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Bozeman ghost hunters root out area’s history

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Elies Adams (right) leads a Walking Ghost Tour outside of Silver Annies in Downtown Bozeman. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BOZEMAN PARANORMAL SOCIETY

Paranormal Society to offer walking tours of city’s haunted spaces

By Mira Brody EBS STAFF

BOZEMAN – One of Elies Adams’ favorite buildings in the Gallatin Valley to search for paranormal activity in is the Rialto Theater in Downtown Bozeman. There, she has clearly heard the voice of a male spirit saying the words “Pablo, Pablo, Pablo.” 

Before its recent renovation, the Rialto is where Puerto Rican baritone opera singer Pablo Elvira used to perform and where he founded Intermountain Opera in 1979, the area’s first professional opera company. He called Bozeman home until his death in 2000. If you walk Main Street in front of the Rialto today, you’ll see a star in the concrete with his name on it.

Adams, who founded the Bozeman Paranormal Society nine years ago, believes Elvira never left the Rialto because even in the afterlife, he is spiritually attached to it. Adams says this phenomenon is common. The Bozeman Paranormal Society is the only ghost hunting group that has been able to investigate the Rialto, by attempting to pick up paranormal activity on their ghost hunting instruments. Adams says one of her fellow ghost hunters has even seen Elvira in the theater.

Ghost hunter Elies Adams says there is visual evidence in this photo of the outside of the Willson Auditorium of ghost activity. Can you find the orb? PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BOZEMAN PARANORMAL SOCIETY

“The Rialto Theater is one of the most active buildings in Bozeman because of the spirit of Pablo Elvira,” Adams said. “We’ve caught his voice through what they call an EVP, or electronic voice phenomenon saying ‘Pablo, Pablo, Pablo.’”

The Paranormal Society is a nonprofit and provides spirit cleansing, consisting of sage smudging, and investigative services, using ghost hunting instruments to identify spirit activity. Adams started the society in 2013 after a dream she had. She had always taken an interest in the concept of ghost hunting and felt her dream was a sign to start a nonprofit group in Bozeman. 

Adams says many times local residents will call the Paranormal Society because there is spiritual activity in their home, a sign that a spirit is having trouble passing on. 

“Being a ghost hunter for nine years now, there are still answers to try and figure out but I kind of have a strong idea of what I think the after life is. You have choices. We have a higher power, and you have a decision if you want to live life in a place that you’re happier.”

Elies Adams

At one particular house, the activity they experienced was consistent with that of a poltergeist—slamming doors and such—and took four tries to cleanse the home before the activity ceased.

This summer Adams and her team of volunteers will embark on the fourth year of their Walking Ghost Tours series, designed as a way to get the community more involved. Their first walk was informal, but a hit, drawing nearly 70 guests.

“We thought it would be a fun way to get the community out to learn about the spooky history of Bozeman and get to enjoy these old buildings,” Adams said.

The society will continue its Walking Ghost Tours series starting on June 18 at 8 p.m. Attendees will meet at the courthouse downtown and, armed with basic ghost hunting tools, will stroll around some of Bozeman’s oldest buildings like the Willson Auditorium, the Masonic Temple and more nondescript buildings in alleyways that used to be brothels, hotels and bars.

Basic ghost hunting tools include a digital camera, digital voice recorder and an electromagnetic field reader. More technical equipment that you may see on ghost hunting TV shows include a thermal imaging camera—spirits show up as a cold spot—dousing rods  made of copper and used to pick up answers to yes or no questions and a ghost box, which slows frequencies so the hunters can understand the ghost’s answers to their questions.

Adams says ghost hunters who join the tours will be able to use these tools to find cold spots and pick up spirit activity in the form of voices and movement. She enjoys teaching people, even the skeptics, about the spirit world and teaching them about the history of Bozeman.

“We’re trying to find answers to questions,” Adams said. “I think that ghost hunting is trying to find the history of the area. The ghosts are telling us the history and I think of ghost hunting as tying that history together.”

In her experience, ghosts aren’t usually disruptive, but are sometimes stuck somewhere, unable to leave. Their job is to try and help that spirit move on. She compares the afterlife to that of the Pixar movie, Soul.

“Being a ghost hunter for nine years now, there are still answers to try and figure out but I kind of have a strong idea of what I think the after life is,” Adams said. “You have choices. We have a higher power, and you have a decision if you want to live life in a place that you’re happier.”

To Adams, Evira epitomizes this credo. 

“I think Pablo is a happy ghost and that’s where he’s the happiest,” she said. “He didn’t want to go to where what you could call a ‘higher power’ is. He decided to stick around to hang out in the spot, the Rialto.”

You can find the full schedule of this summer’s Walking Ghost Tours on the Bozeman Paranormal Society’s Facebook page and learn more about them on their website.

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