Camp Ripley, MN, 2005
I was a supply sergeant in the Army National Guard at the time. We were at Camp Ripley, MN transferring equipment in preparation for a trip to Iraq. It was busy on camp, and the supply sergeants ended up staying in older buildings on post.
My building had two sides to it: The side we did business in, and the side that remained locked. I had keys for both, and had looked in the locked side of the building earlier to see if there were any tables or things I might use to make my stay a little cozier. There were some rough-looking tables, a few boxes of junk, and there was a chimney where once a wood or coal stove had been connected. I locked it up when I left.
We worked throughout the day, I and my armorer, Jerry. After things settled down, we set up overnight arrangements. He slept closer to the back door, and I had set up a bunk closer to the front. We each did some reading before shutting the lights out at 10 p.m. My mind was busy thinking about that day, and the upcoming day, when I heard a large bang. I thought it was Jerry up to something, but then I heard tables dragging along the floor. I looked at the clock and it was 10:15, and I wondered what Jerry was up to.
I sat up in bed and looked down the long room. I could see Jerry sitting up as well. I yelled, Is that you messing around? He said, No, I thought it was you. Then I heard what sounded like somebody bouncing a large ball against the side of the wall, from inside the locked room. We both jumped out of our bunks and I met him near his. I asked if he had been in there and then maybe left the door open, because I usually let him carry the building keys. He said he hadn't. I said, well, somebody's moving in. So we headed into the back hallway and to the door. It was still locked. Jerry looked at me hesitantly, and I told him to open it up. We stepped inside and hit the lights on.
I rushed in and quickly realized nobody was in the room. I backed off from the tables thinking there might by raccoons hiding in the piles of boxes. But then decided to poke into every box in the place. I wanted to know if there was a critter there or not. There wasn't. I checked the chimney and assured myself nothing would get in thru it either. It was a mystery.
We went to bed without another sound to be heard. We worked another day, and didn't think much about it. Did not even talk about it. That night, we followed a similar protocol, reading, lights out at ten. That's when the episode of the evening before came back to me. I lay there quietly in my bunk with a smile on my face, thinking, wouldn't that be weird.
At 10:15 the smile was wiped off my face. The most amazing racket started up in the other room. Tables being drug around, banging on the walls so loud it sounded like horse hooves kicking the wall. I did not pause this time. I jumped out of bed, grabbed the keys from Jerry. I told him to go outside to the front door and make sure no one came out that way. Then I rushed to the back door, all the while the noises continued. I opened the door, hit the lights and rushed inside.
All was suddenly quiet. I went to the front door and let Jerry in. Anything he asks. No, nothing I replied. We searched the room once again, there really was not much in there. We decided it was something more than we could explain. We went back to our side of the building, and slept peacefully as it remained quiet the rest of the night.
I wrote this off as a residual paranormal activity since it happened repeatedly and at the same time each night. Although, looking back, there was a soldier who came to our office on the second day we were there. He was so frustrated that he kicked the garbage can. Paranormal activity often feeds off the energy in its surroundings, and I can't help but wonder if the increased activity that second night wasn't due to that soldier's negative energies.
On This Page 10:15, Footsteps, Deer Camp Ghost
The old house had a beating heart of its own. It had been through hell, figuratively speaking, when fire destroyed a portion of it back in the Forties. The fire caused the death of one child. At least three others had died over the years in that same house. Leap forward to the early Eighties. A young lad comes to stay. His uncle runs to town to visit his girlfriend, but promises to take him fishing early the next morning. The lad sports a big smile. He knows his uncle will not let him down. He listens to the car pull out of the driveway. And for a moment, all is completely silent.
As anyone knows who has lived in an old house, silence never lasts long. Old houses creak, they groan and they breathe. This old house took things a step farther, excuse my pun. In the darkness of night, footsteps sounded from the upstairs rooms where nothing but a few storage boxes and old shoes were kept. So frightening were the creaks and noises, that the young lad kept the volume up on the television to drown it out until his uncle came home. Then he'd shut the television off quick and jump to the couch to feign being asleep.
This occurred a few times over the years, but with each time, the young lad got older and braver. He asked questions about those who had passed in that house, and found that one of them was his own grandfather. And in time . . . he still kept the volume up on the television to drown out the sounds until his uncle came home.
You know what you experienced, & you know you're not crazy
Deer Camp Ghost
Grand Rapids, MN, 2012
The twelve-by-sixteen pine-walled shack heated up fast, and by the time I was washing the supper dishes - not an easy task without running water - I was down to a t-shirt. It had been a long day on the deer stand, but the cold and stiffness from sitting ten hours had already disappeared from my bones. The heat of the wood fire and the grilled pork chop dinner helped with that.
Jimmy and my son rested their full stomachs fifteen feet away on the couch, and attempted to keep their tired eyes open just enough to hear my suggestions for the next day’s hunt. I was facing them, dish towel dangling from my fingers, when a loud clank sounded behind me.
Startled, I quickly whipped around to see what had fallen. It took me a few seconds, but then I saw the old tin soup can laying kiddywampus on the counter top. This soup can, which held a bar of soap, had been sitting on a small shelf on the wall for as long as I can remember. The intent was to wash up in the sink, then put the soap bar in the can where the wet, sudsy thing couldn’t make a mess. But we never used it in later years. It was easier to wash your hands with dish soap; squirt a little on your hands, rinse and be done. Like I said, the lack of running water influenced many activities at our shack up in the aspen woods of Northern Minnesota.
I suppose you are wondering why I keep that old tin soup can with the soap bar around if I never use it.
I can still remember the day he pulled that tin can out of his travel case, showed it to me, then clanked it twice against the porcelain sink before dropping the soap bar into it. He didn’t need to say a word. It was obvious. I had just nodded my head, and responded with something like, ‘good idea.’ That one moment and the attached memory of my uncle, gave that can its initial attachment to the cabin, to go along with its purpose.
My uncle and I (and others) had a lot of good weekends hunting and fishing at the cabin over the next eleven years. That tin can with the bar of soap got a lot of use in those early years. It wasn’t until after my uncle died that it became more of an heirloom. There are several items around the cabin that carry that same respect; the tin soup can with the soap bar just one of many.
Anyhow, I picked the soup can up from the countertop – the soap didn’t even fall out – and replaced it back on the shelf. I took a glance back at the boys, and they responded naturally with an oooo. ‘Might be a ghost,’ Jimmy said with a laugh. To that I commented over my shoulder, it very well might be.
At this point, I will briefly say that I am somewhat astonished at the number of people whom I have met over the years while spending time at our cabin . . . and whom are now all dead. I framed pictures of some of the closer friends and put them up in the cabin. It got to the point where it began to get a little creepy. One hunting partner even said to me, you will not put a picture of me up in this cabin.
Before bed, I lit the kerosene lamp by the stove – to leave a light glow in the room just in case anyone needed to make their way to the bathroom during the night – outside. I also turned off the radio, and stoked the fire good in hopes that it would last late into the night. It does get a little warm at first, so I usually crack the window a finger-widths distance, half inch or less. Then I crawled into my bunk and faded off to sleep to the sound of the ticking clock.
Around three in the morning, I heard Jimmy get up and go outside to relieve himself. Soon after, my son jumped out of his bunk. I heard him leave the bunk room and head into the main room, where I heard him talking to someone. I assumed it was Jimmy who must have already made his way back from some tree at the edge of the woods. I heard my son get back into bed, and thinking there was nothing more worthy of me staying awake, I quickly drifted back to sleep.
The next morning I awoke, first as usual, and headed into the kitchen to heat water on the stove. I noticed the window was over half open. I asked the other fellas - as they crawled out of their sleeping bags - which of them had gotten hot during the night. They asked why. I told them I found the window wide open. Neither of them claimed responsibility.
My son then asked Jimmy if it hadn’t been him, since he had seen someone sitting in the chair during the night.
My friend replied with a large, huh?
My son repeated the story of how he had awoken during the night to the sound of someone moving inside the cabin (which was Jimmy heading to the bathroom as I had awakened as well). In his tired confusion, my son jumped out of bed thinking it was time to get up and go hunting. He stepped into the main cabin, and saw the dark figure of someone sitting in the chair just beneath the open window. He didn’t recognize the person in the dark; only assumed it to be one of us. He asked the person if it was time to get up. The person in the chair did not answer. So, my son looked around and realized that it could not be time to get up yet, assumed it was one of us sitting there cooling off, and went back to bed.
After listening to this, I suddenly realized the hair was standing up on my arms.
I could tell by the look in Jimmy’s eyes that he had no idea what my son was talking about, and he quickly confirmed it by telling us it hadn’t been him in the chair. He had gone outside to the bathroom, but upon completion of his late night task, had hustled back into the cabin and into bed, never stopping at the chair, never seeing or talking to my son or anyone else going in either direction.
I told them I had woken briefly, enough to hear my son talking to someone in the main cabin, but then had fallen back to sleep.
It is funny looking back on how easily we dismissed the strange occurrence. Not a one of us admitted to sitting in the chair under the open window that night, and all exclaimed that it wasn’t in their nature to sleep walk. Then who was it?
Had someone crawled inside the window, only to get caught but hoped that he wouldn’t be seen in the murky darkness?
Or had it been a different kind of visitor? One who appears only briefly, when our attention isn’t fully focused, when the darkness hides portions of its body, or one that is merely only a shadow anyway?
Like I have mentioned in other stories, there have been additional experiences at the cabin over the years - the strange and unexplained ones. Perhaps it is my uncle stopping in each fall to be around for the hunt. Or perhaps it is my old neighbor who often stopped by for coffee.
I will paraphrase what my wife had to say about it: I am sure glad those strange happenings only occur in the fall when it’s just the boys up there, because I don’t want anything to do with it.