herself from a bridge into the Raitts Burn--taking her own life.

The laird describes Sara as “kindly and well-meaning.” The family has never felt threatened by her.

She is not a traditional house ghost. She does not rattle the china or turn the lights on and off.

She instead has often folded discarded clothes left by guests of the estate. They wake to find their clothes neatly folded on the edge of their beds.

For the family she often turns the coffee pot on in the early morning and stokes the fire in the kitchen on bitterly cold days.

Twice she has been blamed for the wallpaper peeling off in one bathroom. She turned the hot water taps on and let them run full blast.

While The Telegraph crew were taping the interview with Macpherson the batteries in their microphone inexplicably went dead each time he mentioned Sarah.