MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With more than 1.6 million TikTok followers, Kalani Ghost Hunter from Nashville, Tennessee travels the country in search of the paranormal, and over the weekend, West Virginia was the next stop on his spooky tour. Between brief visits to the Mothman and Flatwoods Monster museums, Kalani did a live ghost hunt at Lake Shawnee, an abandoned amusement park in the southern part of the state. WBOY’s Shayla Klein reached out to Kalani to hear about his trip to the Mountain State.
Q: How did you get started with ghost hunting?
A: Long story short, I saw a Civil War drummer boy when I was 11, and I thought it was a real person, but then I watched this Civil War drummer boy disappear. So, I’ve been interested ever since. But about a year ago–it’ll be a year in July–I started posting stuff. I’ve been doing ghost hunting for about two and a half years. [It was] more of a hobby, but two and a half years ago is when it really picked up. And then, I started posting content about a year ago, and then it just exploded, so now it’s all I do.
Q: Yeah, so that’s your full time job, or?
A: It’s my full time job. Between the live streams and the YouTube videos, there’s not much time to do anything else.
Q: Right, I see that you’ve built quite a following there too.
A: Yeah, last night, I think I went up 140,000 followers. I’m almost to 1.7 million, which is good. My Lake Shawnee video just hit 6 million [views] in one day.
Q: Yeah, I saw that. That was cool. So, how did you find out about the abandoned amusement park, Lake Shawnee?
A: Yeah, Lake Shawnee is actually really notorious. I mean, it’s been on a bunch of different shows, so I’ve actually seen it on a few different shows growing up, and if you’ve ever seen the Ferris Wheel and swings, anyone that does this stuff knows that that’s Shawnee. So, I had seen it from previous people going and had it on my list, and they only recently started doing tours again. Once they posted that on Facebook, I jumped on it and went.
Q: So how was it?
A: It’s cool. It’s a lot of walking. I will say there’s a lot of walking, and I had a lot of people show up in the middle of the night that I had to worry about. I had two guys show up, and they were like creeping in the woods, and then they popped up on us, and I’m like, please don’t do that. But, it’s just kind of the side effect of what I do [when it’s] live. ‘Cause everybody knows where you’re at, especially if people are from the area. They see that, and they’re like, I know exactly where he’s at, so then they want to come see you. It’s a blessing and a curse, but it’s just part of the growth.
Q: Were they trying to scare you then? Is that why they were hiding in the woods?
No, a lot of times, they just wanted to meet you. I don’t know what they want to do, but I guess it’s because they have somebody where they’re from, showing a place where they’re from, so they feel like they want to be a part of it because they’re so close. But I always carry, just because you never know what you run into. Even paying for places, you still have crazy people do crazy things, so I try and tell people, please don’t [sneak up on me] ‘cause I don’t want anybody to get hurt when no one has to get hurt, but luckily, last night, we were good.
Q: Yeah, so did you find any ghosts last night?
We had some activity right by the swing set where there’s a little girl that’s supposed to be there that actually was killed on the swing set. We had some activity there with a few different devices, and we did Estes Method there later into this morning and had some pretty good responses. Everywhere else was kind of quiet last night, but I’m already trying to plan a trip back because I feel like half of my night was spent trying to figure out where people were on the property, so I think next time I’ll approach it a little bit differently. Outside locations are hard because there’s no way that you could keep everybody out, even if it’s fenced in because people know that area very well.
Q: So, would you say that it’s more or less haunted than some of the other places that you’ve been to?
A: It’s hard to say if something is more or less haunted because we’re basing it off of activity. From how long I’ve been doing this, I’ve gone to some locations multiple times where in my mind, if I would have been basing it off of the second and third time, I would’ve been like, this place isn’t haunted at all. So, we did have activity there last night, and we did have something intelligently responding, so I would say it’s haunted, but it’s hard to gauge. I usually don’t give out the label of saying something is the most haunted unless something absolutely crazy happens, or I can go three or four times and have consistent activity.
Now creep factor, it has a huge creep factor ’cause they have the haunted house portion, which just looks like something out of a horror movie, and then you add in a creepy Ferris wheel and swings. It definitely has a creep factor, so I feel like even if you’re not out here looking for activity, it would still be a cool place to spend the night. You add that in with all of the history there, with the Native Americans and everything else that’s happened on the property, it would be very easy to get paranoid about something watching you or interacting with you at night.
Q: Now, did you stay the night there?
A: So, we were there until about 10 a.m. today. Now, I was up until about 7:30, and then slept for like two and a half hours after that, so I guess I spent the night there in a sense of I was there all night and all morning, but there wasn’t much time outside of what I did, so it was fun. I’ll do it again.
Q: Well, let us know when you come again to West Virginia, and we’ll let people know that they can tune in [to your TikTok page].
A: West Virginia has got so much stuff. Whether it’s with cryptids or paranormal. We went to the Mothman Museum and the Flatwoods Monster Museum, and that’s not really my cup of tea because I don’t really do much of that, but it was still cool to go and see because that stuff is not everywhere. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that’s like that in Tennessee. Not to mention you have so many different locations, whether it be Trans Allegheny, College Hill Hospital, Lake Shawnee and that’s just a couple of them, there’s still more. You’ve got the West Virginia Penitentiary, so it’s got so much history and so many possible hauntings that you could easily spend a month there as a paranormal investigator.
Q: Yeah, I saw that you went to the Flatwoods Museum and you were saying that you were going to the Mothman Museum, and did you manage to find the igloo and everything like that?
A: I did, yeah. The acoustics of the igloo were probably the coolest part ‘cause it’s so weird. The sound in there, it’s so reverby from everything being so dense. It’s pretty awesome.
Q: It’s really cool, yeah. When we were there, whenever you’re going into it, all of like the bushes like make like a hole and it also looks creepy. It does have that creep factor. I don’t know if it’s necessarily haunted, but—
A: Honestly, I was and still am pretty spent, but I did want to check it out, so we checked that off the list, but like I said, there’s a lot of people that that’s solely what they do is cryptozoology and that kind of stuff. I’m interested in it in the sense of, I like different things, but not in the sense of, I’m an expert or deep diver into everything about them. But I think it was still cool.
Q: Right, like ghosts are more your thing then is what you’re trying to say?
A: Yeah, paranormal stuff is definitely more my thing, but a lot of that stuff strikes a similar vein. I guess what I say is it is a comfortable group of people to be around because you can tell them, oh, I had a ghost setting this off, and they don’t look at you weird. They’ll be like, oh, that’s cool. So it’s definitely a similar group of people. It’s just a little bit different in approach and how you go about things like that.
Q: Yeah, So what are you doing next?
A: Well, I’m going to Charleston, SC. I’m gonna try and get in the jail there, and then June, I’m going to Trans Allegheny, but I don’t plan anything more than two weeks out usually, unless it’s something that I have to plan out because I’m not a huge schedule guy. I like being flexible, and with me going to all the locations usually on the weekdays, there’s not much competition for days. Like, weekends you have to book them out months, weeks in advance, but with weekdays, you have a little bit more leniency in scheduling, so I don’t really have my whole next month planned out. I can kind of just plan it out as things come up, and if something else comes up, I can pivot to that without having any hiccups. So I have a lot coming up, I just don’t know what it is just yet.
Q: So, you have a YouTube channel too, is that right?
A: Yeah, so I do YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok. That’s probably my top three. But last week, I had four different investigations from four different locations ending at Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Kentucky, so I work a lot. It’s a blessing and a curse because the bigger you get, the more people want you to put out, and it’s a never-ending wash, rinse, and repeat of going to places and doing this, but it’s a pretty fun job to have.
Q: Yeah, I’m sure it keeps you on your toes.
A: I never feel like I’m in a loop of monotony because every day brings something different.
Shayla discussed going with Kalani on a ghost hunting trip.
Yeah, let me know and you can go [ghost hunting with me] ‘cause I don’t mind taking people. I think it’s fun, especially if it’s somebody that doesn’t do it all the time ‘cause you kind of get to the point where it takes a lot more to excite you, so I like taking people that don’t do it every day. It’s more fun. My camera guy gets scared, and it’s funny ’cause he’ll go out on his own, and then all of a sudden, I see him popping up and he’s like, alright, let’s go over here, and I’m like, what happened? He’s like, oh I don’t know, I saw something, and I was like, oh here we go again.
Q: Yeah, I have seen multiple ghosts at the [West Virginia] Penitentiary growing up. ‘Cause you know, we went and took the tours.
A: Prisons and penitentiaries are fun. They’re a lot different. I’ve done a couple investigations at the Nevada State prison where they had the first gas chamber execution room in the U.S. It’s just a very different vibe. I don’t think Shawnee has anything bad at it. I feel like everything there was either a child or probably just a Native American, and as long as you’re not disrespectful, it’s usually fine. It’s kind of peaceful.
But when you switch to that prison or insane asylum, it’s a totally different gear. It’s hard to explain to people that don’t do it, but you can walk in the building and it just feels different, and not in some weird X-Files, secret-powers-in-the-back-of-my-head sense, but your body just reacts differently. It’s almost like a heavy feeling when you get put in those places of where there’s been some sort of tragedy or despair or just overall bad people have been there for a long time.
Q: Yeah, I’ve definitely felt that before. Is there anything else that you wanted to add that I didn’t ask, or anything like that?
A: Uhm, final thoughts. Check out Lake Shawnee. It’s a cool place. I mean it, it really is like regardless, if you’re into this stuff or not. He said they’ve had Bachelorette parties out there, which to me, that’s a very interesting choice for a Bachelorette party. Especially someone from Nashville, where we have a ton of those come in and they’re all plastered on Broadway. It’s a very different switch up to, let’s go to this haunted amusement park in the middle of West Virginia.
So it’s a really cool place, and I think they’re going to try to do their Halloween event again this year, which they ran a haunted house and stuff, but with COVID and everything, they had to stop. But, they said during Halloween, they’ll get a couple thousand people a night. So it’s definitely a very popular place, and I will also add it’s affordable too. I don’t remember the number off the top of my head, but compared to other popular places, it’s not nearly as much.