LAVA HOT SPRINGS — The Travel Channel show “Ghost Adventures” will be in Lava Hot Springs on Tuesday to investigate paranormal activity that has been reported at the Lava Hot Springs Inn.
What is now a hotel used to be a hospital in the 1920s before being converted into an assisted living facility, and then, 26 years ago, George Katsilometes purchased the hotel with a former partner and converted it into a hotel. However, Katsilometes said neither of them had any prior knowledge of hotel management and numbered one of the rooms in the hotel No. 13 — a number that is traditionally associated with extremely bad luck.
Coincidently, room 13 was the room where anesthesia was administered when the building was a hospital. The room next door, which is now a sitting room, had been the operating room. The two doors that connected room 13 with the sitting room had been locked and covered with art. It was in these two rooms that the first ghost was reported.
According to Katsilometes, a couple staying in room 13 reported seeing a woman dressed in a hospital gown in their room at night. She even spoke to the couple, asking them why they were there.
“I just thought it was something they were yaking about,” said Katsilometes. “I thought they made it up.”
However, another couple staying in room 13 reported seeing the same ghost a few months later. Two employees of the hotel also reported the same ghost, who reportedly said her name was Martha, when they were moving a bookcase in front of one of the doors between room 13 and the former operating room. Katsilometes said Martha told them not to put the bookcase there, but they did, and that whole night the door rattled as if someone was trying to get out.
Employees Cindy Martin and Sierra Peace also told Katsilometes they had seen a figure, who they called Shadow Man, in the laundry room in the basement of the hotel. That room happens to be the former morgue of the hospital. Employees Susan Soward and Nathleen Rife have also reported some paranormal activity at the inn.
“These are my long-term employees,” said Katsilometes. “I know they’re not just feeding me bull.”
The Lava Hot Springs Inn has been featured in a book by Bruce Raisch called “Haunted Hotels of the West” and has also been checked out a few times by a “ghost busters” team from Salt Lake City. They told Katsilometes that they had found something, but they weren’t sure what.
“I myself have had one episode,” said Katsilometes. “In the boiler room, which is also in the basement, I felt a presence. You know you get that feeling that someone is in the room with you? But no one was there.”
All of the paranormal sightings have been reported in places where, when the building had been a hospital, people could have died, and Katsilometes said they’ve had kids cry and want to leave in the middle of the night because they’re so scared.
“But we’ve never had any bad experiences with the ghosts. They’re friendly ghosts,” said Katsilometes. “If we are haunted, these souls were just trapped in the room, so we try to leave everything open, windows and things.”
He said it must have worked because Martha, the ghost from room 13, hasn’t been seen in about 15 years. On Tuesday, the professionals from the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” will spend three days in Lava Hot Springs figuring that out for sure.
Show hosts Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin interview people such as Katsilometes and his employees who have experienced hauntings, as well as interview local historians and, as the finale, lock themselves in the haunted location and confront the spirits overnight.
“I can’t say for sure we’re haunted,” said Katsilometes, “but based on what this place used to be, if there’s any place that should be haunted, it’s this place.”