Small Coastal Town Big on Paranormal Legends
(Wheeler, Oregon) – If you're an addict of the ABC show “Lost,” with all its strange, intertwined coincidences, you may be interested to know there’s a place on the Oregon coast that has its similarities.
Wheeler, on the Nehalem Bay, is notorious among some regulars and residents for something called the “Wheeler Moment” – where serendipitous coincidences and odd twists of fate seem to happen with regularity. The tiny Oregon coast town is also packed with a large number of ghost stories.
Meanwhile, down on the central Oregon coast, some in Newport’s Nye Beach district claim the phenomenon happens there as well, nicknamed the “Nye Beach Moment.”
The whole strange - even slightly paranormal - legend was spotlighted on “The Oregon Coast Show” last year, so word is slowly getting out about this special spot.
It's not just a tourism ploy, either. Peg Miller, former owner of Ekahni Books, described it as: “you’re thinking about something, or needing something, and it just sort of appears.” She refers to the area as being a “spiritual vortex lite.”
Back when Miller owned a hotel in town, she had one of these “Wheeler Moments” with the plumbing.
“I had just discovered a leak,” Miller said. “And I was wondering what I was going to do. Then I was interrupted by the doorbell of the B&B, and there was a guest at the door. During registration, I mentioned I had this leak to deal with, and it turned out he was a plumber.”
The man helped her repair it and became her regular plumber after that.
Other “Wheeler Moments” for Miller include the time she was having trouble with the latch on a thousand-dollar bracelet, and it turned out a guest was a jeweler, among numerous others.
Still not clear what a Wheeler Moment is?
“I'd say that the ‘Wheeler Moment’ is the result of some sort of spiritual vortex that apparently exists in this little corner of the Oregon coast,” Laszlo said. “It seems that the vortex - or whatever it is – causes wishes and visions to become manifest at a higher than normal frequency here.
“I believe ‘funky coincidences’ occur all the time. It's just that apparently that property of nature is stronger around here. The phenomenon occurs here at a much higher frequency - and at a higher speed - than elsewhere. Whether it has to do with the geography of the area, or the meteorology, or maybe even the human history, it is something that you have to experience for yourself.”
Many of those who live in the Nehalem Bay area – or frequently visit – say it can happen almost daily at times. Sometimes they’re rather large; often they’re rather small and just plain trippy. But usually they’re quite pleasant and even beneficial.
Laszlo’s experiences are diverse and sometimes rather intense. Winston and his wife, Maranne Doyle-Laszlo, had enormous difficulties getting the hotel remodeled when they first took it over in the late 90’s. It was nearly a year and a half of one problem and odd, unlikely disaster after another – leaving the couple with the real feeling the building was “fighting” them. Then one day, things suddenly went smoothly and quickly.
That was their second introduction to the fact something was different about Wheeler. The first was getting introduced to the town while on a yearlong RV trip around the country.
“We always said wherever we ended up, it had to be ‘within walking distance of an espresso coffee shop and a fabric store,’ ” Laszlo said. “When we finally started to consider buying the Old Wheeler Hotel, those words came rushing back to us as we suddenly realized that the only two existing tenants of the building were an espresso coffee shop and a fabric store.”
Other stories Laszlo recounted included a hotel guest from the east coast was sitting in the coffee shop below, when she bumped into a cousin she hadn’t seen in 11 years.
Then, there was the truly weird ancestral family connection to Wheeler they discovered one day. Laszlo’s sister-in-law realized that her aunt had visited the building decades ago from another state, back when it was a clinic for the treatment of arthritis. It also turned out the aunt’s in-laws owned the building at the time.
As the Laszlo’s were in the process of refurbishing the hotel, a small house being built nearby caught their eye. They would jokingly call it “their house” and watched with interest its progress. “Then one day, after we had installed a chandelier lamp in the piano lobby of the hotel - a lamp we had very carefully picked out and which we thought would be perfect - we took a walk to ‘our house’ and on a whim, peered in the windows. And there, in the middle of the dining area of the little house, hung the exact same chandelier we had just installed at the hotel! We ended up buying the house a few years later.”
Local businessman Phil Kaufman tells a similar story about a couple who were looking for a house in Wheeler. They were ogling one particular house for a while, and suddenly realized the telephone pole right in front of them had a heart scratched into it, with a couple’s initials inside that were identical to their initials. They took that as a sign and purchased it.
Wheeler Moments aren’t confined to Wheeler, either. Residents of the entire Nehalem Bay area, including Nehalem, Mohler, Manzanita and parts of Highway 53, say there’s something different and unique about the whole area.
In Nye Beach, Blu Cork Wine Bar co-owner Deborah Trusty recounted numerous odd little moments there as well. Again, things that serendipitously happen out of the blue to help you along occur in this little beachside neighborhood too. “It’s like if you’re wishing for something, or needing something or someone, it sort of just drops in your lap in this really strange way,” Trusty said
The Ghostly Side of Wheeler
For such a small burgh, one that’s still just burgeoning in its Oregon coast tourism possibilities, Wheeler has a lot happening in the way of legends.
Neahkahnie Mountain itself, which looms mysteriously above the bay and Manzanita, is said to harbor some slightly terrifying secrets. Historians haven’t yet agreed what exactly happened here, but one big theory is that a Spanish galleon wrecked here in the 1700’s. The crew supposedly hid a treasure up in the hills – now a housing suburb – and there are various versions of how that loot was stashed away.
One version of the tale says the crew buried their African slaves alive with the booty, in order to scare away possible digging by native tribes.
A ship did wreck here in the early part of the 20th century, caused by a drunken pilot.
The Sea Shack Restaurant and Lounge has an upstairs area that is only starting to be used again for weekend entertainment. But some employees swear they hear someone walking up there when the place is closed down and there is no one else in the building.
Nearby, the Nehalem Bay Winery has dozens of little tales of something or more than one thing that apparently walks the rooms, brushing against people, making weird noises or being visible for only a fraction of a second.
Not all is cozy and cute at the Old Wheeler Hotel, either. Owner Winston Laszlo says he's encountered several things in that old building he couldn't really explain. Sometimes, he said, he believes he sees someone in the corner of his eye, only to discover there's no one there.
Once, Winston was looking in a mirror in the hotel's public area and saw the reflection of a man sitting in a chair behind him. Winston says he turned around to look at the man, whom he didn't recognize as a guest, and there was no one there.
A pair of ghost hunters even came to the visit the place and took photos of what they believed could be "spirit orbs" just outside the basement area. Winston still has copies of these.
Winston and wife Maranne Doyle-Laszlo say the entire building seemed to be against them during the process of remodeling the ragged old construct into the first-rate hotel it is now. They had a nagging feeling a presence seemed to arrange one disaster and setback after another, such as when a window blew out in a storm. Then, one day, they say the building seemed to accept them, and reconstruction proceeded smoothly thereafter. (www.oldwheelerhotel.com. 877-653-4683.)
In an email just before her visit, ghost hunter Martina DeLude told Winston that made sense. "Ghosts that haunt residential and business locations become very threatened when someone starts changing things that they are accustomed to. Some spirits actually become incensed when furniture is moved around. Just like the living, most spirits do not like change. Possibly, as soon as they realized that it was once again going to become a hotel - perhaps something they may remember - they decided to help you along instead of stifling your efforts." There's more on their investigation of the Old Wheeler Hotel at this link.
BeachConnection.net talked to Manzanita resident Amy Dunlap, whose mother sold the building to the Laszlo’s years ago. Dunlap said she never like that building because of its hauntings and refuses to go there to this day.
In other tales, resident and historian Garry Gitzen says a Wheeler woman, descended from local tribes, actually burned down her own house in the early 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. See more paranormal at TravelParanormal.com