North Oregon Coast Ghost Tales
Published in 2007
(Oregon Coast) – It’s a place full of atmosphere and intrigue; of legends and wild tales that have been handed down through the generations. Oregon’s north coast is more wild and untamed on the surface than the more commercialized central coast. But underneath lies a Portland influence and a stronger sense of the civil and of civilization, but it’s also older than the central region.
It’s here where the pioneer spirit really took hold, shortly after Lewis & Clark. Astoria is, after all, the oldest town west of the Mississippi, and its history is chock full of crazy things like people being shanghaied and a whole underground city lurking beneath the one you see.
Then, towns like Cannon Beach, Seaside and the villages on the Nehalem Bay have their weird sides as well. A winery with spirits of another kind, a legend of strange coincidences and a spiritual vortex that does interesting, serendipitous things, haunted hotels, restaurants and bars – it all makes for another layer of tourism beneath the lovely views and clam chowder.
Ghostly Times in Astoria
To start your otherworldly tour of the Oregon coast, Astoria is perhaps the best place to begin. Purportedly, the Liberty Theater is seriously haunted by at least one ghost. The main attraction (after hours, anyway) is apparently an apparition named “Handsome Paul,” who shows up dressed to the nines. There are other spooks inhabiting the famous theater, including some who like to unscrew knobs and create other small, but annoying havoc.
The Uppertown Firefighters Museum is supposedly haunted by a fireman who fell to his death on the pole.
The Legend of the Uniformed World War II Apparition
One tale that seems to be growing on the north Oregon coast, with eyewitness accounts, is that of the uniformed army man that walks the area. One couple told BeachConnection.net that he notoriously haunts Fort Stevens State Park, and is seen simply walking around the park, the campgrounds, and often at the concrete battery that began housing enormous guns in civil war times.
Another man told BeachConnection.net about how he was walking along Seaside’s Promenade when he saw an army man in a uniform that looked like it was from the 40’s. They nodded to each other, and when the man turned around to look at the curious outfit, the army man was gone.
Seaside’s Scary Side
In Seaside you’ve got a plethora of chilling tales, laying quite a ways underneath the surface. The historic Gilbert district is rumored to have a few specters floating around, and a restaurant called Girtle’s has numerous tales of flying coffee pots, shadowy figures and spirits inherited from another ancient building nearby that was leveled in the 80’s.
A former owner of the restaurant Lil’ Bayou talked about encountering moving stuff in the kitchen or an office that seemed to have a little something extra. But that building housed a bakery for almost 100 years – and there’s a long history of ghost experiences in that bakery. One couple talked about hanging out there and seeing a wispy figure approach them.
Many locals talk about the legend of the Indian Princess who haunts the north end of town. She’s seen on the porch of one particular old house, periodically sitting in a rocking chair.
The Seaside Aquarium also has rumors of something ectoplasmic lurking in the top floor over the years. It was until the 70’s an apartment building, housing about 12 residents.
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.
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.
Some employees claim the area is haunted and noises come from up there that shouldn’t be. Others, including the management, say it’s likely just noise from the beach that comes in rather easily from the upstairs windows, or the wind playing tricks on the ears.
Cannon Beach’s Bandage Man, Warren House and Other Spirits
A windy town like this one is bound to have dozens of spooky stories floating about, but for its size, Cannon Beach is crammed full of them.
Various homes in the area are said to have people from the hereafter wandering about. The famous of which is the Warren House – now a restaurant. One of the cooks there – Larry, who vehemently does not believe in ghosts – says he once felt something so strong it sent all his body hairs into the upward position and turned his face white. Now, this is the man who remained in the bar, drinking, when the sirens blew the tsunami warning in 2005. Larry says he didn’t see anything: he simply felt it. His coworker noticed the look on his face and the sudden ashen complexion as well.
A repairman working at the bar one morning saw someone coming out of the bathroom area in his peripheral vision, but then noticed the only other person on the premises on this particular early morning was Larry. He was standing behind the repairman and couldn’t have been the person he saw moving about.
The most famous legend of the area is Bandage Man – a sort of low budget, fireside tale version of the mummy. This bloodied figure purportedly haunts the roads outside Cannon Beach, sometimes performing low-speed carjacking maneuvers by hopping on the back of pickup trucks, and usually only showing up on nights with a lot of rain and lightning.
Nehalem Bay Winery Has Another Kind of Spirits
According to manager Melissa Stetzel and other employees, something lurks in the dark halls of the upstairs area as well as the business floor of this quirky place. She’s had numerous experiences herself, including feeling someone brush past her when no one else is around, and seeing something rushing out of the kitchen door, which had just flown open in a mysterious manner. She described it as akin to a dark figure surrounded by light.
The winery was a creamery almost 100 years ago, so it’s old and ripe for odd things.
A group of ghost hunters is heading there soon to check it out.
Weird Legends of the Bay
The Nehalem Bay area also encompasses the towns of Wheeler and Manzanita, which have their share of freaky tales.
Local historian Garry Gitzen says a Wheeler woman, descended from local tribes, actually burned down her own house in the early part of the 2000’s 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.
The Old Wheeler Hotel has acquired a bit of a cult following in the last couple of years with its rumors of hauntings. Several ghost investigator groups and ghostbuster-types have trod through there trying to decipher what’s really going on there. Owner Winston Laszlo talked about once looking in the mirror of the sitting area and seeing a man sitting on the couch. He didn’t recognize the man as a guest, and when he turned around to look at him – there was no one there. www.oldwheelerhotel.com. 877-653-4683.
Misty and mysterious Manzanita
It’s more than a little ironic that last year’s remake of “The Fog” was set in a fictional north coast town, which resembled Manzanita in more ways than one, especially with its creepy rumors of buried treasure lurking in the murky, forested hills somewhere. A Spanish galleon is said to have crashed here, and one version of the legend has it that they buried their African slaves alive with the loot to keep the natives away.
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 appear. 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.
The broiling waters beneath Cape Kiwanda
Sea Monster of Pacific City
A ways west of Tillamook, this tiny fishing village is now sprouting into a major player with a lot of expansion and upscale conversion happening. But its roots are showing with this tale.
Longtime locals sometimes whisper about a sea monster lurking in the depths here. But this probably just comes from the fact that if you disappear beneath the wild waves here, you disappear completely.
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