As the Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series manager, I’ve heard of and experienced many ways spirits grab our attention. The trick for the bodied, however, is to recognize when an Other World effort to reach the living has been made. Here are some common ways ghosts let us know they’re around.


Jan (not her real name) laid in bed fretting about finances when something grabbed her foot under the covers. Startled, she turned on the light, looked around, but no one was there. She then recognized it was her recently departed husband, who used to tug on her toes to let her know he was home from work.

During a visit to the Goldfield Hotel (GFH), a family member felt a hand on her waist, gently guiding her into a basement room.


While writing my book, A Reluctant Spirit, I sometimes experienced an overwhelming odor of burning cigarettes, even though neither Ken nor I smoked. The scent would last for hours.

During my first visit to GFH, I caught a powerful whiff of old fashioned eau du toilette in the lobby during the séance. Later on the second floor, two of us simultaneously smelled lavender. Both times, the perfumes evaporated when we acknowledged them.


Stairs seem to be a hotbed of ethereal activity. A ghost in Reno’s Lake Mansion—

the city’s oldest structure—frightened Gary after he heard someone running up the steps. He assumed it was one of his coworkers, but no one else was there in the locked building.

Also at the mansion, Lonnie heard a pounding at the front door one night after we’d closed. He opened it to find no trace of footsteps in the freshly falling snow.


Spirits like to use mirrors. In Truckee, Calif., David got out of the shower and looked in the mirror to see an unfamiliar woman gaze back at him. In another incident, a Nevada cowboy shared a similar story with me at our ghost conference. He’d seen the image of an old man in his bathroom mirror while he was shaving. The apparition was so life-like, he thought someone had broken in.

I’ve seen a handful of eerie photographs taken by investigators I respect. Janice Oberding scaught the image of a strange face floating above the stove in Dayton’s Gold Canyon Steak House. Anne and Sharon Leong captured the apparition of a Civil War soldier at Gettysburg. And Nancy and Jim Helsel photographed the specter of a little girl standing beside a tombstone in Virginia City’s Silver Terrace Cemetery.

Stay tuned for this subject’s conclusion next week.