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More Oregon Coast Ghosts: Upstairs in the Seaside Aquarium

Photos by Tiffany Boothe

Did Tiffany catch spirit orbs in this shot above?

(Seaside, Oregon) - The Seaside Aquarium was founded in 1937, making it one of the oldest continuously operated aquariums in the U.S. It was the first in the nation to breed seals (sometime in the 50’s), and it currently has a habit of making news and history with its interesting beach finds.

But before it was created, the building already had an interesting history.

The building began its life as a natatorium – a popular form of recreation in the early part of the century, where salt water was pumped into large pools and then heated. This heated public saltwater bath was one of several on the Oregon coast at the time. There was one in Newport’s Nye Beach and another big, fancy one on what is now known as the Bayocean Spit near Tillamook – part of a sprawling resort which later become one of Oregon’s most secret ghost towns.

This was all around 1910, although the building in Seaside wasn’t built until the mid-1920’s. The natatorium went bankrupt a few short years later, and then the place had a brief life as a hall where professional wrestling was featured in the giant holes that were once the swimming pools. There were bleachers up on the third floor – where the creepy, creaky old apartments are now.

Another quick incarnation of the building was use as a fish hatchery.

Finally, about two years after the aquarium came into existence, the apartments were built into the building. They remained in use from 1939 until about 1970, when the aquarium managers started dismantling the living spaces. The entire building was resided in 1976, and all the windows were taken out.

As they did so, they lopped off an apartment or two, leaving this giant, gaping hole that leads to the aquarium’s office space, which is in full view of partial apartment rooms – cut in half in places, as if part of a sitcom studio set.

Then, abruptly, in 2004, the aquarium decided to embark on a different venture that included the third floor. The building was resided again, and this time they put back in many of the windows taken out thirty years before, giving it part of its old look back.

Plans for that venture were discarded, and the apartments were abandoned again. Now, the remaining hallways or apartments serve as storage space or simply vacant, dusty rooms that seem haunted by the memories of those who once occupied it.

It’s not open to the public, but it is a fascinating walk back in time – a little like wandering a ghost town. All the apartment doors have either been removed or won’t shut any longer. Old fixtures and outdated plumbing facilities are still visible. Some bathtubs are stacked up against the walls in one of the derelict hallways, as if waiting for a remodeling crew that never came.

There are lifeless electrical wires sticking out of some of the walls; especially interesting are the ones where the doorbells used to be. There is one doorbell still attached to its spot outside the apartment, with a note on it that says “does not work.” It’s hard to know if that was someone’s joke about the obvious, or it was left there from when the place was discarded.

Little breakfast nooks sit untouched for many years now. Windowpanes stare out towards the sea with a particularly touching, hollow sense of loneliness. All sorts of other curious remnants of technology from another time occupy these deserted rooms, some of which are just plain puzzling now as to their purpose. One interesting example is the Murphy beds still in their closets – a truly archaic, if not depressing stowaway from another age.

Many of the lights do still work in the apartments and hallways, yet many don’t. This leaves at least one corridor in spooky darkness. To top it all off, the floors creak wildly and even seem soft in some spots, and in many places they tilt at odd angles. It’s a little like a kooky fun house at the carnival.

Another curiosity is the proliferation of dark windows in the ceiling of the hallways, looking like they should be skylights. But some are swung open, only to reveal a crawlspace up there - no possible light source visible.

You stare around you here and you think “this place has gotta be haunted.” That one dark hallway certainly is an unwelcome passage. Then Tiffany, the aquarium’s latest star spokesperson, points to a cot in one room and says folks sometimes take naps up here. Manager Keith Chandler has actually spent the night there before – but Keith doesn’t believe in ghosts and actually scoffs at any talk of rumors of hauntings at the aquarium.

Creepy remnant: list of tenants on a chalkboard

Tiffany, however, likes to have fun with all this talk. She created these photos – some silly, some just documenting the surroundings. In one, it looks as if she caught spirit orbs amidst the dust particles.

Most poignant of all is the photo of a chalkboard that still has the names of the last remaining tenants before the place was cleared of its inhabitants. This gives the whole place a remarkable sense of life, or rather of afterlife. It’s a sad feeling you get from looking at that relic. At once you think of both the feeling these folks might’ve had when they were evicted, and of the vibe and sense of lingering presence their names give. It’s the closest thing to a ghost you’ll ever see here, if you’re ever lucky enough to tour this area.

Back to the Oregon Coast Ghosts and Other Paranormal Legends

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BREATHTAKING CLIFFTOP IN NEWPORT

STARFISH POINT is located on the Central Oregon Coast - in Newport - and offers only the finest in luxury condominium lodging. At Starfish Point, every unit is focused on the beauty of the sea and the beach.
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In Awe of AstoriaASTORIA
Where the Columbia meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of atmosphere & history
Serenity in SeasideSEASIDE
The Promenade, Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
Cavort in Cannon BeachCANNON BEACH
A mysterious lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries & an art mecca
Annihilating  Beauty of Nehalem BayNEHALEM BAY
Manzanita's beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Time Trip Around Tillamook BayTILLAMOOK BAY
Garibaldi, Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
Triple the Pleasure in 3 CapesTHREE CAPES LOOP
The hidden secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside, Netarts and Pacific City
Lovely Lincoln CityLINCOLN CITY & THE CORRIDOR OF MYSTERY
Miles & miles of unbroken beaches, Cascade Head, Neskowin and many manmade attractions
Divine Depoe BayDEPOE BAY
A spouting horn downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Nature in NewportNEWPORT
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Staggering Seal RockWALDPORT / SEAL ROCK
Pristine, even secretive sands and wild geologic landmarks
Aargh, there's no alliteration with Yachats - but it IS unbelievableYACHATS
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix of the rugged & upscale
Unsurpassable Upper LaneUPPER LANE COUNTY
25 miles of deserted beaches & oodles of wonders
Fine Times in FlorenceFLORENCE
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles and miles of fluffy dunes

DIVE INTO LUXURY, HISTORY AT THE TIDES

THE TIDES BY THE SEA, Seaside. For over 80 years, The Tides has been a favorite of Seaside visitors. History meets modern luxury here. 51 oceanfront condos, individually owned and decorated. Find suites for couples, small apartments with fireplaces and kitchenettes, one or two bedroom family units with fireplaces, kitchens and dining rooms. There are wonderful oceanview cottages that sleep anywhere from two to eight people, with two bedrooms, some with lofts, fireplaces and kitchens.
Meanwhile, the heated outdoor pool, enormous grounds with picnic tables and location at the quiet southern end of Seaside make for some memorable means of play and repose. 2316 Beach Drive. 800-548-2846. www.thetidesbythesea.com
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Tradewinds Motel, Rockaway Beach. All rooms at the Tradewinds Motel are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s and in-room phones with data ports. The oceanfronts all have a queen bed, a double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and a private deck. Some oceanfront units come with all those amenities but the kitchens. Both types sleep up to four people. Others are appointed with a queen bed, small fridge, and coffee maker – sizable for a two-person romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. There is an elaborate oceanfront Jacuzzi suite that has two bedrooms, coming with a kitchen, double hide-a-bed, fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For those wanting bigger accommodations for family reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect to create two-room and three-room suites. Some rooms are pet friendly.523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938. www.tradewinds-motel.com

 

Weiss' Paradise Suites & Vacation Rentals - Seaside

Unique Luxury Accommodations in Seaside. 1BR Suites, 1BR & 2BR Duplex Units and 3BR Houses, units for 2-8 people. Rent our entire property for 20-26. All units close to beach, river and Broadway St.
Suites are designed for two adults; vacation rental units for families. All units have kitchen and many have fireplace, deck and jetted tub. Enjoy comfy robes & slippers, luxury bath amenities, quality linens and more. See us on The Travel Channel's "Great Escapes" show in August 2006. 741 S. Downing St., Seaside. 800-738-6691. www.SeasideSuites.com