Tag Archives: Ghosthunting Oregon

Witch’s Castle, Portland

 

A feud about the land gives rise to wicked laughter at the Witch’s Castle in Oregon.

Folklore, legends, and ghost stories abound regarding the Witch’s Castle.
As with so many purportedly haunted locations in the Portland area, one must carefully sift through the lore in order to filter out the truths. Even then, it is sometimes difficult to paint a completely accurate portrait, and one is left with a dramatic narrative at best. But this is also what makes traveling to haunted locations so intriguing. Visitors are left to decide whether their own experiences and senses reflect paranormal activity. But what most ghost-hunting travelers do know is that they should expect the unexpected.

What is left is the eerie shell—roofless and covered with moss, clinging ivy, and graffiti. It has been called the Witch’s Castle for decades and has a reputation throughout the state of Oregon of being haunted. It is all that scary movies are made of—an odd, out-of-place structure; a bloody tale of former tenants; and the haunting of the land on which it resides.

One of the most accepted stories about the Witch’s Castle is that of an ongoing ghostly feud on the land that gives rise to wicked laughter, sinister whispers, screams of terror, and angry specters—phenomena that give many a hiker second thoughts about venturing down the trails after dark. Many have also claimed to see dark figures darting between the trees and behind the shrubbery and in and out of the old stone structure.

There have been reports of bright, glowing lights encircling the building before disappearing into the woods and even a few reports of full-bodied apparitions of young women and children. People I spoke with who have experienced what they feel is paranormal activity at the Witch’s Castle, however, do not stray from their accounts, and

Donna Stewart ComedySportz Portland
Donna Stewart

I tend to believe them and that this consistency points to the spirits of the Balch family haunting their old homestead. I can assure you that, after dark, each noise, whether it is the falling of a leaf or the crack of a twig, is amplified around the Witch’s Castle. So whether the old stone building is haunted or not, it is not the most comfortable place to be when the sun goes down. I didn’t see a ghost during my visit, but that doesn’t mean they do not reside there—only that I was not in the right place at the right time. And, as we all know, history never dies.

If you enjoyed the story of the Witch’s Castle, check out Ghosthunting Oregona book by Donna Stewart in which she covers more than 30 haunted places throughout the Beaver State, all of them open to the public.

Benson Hotel Portand

Five Spiritual Apparitions Reported at the Benson Hotel in Portland

Benson HotelWhile most purportedly haunted locations in the Portland area are home to a single ghost or type of haunting, the Benson Hotel reportedly houses five spiritual apparitions, each similar in description and related activity.

People have reported numerous ghosts in the Benson Hotel, and many guests check in hoping to meet one of them face-to-face. Paranormal experiences have occurred throughout, with ghosts seen wearing anything from formal attire to lumberjack clothing. An employee was setting the tables for a banquet when the ghost of Benson entered the room and then just as quickly exited into the wine storage area, vanishing before her eyes. Shaken, she nervously finished her job as quickly as possible, glancing over her shoulder to make sure she was still alone in the room.

Other employees claim to have seen the ghost of Benson in one of the meeting areas, standing quietly and attentively in the back of the room as an important meeting commenced.

Is the Ghost of Jimi Hendrix Experience Drummer John Ronald “Mitch” Mitchell Haunting the Benson Hotel?

Another popular ghost at the Benson Hotel is that of a young boy, around the age of 3 or 4, who witnesses describe as thin and with short, light brown hair. Some local psychics have said that it is the ghost of Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer John Ronald “Mitch” Mitchell, who died at the Benson Hotel in 2008. Mitchell was a famous child actor in England before embarking on a career in rock and roll, and the psychics believe he remains at the Benson as the child version of himself. While anything may be possible in the afterlife, this does beg the question as to why this young boy has been seen at the hotel for decades whereas Mitchell died in 2008.

One guest who was in Portland on business checked into a room on the seventh floor of the Benson Hotel. She was in bed and growing weary of the movie on television, so she turned off the set and checked her cell phone one last time for any messages from her family before turning in. Then, when she rolled over, she came face-to-face with a little boy who stood at the side of her bed. She estimated the child to be about 3 years old, and as a mother with a son the same age, her instinct was to reach out to him. She touched his arm, and for a moment it felt solid and warm. She recalled thinking that the little boy could not possibly be a ghost because he was not cold, and from all that she had seen on television, ghosts were cold. As she thought about this and watched the little boy, he unexpectedly jumped at her face, assuming a scary expression. Startled, but not really frightened, she covered her head for a moment, thinking the boy might be simply playing a game with her. When she peeked out from the covers, the boy was still there. Again she touched him, and again he quickly made a scary face. This time the guest carefully positioned the blanket in front of her face so she would not have to see the boy again and, after a few minutes, assumed he was gone. Then she felt movement on the blankets at the bottom of the bed. Spooked by what she had just experienced, she did not look to see what the movement was.

Benson hotel 1When she checked out of the hotel the next morning, the woman asked the desk clerk if anyone else had ever described anything like she had experienced the night before. She was not surprised to hear that others had seen the little boy, although the desk clerk told her that most of those sightings had occurred on the 12th floor.

Some Benson Hotel Ghosts are Friendly and Helpful

Although they have a sense of humor, some of the Benson Hotel ghosts are friendly and helpful. Another guest, one with a disability, was having difficulty getting into bed one night when a porter appeared in front of her and gently assisted her into bed. When she turned to thank him for his kindness, however, he vanished before her eyes. No one has been able to describe well what the porter looks like, perhaps because he helps and vanishes so quickly, but he is known to assist guests in rooms when they need a helping hand.

Ghosthunting Oregon
Ghosthunting Oregon

The Lady in White is another helpful ghost. When she is not checking on guests, she wanders the floors and admires the decor. The Lady in Blue is the ghost of a middle-aged woman who has been seen wearing a turquoise dress and bright red rings. She is a different form of apparition than the others, however, and people have reported seeing her only as a reflection in a lobby mirror looking back at them.

If you are looking for a beautiful and mysterious place to spend a night or two in the Portland area, check into the Benson Hotel, which has everything and more that you would expect from a fine luxury hotel. The rooms are not inexpensive, but they are not grossly overpriced either. Spend some time in the gym, enjoy dinner at the London Grill, and relax in your room with a few friendly ghosts.

Donna Stewart’s book Ghosthunting Oregon covers more than 30 haunted places throughout the Beaver State, all of them open to the public.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse

The mere utterance of the name Heceta Head Lighthouse has become synonymous with the words haunted and ghost. Rarely do you hear the name mentioned without the addition of one of the previous words. But this is a day and age when the word haunted will bring visitors across the country to check into this majestic bed-and-breakfast for the chance to witness a specter with their own eyes. And this is the case with Heceta Head Lighthouse.

Donna Stewart, Author of Ghosthunting Oregon, Takes
You to Heceta Head Lighthouse

Many readers may be familiar with Heceta Head Lighthouse without ever having been there, as it has been featured on numerous television shows and documentaries, including Legendary Lighthouses on PBS, another short documentary on Oregon Public Broadcasting called simply Heceta Head Lighthouse, and a number of paranormal reality television shows. It is also the subject of countless books focusing on either its historical or paranormal aspects and often a mix of both.

Strange and unexplained occurrences in the light keeper’s house at Heceta Head have led to its classification as one of the 10 most haunted houses in the United States. For more than six decades, residents of the light keeper’s house and guests of the bed-and-breakfast have spoken of unusual incidents. But don’t let the ghosts scare you away. Rue, the most well-known spirit, is always pleasant and seems to have a penchant for cleaning. She does not evoke fear in guests, and they generally enjoy her company after the initial shock of realizing they are seeing a ghost.

After hearing of my team’s investigation of Heceta Head Lighthouse, I cannot count the number of times I have been asked if it is haunted. And Heceta Head is the one location where I do not use the word haunted—it is, rather, apparently occupied by the spirits of a lovely lady and a few outspoken men.

Heceta Head Lighthouse
Lighthouse Keeper’s House, now a Bed & Breakfast

Heceta Head is now a popular bed-and-breakfast that offers turn-of-the-century-style rooms at reasonable prices. So if you are of the adventurous state of mind and would like to take a brief step back in time, Heceta Head Lighthouse might well be the place to escape to on your next vacation. It is history, it is home, and you are treated like family. Even by the ghosts.

Read the complete research done on Heceta Head Lighthouse in Donna Stewart’s book Ghosthunting Oregon. The book covers more than 30 haunted places throughout the Beaver State, all of them open to the public.

Visiting Heceta Head Lighthouse

The lighthouse is located in what is called the Devil’s Elbow, 13 miles north of Florence, Oregon, and 13 miles south of Yachats, Oregon, at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. More information on visiting and staying at Heceta Head Lighthouse is found HERE.

Photo credits Heceta Head Lighthouse:

  • Picture of Heceta Head Lighthouse courtesy of Dan Hershman [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Picture of Lighthouse Keeper’s House courtesy of Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Bush House Museum: Salem

A History:

Bush House Museum SalemMany historic homes-turned-museums are refurbished to at least some extent. Visitors of the Bush House Museum will find that this is not the case, they will see what the Bush family saw day-to-day in the late 1800s.

After his wife died of tuberculosis, Asahel Bush II bought his partner’s share of their business and became horribly successful. Asahel innovated the Bush House, which he and his four young children moved into after the very accomplished architect Wilbur Boothby built it.

The home is both Victorian and Italianate in style and reflects the independence and elegance of the family who lived there. The home had what was then “modern” conveniences like heating, hot and cold water, and indoor plumbing. These were quite the luxuries of the 1870s.

The children, Asahel III, Estelle, and Sally made their father proud growing up and did well in their lives after college. Sally moved back home and managed the estate, Estelle married, and Asahel III went into banking. Eugenia was the only one of the four who was ill-fated. She developed a mental condition during her school years in Massachusetts and returned home.

Fact or Fiction?

What happened to Eugenia went she returned home is unknown, but there are two versions of the story:

1. Her father kept her in the basement, for he was embarrassed by his daughter’s mental condition. Besides the freedom to go outdoors, she was well cared for down there. There are no reports of abuse or poor conditions.

2. Her father shipped her away to a mental institution in Boston—where only the wealthiest were cared for. She received the best psychiatric and medical care available. She only returned home to the Bush House after her father’s death.

Ghostly Occurrences

While the Bush House is largely an area associated with good memories, pleasant parks, varieties of rare flowers and even houses the Salem Art Fair and Festival, there have been countless reports of the extraordinary presences over the years.

“I did see a vase on a table in the living room slide about three inches across the table-top, and I heard it moving. I would have thought I was going a little crazy if my husband hadn’t seen it too!” said one woman.

Others report that a shadowy figure of a man in a suit fidgets with a pocket watch. One woman even said to have looked up what the senior Bush looked like upon seeing that presence and knew instantly—that is who she saw.

There have been reports of a young woman “crying and sobbing breathlessly.” Is this Eugenia? Perhaps, but more importantly is it the same woman who has been seen looking out a top-floor window in the evenings or floating through the rooms in a mist-like presence?

Frequently, visitors have heard whispers, cries, and even spoken conversations coming from a room around the corner. These occurrences have been reported too often to deny signs of the paranormal.

Now try your best to guess these interesting facts about the Bush House and Family!

1. There are __ bedrooms in the Bush house open to the public.

a. 1
b. 3
c. 12
d. 0
e. 7
f. 10

2. The 100-acre estate does NOT contain which of the following:

a. The barn
b. The original Bush House
c. The greenhouse
d. The garage
e. Many kaleidoscopic gardens
f. Pasturage for cattle

3. Asahel Bush II, a very successful and renowned inhabitant of the Bush House, did NOT have which occupation?

a. Attorney
b. Banker
c. Doctor
d. Democratic National Convention delegate
e. Oregon Statesman Journal owner
f. Oregon Statesman Journal publisher

4. Eugenia’s mental condition was:

a. Depression
b. Schizophrenia
c. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Excerpts from Ghosthunting: Oregon by Donna Stewart
Blog by Sarris Balcerzak

 

 

 

 

Answer Key:
 1. c 2. d 3. c 4. b

Hollywood Theatre Portland

Opened on July 17, 1926 the Hollywood has not changed much outwardly since 1926, but its heart has continued to advance with the times and, as the film industry changed, so did the technical capabilities of the theater. More changes came in the 1970s when the theater was divided into three separate auditoriums.

Hollywood Theatre Portland
Hollywood Theatre Portland

Despite the attention the Hollywood  received when it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, the theater became a victim to the newer and more modern theaters in Portland, and its business all but disappeared. But in the 21st century, the theater came back to life. It now not only shows movies but also focuses on independent and local filmmakers and educational programs. No one can accuse the Hollywood of not being able to adjust with the times, and because of that, its legacy lives on. And so do the ghosts that reside there.

Walking into the theater for the first time was an almost dreamlike experience for me. I am fascinated by history and architecture, so I found the best of both worlds in the lobby of the Hollywood. While parts of the theater have been updated with modern amenities, I could still envision vaudeville acts and silent movies and Model T Fords parked outside.

Hollywood Theatre lobby
Lobby Hollywood Theatre Portland

The ghosts of the Hollywood have never been given obligatory names or identified as other than male and female, but the reports of their existence are many. Past theater managers recall seeing a well-dressed, middle-aged man floating or hovering in the upstairs lobby. Some people have reported seeing a young, blonde female in high heels in the upstairs theater. She has also been seen nervously pacing the halls while smoking a cigarette. The sightings are brief but detailed, and each witness recalls a similar experience. People also report a feeling of uneasiness on the stairs leading to the upper theaters. A male ghost enjoys tapping people on the shoulder or back and whispering unintelligible words into their ears. Yet another ghost, a female, has been seen sitting quietly in the back row of the theater. While many are startled by a physical touch, most feel that it is done in jest. In all of the accounts that have been relayed to me, no one has felt threatened or fearful.

A woman I spoke with after my visit that claimed to be a medium said that the nervously pacing female ghost waits eternally for her husband to pick her up from work, not knowing he had been killed in an automobile accident on the way to meet her. I do not have an opinion either way on mediums or psychics, and this explanation certainly seems plausible when I consider the reports and the repetitive actions of this particular ghost, but we will never know if this is indeed true.

There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the floating man or the woman seen in the back rows. Perhaps they simply enjoyed their time at the Hollywood and thought it would be a nice place to retire after they expired. But turning from a conversation there, I caught a glimpse of a misty, transparent figure that passed before me and dissolved into the wall. It was not as detailed as many other reports, but I do not doubt what I saw with my own eyes. I replay it over and over in my mind in an attempt to come up with a rational, natural explanation, but am left without one.

As the sun began to set, the mood of the  theater seemed to change, and at one point I was actually eager to leave. Two people in my party heard a voice whisper “Hey, you!” and felt unexplained cold spots that had not been there before. It seemed as though when the darkness set in, people we were not able to see were arriving to watch their favorite movies. And perhaps that was the case, nothing more and nothing less.

If you liked this excerpt from Donna Stewart’s book check out Ghosthunting Oregon for more spookiest haunts across the state.

Photo Credits
Hollywood Theatre by Visitor7 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Ghost stories of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

According to the ghost stories associated with Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, it is haunted by a seaman named Evan MacClure, who was the captain of the whaling ship Monkton. In 1874, a powerful storm is reported to have struck the area and swept the hapless vessel into the Devil’s Punchbowl, a large, natural bowl partially open to the Pacific Ocean that is carved into the rocky headland near the lighthouse. The ship wrecked. For more than a century, visitors, employees, and townsfolk have reported seeing an old captain standing at the base of the lighthouse and looking up, as though he were still trying to see the light that would guide him to safety. Those who have witnessed this say  he appears as an older man and is as clear as any living person, until he suddenly vanishes before their eyes. Many residents say that MacClure continued to follow the light of the lighthouse and that his spirit occupied it, becoming a part of the beam and structure that led many a sailor to safe harbors.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Also in 1874, a ship sailed into the Newport harbor carrying a man who called himself Trevenard and who had brought his teenaged daughter Zina—or Muriel, depending on the teller of the tale—to visit with friends after her mother had passed away. Trevenard spent a few days in the little town with his daughter and then left her in a small hotel to continue her visit. We can assume that in 1874 life was simpler and that teenagers were better behaved when left unattended than they are today. So it should not be too surprising that Zina/Muriel and her friends opted for a picnic lunch on the grass of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. But teenagers being teenagers, they decided to investigate the interior of the lighthouse.

According to the stories, they discovered a hidden room on the third floor and spent quite some time investigating it before leaving the lighthouse. When they once again reached the yard, Zina/Muriel realized she had left her handkerchief inside the building, so she left to retrieve it as her friends waited outside. After a few minutes, however, a scream pierced the air, and her friends hurried inside and followed a trail of blood drops that led them back to the third floor. As they looked for Zina/Muriel, they found only her bloodied handkerchief, and the unfortunate girl was never seen again—at least not alive. But there are those who claim her restless spirit still wanders the halls of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, seeking a way out.

Even today, visitors to the Yaquina Bay lighthouse report eerie sensations and the feeling of being watched as they tour the building. Others have reported hearing whispering voices, both male and female, and seeing a flickering light on the second floor after dark. While most of the workers and volunteers in the lighthouse say they have not experienced any type of paranormal activity, there are those who have seen, heard, and felt an unseen presence.

My experiences at Yaquina Bay Lighthouse were not definitive, and I came away neither believing nor disbelieving the legends. But I will return there to attempt to shed some light on the truth of the ghost stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.

You may judge for yourself, however, any time you pass through Newport, Oregon, and decide to visit Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of a young girl with a bloodstained handkerchief looking for a way out, or a sailor seeking the light. And even if you do not, you will be standing in a part of Oregon history.

You can read the complete story of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Donna Stewart’s book Ghosthunting Oregon.

Photo credit: By Little Mountain 5 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone
Tanya & Liliane at AHRT Booth

ScareFest7 started out on Friday September 12th with the Black Carpet arrival of this year’s celebrities. The media and the fans were at hand to capture the stars’ arrivals.

Meanwhile the Clerisy Press team Liliane and Tanya were ready at booth #63 eagerly awaiting the Platinum and Golden Ticket holders who are lucky enough to enter ScareFest one hour before the official opening.

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone:

Dancers of Lexington Ballet School
Dancers of Lexington Ballet School

The venue includes a 82,000 square foot area where ScareFest Con houses over 200 different dealers offering the strange and the bizarre.

Fancy an individual reading or holding a very creepy bug? It is all available at ScareFest.

During all three days the convention offered a wide choice of seminars, workshops, panels, and celebrity book signings.  At times long lines formed with fans waiting to meet their favorite horror actors or paranormal personality.  Sean Astin (Mikey in The Goonies in the ’80s, Rudy in the ’90s and beloved hobbit Samwise Gamgee in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy) had a constant line of excited fans waiting to meet him.  Read more about all celebrities present here.

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone
Costumed fans at ScareFest7

Young ballet dancers of a Lexington Ballet School performed several times throughout the weekend and the many costumed convention goers added color and excitement to the show.

The weekend included the Platinum/Golden Ticket VIP Party at HighTop Bar hosted by Patti Starr and on Saturday the free for all costume ball.  The Clerisy team joined the fun and while we did not win the prize for best costume we sure had a ball!

Book Signings and a raffle at our Booth:

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone
The Clerisy team with John Kachuba

On Saturday Patti Starr and John Kachuba held book signings at our booth. John Kachuba is the author of Ghosthunting IllinoisGhosthunting Ohio and Ghosthunting Ohio – on the Road Again and Patti Starr is the author of Ghosthunting Kentucky as well as the co-founder and producer of ScareFest.

Patti Starr and her team presented some ghostly entertainment. We had fun at ScareFest7, and there is no doubt in my mind that we will be back for more in 2015.

The winners of our raffle prizes are:

Krista Scrubbs – A basket filled with America’s Haunted Road Trip books including our latest addition Ghosthunting Oregon

Betsy Newsad – Winner of three signed books by John Kachuba including his latest book Ghosthunting Ohio – On the Road Again

Jim Ambs – Winner of Ghosthunting Kentucky signed by Patti Starr

Mary Schneider – Any one book in our America’s Haunted Road Trip Series

We thank all who stopped by our booth.  If you are a fan of horror films and all things paranormal, start planning your trip and join us next year at ScareFest8!

You can also find us November 22 & 23 at booth # 622 at the Victory of Light Expo in Cincinnati.