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I was born and raised in Whitewater, WI, where my family still lives. That's right, a full blown townie, just as my father and grandfather before me, all of us residents of Whitewater. Growing up in Whitewater, ghost stories where a dime a dozen, but it wasn't until I attended World Affairs Seminar in 1985 that I realized that this was not typical.
The seminar was held in Whitewater on campus, and I was one of two attendees from the home town. As our badges presented our home towns, I had some other students at the seminar come up to me and ask about Whitewater being the "Second Salem." While ghost stories where not uncommon in my childhood, I had never heard the comparison to the infamous Salem. Now I see they are making a movie about "The Witches of Whitewater."
I was able to take the curious up the hill to the haunted water tower in Starin Park which I had always known to be a haunted spot in town. The water tower is spooky because the fence around the tower has the barbed wire turned inwards as if to keep something inside. The "Witches Tower" is like this supposedly to keep the spirits trapped inside. Another common haunted story is the "School of the Black Arts." They are referring to the Morris Pratt Institute for spiritualistic studies. This school, which still exists today opened in 1903 in Whitewater. Interestingly enough, Mr. Pratt made his money in mining speculation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which has it's own chain of folklore and mysticism about the area going back to 3000BC, but more on that in a bit.
Pratt's decision to invest in the Upper Penninsula was due to a spiritual medium's recommendation which brings us to the story of the mystic witches' book. Ted Sullivan, of the Janesville Gazette, points out that an article on the Weird US website mentions that this book is now supposedly at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's Library. If the book exists, I'm surprised that it didn't end up at the new library on Center St. as the house that previously stood on the site of the new library was also haunted, according to a school mate that lived there. I have heard stories about this mystic book since I was a kid, but I always understood it to be in a room under the old library on Main St. which is now home to the Whitewater Arts Alliance. This doesn't surprise me as the Hamilton House next door to the old library was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad was not actually an underground train. Many homes in the northern union served as safe houses for slaves escaping from the south and did have secret underground rooms. The underground railroad includes homes to the north and south of Whitewater. The Milton House to the south has a secret passage to a cabin behind the main house which is now a museum where one can walk through the tunnel. The home at 323 Merchants Ave. in Fort Atkinson also has an underground room and tunnel. The Merchants Ave. house is the house that my mother grew up in and it was my uncle that discovered the secret room and tunnel. Oddly enough, that house was also haunted as some of my aunts befriended the ghost who lived there.
Whitewater does have tunnels. My father confirmed this with his daily coffee clutch. A couple of the fellows in the group are retired city workers who have seen the tunnels and supplied the accompanying photos. The tunnel connecting the Hamilton House to the First English Lutheran Church across Main St. is still there, but it is all bricked up on each end. The tunnel system apparently also connected to a bunch of the churches and homes all in the Church St. area as well. These pictures of a tunnel section under a parking lot were taken on the other side of the church. I wish I would have known this when I was in the basement of the church learning to be a boy scout!
Whitewater also has a bunch of indian mounds and burial grounds which unfortunately got partially developed a while back. This isn't so mystic, though, as there are mounds all over southern Wisconsin. A mere 30 miles towards Madison is Aztalan, a place loaded with ethereal power. Aztalan was supposedly a trading post a long time ago which traffiked in copper coming from the mines in Upper Michigan. Aztalan is also a Native American site with cerimnonial and burial mounds.
A stones throw away from Aztalan is the location of the submerged pyramids in Rock Lake [see Update 8/11 below]. It makes sense since Aztalan is in the perfect location in the driftless area between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River and still south of the heavy snow line. A history statement on the Rock Lake Research Society site suggests the existance of the pyramids.
Most of the haunted locations in Whitewater I am aware of do reside in the haunted triangle, but that makes sense as the house I grew up in was right on the triangle line. Whether there is meaning to this or not I don't know. What I do know is that I have been hearing these stories for over 30 years. The existence of spirits has just never been in question for me. While I cannot define any supernatural occurrences in my experience, This triangle area is where I grew up, and I do definitely believe there is something special about my childhood home.
To the best of my knowledge, the trailer is strictly that, a trailer. I have never been successful at making contact with the creator nor have I seen any further information regarding production of the film. My guess is that the trailer is a stand-alone item, possibly created as a resume tool.
I continue to be impressed by the comments you all leave here. More information is always welcome, both good and bad. Please feel free to contact me with any further comments or questions at any time, and I will do everything I can to find out answers and publish them here.
Finally, if you like getting scared, I cannot reccomend enough the trip up to Green Bay to visit the TERROR ON THE FOX haunted house, sponsored by the Green Bay Preble Optimists. My wife, kids and I make it up there every year and it is always worth the trip!
My family and I were just out at Aztalan for the day recently when we were approached by a gentleman who offered us and some other picnic'ers a free guided tour of the park. It turns out that there is an archeological dig of the old camp going on right now so the gentleman was just there to give tours voluntairly. While I did not catch his name, he said he had been the chief archeologist for the State of Wisconsin. I guess that gives him some clout.
The Aztalan settlement was actually made up of a group of Mississippians from Cahokia which was a massive settlement where St. Louis now sits. The Mississipians occupied Cahokia pretty much up until the Europeans came to the new world.
The dig is being done by the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and is going on by the water by where the inhabitants would throw all of their garbage. It was a neat tour, but what struck me the most was when I asked the archeologist about the Rock Lake pyramids. Here's the deal he said, when Aztalan was first discovered to be what it was at the turn of the 20th century, some guy found a unique pile of glacial stones in the lake. It turns out that they are not pyramids at all, but a completely bunk story made up to try to get folks from Aztalan into Lake Mills to spend money.
According to the archeologist, the fact that a book was written about the pyramids is enough to get a lot of people to believe in the story, however, after many years of trying to identify the pyramids of Rock Lake, no concrete evidence has ever been found. So there you have it! The Rock Lake Pyramids apparently are completely fake!