Is the Wisconsin Automotive Museum haunted?

Is the Wisconsin Automotive Museum Haunted?

Hartford, WI

The Kissel Motor Car Company manufactured luxury vehicles in Hartford, WI from 1906 to 1931. One of their most popular models was the speedster produced in the 1920a nicknamed the “Gold Bug,” which was owned by numerous celebrities of the day such as Fatty Arbuckle, Greta Garbo, Jack Dempsey, and Rudy Vallee. Among them was aviator Amelia Earhart, who named her 1923 Kissel speedster “Yellow Peril.”

Kissel is long gone and few of their cars remain today (though you can still find some at the bottom of Lake Michigan) but the Wisconsin Automotive Museum in Hartford preserves the memory with the largest collection of Kissel cars in the world. They even have a 1923 Gold Bug just like Earhart’s on display, along with other rare vintage automobiles such as a screen-used 1935 Desoto from the 2009 movie Public Enemies about John Dillinger that was filmed in Wisconsin.

1923 Kissel Gold Bug on display at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum

1923 Kissel Gold Bug at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum

Mysterious Photos

The building where the collection is housed is old, and has a tragic history that may still be lingering.

I received an email a few years ago from a recent visitor who captured a peculiar photo.

“I was at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum on 3/6/20 and took a bunch of pictures,” Patricia S. wrote. “The link for Google Photos is at the bottom so that you can see that almost all of my pictures came out ‘normal.’ I’m curious if you might have any thoughts about the ‘smudge’ in the two jpg’s that are attached separately. There was nothing unusual in the frame when I took the pictures and I didn’t change the settings at any time. I honestly have no idea what is in these pictures, but a number of friends who have seen them think they’re disturbing.”

Here are a couple of the “normal” photos Patricia snapped:

Vintage cars at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum in Hartford, WI Vintage cars at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum in Hartford, WI

Here are the photos with the mysterious black smudge:

Wisconsin Automotive Museum ghost photo Wisconsin Automotive Museum ghost photo

I’ve taken thousands of photos with my Nikon D7100 and I’ve never had anything like this show up before,” Patricia said. “It’s a pretty good camera. It was still quite cold on March 6, so there weren’t any insects around (at least that I saw) and the only thing I did to the pictures was crop them. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t even tweak the color or exposure on those pictures. The pictures are actually of two separate cars and they weren’t even all that close to each other. I took other pictures in between those that were deleted because they were uninteresting or similar to ones that I preferred.”

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Ghosts in the Museum

Researcher and paranormal investigator J. Nathan Couch, author of the book Washington County Paranormal, is familiar with the spirits hanging around the museum.

“That building has a tremendous reputation for being haunted,” he says. “While the museum is tight lipped about ghosts, the Schauer Art Center and Terror on Rural Street haunted attraction (which occupy the same building as the museum) are very open about the strange things that occur there.”

While researching the building, Couch discovered it used to be a Libby’s cannery.

“Locals have spoke to me about lots of awful accidents that have happened there when it operational,” he adds.

Washington County Paranormal by J. Nathan Couch

Washington County Paranormal by J. Nathan Couch

Couch says the building is said to haunted by three individual spirits: A man that like machinery and may have been a former employee who died of a heart attack, an office woman who died mysteriously in the midst of an affair, and a young girl that was backed over by a truck.

“The little girl is seen most often,” Couch says. “During our investigation I had a fleeting glimpse of her with the corner of my eye. One of our investigators thought they were touched while trying to communicate with her.”

During that investigation, another member of his group snapped a photo with an ultraviolet camera in which a shadow appeared similar to Patricia’s.

Terror on Rural Street, the haunted house next door to the auto museum, has captured some unusual paranormal evidence, as well.

The haunted attraction records video a lot,” Couch says, “and have told me they’ve captured some strange things on video but I’ve yet to be able to review it for myself.”

What do you think caused the shadows in the photos? Have you had an experience here yourself? Share your story in the comments below or send us a message.

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