On May 10th, 2014- Johnsdale Paranormal Group headed to Brainerd, MN to investigate at the Last Turn Saloon. For this investigation, we were lucky enough to be put in contact with Jennifer Karas, a longtime employee of the Last Turn Saloon. Jennifer was gracious enough to share many stories and claims of paranormal activity at the saloon, as well as filling us in on some of the history behind the location. In talking with Jennifer on the phone, as well as at the saloon prior to investigating, she told us about claims of odd footsteps, disembodied voices, odd sounds, items moving on their own, feelings of being watched/touched, the antique payphone ringing on its own, and a very interesting encounter where some patrons of the saloon witnessed a full apparition of a man walk through the front door and then disappear! She also shared the findings from a previous investigation conducted by Dakota Paranormal, in which they found many EVP’s and had a few interesting personal experiences. Jennifer also shared some of the history of the saloon and surrounding area. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the saloon actually sat in a different location which is a few blocks away from where the current saloon sits. Unfortunately, the original Last Turn Saloon was associated with one of the more tragic incidents in Minnesota history. Two Native American men were falsely accused of murdering a local white girl, and were hung by the town’s people outside the saloon. Jennifer also shared with us that it is highly likely that the current saloon was used as a speakeasy and brothel during the prohibition era. There are tunnels in the lower level of the building that have recently been uncovered. These tunnels connect to other adjacent buildings, and are thought to have been used secretly by bootleggers during the 1920’s and early 1930’s. We also learned that there have been numerous fires in the downtown Brainerd area throughout its early days. Apparently, there was a hotel that used to be located next to the current saloon location that suffered a fire in which there were a few casualties. One of the casualties was a woman named Julia Erickson. One of the EVP’s caught by Dakota Paranormal seems to be a voice saying “Julia get out”! It is also known that the current saloon location used to serve as the Brainerd Model Laundry building, which used to take care of laundry services for the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Brainerd State Hospital, and many other local businesses during the mid-1900’s. We used all of this information in an attempt to help guide our investigation.
Investigation Start Time: Approx. 1:00am
Investigation End Time: Approx. 5:45am
People Present: Justin Miner- (JPG), William Hill- (JPG), Brian Miner- (JPG)
Jennifer Karas (Last Turn Saloon Employee- until approximately 1:30am)
Kevin- (Last Turn Saloon Employee)
Weather Conditions: Clear- 50 degrees
We started by setting up our equipment in the areas with reported paranormal activity. We set a 1080p HD Night Vision video camera in the basement area, focused on the entrance to the uncovered tunnels. We were hoping to capture any possible movement in an out of that area, as well as capture any possible voices down in that area. We also set a video camera in the billiard room, facing the back hallway, in an attempt to capture movement and voices. This seemed to be a highly active area for EVP’s during the investigation conducted by Dakota Paranormal. We also had two cameras in the main bar area- one facing the front door, and one facing down the bar toward the billiard room. With these, we were hoping to capture any chairs or other items moving, a possible apparition, and the sounds of voices or footsteps. We decided to put our Sony Handicam with a laser grid in the area with the dart board and old sofa from the Pillsbury Mansion. We were hoping to capture any possible shadow movement, EVP’s, or footsteps in that area. Lastly, we placed our IR motion activated trail camera in the Women’s restroom. We were told that the restroom had been somewhat of a hotspot for activity, so we were hoping to catch the stall doors opening/closing on their own, EVP’s, or any other type of movement in that area.
Brian, William, and I started our investigation by sitting in the Billiard Room to conduct an EVP session. Kevin remained in the main bar area during this time. After approximately 20 minutes, I told Brian and William that I thought I could hear whispered conversation coming from the main bar area. Knowing that Kevin was out there, I decided to go out and ask if he had heard anything, or if he had been talking. On the video clip labeled- “LTS Bar Area- Move Closer”, at approximately the 5 second mark you can hear a whispered voice say the phrase “Move Closer”. At the 12 second mark, you see me coming from the billiard room to check in with Kevin. He had not heard anything during that time. We spent approximately 30 more minutes taking readings and conducting our EVP session in the Billiard Room. During this time, the IR camera that we placed in the basement tunnel area managed to pick up a few EVP’s. These EVP’s are somewhat difficult to hear due to an exhaust fan running, and the fact that they are very subtle. You can make them out better if you listen through headphones, and it also helps to listen to the clip a few times back to back, so your ears can get used to the fan noise. There were a total of three EVP’s caught during this time. In the first one, labeled “LTS Tunnels- Ratilla”, you can hear what sounds like a female’s voice say a word that sounds somewhat like “Ratilla”. It happens just before the 2 second mark in the video- we aren’t sure what this is referring to. In the second EVP, labeled “LTS Tunnels- Where’s Shane”, you can hear a voice that seems to be saying the phrase “Where’s Shane”. It happens at approximately the 2 second mark of the video. We are assuming that this voice is asking about Shane, who is an employee of Last Turn Saloon. It seems that whatever spirits are at the location have taken a liking to him. Dakota Paranormal also caught an EVP with a voice asking about Shane! In the third EVP, labeled “LTS Tunnels- Julia get out, hurry”, you can hear what sounds like a voice saying “Julia get out, hurry”! It happens just prior to the 2 second mark in the video clip, and we are assuming that this voice is tied to the Julia who died in the hotel fire next to the saloon. It is also interesting in the fact that Dakota Paranormal also caught an EVP saying “Julia get out” during their investigation. At the time that each of these EVP’s was caught, there was nobody in the tunnel or lower basement area.
After our EVP session in the Billiard Room, William and Brian decided to head to the basement area. While they were down there, they took readings with the K2 meter and conducted an EVP session. They did claim to hear a few odd noises but could not determine what the cause of them was. There was nothing captured on audio or video in the basement/tunnel area during that time. During this same time, Kevin and I were sitting in the main bar area. I was leading an EVP session, and trying to get something to interact with the K2 meter and touch/vibration sensors. At one point while sitting at one of the round tables, I got a significant hit on the K2 meter. I decided to pick it up and try to locate a source in the immediate area that might be causing the meter to go off. Usually we can trace things such as appliances, old wiring, breaker panels, neon lights, and other such things as the source which makes the meter go off. In this instance, I was able to locate a spot in the middle of the room next to a table that would consistently make the K2 light up. It was a free floating spot that I could not trace back to any source. The spot was approximately 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide and I could trace a fairly clear outline of it. I was able to trace the spot for a few minutes and then it was completely gone! This is the first time I’ve had an experience such as this! During this same time, we were able to capture a few EVP’s from the Billiard Room. On the clip labeled “LTS Billiard Room- Male Breath or Blow”, you can hear something that sounds like a man taking a breath or blowing. It happens at the 3 second mark of the clip. We also caught two more EVP’s that sound like they go together. At the 3 second mark on the clip labeled “LTS Billiard Room- Hey Everybody”, you hear what sounds like a male voice whisper the phrase, “Hey everybody”! Approximately one minute after that EVP was captured, we caught what seems to be the same voice whispering what sounds like either He’s your buddy”, or “Who’s your buddy”? This one can be heard just before the 2 second mark on the clip labeled “LTS Billiard Room- Who’s your buddy”. Right around this same time, we also caught an EVP on the IR Trail Camera that we set in the Women’s restroom. Just prior to the 9 second mark on the clip labeled “Trail Cam- Show Yourself”, you can hear a voice clearly say “Show Yourself”. This EVP is interesting because we often use this exact phrase when we are asking spirits to interact with us. The IR Trail Camera has a significantly less powerful microphone than our other cameras- meaning you really have to be in close proximity of the Trail Camera to be able to pick up a clear audio clip like this one. The voice also sounds like it has somewhat of a mocking tone, which could indicate that a spirit was tired of us asking it to do something or show itself.
After approximately one hour, William and Brian decided to come up to the main bar area. We spent some time trying to get more readings with the K2 meters, as well as conducting more EVP sessions. After about 20 minutes, we decided to sit at the table under the flat screen TV and conduct a Spirit Box session. A Spirit Box is simply an AM/FM radio that has been modified to be able to rapidly scan radio frequencies without stopping. I must admit, we are still experimenting with this device and are somewhat skeptical about its results. However, we have heard some very interesting evidence gathered by other groups who have used this tool to communicate with spirits. We were also informed by Jennifer that Dakota Paranormal received some fairly substantial responses using this method, so we felt that it was necessary for us to conduct a session as well. We were somewhat surprised by our findings! The first response came after William asked the question, “Who is here with us tonight”? You can hear what sounds like a female voice say, “Me”! This can be heard on the clip labeled “Spirit Box- Me” just before the 5 second mark. The second response comes after William asks the question, “Can you say your name again”? Immediately after he finishes the question, you hear a female voice say, “Laura”. This can be heard at the 4 second mark of the clip labeled “Spirit Box- Laura”. The third response came after I introduced everyone in the room and asked the question, “Can you make one of our names come out of this box clearly so we can understand it”? A few seconds later you can hear a voice say, “Justin”! This can be heard at the 10 second mark on the clip labeled “Spirit Box- Justin”. The fourth response was after I asked the question, “How many men do you see sitting at this table tonight”? A few seconds after my question, you can hear a voice say, “Three”! The interesting thing about this response is that we also caught a different voice responding to the same question from the Billiard Room. The Spirit Box response can be heard at the 6 second mark on the clip labeled “Spirit Box- Three”. The response from the Billiard Room can be heard at the 7 second mark on the clip labeled “LTS Billiard Room- Response Three”. The fifth response came during a conversation that Brian had about a Dr. Hobson who used to live in the area. He had asked the question. “Do you know where Dr. Hobson is?” “Is he here in the bar tonight, or is he at home sleeping?” After his questions, you can hear a voice that seems to say the word, “Bed”. This could possibly be referring to Dr. Hobson being home in bed. This can be heard at the 24 second mark on the clip labeled “Sprit Box- Bed”. The final response from the Spirit box came after Brian made the comment, “If you want us to leave, tell us right now”. A few seconds after he makes this statement, you can hear a voice that says, “Leave”! This can be heard at the 17 second mark on the clip labeled “Spirit Box- Leave”.
After concluding the Spirit Box session, we decided to take a break and leave the building for a while. We all went outside for a period of approximately 20-25 minutes. During this time, we caught a pretty impressive EVP in the main bar area. On the camera that we had set up facing the front door, we caught a voice that says the phrase, “Gettin’ hungry”. This can be heard at the 3 second mark on the clip labeled “LTS Bar Area- Gettin Hungry”. You can also hear some odd ‘clanking’ noises during the clip as well. Also around this time, we ended up catching a somewhat disturbing EVP on the trail cam in the Women’s restroom. During the clip, you can definitely hear what sounds like a baby screaming and crying. After hearing this EVP, we double checked and confirmed that nobody was living in the apartment above the bar during the night of our investigation. At the 2 second mark on the clip labeled “Trail Cam- Baby Cry”, you can hear what we are referring to. We wish to express that this EVP could be upsetting to some, and we are sharing it with the public purely as a piece of valid evidence. It is not easy to hear what could possibly be the spirit of a young child in distress, and we wish to maintain the highest level of sensitivity and respect to that situation.
After our break, we decided to go back inside and conduct one last session with Brian, William, and me down in the basement tunnel area. We spent approximately 30 minutes in that area, taking readings and conducting an EVP session. While we were down there, William and I heard what sounded like a female voice. We could not make out what it said, and unfortunately we were not able to catch anything on audio or video during that time. While the three of us were in the basement area, Kevin stayed up in the main bar area. During that time, we ended up catching a couple interesting EVP’s in that area. In both of the clips, you can see Kevin sitting at the bar…not moving…not talking. The first EVP sounds like a male voice saying the name “Jake”, followed by some whispers that we can’t make out. This can be heard at the 2 second mark on the clip labeled “LTS Bar Area- Jake”. The second EVP was caught a few minutes after the first one. It sounds like there is something or someone moving around, followed by a voice that whispers something that sounds like, “Hurts”. This can be heard at the 5 second mark on the clip labeled “LTS Bar Area- Hurts”. Kevin did not hear any of this happening at the time they were caught on audio/video.
At the end of the investigation, as we were beginning to break down the equipment, the IR Trail Camera located in the Women’s restroom ended up recording a ten second clip in which we caught another EVP. Initially, I thought I was hearing a random bang or possibly a coughing noise. After listening to the clip a few times, we are able to decipher what sounds like a voice quickly saying “Kevin”. This is interesting, as Kevin was in that area turning some lights back on! You can hear the EVP at the 6 second mark on the clip labeled “Trail Cam- Kevin”.
While we caught nothing out of the ordinary on video, and did not have much for personal experiences other than the odd K2 spot in the main bar area, the things we did captured on audio are very interesting. It definitely leads us to believe that something strange is going on at the Last Turn Saloon. I usually refrain from labeling a place as “haunted” unless I actually have an undeniable personal experience, or if I see something with my own eyes. However, it is evident that there seems to be a significant level of paranormal activity occurring at the saloon. Many of the EVP’s we captured on audio ended up solidifying the findings of Dakota Paranormal that they found during their investigation. We feel that a more extensive look into the history of the location, along with additional time spent gathering audio/video evidence could help lead to a better understanding of what could be causing the interesting paranormal activity at the Last Turn Saloon! All of the video/audio clips can be viewed at the bottom of the page.