By Jim Kelly
Sometimes you can stumble into an active volcano of paranormal activity. Multiple layers of strangeness can wreak havoc on your way of thinking as well as having a psychological effect on you for the future and change some of your ideas of the unknown when you experience it first-hand. The Main Street Grille investigation did have a dramatic effect on my psyche for weeks to come and would force me out of my skeptical shell forever.
I am the type of person that must explain everything that happens to me. That is how die-hard skeptics like me cope with everyday life. I always get satisfaction in solving riddles and puzzles with science and skepticism. But this investigation would not hold any answers for me, it would bring up more questions and sweep me into a wave of understanding that something strange and unusual can sometimes swallow you up and change the way you think forever.
Payson, Arizona was founded as Union Park in 1882. Settlers in the area called it Green Valley until the first post office was established. The postmaster later named it after Senator Louis Edward Payson.
Payson is situated at the foot of the Mogollon Rim country. A rugged plateau of land carpeted with miles of lush green pine trees and heavy scrub oak. In the 1800’s, the Tonto Apaches lived in the area until it was settled by miners, farmers, and logging.
In 1918, famous author and outdoorsman Zane Grey made his first trip to the Payson. He later purchased two plots of land near Tonto Creek where he wrote many of his famous novels of the west.
Today, Payson is a growing community with a big tourist industry. It is very close to many fresh water lakes, ideal for fishing and hunting, and is a favorite getaway for thousands of people trying to escape the blistering summer heat from the rugged desert below.
The Main Street Grille was the site of the original post office for the city of Payson. Over the years it was bought and sold many times over. Rooms were added on and the building was turned into a restaurant and bar. To this day, no business that has moved into that location has been successful, and it sits today empty and silent…
I was notified by a friend that a local Payson restaurant named the Main Street Grille was experiencing some type of ghostly activity. I contacted the owner, an enthusiastic gentleman who was very forthcoming in providing information on the history of the alleged paranormal claims.
According to the owner, employees had reported that bottles of steak sauce were being pitched to the floor quite frequently. Kitchen personnel saw the steak sauce bottles fly off of their storage shelves for no apparent reason. These accounts were verified by kitchen personnel.
Sometimes, liquor bottles would suddenly fall over without provocation in the bar area of the restaurant as well.
One employee later informed me that when he opened the restaurant in the early morning, he saw a trail of yellow mustard leading from one of the bus stations all the way into the upper dining hall where he found the empty bottle lying on the floor.
The owner went on to explained that one day while he was in the storage room on the second floor, liquor bottles on designated storage shelves began to shake. He quickly retreated down the stairway and out of the area. The owner went on to say that years earlier, previous owners allowed a despondent man named Mel, permission to live in the upper storage room until one day he was found dead. Employees said that they always felt as though he was being watched while he was in that room.
According to the owner, the man passed away on a couch in the storage room. But when the couch, in tattered condition, was thrown out, all paranormal activity seemed to have ceased altogether in that upper level hot-spot.
Other phenomenon was reported as well. Near the main entrance to the restaurant is a small corridor that is referred to as the “Old kitchen.” It is the only remnant of the original structure built in the early part of the last century. This is where the apparition of a girl in period type clothing has been sighted on multiple occasions by both employees and patrons alike walking slowly in front of the window that looks towards Main Street.
There were also rumors of the cash register tape noting the sale of hot chocolate when there was never such an item listed on the menu at the restaurant. However, no such proof of a receipt could be produced as evidence.
Several of the employees of the Main Street Grille said that they always felt as though they were being watched. Patrons would hear voices then turn to the sound and see nothing there.
The Investigation of the Main Street Grille
The investigation did not start until after midnight. Members of the Arizona Paranormal Investigations group (API for short) were determined to get to the bottom of these reports and try and get some answers for the owner. There was a reception that lasted until late evening and there was a great amount of interest in town about our organization and arrival the day of the investigation. We were interviewed by the local press and had well over a hundred people asking us questions about paranormal investigation.
Sony-night vision cameras were set up in two hallways near the front of the restaurant while one camera overlooked the bar. The last camera was set up in the upper storage room where the older man had reportedly passed away.
The team performed EMF sweeps (electro- magnetic fields) in each room of the building and found unusual fluctuations in the Zane Grey room, a small dining area located near the front of the restaurant.
There has been controversy in ghost hunting circles on the use of EMF detectors. Some investigators are convinced that an abnormal reading from an EMF reading would indicate the presence of phenomena. However, no such instrument currently known to us can guarantee that phenomena is present.
Electro magnetic fields are like tides in the ocean. They constantly ebb and flow all around us. Some can be very strong, while others are weaker, less pronounced. What the Arizona Paranormal Investigators looked for was to attempt to correlate abnormal EMF readings to paranormal phenomena if there was some type of evidence trail to follow. We had found a recent pattern of abnormal electro magnetic field readings possibly contributing to activity in some reported locations.
( An apparition of a young girl is commonly seen walking back and forth near the “Open” sign in the photograph above. )
The Zane Grey dining room could have been such an EMF hotbed. Located near the entry of the restaurant, team members began to receive very high readings in the center of the room between 10 to 20 Milligauss, which is very high for any structure or home. All electrical appliances were turned off in the dining room when the readings were taken. The team traced these readings to the upper storage room, which was located directly above the Zane Grey dining room. We believed that these readings were caused by faulty wiring, or what we call man-made electro-magnetic bleeds.
Temperature readings were steady throughout the restaurant between 58 to 65 degrees.
Over 269 photographs were taken along with 21 hours of audio recordings, and 24 hours of video tape footage was recorded as well.
API investigator Kyle McNatt took a photograph of a faint outline of what appears to be a man in a cowboy hat in one of the hallways near the Zane Grey room during the investigation. This is a remarkable photograph in the sense that we eliminated any possible source such as reflection, or any other camera anomaly for producing such a stunning image. There is slight camera blur due to movement when this photo was taken along with lens flare from a glass case on the upper left side caused by the flash mechanism of the camera in low light conditions. However, if you look closely in the darkened doorway you will see a figure with a cowboy hat and upper torso. ( Photo courtesy of Kyle McNatt.)
In this next photo below we darkened the photo slightly to bring up the image in the doorway. ( Imaging courtesy of Sharon Day.)
In the next photo below, we lightened the image. You can clearly see the head, shoulders, cowboy hat with the upper torso. The white image below the torso is an artifact from the flash bouncing off of the light colored wall just to the right of the doorway. We returned to the area and tried to recreate this photo. We failed to do so. There was no reason for this “Hatman” image to have been in the photo and it remains unexplained. Is this an apparition type being forming in the doorway? We can’t say for sure but it can’t be debunked either. This doorway leads to a large dining room. ( Imaging courtesy of Sharon Day.)
We obtained two outstanding samples of EVP, (Electronic Voice Phenomena) on this investigation. API investigator Kyle McNatt captured a clear whisper on an audio recorder that replied “Hard!” Click on the file below.
The other EVP was recorded in the old kitchen where the reported apparition of a young girl had been seen time and time again. Another team member and I had just set up recording equipment in that area. We were both on our way to the second floor storage room to check on another recording unit.
In the background on the cassette tape you will hear our voices become more distant as we walked towards the stairwell away from the recording unit. A very clear, direct, female response of “Say Goodbye!” was heard on the cassette tape. It’s the last voice you hear on the clip below.
I believe that both of these EVP’s were direct, intelligent interaction between the phenomenon and investigators. The “Say Goodbye!” EVP had a common trait of many EVP’s of this nature. A slight echo resonated during this response. I have heard this frequently in EVP recordings from both my own recordings and other EVP researchers in the field. Was this some type of dimensional echo of paranormal energy bursting out with the desire to communicate with us? If not, what caused this?
Group EVP sessions:
We assembled the team including the two restaurant escorts into the bar area at 4:30 AM. We were all exhausted and had been at the restaurant for over 15 hours conducting frequent EVP sessions in several parts of the building late that night into the early morning hours. Cameras and digital recorders were placed in each room.
(Hallway leading to the front where the most of the apparition sightings have been reported.)
One investigator with sensitive abilities was seated to my left while another team member with sensitive ability was to my right. A total of nine of us were seated in the circle. Multiple recorders, both cassette and digital, were positioned inside and outside of the circle. The drone of a refrigerator behind the bar combined with the loud sound of the heating system added to the very noisy but creepy atmosphere of the Main Street Grille bar area.
Several minutes into the EVP session we began to hear strange thumping and banging noises all around us. These were not sound settling noises either. The two restaurant escorts began to get frightened especially when something unseen began to touch them both under the table. After calming them down, the EVP session continued.
The sensitive investigator to my left then asked, “How many of you are there?”
Within just a few seconds a very loud, female voice responded with: “There are five!” I remember hearing a strange echo accompany the strong reply. An echo as only I can describe as what a loud voice in an empty auditorium would sound like. As soon as I ascertained that the voice did not come from any of us in the circle, the sensitive investigator who was seated just to my right looked at me and said that she heard a female voice say “There are Four.” No one else heard anything
I was stunned to say the least. But I realized that when the audio and video was checked in this area we would get a better outlook to exactly what had happened. No one seated at the table owned up to causing the audible voice, but it was a female voice and I was certain of that.
The next event was truly bizarre as well. As we were asking general questions near the end of the session as daybreak was starting to shed light into the windows, some type of squealing noise echoed throughout the room. It sounded as though it was very high pitched, a sound you would normally hear in an animated cartoon, or motion picture.
What makes this an interesting event is that we later found out that only the men in the circle heard this sound. The female members did not hear a thing. How could this have happened? Later, when both the audio and video units were checked, no audible evidence from the session was captured of this strange squealing sound.
How could this be?
In the beginning of this article I talked about how this investigation had such an impact on me. It was not until I began to check my audio recorders in the bar area during the last EVP session that I became both amazed and perplexed at the same time. There was no female voice captured on any of the recorders that myself and the investigator to my direct right had both heard during the EVP session in the bar.
I was stunned. I was sure that I had heard this voice. So was the investigator sitting next to me. I then remembered the bizarre squealing sound that only the men heard in the bar area during the same EVP session in the bar area where the female voice was heard.
Trying to find an explanation was difficult. But I came up with three possibilities. The first was that two of us that heard the voice in the bar simply was an auditory hallucination. It was not a mass auditory hallucination, but one that could have been caused by exhaustion and stress of being in such an active location.
Another possibility had more promise. It has been a traditional theory that phenomena can communicate with the human host or target by using ESP, or a psychic connection aimed at a specific target to communicate a message.
I recalled the bizarre squealing noise that only the men heard during the EVP session. Was that ESP, or a psychic transmission just like the female voice that only two of us had heard?
Or, was the sensitive investigator sitting next to me the target of the psychic communication from the phenomena and since I was sitting close to her I had accidently picked up that message as well?
I struggled with these questions for weeks. I don’t have a sensitive or psychic bone in my body and never have. Yet I heard a voice that was impossible to hear and not picked up on any recording devices. Technology failed me.
I kept waiting for all of these years for this experience to repeat during an investigation. It never happened to me since. I have since come to a conclusion that we just can’t explain everything that happens to us when dealing in the world of the paranormal realm. A place where down is up and up is down. In this world skeptics and scientists won’t be able to explain certain experiences and strange occurrences. That just won’t happen.
Instead of letting it get to me since I was, and still am a skeptic, I needed to go on and try and learn as much as I could about this type of phenomenon and not worry about the things I could not explain and focus on researching the things I can try to explain in order to pass that information on to the next generation of investigators and researchers who might find the answer someday. Or, at least get close.
The Main Street Grille stands vacant again to yet another failed business attempt. What made this place special might never be known. But it holds a very special place in my heart as a location that totally surprised, frustrated, and amazed me all at the same time.
I can’t wait to go back!