Matthew Renda

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January 9, 2012
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Ghost detectives target Nevada County

Nationwide television audiences will soon find out what many local residents already suspect - western Nevada County is haunted.

With several historic buildings that date back to the California's Gold Rush era, such structures are an ideal host for ghosts, according to experts on paranomal activity.

So much so, that a pair of TV production companies has selected two separate historic hotels as sets for their documented investigations into the paranormal.

Zak Bagans, host of "Ghost Adventures," a weekly paranormal TV series that has run on the Travel Channel since October of 2008, was at The National Hotel in Nevada City with a full television production crew Monday.

The show is produced by MY-Tupelo Entertainment and the group was interested in the Nevada City site due to its reputation as a hot-bed for restless spirits.

"It's cool here," Bagans said. "I love mining towns. The first show we shot was in Virginia City, (Nev.) They're always very active."

Bagans was at the National Hotel filming interviews with local ghost-story teller Mark Lyon, who called his involvement with the show "very interesting." Bagans was also interviewing some employees who claim to have had brushes with the paranormal.

"I've seen, heard and felt ghosts for a lot of years," said Laraine Sheriff, who works at the National's registration desk. "It's no big deal, I like working here and I like the history of this place."

Bagans and his crew also visited the Stonehouse, said proprietor Nikko Wu, where a series of underground passageways are reputed to contain the spirits of Chinese slaves that perished in a mine collapse.

"(The film crew members) were a fun group of people and they were pretty brave," she said.

Wu said the crew brought a device capable of picking up sounds and attested to hearing various echoes and words issuing from some of the dark mazelike corridors under the Nevada City business.

"They were here for two hours," Wu said. "It was very exciting."

Bagans said the episode featuring Nevada City is tentatively scheduled to air this spring.

Ian Garfinkel, owner of the Holbrooke Hotel, announced that his establishment will be rented out by a Texas-based television production company for a television pilot that also deals with paranormal activity.

The show, which is presently titled "From the Cradle to the Grave," will focus on some of the alleged activity of shades in the historic Grass Valley hotel, according to its producer Lisa Austin, who works with Texas Outback Productions.

Austin plans on shooting the pilot and pitching it to various TV networks.

"At this point, it is more common to have material in hand to show to cable networks," she said. "Our show will be a little different in that it will feature female investigators. Studies show that females are more inclined to believe in paranormal activity and ghosts and you know what they say about female intuition."

Garfinkel confirmed the production company will rent out the entire hotel in early February.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

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The Union Updated Jan 9, 2012 08:59PM Published Jan 9, 2012 08:51PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.