Ghost Hunting on Oregon's
By Andre' Hagestedt
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
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 stunning
Sleepless In Seaside
Tales 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
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
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 ghosts.
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 over the years
about noises coming from there.
Eerie And Not-So-Eerie On The Bay
Manzanita, 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 natives away.
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 reflection 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.
A 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
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.
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
The 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 from
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.
more on the
Coast, including extensive virtual tours, see
©2005 Andre' Hagestedt
About the Author: Andre'
Hagestedt is editor of
Connection, a tourism publication covering the upper half of
coast - some 180 miles.