THESE SEVEN HAUNTED VENUES WILL MAKE BELIEVERS OUT OF THE DIS-SPIRITED
written by Jean Chen Smith | illustrations by Allison Bye
Halloween is the ideal time to reconnect with your inner child. Remember sitting around the campfire, listening to ghost stories, and not being able to fall asleep because you were so scared? Or how about plotting your trick-or-treat route so you could maximize your treat bag? Even though the 31st of October is one day out of the entire year, some of us spend the whole month either decorating, planning a costume party or making a costume for our kiddos.
Beyond the home, there are also a ton of events to check out. “Halloween is an iconic time to see unique sights in fall colors from the Coast to the Cascades,” said Kari Westlund, president and CEO of Travel Lane County.
This year, if you are in the mood to get spooked, visit one of our seven picks to see for yourself whether you believe in the supernatural or not. These spots not only provide entertainment and intrigue, but they also allow us a glimpse back in the state’s history.
1. HECETA LIGHTHOUSE BED & BREAKFAST
Built in 1894, the Heceta Head Lighthouse is perched more than 200 feet high, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Currently still operating and considered one of the most iconic lighthouses in the Pacific Northwest, stories of haunted sightings have stuck throughout the decades. Adjacent to the towering lighthouse is the Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast, which has been running since 1995.
According to local lore, an innkeeper’s wife named Rue and their two children resided on the property, until one of the daughters drowned. Former guests and staff of the bed and breakfast report seeing a woman in Victorian-style dress wandering the house and grounds. Perhaps the most famous sighting was recorded in the Siuslaw News in 1975, when a laborer was cleaning a window in the attic and claimed to have seen a reflection of an old woman in antiquated clothing.
Thinking about visiting? Fodor’s Travel once named Heceta Lighthouse B&B one of the “most haunted hotels in America.” The hotel offers six rooms, where the lightkeepers and their wives used to sleep. Victoria’s Room is the most requested because the room has had the most reported encounters of the supernatural.
2. FLAVEL HOUSE & LIBERTY THEATRE
Astoria is the oldest city in the state, which means it has lots of history and stories surrounding it. Every time I visit Astoria, I do feel a sense of mystery that seems to envelop the town. Maybe it is the fog, or the cries of the sea lions that hide beneath the planks of the waterfront. I am not alone. In his book Haunted Astoria (2006), author Jefferson Davis highlights a collection of accounts of ghostly and paranormal encounters.
Two of the most well-known haunted places are the Flavel House Museum and the Liberty Theatre, both brimming with history. Originally built in 1885, the grand Queen Anne Victorian Flavel House belonged to the esteemed Captain George Flavel, who lived there with his wife and two adult daughters, until his death in 1893. The house was left to his family, who eventually donated it to the Clatsop County Historical Society in 1950 and is now run as a museum. Accounts of voices, music and apparitions of a man and woman have been reported. Some believe the sound of music playing comes from the captain’s daughters, who were talented musicians.
The Liberty Theatre, a long-running vaudeville playhouse, has been operating since 1925, bringing famous acts including Duke Ellington, Jack Benny, and Guy Lombardo. Some profess the 700-seat theater to be haunted. Reports of ghost sightings, soda machines turning on and off by themselves, rattling door knobs as well as sudden changes in temperature have been made.
In addition to these two locations, the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures has featured the town for even more unexplained occurrences and disasters.
3. SHELTON MCMURPHEY JOHNSON HOUSE
Listed under the National Register of Historic Places, the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House has a rich history. Built in 1888, the Queen Anne-style Victorian mansion is now a museum that offers tours and holds private events. The mansion was home to three highly distinguished families who contributed to the growth of Eugene.
Upon his death, the original owner, Dr. T.W. Shelton, left the house to his daughter, Alberta
McMurphey, and her husband, Robert. Alberta and Robert resided in the house for more than fifty years before they sold it to Dr. H. Curtis Johnson.
Walking into the museum is like stepping back in time. Much work has been done to maintain the integrity of the historical period. To date, there have not been any significant sightings; however, visitors have claimed hearing footsteps and laughter when they are sure the area was vacant.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Oct. 13 and 14: Edgar Allan Poe Reading
Time: 7 p.m.
4. MOUNT DAVID MCFARLAND CEMETERY
The Covered Bridge Capital of the West is well-known for its six covered bridges, but Cottage Grove is also a mysterious town, with stories of supernatural occurrences. The Mount David McFarland Cemetery is the resting place of colonists dating back to the 1850s. Locals and visitors purport to sense spirits in the cemetery.
5. OREGON VORTEX
Strange things occur in Gold Hill, especially at the roadside attraction known as The Oregon Vortex, which opened in the 1930s. It showcases more than thirty-five odd occurrences that defy logical explanation, including balls that roll uphill and a house that is tilted from the outside, but appears perfectly level on the inside. These have been documented by the first owner of the Vortex, John Litster, through a series of diagrams and notes in The Accumulated Notes and Data.
About a forty-minute drive away is the historic Wolf Creek Inn, the oldest known hotel in Oregon, where the famous author Jack London used to frequent. Built in 1883, the hotel retains its old-fashioned charm with real wood floors and Victorian décor. Guests have reported hearing someone singing even though there is not a person in sight, along with staff who have felt a presence, or someone brushing up against them.
Paranormal investigators, who visited with ghost-hunting equipment, claimed spirits are present. Recognized as a State Heritage Site, ranger-led tours are available but need to be booked in advance. Self-guided tours are available Thursday through Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
6. GEISER GRAND HOTEL
Originally named the Hotel Warshauer, the Geiser Grand Hotel opened in 1889 and was the epitome of luxury and opulence. Centered on an Italian-Victorian design, the hotel featured marble floors, crystal chandeliers and a stained-glass ceiling, believed to be the largest in the Pacific Northwest at the time. It had a four-story clock tower and 200-foot-high cupola, and it offered eighty guest rooms.
In the 1800s, Baker City was a thriving epicenter of activity, often referred to as the “Queen City of the Mines,” largely because of the gold discovered in the area in the 1860s. The town had a saloon, banks, opera house and general store.
The hotel switched hands from the Warshauer brothers, the original builders, to the Geiser family in 1900 and was renamed the Geiser Grand. Due to the decline of gold, the hotel closed in the 1960s, and the building fell into disrepair. The new owners, Barbara Sidway and her husband, Dwight, purchased the property in 1993. Familiar with restoring and renovating properties, the Sidways reopened the hotel in 1996, offering thirty rooms with modern amenities such as air conditioning, televisions and refrigerators, while maintaining historical aesthetics.
Purported ghost stories include dining chairs moving by themselves, children laughing, clinking glasses and a shadowy figure in the cupola suite. Perhaps the most well-known ghost story told is the Lady in Blue, who is believed to be Annabelle Geiser, the matriarch of the family. She roams the hallways in a long blue dress, reflective of the time, and is purported to sometimes be seen in room 302, where she used to sleep. The hotel has been the subject of many paranormal investigations and is believed to be one of the most haunted places in Oregon.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Oct. 14: Ghost Hunting
Oct. 20–22: Witches Weekend
Oct. 28: Masquerade Ball
Nov. 4: Ghost Hunting
See www.geisergrand.com/events for additional event information
7. OREGON INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
The Oregon Institute of Technology started in 1947 as the Oregon Vocational School (OVS) in an old WWII Marine Corps barracks. No one knows why the school’s original building at Old Fort Road was abandoned abruptly. The campus was relocated to its new site in 1964 at 3201 Campus Dr.
The building at Old Fort Road became derelict and sat unclaimed until it was demolished in the 1970s. Rumblings of satanic rituals adjacent to the school’s location and evidence of peculiar rock formations consisting of animal bones on them make this site downright spooky. Let’s not get started on witnesses who claim to have seen shadows and ghosts.