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Feature: Talkeetna’s Ghosts

by Phillip Manning ~ July 10th, 2014

by:  Alberto Garcia

Most people have had a moment in their lives where something unexplained happens.  Some believe it to be supernatural, and others say that there is a reasonable explanation for everything.  When KTNA’s summer intern, Alberto Garcia, began hearing strange things, he consulted a local author who had written about some of Talkeetna’s ghost stories.

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Talkeetna has become my home over the summer. I live with three roommates in a cabin owned by South Texas professor Karon Jahn, located in the Christiansan Lake area. My roommates and I were given the opportunity to experience an Alaskan, summer adventure where we would sightsee, work part-time and earn college credit by taking a 10-week internship.

As an intern at KTNA, I read the Wednesday midday news, host a one hour music show following the news and I write weekly feature stories. I began writing on the history of some of Talkeetna’s beloved buildings and recoded testimonies from their owners, previous employees and town locals. All the research and intriguing testimonies would point me in the direction of the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum, which is where I gathered most of my information from displays and books.

One book that I purchased, for my own reading pleasure, talked about the history of Talkeetna with an unusual, yet interesting spin.  All research, work and sightseeing aside, I’ve spent my days at the cabin helping with chores, kicking back with my roommates and reading Sarah Birdsall’s book, “Ghosts of Talkeetna,” a compilation of spooky, unexplainable paranormal stories and occurrences as told and experienced by Sarah and other Talkeetnans.

On a rainy and gray Monday afternoon, I plopped myself down on the living room couch. My roommates and professor were in town and the cabin was isolated so it was a perfect reading environment. I brewed some fresh coffee and began reading the first few chapters of the book. About twenty minutes into it, the words that my eyes were reading began to make me feel insecure and I yearned for someone to return to the cabin. The stories talked about strange noises, figures in the shadows and the feeling of unseen presences.

I was about to begin another chapter when I heard what seemed to be the pacing of footsteps coming from the loft above the living room.

“Karon,” I asked out loud, hoping for my professor to respond. There was just silence. I asked again a little louder. “Karon, is that you? Are you home already?” Silence again. I was confused. What I had heard was unmistakably the sound of footsteps. I mustered up some courage to climb the stairs and take a peek at the loft. I didn’t see anything when I went up, but I did hear the footsteps again in the living room, this time, quicker than before.

I gulped heavily and some crazy goosebumps went down my back. Enough with reading about ghosts. I left and took a walk down to the lake in the rain.

Strange noises and occurrences went on like that for the rest of the summer. At first I though it was my mind playing tricks on me, in a sense, mocking me for reading about ghosts. It all became more real to me when it began happening to my roommates as well. Ricardo, felt someone breathing on him when he was trying to fall asleep one night. He thought it was one of us laying next to him and woke up to realize he was alone. Magaly was showering when she saw a shadow on the other side of the curtain and thought it was one of us trying to scare her. We were all in the living room and heard her talking to someone who she thought was in the bathroom with her. About two weeks ago, Cleiri and I stayed up talking pretty late. We called it quits at about 3:00 a.m. and began to snooze. I was awakened about 10 minutes later by a frightened and trembling roommate.

“Listen,” Cleiri whispered. What my ears heard gives me the chills as I tell you about it. The faint sound of what seemed to be a sad, weeping little girl was heard form the loft, and it stopped as soon as we perched up close together on the futon and we shook in fear. Everyone was asleep, even Karon who sleeps in the loft, for we could hear her soft breathing. Too scared to investigate or fall asleep, we waited restlessly for the cover of daylight.

We realized that something was definitely going on. We had either attracted ghosts or crossed into their territory. Karon assured us that her cabin was not filled with ghosts. She built it, but the basement and a log structure had already been there. This did not give us peace of mind.

By this time, I had finished reading the book, and since the author resides in Talkeetna, I asked for the opportunity to talk to her in an attempt to understand my own situation.

Sarah Birdsall comments on her reasons for writing the book, shares an experience and gives advice to those of us who have experienced paranormal activity:

“Ever since I was a kid I liked ghost stories. They’re just kind of fun and scary and it’s fun to get scared. But then as I grew older and had some experiences of my own, I just kind of started thinking about it. I started doing a lot of reading. I read a lot of different books by people who study the supernatural phenomenon and I just started really feeling like there’s just something going on.”

“I fell asleep on the couch where I was living In a place in East Talkeetna and I was kind of dreaming. I was dreaming that there was someone out on the porch, there’s a porch that leads up to the door and I was hearing footsteps and I was asleep. But in my dream I got up and answered the door and there was this very unhappy looking woman and I woke up really scared. I felt like something was there, that it wasn’t just a dream. During that same time period I woke up and felt like something was hovering over me and then just really felt a really strong presence. This went on for a couple of weeks and I actually wrote a ghost expert about what I could do about this and got some advice, because I was feeling like there was a presence.”

“Someone else living in the house had a dream about a woman crying and saying ‘I’m in the wall, I’m in the wall’ but he built the house so he knows there was nobody in the wall, it was just kind of really creepy and it eventually faded away. I haven’t felt any of those things but there was a time of about a month where it was kind of creepy.”

“The reason for this book is kind of two-fold. I love Talkeetna and its history. Igrew up hearing some of these stories and record them, write them down before anybody who might know something about them disappeared.”

“Some people are just a little more open to it. I do think a lot of people experience unexplainable, odd little things and they just brush them aside. One thing you can do is just talking out lout to the presence you feel. Ghost are just trying to get some attention. Just say ‘I’m a good person, leave me alone,’ or something like that. These experiences are really common to a lot of people so you are not alone. A lot of things happen to people that they can’t quite explain.”

Whether you’re a skeptic, reasonable, or open-minded person, strange things happen that challenge our beliefs all the time. Next time you cannot explain something, take a second look or listen again; it might just be your floor boards creaking, your mind playing tricks on you, or someone trying to send a message. In the words of Charles Dickens, “an idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”

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