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Ghost Seekers Investigate Bender Park

Rumors of Bender Park's haunting draws amateur ghost hunters to the area.

Oak Creek's has become a hotspot for paranormal investigators after rumors of its supposed haunting spread on the Internet.

Last week, a couple of amateur Milwaukee ghost hunters - accompanied by yours truly - headed out into the park in the dead of night to see what all the hubbub was about.

Websites like Haunted Wisconsin and Strange USA both list Bender Park as one of our state's most haunted locales. A Caledonia man even started a Facebook page for Haunted Bender Park.

All of these sources include some variation of the same morbid tale.

Legend has it that in the 1890s, a local farmer butchered his wife and neighbor before burning his lands. His field is said to lie within the park borders these days. Rumors about Indian burial grounds, satanic rituals and spectral drag race victims off of Fitzsimmons Road are also prevalent when discussing the spooky park's history.

Brandon Vossberg - the lead ghost expert for our expedition - says he was intrigued by the tales and put together a scouting mission to the park to have a look around. Being amateurs, Vossberg and company aren't armed to the teeth with all sorts of high-tech ghost detectors - just a makeshift radio ghostbox and fearless curiosity.

After hiking some of the park's trails by moonlight, our party stopped at a bench to set up the ghostbox, a digital device that's been slightly modified by Vossberg to cycle through radio waves. In theory, the device works to pick up evidence of electronic voice phenomena (or EVP), like ghostly communications, Vossberg said.

Our experiment with the ghostbox ended after repeated attempts to elicit an EVP response proved fruitless. None of the farmer's victims or drag racers were very interested in communicating with us.

Further exploration of the park's trails also turned up little that could be described as paranormal, but it was eventful nonetheless. While attempting to draw ghosts in with questions, we were startled by the earthly response of wheezing, snorting and hoof-stomping that one can only assume came from a deer, presumably resting in the treeline a short distance off.

Upon examination, the pictures taken that night had some interesting features. Some include floating orbs (see photo on bridge), which are commonly used as evidence in paranormal investigations. However, the orbs we saw could just as easily be produced by the camera's flash.

Some of the night's pictures also include fierce orange apparitions, but Vossberg was quick to debunk them as merely the camera's interpretation of the light cast by the nearby power plant.

So, no conclusive evidence of any paranormal activity was found that night, but Bender Park remains a curiosity, with its grim history, dark forests, marshes and old farmers' fields. No doubt, those interested in ghosts and the paranormal will continue to flock to the location, which has captured so many people's imaginations.

Not content with his relatively minor investigation, Vossberg says he plans to return to the area with better equipment and more time.

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