Gilson Road Cemetery, NH – Purple Streak ‘Ghost Photo’

gilson road cemetery purple streak of light

Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NH
5 November 1999, about 10:30 p.m.

This is my famous “purple streak” photo taken at Gilson Road Cemetery at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday, 5 November 1999. The picture has not been enhanced or altered in any way.  (The date and URL were added a few years later, when people started copying this photo without permission.)

This photo is from our first real investigation at Gilson Road Cemetery, and it was the night when we realized that the local legends are true:  Gilson Road is haunted.

I did not see anything like this magenta streak when I was taking the photos. I did see sparkles during most of my photos, similar to the remnants of a firework display, after an enduring firework has exploded.

I also remember feeling as if something had rushed past me, and I said aloud, “What was that?” But, so many odd things happened that night, I didn’t think much of it.

That photo was one of the last that I took, the first night I visited Gilson Road Cemetery. Six of us had gone there after karate class. The group included Alan (aka “ghostbait”), Nancy (who died soon after), Annie, James, and me.

We’d expected very little from a site that’s popular as a place for high school students to drink, far from prying eyes. Mostly, we went there to check out the legends.

This is the photo that led me to start talking about Gilson Road Cemetery, online, long before anyone else did.  In fact, this was back in 1999, when – my first major ghost-related website – was one of the very few sites to talk about paranormal activity.

Gilson Road Cemetery is well-known for being “haunted.” Local legend claims that an Indian battle was fought here in early Colonial times. There are also tales of a murder that took place in a home that was once within the cemetery’s stone walls. According to the story, the house later burned to the ground. After that, the property was turned into a cemetery.

This cemetery seems incredibly haunted, with – at the very least – massive residual energy.  18 out of my first 56 photos show orbs or other anomalies. Click here to read about our earliest experiences at Gilson Road Cemetery.

Technical info:
This was photo #21 on a 36-photo roll of Kodak Max 800 ASA. It was taken with an Olympus point-and-shoot camera, the AF-1. Photo #20, below, is nearly identical. (I didn’t bother enlarging it for this site, as it’s so very similar to the larger photo, above.)



I usually take two photos in close succession, so that I can use one as a “control” in case of a lens flare or other reflection. The two magenta-streaked photos were taken about five seconds apart.

Every other photo – immediately before and after – on this roll is normal, with no streaks. You can view the photos before and after, to compare.

First, a photo with headstones, frame #19, was taken about two minutes before the two streaked photos.

Photo #19 at Gilson Rd
Photo #19

The next photo with the figure (“Alan” in my story about that night) is frame #22, was taken about five minutes after the streak photos. He was not nearby when I took the streaked photos.

Photo #22, Gilson Rd. cemetery
Photo #22

These streaks in frames #20 and #21 are on the negative too; this was not a printing error. The streaks do not extend outside the frame. There are no splashes of chemicals or other distortions on the negatives.

Also, it is impossible to take double exposures with this camera.

The film was developed and printed at a grocery-store photo service: Shaw’s, Nashua, NH.

Myrtles Plantation, LA – More ‘Ghost Orb’ Photo Tips

Ghost orb pictures are among the most popular evidence of hauntings, and orbs can be the easiest subjects for beginning ghost photographers.

Some people seem to attract ghost orbs more than others. We’ve known ghost hunters who never see orbs in their photos, but they get great EVP… and vice versa.

Those of us who do capture ghost orbs in pictures, also seem to bring home higher percentages of ghost orb photos each time. We don’t know if the ghosts have become more comfortable with us, or if we’re developing an innate sense of where the orbs are.

Some ghost researchers claim that one or two orb photos per hundred (using a film camera) is very good. In profoundly haunted locations, as many as 35% of my photos will include anomalous orbs.

However, at The Myrtles Plantation, several of us — mostly researcher Margaret Byl (of G.H.O.S.T.S.) and I — were taking photos outdoors, after dark. To our amazement, we saw no orbs in pictures where humidity should have produced them.

The photo, above (dark scene with white picket fence), was taken in back of The Myrtles Plantation, near the marshy land and pond. We expected at least a half dozen false (natural) orbs in this and other photos.

(I haven’t analyzed other patterns yet, such as images in the grass that may be significant.)

I’ve included this photo to show you that, even in a very haunted location, professional ghost hunters don’t always find great orbs or other anomalies in their photos.


Indoors, we’re cautious when an orb might be from a reflective surface. (That’s rare,* but it can happen. So, we err on the side of skepticism.)

At the right, you can see one of my few good orb photos taken at The Myrtles Plantation. (An enhanced close-up is shown on the left, below.)

That’s a broken piano at the entry to the most haunted wing of The Myrtles Plantation. We checked the piano carefully, and some of the keys are jammed so that the piano doesn’t work. In fact, it can’t.

We also examined it closely for microphones or other evidence of a hoax. It’s a real, broken piano with nothing added.

There’s no sound equipment anywhere in that wing, that could account for what we heard later that night.

During our visit, that piano started playing all by itself, around midnight. I’d heard the stories of the piano music, of course.

However, I was expecting something classical… a piece by Debussy or something.

Not even close.  It wasn’t a melody, but the “plink, plink, plink” of a small child tapping on the keys at the far right side of the keyboard.

The experience was eerie, but one of the less startling events of a dramatic night at The Myrtles Plantation.

We weren’t at all surprised to see an orb over the piano in several of our photos — taken from different directions — including this one.


*For years, I was among the most skeptical voices regarding “ghost orbs.” Then, after several years’ intense study of orbs – with multiple cameras (film and digital) – I discovered that it’s very difficult to create a convincing (but fake) orb in photos.

Since then, I’ve been trying to undo the damage I caused by my early (199os and early 2000s) assertions. See my article Ghost Orbs – An Overlooked Question.

Using a Compass to Measure EMF

This article about EMF and hiking compasses
has been updated from my 2003 original.

compassCan an inexpensive hiking compass detect EMF as well as a $50+ EMF meter?

Until around 1999, I dismissed the idea of using a compass during ghost investigations. Instead, I relied on other ghost hunting equipment.

However, a series of tests with a sturdy $10 Coleman compass surprised me, and a $5 compasses worked nearly as well as my regular EMF meters.

Now, in some settings, I actually prefer to use a hiking compass when I first explore a haunted site.

And, unlike hi-tech equipment with batteries that can fail in haunted settings, the compass always works.

Here’s my background: For years, I was a Girl Scout leader. So, I know that hiking compasses work like gravity. They’re almost 100% reliable with no surprises, as long as you aren’t near something magnetic, a large electrical engine, or major power lines.

Late in 1999 when I was documenting a ghost hunt, I brought my compass to Gilson Road Cemetery in Nashua, NH. I had only intended to use it to get my bearings when making notes about which geographical corners had appeared the most spectrally active.

When our ghost hunting team arrived, I placed the compass on top of Hannah Robbins’ headstone at the northern end of the cemetery. Her stone appeared to be aligned in a NNE direction, looking towards the carved side of her headstone.

This was what I expected to see, so I didn’t think about it again.

However, while I was comparing anomaly photos with actual grave locations and other landmarks, another ghost hunter and team member, Alan (the one we call “ghostbait”), checked other parts of the cemetery with the compass.

North seemed to move.

In the southern half of the cemetery, the compass showed north in one direction. As Alan walked towards the northern half of the cemetery, the needle swung about 30 degrees and stayed there.

We tested this repeatedly, and the results were consistent.

At the time, this was a very rural location, before a housing development moved in across the street. In 1999, there were no nearby generators or significant power lines.

EMF should only increase in proximity to electrical activity. It has been reported during spectral activity. We don’t know if ghosts cause EMF surges, but at haunted sites, we often find higher EMF readings.

Since Gilson Road Cemetery is profoundly haunted, it should not surprise me that my sturdy, non-nonsense compass reacted to energy there. But it did.

On return visits and ghost hunts, day or night, we’ve seen anomalous compass readings at Gilson Road Cemetery and most other “haunted” locations.

Since then, we’ve used a compass on several Hollow Hill investigations. Now, we highly recommend a compass in your basic ghost hunting kit, for fun if nothing else.

Guidelines for compass use in “haunted” locations, and during ghost hunts:

  • Use only compasses with free-swinging needles. If the needle tends to get stuck pointing in one direction, it’s not helpful.
  • Before you start walking, line up North so the red part (or point) of the needle is over the arrow painted on the compass.
  • Learn to use the compass in a not haunted site, first. Your backyard is a good place, if there are no electrical wires nearby (underground and overhead, too).
  • The first time you try this, walk in as straight a line as possible, directly towards North or towards South.
  • Expect the needle to bob and bounce as you walk. This is normal. However, when you pause, it should always return to North.
  • Keep the compass as flat as possible. If you hold it an an angle, your reading may not be accurate or the needle may become stuck.
  • If North seems to move, pause. Check how you’re holding the compass. North NEVER changes direction!
  • Debunk odd readings if you can. Look for interference from magnetic deposits (a metal detector can help) and from electrical sources, including power lines. They will “attract” the compass’ needle. (In the U.S.,  geographical survey maps may help identify areas with likely metal deposits.)
  • This is worth repeating: North NEVER changes its location. Even a slight 10-degree shift is an anomaly, if you’ve eliminated all other influences. Profoundly haunted sites can show unexplained needle-swings of up to 90 degrees.
  • If you think you have an anomaly, retrace your steps. See if the compass anomaly repeats. Usually, it will… but only for awhile.
  • Check again on another day. Unfortunately for documentation purposes, a genuine haunting is unlikely to repeat the compass anomalies in the same places, day after day. (One that does repeat is more likely electrical or magnetic interference with the compass’ action.)