By Andre' Hagestedt (place
your cursor over each pic for the caption)
The winds cut deeper and make progressively louder
noises as the days shorten. Fog creeps in from the sea more often.
And then Halloween shows up, as if to really remind us about things
otherworldly. It's no wonder Oregon's northern coast has a load
of ghostly tales swirling about. It's no wonder the remake of "The
Fog" currently in release is set in a fictional North Oregon
Coast town. From flying pots and specters who've moved from one
building to another in Seaside, the ghostly legends of a hotel in
the Nehalem Bay, to the myriad of hauntings in ancient Astoria -
there's plenty for the ghost-hunting tourist in this pristine and
SLEEPLESS IN SEASIDE
of things creepy abound in Seaside - but they're hard to find. It's
almost as if they've been swept under the carpet.
For almost 100 years, the old Hotel Seaside (later
named The Seasider) was a grandiose, beautiful building that was
a sort of centerpiece to Seaside,
at the Turnaround. So it's no surprise that place acquired tales
of apparitions and otherworldly guests over the years. There were
numerous spirits that purportedly haunted it.
These days, the Shilo Inn sits in that spot. But when
the old hotel was torn down, the spooks moved to Girtle's Restaurant,
just down the street on Broadway, according to owner Bob Girtle.
He recounted numerous stories of otherworldly happenings in the
restaurant, having seen them himself or coming from various employees
who tell their own tales. They talk of seeing the mysterious shadows
of feet walking behind the door of a closed-off area of the kitchen,
visible from the small space between the floor and the door. This
happens when it's not possible anyone else is in there, say Bob
and his crew. They don't even check that room anymore when they
see the shadows.
Then there is the notorious flying coffee pot in the
galley area between the kitchen and the main dining room. Bob and
others on his staff have experienced this more than once. Sometimes
it moves a bit, others it literally flies across the hallway.
Bob said he inherited some employees of the old Seasider
back in the 80's, and at least one said they saw some of the same
John Sowa, owner of the New Orleans-style eatery Lil'
Bayou, also related tales of moving objects in the kitchen and a
strange sense of someone being near him while alone in his office.
Kitchen utensils are found in different places than employees have
left them, or an object suddenly falls off a hook or a shelf.
Lil' Bayou lies in the historic Gilbert District of
Seaside, which is filled with old buildings, almost all with upstairs
areas that are often unused. The charming, atmospheric area has
gone through a rebirth in recent years, and often there are whispers
of ghosts coinciding with many of the renewed buildings.
The Seaside Aquarium may have a closet containing
something - or rather, an upstairs that could be haunted. When the
building was a natatorium back about 80 years ago, there were apartments
at the top floor. That area isn't used much at all now, but manager
Keith Chandler says he's heard whispers over the years the top floor
is haunted. Various stories have been handed down through the generations
about noises coming from there.
EERIE AND NOT-SO-EERIE ON THE BAY
which caps the north end of the Nehalem
Bay, is shrouded in mists and mystery, with Neahkahnie Mountain
looming overhead and legends of a galleon and its buried treasures.
Some versions of that tale contain atrocities, like purportedly
burying their African slaves alive with the treasure to keep the
On its beaches, there are mysterious piles of rocks
that have appeared over the years, apparently overnight. Sometimes
they appear as single piles or stacks. No one has ever figured out
who is responsible, creating speculation of an otherworldly artist.
In nearby Wheeler,
facing the Nehalem Bay, Old Wheeler Hotel owner Winston Laszlo says
he's encountered several things in that old building he couldn't
really explain. Sometimes, he said, he believes he sees someone
in the corner of his eye, only to discover there's no one there.
Once, Winston was looking in a mirror in the hotel's
public area and saw the eflection of a man sitting in a chair behind
him. Winston says he turned around to look at the man, whom he didn't
recognize as a guest, and there was no one there.
pair of ghost hunters even came to the visit the place and took
photos of what they believed could be "spirit orbs" just
outside the basement area. Winston still has copies of these.
Winston and wife Maranne Doyle-Laszlo say the entire
building seemed to be against them during the process of remodeling
the ragged old construct into the first-rate hotel it is now. They
had a nagging feeling a presence seemed to arrange one disaster
and setback after another, such as when a window blew out in a storm.
Then, one day, they say the building seemed to accept them, and
reconstruction proceeded smoothly thereafter. (www.oldwheelerhotel.com.
In an email just before her visit, ghost hunter Martina
DeLude told Winston that made sense. "Ghosts that haunt residential
and business locations become very threatened when someone starts
changing things that they are accustomed to. Some spirits actually
become incensed when furniture is moved around. Just like the living,
most spirits do not like change. Possibly, as soon as they realized
that it was once again going to become a hotel - perhaps something
they may remember - they decided to help you along instead of stifling
your efforts." There's more on their investigation of the Old
Wheeler Hotel at http://www.nwpprs.com/Investigations/Places02/OldWheeler.html.
In other tales, Wheeler Antiques owner Garry Gitzen
says a Wheeler woman, descended from local tribes, actually burned
down her own house in recent years because disturbing spirits haunted
it. She did this in lieu of tearing the thing down, never rebuilding
it, with rumors floating about that Native American children had
died in a fire in that spot in ancient times.
Not all is creepy here. According to Winston and Garry,
there is a host of well-meaning spirits there known as the "Good
Spirits of Wheeler," and Ekahni Books owner Peg Miller says
the place is a sort of "spiritual vortex lite." They all
point to something they call a "Wheeler Moment," where
serendipity seems to suddenly rear its head. Locals talk of numerous
circumstances where pleasant, happy coincidences popped up, assisting
folks in some way. They all note various incidents where someone
is discussing wanting to do something, and someone or some opportunity
arises that helps things along - like the time the Garry and Winston
were talking about creating a film festival, and they discovered
a documentary filmmaker was staying in town.
Read more on Wheeler Moments here: https://www.beachconnection.net/vtour_nbay32.htm
LINCOLN CITY SPOOKS
spooky stories inhabit this Central Coast town. The North Lincoln
Fire Station is said to have an apparition lounging in the recreation
area. Visitors Bureau official Jennifer Sears vouches for that one,
saying she's encountered something there she couldn't explain.
At the beautiful Wildflower Grill, on the north end
of town, some have talked about encountering a helpful geist named
Matilda, who liked to putter around the restaurant. At one point,
the place was supposedly "cleaned" of any spirits by a
group of ghostbuster-types. But for a while, she would pull a prank
or two, knock objects around the kitchen, and had been known to
conduct herself in a politically incorrect manner by occasionally
patting someone on the behind.
Siletz Bay, numerous locals have talked about seeing a ghost ship
appear and then disappear over the years. This one has some added
potency because there have been several shipwrecks there before
the 20th century. The skeleton of one such wreckage was visible
there until the 80's (a scientific crew went in search of that one
earlier this year).
There's actually a videotape sold by the Lincoln
City Visitors Center that features a group of paranormal investigators
looking into the angry ghost that wanders upstairs at Depoe Bay's
The Spouting Horn restaurant. This one gets rather chilling in some
spots. At one point, the group finds out there was once a doorway
in the spot where, according to employees, the spook keeps walking
through the wall. The video gets really freaky when the two female
hunters tell their male colleague to be absolutely still, as the
ghost is standing next to him and extremely aggravated.
OREGON'S COASTAL X FILES
It's not all spooks and goblins on the beach. There
are a few tales of UFO's beingspotted in Astoria and in the coast
range around Corvallis and Albany, close to Marys Peak.
may just have its own Area 51 in the Van Duzer Corridor, just outside
Lincoln City. Strange murmurings surround talk of lights in the
sky or people appearing in the roadway and then disappearing.
One rumor has a pair driving through the winding,
twisting roadway and feeling like their car was controlled by some
unseen force. Another tale, according to Portlander Jason Frank,
has two Seattle friends telling him they spotted what looked like
a secret military base while hiking in those woods.
There have also been some whispers by locals that
a forest road was cut off by the government in the 70's, fueling
some of the secret base talk. There actually is a government testing
facility near Cascade Head that's locked off to the public.
The Heceta Head Lighthouse,
north of Florence, is the subject of some truly chilling tales.
This yarn has shades of the old "Ghost and Mrs. Muir"
TV series, with families who've run the B&B at the keeper's
quarters saying the lady phantom is like a member of the family.
abound of wispy figures being seen or things being inexplicably
moved. And there are some decidedly non-crackpot witnesses. Famed
Oregon photographer Steve Terrill, whose photos grace dozens of
books and calendars, gladly speaks about his encounter.
Terrill says he and photographer friend Steve Gaddis
caught a glimpse of something in the shape of a woman in the attic
of the keeper's quarters while on a shoot.
"We both saw it," Terrill says. "You
could just barely make out the outline. And then it just disappeared.
Steve got spooked and said, 'No, I don't want to think about it.'
And later on, when we found out it was the attic we were looking
at, I realized it was right above the room he was staying in."
said that Gaddis recoiled at that news. Later, Gaddis found it thoroughly
dreadful when the pair discovered there was no one home during their
Newport's Yaquina Head
Lighthouse was, for many years, the center of a tale about a
lighthouse keeper named Higgins who died on the spiral stairway,
then haunted the place. Purportedly, his colleague was scared to
enter the tower at night because of his ectoplasmic former coworker.
That one was recently ghostbusted when a letter was
sent to the curators of the lighthouse by a descendant of Mr. Higgins,
saying he actually died in Portland in the 30's.
The tale of the teen ghostess at Yaquina
Bay Lighthouse is so very Scooby Doo, where the figure of the
young woman is supposedly seen on the beach occasionally. The legend
came from a fictional story published in the local newspaper in
the early part of the 20th century, and has somehow lingered, sometimes
getting confused as an actual legend and not a work of short fiction.
ASTORIA - OR GHOSTORIA?
At the very tip of Oregon, Astoria is full of major
ghost stories of one sort or another. That's no surprise, considering
it's the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi.
Liberty Theater is widely regarded as haunted. It was once a haven
for the likes of Duke Ellington, Jack Benny, Guy Lombardo and supposedly
even gangster Al Capone. Purportedly, it's also occupied by someone
named Paul. One employee was quoted as saying that Paul is "quite
handsome," giving him the nickname Handsome Paul. He apparently
wears a "white tuxedo and a panama hat," according to
the Clatsop County Historical Society.
Cast and crews over the years have talked about spotting
him. While mostly just an apparition, he's been known to slam doors
and make other unruly noises. Other tales from the theater include
objects gliding through the air, knobs unscrewing themselves from
appliances and utilities, as well as two or three other inhabitants
Also famous for being haunted is the firehouse there,
plus the town has a brutal history of men being "shanghaied"
in the early part of the century.