PINE RIVER — Since 2004, with the original airings of "Ghost Hunters," there has been a growing interest in paranormal investigation. Unfortunately, for ghost hunters in small towns in Minnesota, those shows tend to focus on bigger places far, far away.
Brady and Lexi Goble, of Pine River, want to change that.
"There's really nobody up here showing any of the historic places," Brady said. "We just wanted to dip our toes into the paranormal for the first time on camera and really show people the history they haven't seen before."
The Gobles have long been into paranormal investigations. It was one of the things that brought them together as a couple, and it has remained important to them.
We want to dig into the history and bring it back to life.
"For a honeymoon we could have went to Vegas, but we ended up going to Charleston, South Carolina, to the old graveyards and Fort Sumter," Brady said. "History has always been our love."
"We went to the cemeteries," Lexi said. "We had planned weeks in advance to go to the Old City Jail in Charleston to do a ghost hunt and they canceled on midnight the night of. We were supposed to be there at 1 in the morning."
They've also long dabbled in photography and video. With the growth of YouTube channels and Facebook videos, it's only natural that they would dive into creating their own.
"When it came to photography and videography, we've always been doing it," Brady said. "We always had a love for the paranormal, and this year we decided to put it all together."
That's how they came up with " Chasing Paranormal ," a name Lexi invented. They started with lots of research and negotiations with property owners. They got some turndowns, but they also found some who were interested in letting them in.
"It was four months of verbal negotiations. ..." Brady said. "Then behind the scenes we had to get all the video equipment for it. We did research (three) months in advance and planned."
"(We research) books or search for the most haunted sites in Minnesota," Lexi said. "We go from there and look at all these websites and articles trying to find more legit ones. We want to have multiple stories or an actual history."
Eventually they settled on their first location - Big Winnie Resort and General Store in Bena, also known as Lake Winnibigoshish General Store and Resort. This 1932 structure is a federally recognized historic landmark. It once served as a gathering place for fur trappers and loggers who could stay there or eat there in the dining hall.
The property also has foundations from older buildings and structures once used as a prisoner of war camp.
The Gobles were welcomed onto the property by fifth generation owner Arnold Dahl, who gave them a tour and described the spooky phenomena recorded in the past, including the sound of boots going up and down stairs, breathing sounds in the basement, power going on and off and more.
The "Chasing Paranormal" crew performed several classic tests on the property. When they left the building, they left a camera, electronic voice phenomena recorder and other tools while they toured the property.
While touring they used a "spirit box." a machine that scans radio frequencies, often used by ghost hunters to ask questions and receive answers.
"We saw that orb come down the stairs at the basement after we heard Arnold's grandfather's name," Brady said. "That kind of woke me up that this was real. He screamed out 'Butch' and then right after the orb came down the stairs."
The results excited the Gobles. They see "spirit orbs" - round balls of light that float in and out of frame on their camera - and they hear voices on the spirit box.
"We confirmed there's multiple family members there," Goble said. "So they (the owners) want to dive deeper."
The verdict? Readers will have to decide for themselves. The Gobles compiled all of these into one 40-minute episode available on their "Chasing Paranormal" Facebook page.
The Big Winnie episode is just episode one. The Gobles intend to return to Big Winnie for a second part, and then move on to other Minnesota locations. Unfortunately, they hit a rather serious snag.
"On Nov. 13, I had a seizure out of nowhere," Brady said. "I have two children but they weren't present at the time. It was me and Lexi. They ended up finding a small mass on my brain through CTs. I'm unable to work until they clear me, and that kind of puts a hold on 'Chasing Paranormal' plans as of right now."
Brady went to the hospital where they found a 2 centimeter mass inside his head.
Brady, who worked around machinery at Mann Lake LTD before the incident, has been out of work while being diagnosed. Because the location is fairly close, they might work on the second half of the Bena investigation, but otherwise "Chasing Paranormal" is on hold until he gets back on the clock.
In the meantime, Brady has a GoFundMe set up to help pay for transport and other expenses he expects when he returns for more diagnostic tests in February.
"That will go for gas to the Mayo and a hotel," Brady said. "They don't know if it's been there pre-existing or if it's something that came on recently. That's why they aren't clearing me until I go to Mayo."
Once he's back at work, the Gobles hope to make more videos. They want to do four videos a year, or eight in a season. The first season will focus on Minnesota, while the second season might visit some small locations in Iowa.
Brady said their show will focus as much on the history of a location as it does on the paranormal aspects.
"We want to dig into the history and bring it back to life," he said.
The Gobles are looking for tips on where to go next. Tips may be sent to their "Chasing Paranormal" Facebook page or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or email@example.com.