April 06, 2014

A Haunted Country Store, and Mountain Lions in the Smallest State

If you're up near Lake Winnipesaukee this summer,  you might want to stop by the Ellacoya Country Store in Gilford, New Hampshire. Or maybe you won't, depending on how spooked you are by ghosts. The owners claim the store is haunted.

According to manager Lisa Giles, the store has been haunted since it opened. Employees have glimpsed the ghostly shape of a man standing in the doorway, while others have heard a man whistling while there was no one else in the room. Some people have feven elt a hand touching their shoulder. The Ellacoya Country Store is in a building that dates from 1745, so I suppose a lot can happen to attract a ghost over 269 years.

The spooky shenanigans reached a crescendo on March 10. Employee Hedi Boyd was alone in the store and went into one of the side rooms. She heard a crash, and came out to find the lid of a glass cake dish had fallen on the floor. She didn't think much of it until she saw the surveillance video, which shows the lid being thrown onto the floor by unseen forces.

The video caused quite a stir when it was released, and was featured on New Hampshire's WMUR-TV and the Huffington Post. Debunkers have argued the lid could have been pulled over by a string drawn through a window behind the cash register, but it turns out the window doesn't open.

A psychic medium and a parapsychologist investigated the store on March 27. The medium said she felt a heavy presence, possibly that of an older woman. The parapsychologist was more noncommittal, saying only that something mysterious was going on. They plan to investigate further.

If this had happened in the 17th or 18th century people would blame it on a witch. If it happened in the 1970s and there was an unhappy adolescent around, we'd call it poltergeist activity. Our current explanatory framework is focused on ghosts. For myself, I'll just agree with the parapsychologist that something mysterious is happening!

On a different note, my post about the Winchester mountain lion generated a lot of conversation, and several people people mentioned mountain lion sightings in Rhode Island. It's a small state, but apparently not so small it can't hide a big cat. Here's an email I got from Karen, who lives in Mantunuck, Rhode Island.
On Saturday, July 30, 2011 at about 7:15 p.m., I was working in the vegetable garden in my front yard when I looked up and saw an animal looking at me. It was no more than 50 feet away. It had come into the yard from behind some overgrown vegetation. It looked straight at me for five or ten seconds, and then turned and ran back where it had come from…

The animal I saw was the height of a very large dog. It had a cat-like face. It was light tan in color. I got the impression that it was not an adult. It had the sort of heavy, blocky legs you see on a puppy. I have seen coyotes and I am sure it was not a coyote. I looked at photographs of bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions on the National Geographic website and I am sure what I saw was a juvenile mountain lion. I later learned that a number of other people in Matunuck, the area of South Kingstown where I live, also have seen mountain lions, have seen mountain lion tracks, and have found hidden caches of mountain lion meals. At least one person photographed a mountain lion. The year after my sighting, my next door neighbor and her son saw an adult mountain lion in front of their house. Again, there was no question about what it was.

Another mountain lion was sighted in Mantunuck just a few weeks ago, but local officials say the proof (scat and footprints) are inconclusive. Thanks for the tip, Karen! Now I know not to go hiking around Mantunuck. I'm a vegetarian and I bet the mountain lion would find me tasty.

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