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Christmas Gift Guide

Dining room at Tally Ho

Tally Ho bar

Motion sensor camera

Live surveillance camera

Simple tech of ghost hunting

Watching a live video ghost vigil

Burial cairn or pile of rocks?

Holy Hill looms over Tally Ho

ERIN, Wisc.--When investigators from Washington County Paranormal investigated alleged ghostly activity at the Tally Ho tavern about 30 minutes northwest of Milwaukee, they took along a collection of consumer gadgets to record the possible ghostly evidence.

A primary target for the ghost hunters' investigations was the main dining room at the Tally Ho. The lights were dimmed for the night vigil conducted by this group of average, working folks who share an interest in the paranormal.

Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Kitchen staff and bartenders at the Tally Ho tavern say bottles, cans, and knives fly off the shelves at the "haunted" bar and restaurant. Washington County Paranormal investigators used the bar as their HQ during their nighttime vigil (they kept it dry).
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET

Motion sensor cameras like this one snap a brightly lit photo of whatever trips the invisible laser beam it projects. Unfortunately, it had the night off during the vigil I joined at the Tally Ho tavern.

This unit is set to look up the stairs toward the pub's upper living quarters, where the ghost of Emily--supposedly an ill-fated young lady who died under suspicious circumstances on the property during its days as a brothel and boarding house--is said to reside.

Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Ghost investigators can't be everywhere at once in a multiroom haunted house. So Washington County Paranormal spook hunters set up live security surveillance cameras--like this Clover standard-definition closed-circuit unit waiting to be deployed--to watch for odd activity in otherwise-empty rooms.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET

Some of the most common ghost-hunting tools include consumer-grade digital cameras; remote digital thermometers (to detect supernatural cold patches); digital voice recorders (to record electronic voice phenomena); and electromagnetic field detectors. On the night of the Tally Ho vigil, none of these gadgets captured proof of spirits.

There is no uniformity in brand name or technical specifications. The selection is what the members manage to cobble together, which limits some of the group's scientific capabilities.

Note: The glow in the bottom right is not a spirit orb. It's a result of taking photographs in absolute darkness while trying to suppress the flash.

Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Once ghost investigators set up their live surveillance camera and motion detectors, they feed all the images back to a multichannel video splitter to record everything those cameras see for review after the vigil is over. This monitor screen sits atop of the bar in the Tally Ho's main dining room--the center of activity (and, supposedly, spiritual energy) in the building.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
This pile of rocks is said by some to be the basement grave of Emily, who, legend has it, was an ill-fated prostitute from the Tally Ho tavern's distant past. Sadly, the paranormal investigators had nothing capable of looking through stone and cement, and the Tally Ho's owners are reluctant to tear up their basement floor.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
A spooky castle (or church) helps lend a little atmosphere to the surrounding woods for any ghost-infested structure. Here, the Holy Hill shrine dominates the horizon as seen from the door of the "haunted" Tally Ho tavern. There's no gadget here, but it's a damn fine photograph.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
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