Bill Says: My first morning in Skagway and I awakened trembling from a hellish nightmare, bathed in night sweats and my single blanket wrapped around my knees. Yes, I did have a single reoccurring nightmare from an experience in Viet Nam, but this was so very different. I looked about the ancient jail cell, the concrete walls and tried to get my breathing and heart rate back within normal range. My jail, in which I was forced to use until better lodging came available, had a very high ceiling of about 12-feet and took up approximately 100 square feet. Two metal bunks, each with a very thin mattress, single blanket and sheets, and a single pillow. The walls were an ugly gray in color and probably hadn't seen a coat of fresh paint in years. There was a toilet without a seat, ( these could be used as weapons against a fellow prisoner or a guard), and a simple shower stall. No sink. The overhead light couldn't be reached without a ladder. The cell door was the original; heavy iron bars and secured through an outside mechanism the prisoners couldn't reach. Outside the cell was a single office, which held the chief's antique roll-top desk, file cabinets and inset shelves, plus a metal desk for the officers to use.
Over head on the 2nd floor was the Skagway Museum, closed now for the season. It was from here I was to first experience a haunting; which involved a restless stuffed standing grizzly bear mount- now chained to the wall by heavy links in an attempt to keep it from moving about the room. That evening, while writing a letter to my wife I began to hear the heavy foot prints from the floor above. Now no one bothered to mention to me the story of the restless bear, but I sure heard something moving about and rushed upstairs to find the museum locked up tight. I even ran out into the heavy snow to inspect the back door, which was frozen shut and with two feet of fresh snow blocking the doorway. The museum was even alarmed, sending out phone calls to us over our comm system when the alarm sounded. Sometimes as many as 20 times a month the alarm went off and I learned to really hate it. Officers had to respond to reset the alarm each time.
A new Christian, who had witnessed many unexplained occurrences in the war, was quite frankly, a bit upset over this marching about overhead. I knew it was someone very heavy for me to hear it from the room below, especially in a building constructed of granite rock. But after the nightmare from only last night, I was asking myself a lot of questions about this place I'd come too and began pulling some books off the shelves in hopes of finding some answers. One of these was the original Alaska Territorial Marshal Booking Records for the early 1900's. The Chief had already pointed out to me of how Eric Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz, was held here for a murder he committed in Nome. There were also pages and pages of men and women held for Insanity. It became so bad the township had to construct its own asylum to hold them. Now only the rubble remained of the building. There were dozens of prisoners being held for murder. I also read how at least 12-men had committed suicide in the cell I was sleeping in.
In my nightmare, a presence blacker than the dark it emerged from, came up from the floor of the cell and began to smother me. At one point I was looking down upon my body from the ceiling and watching as my body was being ripped apart by this dark demonic thing. I attempted to scream out, but could not make a sound and there was the maniacal laughter emanating from the cell walls. Next, my out of body presence was being sucked into the darkness and this was when I awakened. It is such a nightmare that mere description can in no way explain the fear it caused in me. Then came the stupid bear thing.
In the next couple of days to follow, I learned all I could about Skagway's history. For here was a town founded on man's greed; built from the ground up for the 1898 Gold Rush. Here, where murder, debauchery and mayhem stood as the town's cornerstone. Where thousands of men and women had come to strike it rich and only less than 1% ever discovered the gold, and so many would fall into despair, or insanity.
Most of the men and women made their money off the miners, some honestly as laborers and providers of needed supplies, and others.... thieves, cutthroats and gang members, gamblers and con-men, prostitutes and opium peddlers. Many of the miners would fall victim, assaulted and robbed or even killed. At one point, Soapy Smith, the legendary con man of Skagway, had a gang of over 100 men and women. But he to met his fate on the Skagway dock when he was killed in a gunfight. He was buried in Skagway, but years later someone stole his bones for what ever reason and only an empty grave and stone marker remained.
Skagway was a town made famous by its hauntings; ghosts of murdered bar girls and prostitutes and a few dead miners. A particular hotel room on the 3rd floor of a famous hotel, where a prostitute was strangled to death and visited annually by those investigating the paranormal. Here, the specter would routinely throw furniture about, tossing things through the glass window and frightening many a visitor. The room was always freezing, even though the rest of the floor was kept quite warm. I even experienced the ghost's wrath on a winter night when a chair was tossed through the window to bounce off the hood of my patrol car. At the time the 3rd floor was sealed off by a locked door, for when not needed the hotel owner kept it locked up as she herself was afraid to go up there. She finally found a buyer and left town.
During the Gold Rush a witches coven had formed, their activities and identities kept secret... that is until I came to work there. I'll get into this part later, but I will say that I was used to expose this coven and they were not happy. 13 witches and warlocks, some of them the key people in town. No, they were not happy and brought a lot of pressure against Mona and I.
After experiencing three nights of this same nightmare, I called my wife. With her occult background and now her renewed faith in the Lord, I felt she could help me. Sure I carried a revolver, nightstick and shotgun, I needed something a whole lot more spiritual to fight what ever was attacking me. Sure enough, she told me how to pray and cleanse the room/cell. So I prayed and laid hands on every wall surface, stick of furniture and shouted out the Lord's name to rebuke the enemy's presence. Now remember, this was all new stuff to me, but when I finished I felt a strange feeling of relief. The darkness was gone and I never had that nightmare return. Oddly enough, when the chief came in the next morning he thought I had cleaned the office. He said it felt almost cheery and thanked me.
I was to learn about the legend of the restless bear, how it had frightened one jail guard so bad he abandoned his prisoner and left town on the departing ferry. The prisoner was found cowering in his cell and needed sedation by the town nurse.
Oh there was a house where violin music came out of the walls, a famous bar where ghosts taunted the bartenders late at night with that same maniacal laughter and moving things about. Ghostly apparitions seen later at night walking about and vanishing. I even chased a ghost down the middle of the road, only to see it simply disappear in front of me. There were other such things, but enough of that now. The town was simply haunted and locked in the demonic grasp of the enemy. Even the Catholic church existed only now as an abandoned building and the few small churches were very lukewarm in spiritual strength. I found a town in depression, like no other I had ever lived in before. Some really great people in a worldly sense and little help for them.
Shortly after my arrival, the White Pass Railroad, which ran ore and passengers between Whitehorse, Canada and Skagway, went bankrupt and over night we saw 33% unemployment. It was devastating for the community. The town accounted for at least one suicide a year and another death by accident.
Yes, Mona and I really walked into it and we really had our hands full. Both of us were fighters, but this was a new ground for each of us and we relied heavily on one another. It forever changed my beliefs in the existence of the enemy and only added to my faith in the power the Lord had over the enemy. More to follow.