About 60 people attended a free paranormal activity tour of the old Youngstown Sheet & Tube company homes on Chambers Street in Campbell last Saturday.
By Ashley Luthern
Shelly Tisler looked down at her digital camera in surprise.
The battery icon, which nearly had been depleted a moment ago, was showing full strength.
To her, that — as much as the orbs captured in her photos — showed that something unusual was going on at the old Youngstown Sheet & Tube company homes on Chambers Street last Saturday.
Tisler, of Campbell, was one of about 60 people who attended a free paranormal activity tour of the homes led by Leanna and Kelly Mandock, paranormal investigators from Virginia Beach, Va.
Tim Sokoloff, who leads the Iron Soup Historical Preservation Committee, a nonprofit that works to preserve the homes, invited the Mandocks and called the event’s turnout “overwhelming.”
“I never imagined this many people would come out,” he said.
The tour was so successful that Iron Soup is sponsoring two seminars on paranormal investigations Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 in the Neighborhood Ministries building at Jackson and 12th streets in Campbell.
For more information, call 330-531-2883, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to paranormalencounters.com. A tour of an abandoned Youngstown church also is planned.
For Sokoloff, the tours are just the beginning of what he hopes will become a large draw in the Mahoning Valley.
“... People who are investigators are like tourists. These people don’t go on typical vacations, they come to places like this, here, and walk around and look for paranormal activity. And they eat at restaurants and stay in hotels,” he said.
If the Mahoning Valley had 10 to 12 sites, one being the company homes that are already on the National Register of Historic Places, Sokoloff argues, it could appeal to the same people who travel to Gettysburg, for example.
“If history is a resource in this Valley, then we should capitalize on it,” he said.
Last weekend’s tour of the pre-fabbed concrete row houses drew people who believe in paranormal activity, were curious about it and some who just wanted to come home.
Barbara Hasapes walked the tour with Tisler and several other people and marveled at how much the homes had stayed the same. She lived in one of the homes until she was 18, and although she still lives in Campbell, she hadn’t returned since then.
“They have old appliances, the same old stoves, sinks, refrigerators — and tubs with clawed feet,” she said. “... People got started here. If you ask a lot of people [locally] where their first home was, they’ll probably say company housing.”
Dave Thomas of Struthers walked on the tour with a camera and said he’s “always been intrigued by the paranormal and wanted to face it.”
He said he usually goes to suspected haunted locations on his own and that the large group of people Saturday was not necessarily conducive for witnessing paranormal activity in the houses.
“I felt a cold spot in one of the houses, but there are a lot of drafts and you can’t say that’s all paranormal,” Thomas said. “In your heart and mind, you know the difference.”
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