I learned Friday one of them finally won an award: second place, best single general feature in the 2012 Journalism Excellence Awards by the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association. I've won this award once before, and others, for education, breaking news and business reporting.
This article, "Secrets of Munger Road," chronicles my visit with EPI to the reportedly haunted railroad crossing at Munger Road in suburban Chicago, just after a locally-filmed independent movie about its urban legends had been released at this time last year. It also appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and a number of other Sun-Times Media publications. And then I appeared on the investigators EPI Para Radio show to discuss our investigation -- and brush with the police. (Reports of my flirting with good-looking forest preserve police officers to get us out of trouble are greatly exaggerated.)
You can read that article below, and more about all the NINA Award-winners from Sun-Times Media West papers, here. CONGRATULATIONS, ALL!
BARTLETT — The Elgin Paranormal Investigators had been at the railroad crossing on Munger Road here no more than a half-hour on a recent Saturday night when they experienced what investigator Krystiena Kurtz called the stuff of “our worst nightmares.”
There were screams from the railroad tracks, all kinds of activity, flashing lights, and then ... .
“OK, everybody get in the car and leave. This place isn't haunted. It hasn't been haunted for 40 years.”
... there were the Bartlett police.
If the railroad crossing is haunted, as urban legend and the recent locally filmed movie “Munger Road” claim, it is haunted by teenagers. They come out at night, taking pictures, trying to park cars on and along the tracks and shrieking as their tires bounce over the rails.
“We’ve seen a huge increase since the movie came out,” Bartlett police Cmdr. Michael McGuigan said. “It was something we anticipated. It was something we expected.”
So did the Elgin Paranormal Investigators.
The group, founded in 2007, started a series investigating local urban legends about two years ago. They had been investigating private homes around the Elgin area by invitation, but co-founder Greg Stout of Elgin said, “It seems like no one wants to know anymore” about their home’s history and possible otherworldly occupants.
Munger Road was one of the first urban legends co-founder Mike Rohr of DeKalb proposed investigating. That’s because, he said, it was the site of “the very first investigation I ever did — 13 years ago now. That’s what got me started in this (paranormal investigation) business.”
For the rest of the story, read Secrets of Munger Road (Sun-Times Media).
For more information about Munger Road and the movie named for the creepy rural route, read More Secrets of Munger Road (Between the Bylines). And for more information about the Elgin Paranormal Investigators, visit the E.P.I. website.
Click below to hear me on E.P.I. Para Radio after our failed investigation of Munger Road last year:
What does your religion tell you about ghosts? Do you believe in ghosts? If so, what are they? How does your religion, scripture and/or faith tradition inform your belief about them? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments or on Quora.
Photo credit: Andrew A. Nelles for Sun-Times Media.