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It's Fall on the Coast: Summer is Here
Oregon Coast Ghosts: Upstairs in the Seaside Aquarium
Photos by Tiffany Boothe
Did Tiffany catch spirit orbs in this
(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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
remnant: list of tenants on a chalkboard
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.
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.
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Coast Ghosts and Other Paranormal Legends