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‘Haunted History Tour’ summons ghosts of Idaho Falls’ past

Idaho Falls

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Deborah Chessey leads the Haunted History Tour. | Adam Forsgren,

About two dozen people crowded into the basement of the Hasbrouck Building in Idaho Falls on Friday night as ghostologist Scott Brian addressed a spirit he had a previous encounter with at that very location. People asked various questions, getting no response as Brian held aloft a meter that measures EMF (electromagnetic fields).

Then Brian asked questions.

“Are you upset because you don’t want a large group here?”

The crowd fell silent as the meter lit up like a Christmas tree, indicating the presence of a spirit.

This incident was just one of the highlights experienced by at least one group of history lovers on the Museum of Idaho’s fifth annual “Haunted History Tour.” The popular event takes tour groups through four Idaho Falls locations.

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Museum staff members appear in costume and in character to regale the groups with tales of key figures in local history and the sordid, seedy, often violent scenarios that regularly played out when Idaho Falls was a wilder, more dangerous place.

“People have assumptions sometimes about the early days of our town,” M.o.I. spokesperson Jeff Carr told “What it was like, who came here, who didn’t come here, etc. And very frequently, those assumptions are wrong.”

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“It was more of that classic ‘Wild West’ than you would expect living here today because today it’s such a clean and safe place to live,” added fellow museum spokesperson Chloe Doucette.

Part of the tour was hearing from people in character. | Adam Forsgren,

During the tour, groups learned all kinds of fascinating, stranger-than-fiction tidbits about real-life inhabitants from Idaho Falls history. For example, they learned about how “Uncle Dick” Chamberlain dispensed his own brand of justice, then profited because he owned the cemetery so many criminals he dealt with were buried in.

They also heard from Gem State Medium Liz Rivera, who detailed an unpleasant encounter she had with a spirit in the old Ferrell’s Clothing Store building that left her with a headache.

Liz Rivera, right, the ‘Gem State Medium.’

Likewise, Brian filled the last stop on the tour with information about how ghostologists conduct their research. He showed video from the research session he and a partner conducted in the Hasbrouck Building. This stop climaxed with the encounter that set Brian’s EMF meter aglow.

Ghostologist Scott Brian. | Adam Forsgren,

Although such occurrences don’t definitively prove a location is haunted, having this type of experience in an environment such as an old, inconsistently-lit building can rattle even the most skeptical mind.

“I am a skeptic, but I have to say I have been freaked out before, more than I’m proud to admit,” Doucette said. “This is definitely not the kind of tour where things are going to jump out at you. But sometimes, when I come back to the museum to turn the lights off and leave, I run from the lights to the door.”

Carr said that people playing characters on the tour use that state of mind to enhance the experience.

“We’re able to tell the true stories and sort of dance around things that may or may not be the truth,” he said. “We’re very clear about what we know and what we don’t know. But the mind fills in the rest and does a lot of the work for you.”