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Haunted History tour in Pocatello provides more than just facts

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Nov 01 2013 12:08:55 AM CDT

Everywhere you go in Pocatello, it seems like there's a story about a haunting, and a great number of those stories come from the Old Town district.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

Everywhere you go in Pocatello, it seems like there's a story about a haunting, and a great number of those stories come from the Old Town district.

As it's a perfect time during Halloween, we went on the Haunted History Tour of Old Town Pocatello. With all the history come the stories of the people who lived there -- and died there. So while some do just look for the history, others are looking for life beyond the grave.

Deep in the bowels of the Hotel Yellowstone, you may hear footsteps on the floor above, but no one else is in the building. One of the tour guides reported her keys being moved from the same spot every time she entered into the building, and no one was around to move them.

During our tour of the building, one woman's cellphone captured images of what looked like a face, while the guides reported other tour groups actually feeling the physical touch of a hand on their body.

A lot of people are scared of it," said John Brian, co-founder of the paranormal group that helped host the tours of four Old Town buildings. "We have video of things moving by themselves. So I know that it happens."

He says it's not whether you believe him or not -- it's about your own experiences.

"I think that most people in life will have an experience," Brian said. "It's just up to them if they're going to recognize it or not or accept it or not."

Brian and his paranormal group are called SPIRO, or Scientific Paranormal Investigative Research Organization. He also said the name is fitting, as "spiro" in Greek stands for "spirit."

But are these potential interactions with spirits also a good way to bring business to Old Town? Old Town Pocatello Executive Director Stephanie Pelagi says it does.

"I think people, whether they like the paranormal or they like the history, (feel) we've been able to give them a really enjoyable evening," said Pelagi, also a tour guide. She said when she first thought of doing these tours, she thought other people would be having experiences, not her.

"It was the upper level of the Amerigo Office Building," Pelagi said of last year's tour. "I was standing with my tour group in front of me and I was at the top of the staircase and there was nothing behind me, but there was someone talking to me behind me. It was just strange enough that it just didn't feel right."

And strange enough Pelagi hasn't been back to that area of the building since. But others have experienced even stranger things, including scratches and hand prints on their bodies.

But Pelagi said whether people come back for these experiences or for the history, the number of people has grown from a few hundred in the first year of the tours to over 1,000 tickets sold this year.

John Brian and his team say they aren't out to prove something to everyone, he said their goal overall is to promote Pocatello's Old Town.

"There are people all over the country that have their eye on Pocatello," Brian said. "We just want to bring attention to it and say 'This is who we are, and we're proud of that.'"

And for those looking forward to next year?

"There's actually a very historic building that's just outside of Old Town," said Pelagi, "and we're hoping to bring some of our tours, or a portion of our tours, to that building along with it's surrounding grounds, and that's all I'm going to say."

Pelagi said the organization Old Town Pocatello does a few dozen walking tours every year, to get people onto the streets and find things they weren't expecting. She said the Hotel Yellowstone is currently under renovation for high-end condominiums.

But for those who believe, there is still the question of whether those who move into the Hotel Yellowstone will find something they weren't expecting. 

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