Strange Events
Strange and Unexplained phenomena personally witnessed by artist and author, Michael Vain
The House - History

Elkridge homestead
View of the Author's home
Elkridge, Maryland

Sifting through the many objects in the house, they came across the several of the fully working shutters and a number of other historical artifacts, as they worked to restore the building to its former glory. The shutters were repaired and placed back on their original anchors, and the original fenceline was restored. Mr. Kradz recovered several sections of the original wrought iron fence from a salvage yard, where they had lain since the early '30s. He purchased and refinished them, and working from old photographs, restored the look of the house at the turn of the century. In doing research for the restoration, Mr. and Mrs. Kradz began to learn the history of the house, and of the Patapsco area.

When Michael was six years old, his family moved to Elkridge, Maryland. Michael's grandfather had become a lieutenant in the Howard County Police Department, and relocated his family to an 18th century colonial home, located directly adjacent to the Patapsco State Park, on the banks of the Patapasco River. It was a logical move for Mr. Kradz, and the new house provided both security and room for his family. The house needed extensive repair work, and the task of clearing out the clutter and repairing the house would become on ongoing project for several years.

Thomas Viaduct
Another view of the author's childhood home,
Elkridge, Maryland
The House - History (Continued)

Elkridge, originally named Elkridge Landing, was first settled in 1690, and served as the gateway port for shipping agricultural and manufactured goods to and from the fertile Patapsco region. The house was once part of a plantation, and the Thomas Viaduct, the oldest keystone bridge in the U.S., and the world's largest multiple arched stone railroad bridge built in an arc, was completed in 1835 immediately adjacent to the house. The original Tom Thumb steam locomotive took a trip across the Thomas Viaduct, and the bridge is still in use today.

Thomas Viaduct
Thomas Viaduct, Elkridge, Maryland
Thomas Viaduct
Thomas Viaduct, Elkridge, Maryland

These same tunnels were later used as a stop in the Underground Railroad, providing escaping slaves a temporary refuge in their flight to the north. Research revealed the street upon which he lived was named after the sea captain responsible for taking Napolean Bonaparte to Elba. The Captain brought back with him several seeds of an elm tree native to Elba, one of which was planted at the corner of the property. Construction on the main house began in 1723, with additions to the house occurring in various stages until 1763.

washington junction
Illustration of the Thomas Viaduct at Washington Junction

Strange Events and Paranormal Phenomena

Within a few months of moving into the house in Elkridge, members of the family began to experience events they could not explain. At first, these experiences were sporadic and easily dismissed: objects left in an empty room would vanish, only be found in other locations, strange noises, such as closing doors, or very low volume voices, were heard, and Michael and other members of the family would often experience sudden cold spots, along with the feeling of being watched. These experiences, while unusual, did not immediately cause concern, as they rationalized them to be the result of human error, or somr other natural cause. However, as the family restored the house, these experiences intensified.

viaduct aerial view
Aerial view of the Viaduct after Hurricane Agnes - the original shoreline of the Patapsoo River is still visible
Civil War woodcut
Illustration depicting a Civil War Artillery Battery overlooking the Patapsco River

Michael awoke one night to discover a pair of apparitions at the foot of the beds belonging to both himself and his brother, who shared a bedroom on the second floor. The figures were of an elderly man and woman. Both were smiling, and radiated a sense of comfort. Michael related his experience to his grandmother, but his report was dismissed as a dream. It wasn't until the events began to escalate in frequency and intensity that his story was taken seriously. Michael, as well as his grandparents, began to experience a range of phenomena. Taken alone, these experiences could be dismissed, but as time went on, the family began to experience these phenomena together. Phantom footsteps, cold spots, doors appearing where no doors existed that would then vanish, and glowing lights were all experienced by different family members.

Strange Events and Paranormal Phenomena - The Flood of '72

Although the family regularly experienced such events, discussion of these phenomena outside family circles was discouraged, for it was his grandparent's view that knowledge of such events would damage his reputation, and reliability as an expert witness. As a result, Michael was forced to keep such matters confidential, which he often found difficult, considering his age. The occurances continued to escalate, and later, Michael witnessed the presence of a large, humanoid entity that was solid black in appearance, standing at the end of a hallway on the second floor. Within days, the house was struck by a ten foot high wall of water during Hurricane Agnes, trapping the family inside.

flood of 72
View of the Author's home during the flood of Hurricane Agnes, taken five days after the high water mark
Ellicott City flood waters
Flood waters along Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, during Hurricane Agnes.

As the water level rose outside, Michael, his brother, and his grandfather raced to retrieve important legal documents, while his grandmother gathered the rest of the family on the second floor. As Michael made his last trip up the stairs, all the windows in the living room collapsed at once, and large jets of water began pouring through them. Tanker trucks from a neighboring trucking company were caught in the currents. and bounced off the house's thick brick walls, which, according to research, had been built from the ballast of slave ships. His grandparents took turns signalling Morse Code from Michael's bedroom window with a flashlight, as Michael watched the water slowly rise up the staircase. After several hours, the family was discovered by a rescue team, and Michael and his family escaped through the second floor window into a rescue boat, who ferried them to safety.

Strange Events and Paranormal Phenomena - Events and Entities

Ellicott City flood waters
Photo from local paper showing flood waters in Ellicott City, Maryland, during Hurricane Agnes.

After being rescued from the rising flood waters, Michael and his family spent the night in a National Guard Armory, which served as a rescue shelter. After ten days, the water had receeded far enough for the family to return to the house, and begin repairs, a process which took several years. During this time, they were subject to more strange noises and the occasional apparition. Again, as the house was restored, these encounters seemed to escalate.

Another Encounter

One night, upon returning to bed after getting a glass of water, Michael climbed onto the top bunk, where he was pressed down violently by what felt like an invisible hand. Though not paralyzed, he found it very difficult to move. Suddenly alarmed, he began calling out as loudly as he could manage for help, but could wake neither his brother, sleeping in the bunk below, nor his grandparents down the hall. With great effort, he was able to turn his head, and watched as a black sphere rose from below his line of vision to a point about a foot below the ceiling, where it then began to expand. Helpless, Michael watched as the sphere began to undulate, and a 'hand-like shape' began to emerge from its interior. After an unknown amount of time, the sphere vanished, and Michael found he could then move normally once more.

Then, Michael began once more to see the dark figure he had encountered three years earlier. Within days, the house was struck by Hurricane Eloise, and the house was filled with water for a second time in less than four years. He would relate these stories often, and made sketches of the entities he had seen, but it would not be for another thirty years, while surfing the internet with his daughter, that he learned others had encountered the same entities, and they were known as Shadowpeople. Further research revealed they were normally encountered during times of natural disaster, and had been linked to the Mothman appearances in West Virginia, and other locations throughout history.

Strange Events and Paranormal Phenomena - Other Events

Very few photographs of the family's time in Elkridge remain. When Michael was fourteen, Mr. Kradz purchased a home in Nanjemoy, Maryland, with the plans of moving the family, but Freddie Pagliara, a small time criminal from Baltimore, hired a pair of thugs who burned the house to the ground a mere twelve days before the family was scheduled to move. Almost all the family's remaining possessions were destroyed in the flames. Mr. Kradz worked with the arson investigators in Charles County, Maryland, to ensure those responsible were brought to justice, and Pagliara was sentenced for conspiracy to commit arson. The following year, Michael and his family moved to Millersville, Maryland, where Mr. Kradz continued his forensics work, and formed his own private detective agency, Adept Investigations.

Michael's paranormal experiences did not end with the family leaving the house in Elkridge, however. Since that time, Michael has continued to have strange experiences, both as a teenager and as an adult. He now believes exposure to such events, over time, not only changed his perceptions of reality, but his sensitivity to such phenomena. On several occasions, these events have been witnessed by others, and have resulted in varying reactions, but to Michael, it has become a way of life. Since living in Elkridge, he has also experienced a number of precognitive events, in both waking and dream states. In August of 2002, for example, he dreamed he would be involved in an automobile accident in which he would be ejected from a rolling vehicle, one he had never seen or ridden in previously.

author's home in 2004
View of the Author's home as it appeared in 2004

This dream repeated itself for three days. On the third day, while travelinig through Denbeigh, Virginia, the Ford Escape in which Michael was a passenger, was sideswiped by an eighteen wheeler, and then struck in the rear by a speeding van. The Escape flipped end over end twice, and rolled four times before Michael was ejected through the sunroof in front of the vehicle. Although severely injured, Michael credits his survival to the dream, combined with years of martial training. According to insurance investigators, Michael "stood a better chance of winning Lotto twice" than surviving that particular type of accident. "I think I would have preferred the Lotto," Michael says, looking back. "One thing is for sure, and that is if I ever have a similar dream again, I won't make any chances."

Strange Events and Paranormal Phenomena - Conclusion

A drawing depicting Shadowpeople similar to those encountered by the Author as a child

Today, Michael continues to research strange and unusual phenomena in order to better understand those experiences. It is the Author's personal belief that 'supernatural' and 'paranormal' phenemona have their origins in aspects of our physical universe that we do not yet understand. "I think continued investigation into these phenomena will eventually lead to greater intellectual and spiritual understanding of our reality"

"I don't expect everyone to believe these things have happened," Michael admits, "because until they happen to you, it is a very difficult thing to believe, and once it does, it changes you forever." Only a portion of the events he and his family have experienced have been detailed here. Michael plans on writing a fuller account of his experiences in an autobiography at some point in the future. For now, he uses the insights gained by these events not only to broaden his view of the world, but as inspiration in his writing.

Silt-filled tunnel running under the Thomas Viaduct