Haunted Oregon

From the Shanghai Tunnels to the high desert and the inexplicable Vortex, something spirited this way comes.

By Lee Lewis Husk

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Spirits of the past are present everywhere. They dwell in our lands, haunt our historic buildings and cemeteries, and inhabit our songs, literature, films and holy texts. From ancient Egypt to today’s pop culture, stories of ghosts, apparitions and spirits— whatever you call them—are found in nearly every society and every religion.

Photo by Leah Nash

“Ghosts are a desire to believe in the afterlife,” says Sharon Sherman, a folklorist and professor at University of Oregon. “None of us can conceptualize nothingness after death. We want to think that our spirit or life force will continue or go on in one form or another.” About one-fourth of Americans believe they’ve had contact with the dead, whether seeing an apparition or sensing the deceased through anomalous phenomena such as a clock stopping or an object falling, says Daniel Wojcik, professor and director of U of O’s Folklore Program. “These sorts of experiences reinforce widely held folk beliefs about ghosts, souls and life after death,” he explains.

“Everyone’s a skeptic until it happens to them,” says Jeff Davis, ghost hunter, archeologist, author of several books on ghosts of the Pacific Northwest and co-author of Weird Oregon: Your Travel Guide to Oregon’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. Although paranormal activities have been reported throughout the state, in wild landscapes, small towns and even state parks, he advises recreational ghost hunters to visit Oregon’s larger cities, where spirits are easily unearthed.

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