The carving rivers and blinding dust of Eastern Oregon have removed most memories of past residents from the area, but a spirit-seeking group aims to help understand the unknown that remains.
The International Paranormal Reporting Groups (IPRG) Eastern Oregon team is making an effort to reach out to residents in Umatilla and surrounding counties.
Valerie Robbins, who lives in Boardman and serves as assistant director and case manager for the local group, said her team would like to offer their services, which include both public and free private investigations, to more people in the area.
Regional IPRG teams have recently held public investigations at the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City and the Get Inn, an old college turned tuberculosis hospital which now serves as a bed and breakfast in Gooding, Idaho.
Robbins said these events provide the public with opportunities to use ghost-hunting equipment, such as electromagnetic frequency (EMF) readers and electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) recorders.
Wed like to find the same thing around here, Robbins said, adding that public investigations raise money for historical societies and other non-profit groups.
Ghost walks include tales of hauntings and folklore of the town.
Robbins said the teams private investigations in homes and businesses are completely free and secret.
We are completely confidential, Robbins said.
She also emphasized the impartiality the team brings to each case.
This is what we do, she added. We dont think anything about the people who call. We are non-judgemental.
A typical private investigation starts with a property owner contacting the team. Keeping the rest of the group blind, a researcher conducts an interview and background work relating to the site before the team schedules an investigation, which usually takes place at night.
Once the team arrives on-site, investigators take base readings and shoot preliminary photographs and video.
During the investigation, the team continuously records these same measurements and attempts to identify any event, however minute or magnificent.
Robbins admitted the vast majority of investigations result in no paranormal evidence, but exceptions do occur.
There are times when we get in a situation and cant explain it, Robbins said.
She said IPRGs investigators include electricians, plumbers, police, military, business owners and scholars.
Robbins earned her bachelors degree in psychology and business and said having such diverse experts on the team helps debunk various occurrences that arise over the course of an investigation.
This attempt at explanation is the groups goal, she said, adding that she originally admired the co-founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) for aiming at the same target.
Robbins said IPRG is a TAPS family member, sharing standards and practices developed by the group made famous by the television series Ghost Hunters.
Once Robbinss team concludes its walk through a site, members analyze evidence for a week, return to the site and present their findings.
If we find anything questionable, she said, we will tell the owners.
Robbins said every investigator goes through extensive and on-going training to be a part of IPRG.
She said Executive Director Marie Cuff, who owns and operates IPRG, is very strict on upholding standards.
Marie has worked her tail off to build it as an honest organization, Robbins said.
She added that the Eastern Oregon IPRG team is more than willing to meet with school groups, town committees and other organizations to present information about their efforts.
From the extensive training her teammates go through to the confidence and honesty each member takes to each investigation, Robbins said potential site owners have every reason to feel comfortable contacting the group.
Nothing scares me, she said. I may be nervous, but I will go ahead and do it.