Virginia City in top three for most haunted town contest

Courtesy Debbie Bender

Courtesy Debbie Bender

Virginia City is in the running for being named America's most haunted town by the SyFy Channel, and Northern Nevada residents can help make in No. 1 by casting their votes before Oct. 31.

Tomas Cruz and Debbie Bender, partners in Virginia City's Bats in the Belfry ghost walking tours submitted the entry, and were delighted to learn that the little Old West town on the Comstock had crept into the top three. Other top contenders are Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, GA.

Results of the channel's promotion, "America's Hometown Ghost Hunt," will be announced on Halloween night. The show can be seen on Wednesday nights.

According to the SyFy website, The Atlantic Paranormal Society was looking for the most haunted town in America and selected its top three.

In describing Virginia City, Cruz wrote: "This small Nevada city has a storied past, which includes paranormal sightings across town. Various ghosts have been said to welcome guests at the town's Visitors Center, while St. Mary's Art Center, once used as a hospital in the 1800s, is believed to have patients who never left. And once, a full-bodied apparition was spotted on the grounds of the Mackay Mansion by a group of 10 witnesses."

Diamond Jim (aka Daniel Carvallo), a liaison to the visitor's center from the Virginia City Convention and Visitor's Bureau's, said he tries to get everyone with whom he talks to go the website at to vote up to 10 times.

"We have a whole lot of activity up here," Jim said. "I didn't believe in ghosts before, but this town is full of spirits."

He describes a personal encounter he had with a ghost who lives in his house on L Street.

"My wife had a psychic come in who told us we had a spirit living there named Annetta who loves the color yellow, so we always put yellow flowers in the window," he said.

"One day, I was alone in the house doing the dishes when I distinctly felt a finger poke my back. I turned around and there was no one there, but a little while later, I realized I was wearing a bright yellow T-shirt," Jim said.

Bender said Virginia City definitely deserves to win.

"This is the only place I've ever heard of where every building has someone who has had a paranormal experience," she said. "The experiences run the gamut from full-body apparitions, to having objects move around, to hearing people walking around, but no one is there."

She said she and her partner have been conducting the tours almost three years, and "we've investigated just about every hot spot in Virginia City for paranormal activity."

"We've got great EVP (electric voice phenomenon) where you'll hear responses to questions or strange voices, I've had handprints on my pants and seen chairs move." she said.

"Tom saw a full-body apparition known as 'The Cowboy' dressed in black with a duster on in the back of the Washoe Club near the haunted museum, and got a picture of 'Lena, the Lady in Blue' on the spiral staircase at the same place. I didn't see her until I took the picture, and there she was, looking right at me. If you look closely, you can see her hair and the toes of her right foot," she said.

"That's the Holy Grail of paranormal photos. I will probably never in my life take a picture like that again," Bender said.

Those who would like to schedule a Halloween weekend ghost tour can go to Tours will be offered at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 28, 29, 30 and 31.

The city that wins the SyFy contest gets bragging rights, of course, but also will have their whole town investigated by the TAPS team, Bender said.


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