People flock to tourist destinations for various reasons—some seek adventure, others history, and a few just want to relax. But there is a subset of travelers who crave something more, something eerie that sends shivers down the spine. For them, American Ghost Walks serves as the perfect gateway into the world of the unknown, the paranormal, and the truly haunting stories that dot the American landscape.
Before Shark Tank
American Ghost Walks didn’t start as a nationwide enterprise; it was born from the interests and talents of two siblings: Mike Huberty and Allison Jornlin. Both had a fascination with the paranormal from an early age, rooted in the environment where they grew up. Mike was raised in Mukwonago, near the mysterious Rainbow Springs Resort, a 760-room hotel that was never opened and burned down under suspicious circumstances in 2002. The siblings’ interest in the paranormal was stoked by the era’s popular culture, including television shows like “Unsolved Mysteries,” which aired in 1987 and covered various unsolved crimes and myths, including the paranormal.
Mike Huberty’s Journey
Mike Huberty initially found a creative outlet for his interests in the paranormal through music. He performed in a band called Sunspot, which focused on Weird Wisconsin Rock. Later, he was featured in various platforms like the BBC and the TRVL Channel. But in 2010, he founded Madison Ghost Walks, aimed at showcasing the folklore and history of Wisconsin’s capital city, Madison. The business idea materialized when Mike was financially strained; his sister Allison, who was already running a similar venture in Milwaukee, suggested he start one in Madison. Within a month, the business had enough momentum to help him pay his rent.
Allison Jornlin’s Contribution
Allison Jornlin was an explorer of strange phenomena long before the formation of American Ghost Walks. She was inspired by Richard Crowe, the pioneer of U.S. ghost tourism since 1973, to develop Milwaukee’s first haunted history tour in 2008. With more than 20 years of experience investigating unusual events, she has been awarded the Wisconsin Researcher of the Year in 2016 by the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. Allison also makes public appearances and writes for various publications focusing on the unexplained and the paranormal.
Growth and Expansion
Over the past 15 years, what began as a small venture has grown exponentially. Mike and Allison have expanded American Ghost Walks to eight states, including far-flung places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico. They joined forces and combined their mutual love for history and the paranormal to create walking tours that present true, well-researched stories of hauntings across America.
American Ghost Walks offers walking tours rich in details and backed by meticulous research, ensuring the stories told are 100% true. Participants are led by guides well-versed in local history and folklore, creating an experience that is both enlightening and entertaining. Each tour is designed to be engaging, with the goal of leaving participants thrilled by the end.
Range of Destinations
The walking tours span various states, each with its own unique tales to tell. For example, in California, guests can hear stories that seem like they’ve been ripped from the pages of pulp fiction but are, in fact, derived from first-hand accounts. In Illinois, the focus shifts to notorious crimes and the haunting aftermath. Louisiana tours delve into the history and mysteries of voodoo culture in New Orleans, while in Maine, guests encounter tales from time-worn coastal towns. Minnesota surprises with accounts of vengeful ghosts and past executions.
In Puerto Rico, the tour explores Old San Juan, both during the day and at night, unraveling haunting tales linked to the Devil’s Triangle. Wisconsin, where it all began, offers local legends and tales ranging from the steps of the capitol to the shores of Lake Michigan.
American Ghost Walks has successfully transformed the eclectic interests of its founders into a flourishing business, appealing to those who wish to explore the darker, yet profoundly intriguing, facets of American history and folklore. With a range of tours that span various states and themes, the company serves as a unique lens through which to view and understand the complexities of American culture and history, one ghost story at a time.