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BELOW: Gray’s Mill, a contemporary of Thistle Mill, a few thousand feet upriver, has an intertwined and equally interesting history, complete with hauntings and recent investigation, to be covered in a later edition of EGQ.
On Thursday, April 6th, 2006, I assembled a small team to investigate the recent paranormal activity at the Simkins Industries plant located in Ilchester, MD. The plant is located on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River at River Rd. near Hilltop Rd. There are remnants of the Ilchester mid-1800’s village still standing, but all the houses are now boarded up. The plant is also deserted due to a major fre on the top level in 2003.
I had received several inquiries from people who had recently been on the property as well as a few queries from former employees. There have been various incidents and reports of phenomena mainly strange lights and sounds. To our knowledge, no other investigations had been made in the plant since it was closed. For the record, we had investigated some paranormal activity in the plant in the early 1990’s and I have reported this previously.
The team consisted of my assistant Cory and two former employees of the plant, Keith andJerry. I brought along 2 digital cameras, 2 EMF meters, a pair of 2-way radios and a laser thermometer. We were able to work our way into the plant through a dock entrance and descended 2 stories into the main beater room area. Because Keith and Jerry knew their way around, I had Cory and Jerry start the investigation to get some baseline EMF readings at various locations throughout the plant and to record any activity. All the power was off in the plant, so I was hoping for solid electro-magnetic readings. I decided to stay in the main beater room area with Keith mainly because I had recent physical limitations that made standing and walking for a sustained period of time impossible. I fgured if Cory found anything, she’d give me a call and Keith could direct me to the area. Before we began, I asked Keith and Jerry not to mention any specifc deaths or injuries that had occurred in the plant. This plant has a long history and reputation for many horrifc work related casualties.
Not too long after we started to look around, I noticed that the images on the digital cameras were not developing though the register on the card indicated that images were there. There was full power in the cameras and the cards were fne, but no images were coming on the screen. That was truly strange because I had never experienced that before and for this to occur with both cameras was very unusual.
Everything was fairly quiet for about 2 hours. I called Cory and she said that nothing remarkable had happened other than she received 1 major EM spike in the machine room dry end and that they were going to walk back to our location. A few minutes later Cory and Jerry returned. Jerry commented that it was very strange that he had not seen or heard any cats in any part of the plant. He stated that the plant was always inundated with cats for the many years he had worked there. Keith stated that he had also noticed it and thought it was very strange. Frankly, up to that time it was eerily quiet. We sat together for about an hour going over her notes and planning out our next moves.
By this time, it was 11:15 pm and we decided to start walking to a few areas that Cory had suggested. We went through an area that I was familiar with from my initial investigation but, strangely, I felt nothing. We continued to walk until we reached the former maintenance department. I started to get a feeling of dread and nausea as well as tightness on my chest. Cory also stated she felt a bit weird. After a few minutes, I asked Cory where she had recorded the EM spike. She said on the ﬂoor below by a machine called a rewinder in the machine room dry end.
We walked down the stairs and entered into the main part of the plant. As soon as I walked through the wide doorway, I felt like something pushed me in the chest… I literally backed up and tried to regain my breath. A few seconds later, we heard a loud thud sound. Each of us looked around not knowing where the sound came from. It seemed to me that something large had hit the ﬂoor but the sound was tempered as if it was in a tunnel. My feeling was that something catastrophic had happened here...the residual energies were coming at me from all directions. Cory was getting erratic EM readings stronger than those she had recorded earlier. I tried to endure the bombardment of energies I was experiencing, but it was getting very hard to deal with. I needed to get out of that area as soon as possible so I could gather my thoughts. I turned around and walked towards the warehouse area so I could sit down and rest. The others soon followed and we took a break.
I asked Jerry to confrm if someone had died in that area, but I didn’t want a name or know how it happened. He stated that at least 2 employees had lost their lives in that specifc area but he was unaware of their names since the deaths occurred before he started employment. Keith confrmed the deaths but he also had no idea of the circumstances or names…only third party information he had heard. I was determined to go back into the machine room and see if I could sense anything from the spirits residing there.
After a bit of a rest, Cory and I walked back into the machine room. As before, I felt pressure on my chest but not to the degree I experience previously. Cory and I held hands and I attempted to contact at least one of these spirits. I immediately felt pain and sorrow…like my life force was draining out of me and I couldn’t stop the inevitable. Then I heard the name “Russell”. It was obvious that this was the person who had been haunting here. I tried to communicate but the sorrow and grieve this spirit was projecting was as intense as I have ever felt. I fear he will remain on this plane and refuse to ever move on.
I decided that I was done here and that we should check out a few other locations within the mill. We spent another 2 hours in the plant taking EM readings and recording some history of the mill from Keith and Jerry. I asked Jerry if he could put me in contact with a former employee who could tell me about any of the people who had died in the plant.
That Sunday, I interviewed a gentleman who wanted to remain anonymous. He had retired from the Simkins plant in the mid-1980’s and had started there when Bartgis Brothers had owned the mill. He confrmed that an employee by the name of Russell Calimer was killed in the machine room in 1977 after a 1-1/2 ton roll of paperboard had slipped off a forklift and crushed him to death against the rewinder. But, I was stunned by the information that was to follow. The employee who attempted to load the paperboard roll and allowed it to slip off was a man by the name of Robert Buzzard. If you read my initial investigation at the Simkins plant, you would recognize that name. I had felt a presence of a spirit who called himself “buzzard”. I had no idea at that time that this was an actual name. As well, I had this feeling that “buzzard” had died by his own hand. It was confrmed that Mr. Buzzard had become so distressed after the accident he decided to retire. Less than a year later, “buzzard” had indeed committed suicide.
I think the plant is worthy of further investigation, but I have a bad feeling about some of the spirits that are there. There are, of course, many residual hauntings (ghosts)....but there may be at least one vortex there and I didn’t like what I was feeling especially in the machine room. For the record, there have been 4 deaths in the plant since 1971....3 in the machine room. As well, there have been several major life altering injuries.
I have a suspicion that someone tried to perform a halfhearted seance or used a Ouiji board in the plant since it closed. There have been all kinds of people hanging around there and the sense I get is that a spirit with some relatively heavy duty malevolence and lingering hatred is moving in and out of a vortex (I was unable to locate a vortex....possible that it was closed when we were there).
The “Russell” spirit we did encounter is a strong one but with a lot of sadness and acts like it is looking for something. We tried to “move it along” but I don’t think we were very successful.
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