Apparitions, auras and anomalies, oh my! Paranormal conference returns to Virginia City

A tour of the Washoe Club in Virginia City will be one of the events during the 3rd annual Saint Mary's ParaCon taking place later this month.

A tour of the Washoe Club in Virginia City will be one of the events during the 3rd annual Saint Mary's ParaCon taking place later this month.

The ghosts and apparitions that hang out in Virginia City’s historic buildings will have a host of special guests this month.

Experts and those interested in the paranormal will gather April 12 through the haunting hours of April 14 for the third annual Saint Mary’s ParaCon in Comstock town.

“Virginia City, Nevada, everybody just loves it. It’s the whole deal,” said Douglas M. Carnahan, the conference organizer and a paranormal investigator who has appeared on television and radio shows. “People say it’s the top para-conference on the West Coast.”

Ten paranormal investigators, researchers, speakers and television/radio personalities are scheduled to give presentations during the event, which also includes tours of the Washoe Club and the historic Saint Mary Louise Hospital — now Saint Mary’s Art and Retreat Center.

“Everybody speaking is very, very well-known in their field and have been in the field a long time,” said Carnahan, whose experience with the paranormal began nearly 30 years ago with dark side of phenomena.

“I’m an extreme-haunting survivor,” he said. “I was physically attacked in my home (by an apparition).”

Today, he investigates paranormal situations, especially dark cases. He has appeared on programs such as the “Today” show, Discover Channel’s “Weird, True and Freaky” and A&E Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story.” For the past five years he has had a paranormal show, “The Haunted Truth,” on Paranormal Radio.

But Carnahan said what he really enjoys is organizing paranormal conferences, where people can share their paranormal experiences.

“People say, ‘You’re going to think I’m crazy,’” he said. “I tell them, ‘It happens; it happens more than you know.’”

New at the 2013 Saint Mary’s ParaCon is a tour of the rooms above at the Washoe Club, where the Friday night meet-and-greet will be held. The recently renovated upstairs area, which has a history of paranormal sightings, previously has been off-limits to the conferences.

“Everyone wants to explore the Washoe Club because it’s seen on television,” Carnahan said.

And if previous ParaCons are any indicators, conference participants can expect to see the resident apparitions as well as the historic buildings.

“Definitely at Saint Mary’s, there are apparitions that show themselves,” Carnahan said.

Carnahan said he has had several encounters with the ghost of a cook in the kitchen area downstairs at Saint Mary’s.

“She’s shown herself many times in the past,” he said.

On one occasion, he asked her if she would wave. Carnahan lifted his own hand in greeting and she waved back, he said.

Other paranormal experiences during previous conferences have include the sudden manifestations of smells, electronic voice phenomena and hits with a “spirit box,” which searches the white noise between radio stations for spirit communications.

Information on ticket packages can be found at There are two-for-one options available.

“The two-for-one tickets allow people to come with friends and still afford it,” Carnahan said.


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