photo by colorado.ourcommunitynow.comBLACK FOREST, CO.HISTORY Steve Lee is a Louisiana native who drove long-haul trucks for a living. On his cross-country forays he would often cross the state of Colorado and would be taken by the beauty and tranquility of the land. Often he thought "this is the place I'd like to settle down on, build a home and raise a family." He was particularly enamored with the area of Black Forest, Colorado - a densely wooded, 200,000 acre area north of Colorado Springs whose majestic splendor is matched only by its peaceful tranquility. It was here that he and his wife Beth decided they would make their home and raise their two sons. After renting various homes in the area over a four-year period, they eventually found a two-story log cabin off Swan Road. After living there under lease for a year, the couple decided they had found their perfect spot and purchased the home and five-acre parcel of land it sat on in May of 1991. They did not suspect there were proverbial "strings attached." The cabin's previous tenant left convinced that the house was haunted. Because of his reluctance to share his experiences with anyone and risk being labeled a kook, this attention-grabbing piece of information never reached the ears of Steve and Beth during negotiations. They would soon find out for themselves. It is said the area was named by a German Immigrant who said the area reminded him of the Black Forest in his native country. The high density of Ponderosa Pines that occupy the area play the central role in the area's somewhat murky appearance. It was part of a larger area called the "Pineries" that encompassed a 1,000 sq. mi. area. There is undisputable evidence of a Native American presence on this land before the white man began to settle in the area in the late 1850s. A multitude of unearthed artifacts bear this out including arrowheads and charcoal pits that date back some 800 years. The first known tribes to populate the area were the Utes and Commanches who used the thickly wooded area for timber that was used to construct shelter and to fuel fires. It also provided more than adequate cover for their protection. Around 1800 the Kiowa tribe began to establish their presence there, but were eventually driven out by the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes who united to accomplish that objective. Theirs would be the last Native American habitation of the Black Forest region. It did not take long for the value of the scarce forest timbers to be realized and by 1860 a large number of sawmills began to dot the area. The vast majority of the work would center around providing railway ties for the Kansas Pacific, Rio Grande and Denver railroads as well as bracing for mines located in Colorado Springs and Denver. Lumber was also supplied, naturally, for the building of homes and businesses in the surrounding areas. The lumbering industry in varying degrees would continue in this region until the 1950s. Farming and ranching began to take a more dominant role in the 1880s. The crops and livestock raised were fairly diverse, but it was the potato crops that yielded the biggest return for the region and brought it to more wide-spread prominence. The crops however, were always subject to a dizzying array of droughts, inclement weather and infestations that abounded in the Black Forest. Soon agriculture gave way to a consolidation of much of the land into larger, more productive ranches. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, housing subdivisions began to spring up and what were once seasonal developments soon became year-round residences. Much of the land was zoned into five-acre plots similar to what the Lee family would purchase some 30 years later. The Black Forest also sits on the southern edge of what is known as the Denver Basin. The basin is composed mainly of uplifted granite dating back in some areas fifty to one million years. There is also a layer of thinner sandstone and shale which allows ground water to flow. (Author's note: It is in fact, the most extensive groundwater resource in the entire county - one possible reason for the hauntings that are occurring at the Lee family home as it has been theorized that the presence of both mineral deposits and flowing water are "paranormal conductors" to varying degrees.)THE HAUNTING OF THE LEE FAMILY The first indication that something was amiss in their new home came mere weeks of finalizing their purchase. Coming home one day they witnessed lights dancing through their living room, a sight Beth described as like seeing "the 4th of July". The couple would hear what sounded like footsteps across their roof and the sounds of chains rattling. Lights would go on and off by themselves and their sons would be frightened by strange lights and shadowy figures they said were moving inside their bedroom. Even more harmful were the peculiar chemical odors that sometimes would permeate the house, afflicting the family's noses and throats with a burning sensation. Undeterred, Steve Lee invested in a state-of-the-art security system that included alarms, motion sensors and video surveillance cameras. These efforts were directed towards finding out exactly who was trying to scare he and his family out of the house and how they were gaining access seemingly at will. On numerous occasions, the alarms would be tripped with no visible reason for their activation. Over the next four years, the alarms would sound a total of sixty-two times with no explanation or accompanying evidence of intrusion. Local police would respond so often that they launched an investigation into the disturbances in 1993. Despite their best efforts to get to the bottom of what was happening, their inquiries produced nothing in the way of an explanation as to the cause of the system's activation. Eventually, tiring of the process and the expenditure of manpower, the sheriff's department ceased to respond to the disturbances. The Lees remained undaunted though, and turned to private investigation to seek answers. Between the cost of investigators and higher-end technology, the Lee's had almost exhausted their life's savings. To this point, the paranormal was not really thought to be a viable explanation of what they were experiencing as they felt the reasons for their difficulties were more grounded in the mortal or environmental realms. Their outlook would change with the introduction of more disturbing evidence. Steve began to observe that a great deal of video or still photographs taken at specific locations of the home and property seemed to display strange streaks of lights or what appeared to be human faces or animals on them. At first assuming there might be something faulty with the equipment, they began to use different cameras but the anomalies continued to produce themselves on film. With all rational explanations seemingly exhausted, it was then the Lees entertained that the explanation for their issues might lie in the paranormal. Unsure of where to turn, they contacted the producers of the television show "Sightings" in 1995. Sending tapes of the anomalies along to them for their examination, the show decided that the property warranted sending a crew to the Black Forest. It was fairly common for an intuitive to accompany the film crew on their investigations and in this case they chose Minneapolis psychic/investigator Echo Bodine for the task. Surprisingly and no doubt to their delight, they almost immediately began to capture some of same phenomena that the Lees had. Ms. Bodine reported psychic impressions of the spirit of a man inside the home that was acting territorially as if it was he, in fact that owned this place. She also told of the presence of many more spirits inside the master bedroom - perhaps twenty or more. These revelations were part of a broader package that included activation of electromagnetic meters and one of the crew's cameras falling off its tripod and crashing to the floor. A thermal imaging camera also caught what appeared to be a "hot spot" in the exact location where Echo had said the man was standing, watching them. The activity however was about to become more threatening. While seated at the kitchen table with Bodine during filming, Beth began to feel as if she was being held down by an unseen force. So disconcerting was the sensation that she walked away from the table in mid-interview. Very shortly after this happened, a female member of the film crew began to feel numbness in her arms and legs and announced she felt as if something was entering her body. Becoming emotionally distraught, she burst into tears and collapsed first onto a set of stairs leading to the basement and then into a chair, unable to compose herself. EMF detectors placed in the room began to register significant disturbances that coincided with these incidents. While trying to calm the terrified woman, Echo performed a "smudging" ritual in the kitchen where the incident took place. But perhaps the most bizarre occurrence this night actually manifested almost two weeks later when Steve Lee, who had been snapping pictures that night, discovered in one photo what appeared to be a dagger-shaped white light aimed at his forehead. The following day he awoke to find himself in great pain and a large lump on his forehead. Immediately checking himself into a hospital where a CAT scan was performed, he was told that there was no discernable cause for the injury and was treated for the pain and released. "Sightings" was to do two follow-up features on the Black Forest haunting over the next 18 months, each time enlisting the services of the late psychic Peter James (r.). James' initial impression of the house was that it contained a very powerful energy vortex. His next would shake the Lees to their very core. He asked about a man named Howard and if the name had any relevance to the Lees. Stunned, Beth replied that he was a sort of grandfather figure to both of them who lived in town and whom they frequently cared for. Peter then related the story of Howard's son, who had presumably died of a drug overdose in the 1960s. James initially felt the son was there to protect the Lee's from more hostile spirits present, but later realized he had actually come to this place in an attempt to make contact with his father to make him aware that he had in fact been murdered. Both Steve and Beth were firm in stating there was no way James could have ever known about their relationship with Howard to begin with. The next visit by the film crew and James centered around the second floor master bedroom, said to be the most active area of the house. Of particular interest was an antique mirror (below) that had yielded many photographs of strange faces and mists that reflected from it. James felt the mirror was merely reflecting the faces of those who were entering the physical world from a vortex inside the room.abovetopsecret.comTHE "RAINBOW VORTEX" Perhaps sensing that the presence of Native Americans on this land some 800 years ago in some way was contributing to the phenomena they had experienced, the Lees took the steps to consult a Hopi shaman to come to their home and give his impressions. The shaman told of something called a "rainbow vortex", a type of passage way into this world from the spirit world. Research reveals that there are only two other areas in which similar phenomena has been recorded, particularly on film. One in Arizona and other in London, England. Despite the unfolding of more information and theories as to why these forces affect their home, the Lees continue to experience activity to this day. In many ways, it has picked up its intensity. Doors open and close, apparitions of women, men and children are seen frequently - along with spectral animals - and the "light show" continues. They have called in numerous members of the clergy, psychic community and private sector to try to determine the cause and suggest possible remedies to their plight. So far, none has been particularly successful, so the Lee family continues to co-exist with these forces inside what should be a safe haven for them all. Underscoring the notoriety their home has developed, State Senator Charles Duke from Monument, CO. has visited the house and, armed with a camera, took some pictures of his own. Duke must have been more than a bit shocked to see some of his own photographs displaying many of the same images that the Lees have. While still not a "true-believer", Sen. Duke saw enough that he approached the FBI to gauge their interest in an investigation! To no surprise, they declined, citing that no Federal laws have thus far been broken. Steve Lee, while holding and experiencing evidence to the contrary, still holds out hope for a more rational explanation. That explanation - he feels - may rest in the hands of perhaps an even more insidious source - the U.S. military. His claims, while intriguing, sometimes border on the extremely conspiratorial. He surmises that the government may be using his family to test biological and psychological weapons of war. He even says he has photographed military personnel on his property bearing arms and claims they may be shutting off the electricity in his home so that they may enter undetected. Claims of the use of chemicals sprayed inside his van to make him ill have also been made. Perhaps these declarations are true to some small degree, but probably not. No one really is certain what goes on inside the inner mechanics of the military complex. Perhaps this is just another way for Steve Lee to dismiss something he doesn't truly believe in as folly. Whatever the case, the hauntings - real or in conjured form - continue.