Paranormal Investigators Visit the Blue Ghost Tunnel
Russ' goal was to attract as much attention to the tunnel as possible, either for promotional purposes or to obtain a different level of investigation, and he began asking other paranormal groups and individuals to join him on his quest.
Hamilton Paranormal, a very active group in the late 90s and early 2000s, decided to visit the tunnel and, with directions and information about the haunting provided by Russ, they made their way to the location. Previous to their visit, they researched the tunnel, the area, and the historical deaths and tragedies in the area that may have been the essence of the hauntings Russ was experiencing.
The investigations revealed similar, yet not as dramatic, encounters with the spirits of the tunnel. Hamilton Paranormal made several visits to the tunnel, all of which produced results, and online chatter about the tunnel.
Throughout the investigations Hamilton Paranormal presented what they believed was photographic evidence of spirits manifesting before the camera in the form of ectoplasm and orbs. It is unclear if they remain convinced of the authenticity of the photos. However, to this day, other paranormal enthusiasts have taken the photos at face value and still maintain the photographs are proof-positive of the hauntings at the tunnel. Others are unconvinced.
On Facebook and other social media sites, individuals and groups post these photos and discuss what they see in the mist that seemingly manifested before the camera. What the armchair paranormal investigators may not realize is that the photos can be recreated, not only within the tunnel, but in any particular location—haunted or not.
Orbs are pale and circular anomalies that have been linked with the paranormal. Orbs can be of any color, but are typically off white. They can be any shape, but are usually circular.
They can appear crisp or fuzzy, in isolation, multiples or clusters. Orbs are seen on still photographs (usually from digital cameras). With the mass distribution and consumption of digital cameras Orbs became evidence of “spirits” and paranormal activity.
Investigators, including myself, believed they were capturing a ghost on film. Orb photos within the tunnel were and still are extremely popular—we have orbs in groups, loner orbs, red “evil” orbs, blue orbs, moving orbs, “sad” orbs and the list goes on...but the truth is what we have is a reflection of dust, water, moisture and insects reflecting light from the close proximity of the flash back into the camera lens, causing an orb anomaly to appear.
Orbs are natural, and are not paranormal. But, still today, the orb photographs present themselves as evidence that the tunnel is haunted.
There are countless photos of ectoplasm, seemingly manifesting within the tunnel. Ectoplasm is a term originally coined by Charles Richet to denote a substance or spiritual energy “exteriorized” by physical mediums. Ectoplasm is said to be associated with the formation of spirits, but since World War II reports of ectoplasmic phenomena have declined and many psychical researchers doubt whether genuine cases ever existed.
However, the photographs that reveal “ectomist” at the tunnel, which have been circulated on the Internet as proof-positive of ghostly manifestations, in reality show one of two things:
- Breath, or
- Cigarette Smoke
The majority of the ectomist photographs were time-stamped in the fall or winter when the temperature inside the tunnel can be very cold. As the photographer exhales during the photographic process the flash bounces off the condensation of the breathe causing eerie and instantaneous photographs that somewhat resemble the historical photos we see of ectomist.
Cigarette smoke is another culprit in the creation of ectomist photographs. Cigarette smoke swirls around the camera unseen by the naked eye in the dark tunnel, but when one takes a photograph the flash bounces off the smoke, revealing what some consider a ghost. In many photographs of paranormal investigators we see cigarettes in their hands.
The bright white images are common among BGT enthusiast and many claim that they see faces, objects and animals within the swirl of breath and smoke. The vast majority of paranormal researchers have dismissed these photographs and have offered explanations ad nauseam on message forums, Facebook Groups and other web sites, but droves of photographers, paranormal enthusiasts and the like still believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that these photographs are proof-positive of the paranormal.
They claim that the photos must be that of a ghost because of the images they reveal. Some claim to see canine heads, faces of demons, butterflies, hammers, winged gremlins, grandfather clocks, locomotives, witches, cats, rocking chairs, recliners, Kirby Vacuums, Justin Beiber and images of Jesus Christ. These believers do not believe that the images they see may be the result of pareidolia.
Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.
I believe that the investigators with Hamilton Paranormal currently do not believe that these photos are those of spirits or ghosts, but their web site remains a key attraction for those interested in the BGT. The web site has not been updated in a very long time and the early documentation of Hamilton Paranormal's investigations, as well as their photography, add to the legend and misinformation of The Blue Ghost Tunnel.
In 2005, not wanting to miss out on publicity, a ghost tour group from Hamilton, Ontario ventured to the tunnel:
Haunted Hamilton says “It's Haunted!”
The dark history of the Canal and the accident combined to make this place hauntingly intriguing.
Haunted Hamilton was just a baby when a paranormal explorer named Russ made his way to the Merritton Tunnel (Blue Ghost Tunnel).
According to the TGHRS (paranormal group out of Toronto), Russ was given directions to the Screaming Tunnel, but got lost and somehow stumbled his way to Merritton. He would return many times to investigate and take pictures of this historic find. During one of these investigations he captured a blue ghostly mist which would give Russ the inspiration for the now famous name, “The Blue Ghost Tunnel”.
The reputation started to grow and Haunted Hamilton wasn’t going to sit back and not be a part of it. Investigation nights were setup with our resident psychics and friends from two other paranormal groups.
We knew of the train crash, blue mist, and reports of a ghost dog that had been seen around the entrance of the tunnel. This was intriguing, but it was the tunnel’s reputation that brought us there for two nighttime investigations.
The investigations were quiet and uneventful; with only one experience I personally took part in - the sighting of the ghost dog.
We were halfway in when a member of our team noticed something walking back and forth at the entrance. A few of us (including me) ran as fast as we could to get closer, prove the ghost dog was real and maybe get a picture. And as we got close enough to confirm, we saw nothing. Whatever it was had vanished.
That was the “report” that Haunted Hamilton, a ghost tour company out of Hamilton, Ontario formulated. They claimed that The Blue Ghost Tunnel was haunted by a ghost dog, similar to the one Russ had wrote about in his online journals.
The droves of online visitors to Haunted Hamilton's popular web site read about the ghost dog, and for the crowd hanging out at Haunted Hamilton it was popular belief that the Blue Ghost was in fact a Blue Ghost Dog.
The rumor of a ghost dog weaved its way into the fabric of The Blue Ghost Tunnel once again thanks to the imagination of Russ and the hype of Haunted Hamilton.
Later Haunted Hamilton convinced viewers of a Creepy Canada episode that the Blue Ghost Tunnel was extremely haunted and that they had witnessed paranormal activity.
Recently, however, Haunted Hamilton came to the conclusion that their previous report of witnessing a ghost dog and their experiences while filming the Creepy Canada episode were, well, not umm, anything. In fact, Daniel Cumerlato, founder and operator of Haunted Hamilton, says the tunnel isn't haunted after all and they knew it all along.
Here is a recent statement and article written by Daniel Cumerlato of Haunted Hamilton concerning The Blue Ghost Tunnel. My personal comments follow.
Dear paranormal enthusiast…
Ignore The Blue Ghost Tunnel!
By Daniel Cumerlato
So why do we shun the tunnel today at a time when so many people are talking about it?
First off, we are unable to guarantee the safety of those going. The tunnel is falling apart. The space has always been flooded because of the supporting stones violently leaking from above. The overall tunnel may be sinking into the ground and it’s possible the structure could collapse. The previous statement is a personal viewpoint; something we would never expect the landowners to admit due to liability concerns. However before and after pictures would prove something’s not right.
Along with the unsafe tunnel, there’s the dark, steep and rocky decent and the abandoned Canal Lock located along side of the main path. The Lock is an over 50 foot drop and has little to no safety fences.
Not to mention the reports of a nasty element hanging around the area at night. People have been threatened and many cars vandalized while sitting in the make-shift parking lot.
And if that wasn’t enough… we find it hard to believe this place is truly haunted.
After the many years of random investigations, this location lacks results. As with many spots, there are orbs, strange sounds (and ghost dogs), but overall the results are insubstantial.
If we believe energy, experience and tragedy is what creates ghostly activity, then the Blue Ghost Tunnel would rank a mere 2 out of 10. One train accident causing the on-site death of one man, and the eventual death of another many kilometers away… a few other tragedies which didn’t actually happen in a tunnel with only 39 years of actual use, would not put this high up on the paranormal scale.
There is a submerged cemetery on the flooded end of the Tunnel. We at Haunted Hamilton feel this is a terrible disrespect, and is a huge reason for building up this historic landmark, but is no reason for ghosts.
The image of the Blue Ghost Tunnel made it perfect for legends and fictitious stories which have gotten out of hand. This has caused the legitimate and respected history / ghost hunters to run for the hills.
The Tunnel has become a location for drinking, partying and scaring girls, but not investigation.
Every history lover should see The Merritton Tunnel (Blue Ghost Tunnel) because this is a space frozen in history which may not be around forever. But if you go at night you’re missing the best parts.
Go during the day instead and see the Tunnel in all its glory. Take in the abandoned Canal Lock with the rusted out Ford at the bottom (How the hell did that get there!) and the calming hike down the rocky hill, ending at an amazing monument to Canadian engineering.
You will not miss anything ghostly, because if it hasn’t happened in over a decade, chances are it’s not starting with you.
Save yourself the hassle, the danger, the damaged car and possibly damaged friends, and go when the sun shines. After all, if there are ghosts at The Blue Ghost Tunnel… they’ll find you.”
Surprise. Haunted Hamilton says “The tunnel isn't haunted!” First, Daniel Cumerlato begins by telling the reader that the tunnel is sinking. In over 130 years the limestone rocks have yet to sink into the earth, one millimeter. This is a complete fabrication making no sense and one wonders where Daniel received his structural engineering degree.
Next, he explains that all the investigations conducted by the likes of Hamilton Paranormal, The Niagara Amateur Ghost Seekers (NAGS), Niagara Amateur Spirit Seekers, The Shadows Project and dozens upon dozens of other reputable paranormal groups and individuals were simply random and produced no results.
Again, this is pure nonsense. The investigations were not random, and it appears that the tunnel often produces results.
He then ranks The Blue Ghost Tunnel on a Paranormal Scale of 2 out of 10. A pretty low score for someplace he once was touting as “700 feet of Hell on Earth!” and describing on paranormal forums as “scary” and “very haunted.”
Then he goes on to describe a submerged cemetery on the flooded end of the tunnel. This clearly shows that Haunted Hamilton did not do any significant research and simply believed online rumors, taking them in as fact.
Let us rewind a bit and be witness to one of Haunted Hamilton's previous encounters with The Blue Ghost Tunnel.
700 Feet of Hell on Earth!
During the early 2000s, producers of Creepy Canada, a new Canadian paranormal show, began researching possible haunted locations across Canada. In the first seasons they had exhausted locations in Ontario that would allow filming and were looking for new opportunities.
The show featured recreations of haunted encounters at various locations with deplorable F-grade acting, false histories and script-written hauntings. The show was scoffed at by paranormal groups as misleading and exploitative.
However, the producers of Creepy Canada had read about The Blue Ghost Tunnel and proceeded to ask paranormal researchers and groups to be involved in the filming of the episode. Individuals and groups with a shred of dignity, not only to themselves but to the field of study, turned down the offer because they did not want to be associated with the show.
However, a ghost-tour operating group, who posed as “paranormal researchers” named Haunted Hamilton took the bait and were showcased on The Blue Ghost Tunnel episode.
Creepy Canada Transcript:
“Up next! Paranormal researchers investigate 700ft of Hell on Earth!”
“In St. Catharines, Ontario, paranormal researchers and outdoor enthusiasts alike have discovered a previously undiscovered haunted location. The 700 foot passage is known as The Blue Ghost Tunnel. Though the tunnel is off the beaten path, those that venture there are rarely disappointed. A hiker who had heard stories of the mysterious tunnel decided to investigate for herself. As she made her way through the dark interior she heard strange moaning sounds. She told herself it was the wind. The she saw a misty blue apparition moving in front of her. The shape disappeared and at the same moment, inexplicably her flashlight died. She knew she had just encountered the spirit of the Blue Ghost Tunnel.”
On Camera Host
“Serious paranormal investigators are willing to travel through the darkest depths and over the most challenging terrain to solve many of life's unexplained mysteries. This passion sent one group on a quest into the terrifying interior of the legendary Blue Ghost Tunnel in St. Catharines, Ontario, where a 700 foot passageway brought them face-to-face with the unknown.
Jeff Ostrander “Historian”
“When you go into the tunnel it’s a different world and it’s like, uh, you get eerie feelings, feelings of being watched, maybe looked over. People have seen strange apparitions in the tunnel, sounds of footsteps, uh, whispering that I've personally heard inside the tunnel. Photographs that are strange and sometimes unexplainable. In 1903 there was a fatal rail collision at the tunnel, umm, at the west end. Trains collided head-on and both engineers were killed. The train wreck, umm, very well may have something to do with the hauntings here.
“Another hiker came upon the tunnel by chance. He saw a blue spectral figure whirling at the entrance. It moved inside and vanished. Curious, he followed. Many paranormal investigators feel the blue apparition is not the spirit of one particular individual, but the manifestation of the many trapped souls of the tunnel trying to remind travelers of the tragic accident that took their lives over a hundred years earlier. Suddenly, a strange light appeared aimed directly at the hiker. He swore for a brief moment he thought a ghostly train passed through the dark tunnel. He quickly turned to leave wishing he had heeded the warning of the mysterious blue apparition.
A paranormal research group volunteered to perform an investigation of The Blue Ghost Tunnel. They brought two experienced psychic-mediums and an array of night-vision cameras and electronic detection equipment. The mediums sensed the spirits of the two engineers that had died although they were not told about the train wreck prior to entering.”
“Do you get anything about an accident?”
“I do get the sensations of those two men. One is bleeding on his face. The other one has blood on his outfit, his clothes.”
“I just had my third flashlight… the bulb has burnt out. I've been having problems with my infrared thermostat tonight for some reason. I've had two camera batteries go dead on me and that doesn't usually happen. Supposedly spirits drain power from batteries and until this point in time I have never experienced that.
“This is my first night using this, uhh, little talisman. When I come in here with it though, it gives a very negative reaction. It’s spinning counterclockwise.”
“This is similar to what Kate was using with her talisman. It picks up the energy, umm, the, of the spirit. It’s definitely not a happy energy. I asked if the spirits here were happy and it’s saying no they aren't happy. There is a sadness definitely in the air.”
“I was just sitting here by myself because it is easier getting a reading on your EMF reader and your light was turned off and then I was hearing screaming and I was guessing there were kids out there playing but then something else started, a long high-pitched cry and turning around here you’re asking if you want to go further into the tunnel and I am getting a great big no. Stuff is going to start happening as soon as we go down there. They are not happy that we are here this late.”
“There is a banging that we've been hearing down at the end of the tunnel and umm it has stopped for a while until we started talking about approaching this area again and, umm, as we got closer it started to, umm, bang again as if it was telling us yes, yes, come down this way.”
“There is something else down here. It is not human. There is some kind of energy that comes down here at night like I said this is its spot and it’s rushing through the tunnel. I see this big black thing, ugly looking face flying through the tunnel, screaming, running right at us.
Stephanie Culamerao of Haunted Hamilton
“Coming into this place, umm, I don't think any of us expected it to be like this. So much stuff has been happening tonight and, umm, a lot of our equipment has been going wonky, umm, Kate and Michelle have been feeling a lot of weird things in here, umm, I'm personally, uh, am not psychic and I'm feeling uncomfortable in here, umm, it’s just really odd.”
“Though the group did not make psychical contact with the spirits the mediums psychic impressions and the unusual photographs taken that night offer compelling evidence of paranormal activity in The Blue Ghost Tunnel. Whether the entities are the ghosts of those victims killed in the railway disaster or some metaphysical energy left behind by this tragic crash is unknown. Perhaps future investigations will shed some light on this unexplained mystery.”
After the original air-dates and years of re-runs of the Creepy Canada episode, Haunted Hamilton and those involved were chastised for the obvious fakery and the amateur investigation of the Blue Ghost Tunnel.
Haunted Hamilton admitted that the time stamps of the video were changed by producers to enhance the dramatization of the episode. More glaring and eye-opening is that they admitted that the evidence was not real. Haunted Hamilton puts the blame on crafty producers while the production staff of Creepy Canada have said that they received all the photographic evidence from Haunted Hamilton.
Jeff Ostrander, the episode's “Historian” also was questioned about his involvement and he said that the camera operators simply put the camera on him and asked him questions and that he either forgot the information or did not know the correct information because he was nervous on camera. He also said that he did not know he was going to be labeled as an historian until he viewed the episode.
According to the show's producers, both psychics who were involved in the episode were told of the history of the tunnel by Haunted Hamilton and also by the production staff prior to and during filming.
In addition, a simple Internet search would have yielded hundreds of results about the tunnel's history and haunted legends and both psychics were active on the Internet and within paranormal message forums where the hot topic was The Blue Ghost Tunnel.
Later, Niagara News reporter Petr Cihacek interviewed The Seaway Authority about the trespassing and dangers of the tunnel. The Seaway Authority put direct blame on both Haunted Hamilton and Creepy Canada for exposing the tunnel to a mass audience and increasing the likelihood of a serious injury or death.
Both Haunted Hamilton and Creepy Canada deny they had trespassed on private property and that they are responsible for exposing the tunnel on National Television.
Regardless, countless viewers have endured the episode and the misinformation and “psychic impressions” are feeding a part of the legend.
Included in the back peddling article of Haunted Hamilton are further lies and misinformation, feeding more and more into the fabric of The Blue Ghost Tunnel's legend.