Brittany Lind said she thought she had lucked out when she moved into a house next door to Chester Creek and scored the huge master bedroom — which included an entire wall of closets with enough space in between to hang her full-length mirror.
The windows on the creek side were nearly as tall as her, so she didn’t bother with curtains, she said.
About two months into her stay, she noticed that her mirror always had white slash marks in different spots, but always in the same vicinity of where her face was when she looked into it.
“They were thin and oily, you could smear them with your finger,” she said. “It was like someone had been drawing on my mirror with white eyeliner.
The News Tribune asked for people to share stories of the inexplicable things they have seen, heard and witnessed leaning over their sister in the night. We received a lot of spooky stories from the local theaters and other notable hot spots, but we also learned to be wary of a certain creek that is also a portal.
Lind experienced other inexplicable things: the feeling that a cat was kneading her body as she tried to sleep — it wouldn’t stop unless she asked it to — and seeing odd things in her room, which she explained away because she wasn’t wearing her glasses in bed. Eventually, after hearing of her landlord’s paranormal experience at the house — she was slapped by a force while working in the garden — Lind told her story to a pro at a wiccan shop.
“She asked if I lived near Chester Creek, and when I told her I lived right next door to it, asked if my mirror faced the creek,” Lind said.
Yes, she said. And yes, there was a window between the water and the mirror.
“‘Well that explains it,’” Lind said she was told. “‘There is a portal that runs along Chester Creek. Things are coming through your window at night, into your room and into your mirror.’”
The solution, Lind said she was told, was to hang a black or white, but not red, cloth over the window, to make sure it was drawn before dark, and to charge some stones and place them on the window sill alongside something that means a lot to her.
And it stopped.
But one night, Lind worked late and got home after dark. The window was uncovered.
“I opted to not hang it up when I got home,” she said of the cloth. “You know, just in case. I’d rather not trap something in there with me.”
She went to bed, she said, and didn’t see anything or feel the phantom cat kneading.
“It seemed like nothing had happened,” she said. “Until I looked at my mirror, and there were little white slash marks over where my face was.”
About three years ago, actor Drew Autio was warming up his voice to audition for the Duluth Playhouse production of “The Music Man.” He was alone in a hallway, walking back and forth while he sang at the top of his lungs, he said.
“Mid-song, I hear ‘HEYYYYY!’ really loudly in my left ear,” he said. “I froze. Took a couple moments to muster the courage to say ‘Hello?’ to which I’m both thankful and scared that I got no response.”
He called out again and again, heard nothing.
“I quickly gathered my things and waited for the elevator to bring me back up to the rehearsal room for auditions — looking back into the green room thinking that if the lights start flickering or go out completely, I’m going to poop myself.”
Top o’ the hat
Nathan Payne, also an actor, was in the chorus of a Duluth Playhouse production of “Hello Dolly” that played at the Depot.
There weren’t really dressing rooms, Payne said, just big shared closets — which he returned to for a costume-change.
“I rounded the corner just as a guy in a tux with a top hat went into the room ahead of me,” Payne said. “As I opened the door, I greeted who I thought I had followed, but the room was empty.”
Maybe later, fizzy energy
Cathy Podeszwa said she was working at the bar at The Underground, also at the Depot, and when she went into the women’s bathroom, she felt a “cluster of static electricity envelope my head as I was coming out of a stall.”
“I just kind of gently pushed it aside and went to wash my hands,” she said. “I became kind of friendly with Depot ghostly energies when I worked down there, so it didn’t bother me much. It felt fizzy and crackly, so kind of pleasant. I did kind of firmly move it away from me, though. I still had work to do, so I didn’t really have time to get haunted.”
A familiar face
Shanna Willie of Duluth was about 3 years old when her sister, who had finally begun sleeping through the night, began sleeping in Willie’s room with her.
“A few nights in, I saw a man looking at her,” Willie wrote in a message. “The next morning I asked who the man was. Neither of my parents had been in the room, nobody else lived with us, we had not been broken into, so they were baffled.”
Willie described the man and what he was wearing.
“Apparently I described my dad’s dad, who had died many years before,” Willie said. “We’ve all taken comfort in this interesting story over the years.”
Sweet sounds of children's laughter
Steve Rankila, internal operations director at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, has worked for more than two decades with the ins and outs of the William A. Irvin, among Duluth's most ghost-storied places.
He's had many, many inexplicable experiences aboard the ship. He has been alone during his winter inspection and heard footprints so clearly that he assumed a coworker was pranking him, but no footprints; he's heard children laughing from behind closed doors; flags in the cargo hold have fluttered in opposite directions.
"You can't explain it," he said. "Most of us have been on the Irvin and have seen a door open by itself, then a door close by itself. You'll go investigate in that area, and you can't find why it happens."
Rankila has also had several encounters with the ship's most famous figure: the being in the white dress.
"I turn my head or look over and see the person or child," he said. " I never really got a good glimpse, but when I look back, its gone."
Sometimes you deal with these things and keep working, he said. Other times, you don't.
"At times you get that weird feeling where you get that chill up the back of your neck, and you think, 'I'm going to leave,'" he said.