Paranormal research team investigates Pocatello’s ‘super-active’ Yellowstone Hotel
POCATELLO — Husband-wife ownership duo Rory and Jennifer Erchul have operated The Yellowstone Restaurant on the bottom floor of the Hotel Yellowstone since December 2019.
Since their first days in the 106-year-old building, the couple have experienced strange happenings. The Erchuls, their employees and even guests have described disembodied voices, things moving and even the appearance and disappearance of apparent apparitions.
“So many people have come in here … and they’ll say, ‘holy buckets, we saw this’ or ‘we heard this, does this happen here?'” Jennifer explained.
Among the unexplained seen in the hotel is what many have described as a young girl, often walking near what was originally the reception area of the hotel and is now the 313 Whiskey Bar. The Erchuls have been informed on several occasions that a young, barefoot girl in a white dress was seen in an instant before vanishing.
Both Erchuls say that they themselves have also seen this young girl. And Rory, who has remained skeptical despite his own experiences, has attempted to talk with the young girl.
For some reason, he said, he has always felt like the girl’s name began with the letter “E.”
So when, during a recent paranormal investigation of the building conducted by the Pocatello Paranormal Research team, communication efforts seemed to receive the nickname “Emmy,” he was a bit taken aback.
“Is this really happening?” he asked Colleen O’Hara, the investigator attempting communication.
“I always try to explain it away — as something other than paranormal, I guess,” he said days after the investigation.
Guests have also informed the restaurant of a young girl, presumably the same one seen in the bar, sitting in the window of upstairs room — occasionally accompanied by an older woman. But, as Rory explained, access to the upper floors is blocked.
The Erchuls and other inhabitants of the building have experienced other weird phenomena.
The women’s restroom in the restaurant, according to both Rory and Jennifer, is a hot spot. Toilet paper has been thrown at people alone in the restroom, paper towels have been used to wrap completely around the stalls over night — while no one is supposed to be in the building. And many regulars, Rory said, will walk to the other side of the building to use one of the other restrooms, because the stall doors in the restaurant restroom will apparently unlock and open while a woman is inside.
“We have a lot of guests … that will not use that bathroom,” he said. “They will go in this bathroom (near the Whiskey bar) because they will not go in that bathroom.”
Trying to bring both logic and fair skepticism to the situation, Rory believes that many of the reported occurrences may stem from an understanding the building’s age, and the expectations that the building could be haunted.
“But we have many people that tell us about an experience that they had that is very similar to other people and the experiences that they’ve had — and these people don’t know each other,” he said.
As for their own personal experiences with the unexplained, the Erchuls began on two separate ends of the spectrum.
Rory, along with seeing apparent apparitions, has been on the receiving end of the occasional pleasant salutations or soft touch.
Jennifer, on the other hand, has been scratched on several occasions and slapped on another.
“The scratching only happens to her,” Rory said. “I’ve been touched — standing in (the Taproom) over by the cooler talking to another gentleman, and I felt a hand on my back, like somebody was trying to get by (me). I turned around and nobody was there.”
“It was very difficult for me, for a couple of years,” Jennifer said. “There was a time when I refused to be in the building alone at night.”
During the investigation, the Erchuls spoke with several members of the team, receiving advice for stemming these violent interactions. But, as Jennifer explained, those types occurrences have subsided.
Much of the investigation revolved around O’Hara, using dowsing rods, attempting to communicate with spirits inside the hotel, a group she believes exceeds 30 in total, according to her efforts.
Among the spirits O’Hara appeared to communicate with was a prankster named Ezekiel, or Zeke. There was also a business man and investor in the original building who claimed to have been murdered in the hotel, and went by the name Thomas, as well as the 10-year-old Emmy.
Later historical investigation revealed that among the men who invested in the development of the building was an attorney and politician named TF Thomas Terrell. The same investigation showed that the eldest daughter of D.W. Standrod, also an attorney and politician and the man responsible for the development of the Standrod Mansion as well as the Yellowstone, was named Elvira, but went by the nickname Emma, and died at the age of 16,
Jennifer called the entire investigation, but specifically the dowsing rod experience, both interesting and entertaining.
“Maybe it’s legit, and maybe it isn’t, who knows,” she said. “But they really came up with some things that seem pretty accurate.”
The most time-intensive portion of the research team’s process is the film review, which O’Hara explained can often take weeks.
For this investigation however, that process was halted.
The team set up three different recording systems, each with numerous cameras, recording each of the three separate wings of the building’s street level and linking to three separate hard drives. And when O’Hara attempted to retrieve the video, she discovered that all three hard drives had been erased.
“It was like all three hard drives were factory reset — wiped clean,” she said.
The only thing that remained on the drives was a log, which showed that recording was properly started, properly completed, and that the system was shut down on the night of the investigation. According to the log, there had been zero activity between the power down and reboot days later.
“All of the cameras recorded properly, on all three systems in all three parts of the building,” she said.
While she has attempted to find technical explanations for the failure of three separate and non-connected systems, O’Hara believes the malfunction can be attributed to further “weird, anomalous behavior” associated with The Yellowstone.
“It’s certainly a really active location — really active location.”
While at the time she had not yet been informed of the lost footage, Jennifer spoke positively about the investigation as a whole.
“The whole evening was what I was expecting, but the results seemed so specific compared to other things that we’ve done, and other groups that we’ve had in, that was surprising,” she said. “The investigators found so much more than we were expecting.”
Anyone who has not yet made plans for Halloween weekend can experience The Yellowstone, which is celebrating the holiday with costume contests and other events.