Draped beneath the clear night sky, the only sound wafting out from the old saloon next door and the silhouette of a hanging gallows visible against the horizon, a small group assembled to go on a ghost hunt. Concealed in darkness a short walk outside of the old town, a long abandoned cabin and a decaying mill site awaited them. For all present, it was to prove to be a magical and haunting night.
Dinner With A Ghost was truly a one of a kind experience. There are plenty of dinner shows to choose from and a good many ghost tours around Las Vegas; this is the only one to combine a real paranormal investigation with a gourmet dinner.
It all took place about a three hours’ drive north of Las Vegas in Gold Point, a ghost town along the western edge of Nevada not far from Death Valley National Park. At its height, Gold Point had over two hundred buildings and a population of well over one thousand people. Unfortunately, the buildings were wood framed and not built to last; today there are around thirty or so original buildings still standing and the population is… ten, or seven if you don’t count the three that live outside the town’s technical city limits. At times such as Memorial Day weekend, however, the town swells with visitors, many of which utilize the town’s campground.
This year, guests were shown through the historic home of Senator Harry Wiley, which opens into the old post office building, where dinner was served. In the dimly lit, cozy back room, a five course steak dinner was served while John Cushman and his ghost hunting crew, Ghost Town Operations (or GTOPS for short), explained how their tools of the trade worked and entertained with stories of their experiences with the paranormal. Throughout dinner, the “voice box” device allowed any present spirits to speak in real time.
And speak they did; the robotic voice announced that “Adam” and “Murphy” were present—The latter had spoken to them the previous night as well, according to the crew. Sensing devices were also set up around the dark room, which are triggered by touch; they lit up frequently during the course of the scrumptious meal, often in close intervals to when the voice box spoke.
The food alone, which was prepared fresh and cooked on site in the kitchen of Senator Wiley’s home, was worth the drive. Chef Dan is not only a superb cook, but he is also an official member of GTOPS as well.
After dinner, the group moved outside to begin the next phase of the evening. A short walk away, along a dirt path marked with garden lights, the formal ghost investigation was to begin at a small abandoned cabin. Besides the aforementioned devices, here GTOPS added a few children’s toys to trigger activity from the ghostly inhabitants.
One such toy was an electric keyboard. To stir things up, a volunteer from the group, a young boy named Joey, was asked to play with the keyboard for a moment before inviting the spirits to play it. To everyone’s shock, the toy lit up and a distinct “Hi” issued forth from the keyboard! No one was touching it and it was not a speaking toy. The keyboard then stopped working and could not be made to stay on afterwards. The paranormal activity seemed to die down after that, with only a few sensor lights turning on here and there. Then, the keyboard came to life again and said “Bye” very clearly. It was quite an eerie thing to witness, and most likely made a few new believers out of the group.
After the cabin, the investigation continued on to an old mill a short distance away and then back into town, and on to the old brothel house and general store buildings. The mill was quiet and peaceful, but nothing much occurred there. The brothel was a bit more lively with the voice box and sensors and had genuinely strange feel to it. After the keyboard incident, however, everything else seemed to pale in comparison.
While Dinner With A Ghost has been an ongoing Memorial Day event in Gold Point for years, they are not limited to one spot. They have done dinners in Orange County, California, at the Orange Circle Antique Mall last March, as well as in one of Charlie Chaplin’s old houses in Hollywood. There are many more dinners planned for the future and many more possibilities in the work.
“We have everything we need to do the full dinner anywhere, even in the middle of the desert,” says Cushman. He attributes their adaptability to the crew having diverse backgrounds in food and beverage and experience in remote locations around rural Nevada.
Dinner With A Ghost is unquestionably something different; it was a unique and fascinating evening indeed. The GTOPS crew are like old friends that you didn’t know you had; each of their personalities brought something special to the experience. Nothing felt routine and captured the real spirit of what you would want from a ghost hunt, and you just can’t get that on the strip.