The Haunting in Rivera

Lydia Tsou/HIGHLANDER
Lydia Tsou/HIGHLANDER

With Halloween weekend just around the corner, the ever-bustling Rivera Library was empty Friday afternoon and the few that did walk through the library doors were headed to one place: The Ghost Tour of Rivera Library. Hosted by the library and the Paranormal Research Society at UCR, around 20 students attended the Ghost Tour, which was a guided tour of the library to learn more about suspected hauntings and other paranormal activities that occurred at one of UCR’s most popular study sites.

Rivera librarian Krista Ivy first prepped the group by giving a brief history of the building. Originally a Citrus Experiment Station in 1918, the building went through various renovations and expansions throughout the years before finally completing construction in 1964. However, the building’s history is far from architectural.

Ivy went on to explain to the paranormal-hungry tour group the “Broom Incident of the 1980’s,” when technical services experienced some ghostly activities first-hand. In a supply closet in the basement of the library, the members of technical services were shocked to see that a broom was standing upright in the middle of the room with nothing to support it. In a panic, one of the workers was able to capture the exact moment on film — a photo that is now part of the Rivera Archives.

Other mysterious phenomenon include security guards hearing heavy, reverberating footsteps on the stairways during closing hours, EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recordings of spirits and photo evidence of ghost-like figures in between the bookshelves. However, the most prominent and sorrowful story of the tour was about a ghost named Carmen.

Carmen used to be a night shift custodian for Rivera who had a troubled home life, which led her to a life of alcoholism. Oftentimes, she would bring alcohol to work and drink in the elevator shaft of Rivera, riding up and down the floors out of fear of being seen by her supervisors or coworkers. One night, after drinking on the job, Carmen drove herself home but never made it back. She died in a fatal car crash and is now said to be haunting Rivera, because it was one of the places she felt the safest before her death.

Hartt led the group to the elevator shaft that Carmen frequently drank in and explained her experience with Carmen when PRS conducted a paranormal investigation of Rivera Library in 2012.

“We split off into different groups during the investigation and didn’t have any contact with each other during the investigation, because all of our phones were off,” Hartt said. “But after the investigation, we learned that in two separate groups, some girls had cried when they entered into this area because they suddenly felt sorrow and despair overwhelm them.”

Although Hartt herself did not feel the same presence, she believes that it’s notable that two different girls, during different time periods, felt a strong enough aura and have such a reaction. Hartt went on to tell the group of the EVP recording that PRS caught while recording in the elevator shaft. In a grainy, somewhat muffled clip, one can faintly hear a voice say, “Help me.” PRS believes that this was Carmen trying to reach out to them.

Hartt also listed the three main types of hauntings that happen in the physical world, which could explain the instances of hearing strange sounds or noises, just like the security guards that heard footsteps on the stairway. This occurrence could be a residual haunt, in which tangible objects are trapped in a “loop of time” and replay actions of the past. The footsteps were probably the brick of the stairway, “remembering” a moment in time and replaying it in the physical world. Hartt explains that residual haunts don’t necessarily mean that a spirit is present, it just means the object is possibly reenacting things of the past.

Poltergeist hauntings are more aggressive and often include objects being thrown or doors being violently swung open by unknown causes. Reported instances of poltergeist haunts that happened in Rivera include a refrigerator door opening and closing on its own, door handles starting to shake and rattle when no one was on the other side and the “Broom Incident of the 1980’s”.

The last type of haunt is referred to as an intellectual haunt, which involves spirits or a ghost-like presence attempting to communicate with humans. Carmen’s EVP is a type of intellectual haunt, as well as a PRS member’s experience during the 2012 investigation. The member felt a strong tap on his shoulder, but when he turned around, no one was there. Out of precaution, they took photos in the aisles between the bookshelves and found that in one of the photos, there was a figure standing on the other side of the room.

Although paranormal instances have occurred, Hartt clarifies that “as investigators, we try to debunk these reportings, because we want our evidence to be as authentic as possible.”

However, most of the reportings that have happened in Rivera still remain a mystery as there is no logical explanation for the paranormal activity. So the next time you’re studying at Rivera and you feel a tap on your shoulder, maybe it’s Carmen asking if you want to join her for a drink.

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