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.
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