To celebrate our tenth anniversary (or our fiftieth, if you know our story), my wife Diana and I made a three-day trip to visit American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater. We stayed in a small log cabin in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands (keeping a sharp lookout as we drove the back roads, since this is a habitat for the Bigfoot Bear—see next blog).
We twice ate dinner at the historic Stone House Inn (salmon for Diana and bison steak for me), where there are reports of ghostly phenomena. Our waiter told us of his own experience at the inn. He had been upstairs (where the rooms are—named for early presidents) when he observed the door of the Monroe room eerily close—even though, he said, it often had to be given a tug to pull it shut. He said it still gave him chills to think about it.
After dinner, Diana and I went upstairs where the unoccupied rooms are kept open for viewing, and, as luck would have it, this included the Monroe room. The foot of a coat rack standing beside the door was being used to prop it open. This was a clue: When I freed the door, it immediately swung free and closed by itself.
An inspection showed that—with respect to its upper hinge—the door was hung slightly off-balance, causing it to swing forward, once it was nudged ever so slightly—as by a draft or perhaps someone’s weight on a floorboard. No ghost was necessary. (This is not an uncommon cause for the ghostly self-closing-door phenomenon. The same explanation applied to a mysteriously swinging door at the Myrtles Plantation in the Louisiana bayou, where in 2001 I had a pleasant stay and interesting investigation courtesy of the Discovery Channel.)
A book—Stone House Legends & Lore (privately printed, 1998, p. 73)—mentions “someone” having been “killed upstairs in one of the bedrooms.” Another version of this folktale says it was two trappers who shot each other. A pair of Pittsburgh ghost hunters tried to communicate with these and other alleged ghosts at the inn (video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfgwDJis1q8; accessed April 4, 2016) without success. An apparent exception is a ghost-communicating flashlight trick they perform (exposed by a German man named Burkhard Reike; see www.radiolab.org/story/explaining-flashlight-sessions/; accessed April 4, 2016).
Despite the efforts of ghost hunters—who are constantly looking for ghosts but are often simply detecting themselves (see my The Science of Ghosts, 2012)—science has never authenticated a single one of the purported entities.