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Where Ghosts of Oregon Coast Meet Odd Legends and True Crime

Published 10/22/22 at 12:04 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Where Ghosts of Oregon Coast Meet Odd Legends and True Crime

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(Oregon Coast) – There's definitely an autumn chill in the air (finally) on the beaches and the foliage is at last turning colors in the Oregon Coast Range. Halloween approaches and so does talk about ghost tales and legends along the Oregon coast. (Above: Depoe Bay, collage photo by Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Yet paranormal fiction isn't as scary as real fact. Sometimes, the creepiest stories are what actually happened along the coastline: true crime cases. This region has plenty of those swirling in the mix.

Starting on the south coast, Gold Beach has a hazy tale of a haunting in a hotel there (and it's hard to discern if that lodging really existed). The place was purportedly known for a wispy apparition in rooms and hallways.


Yet something far creepier was created near Gold Beach back in the '70s. Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles were camping in the area when they came up with a religion of their own, eventually attracting dozens. In the late '70s, they came to Waldport and managed to recruit a handful there, by then a cult based on UFOs and biblical aspects.

In the mid '90s, not many were left, but those that were committed mass suicide in California, under the now notorious name Heaven's Gate.

Brookings has had some rumors of balls of lightning or energy floating around the backwoods areas nearby, but on the more factual side there's Battle Rock in Port Orford. It was the site of a horrendous native massacre.

In Coos Bay, the tall Tioga building has decades of tales just waiting to be ghostbusted, but they include a presence in the basement and numerous sightings over the decades. The Egyptian Theatre there has also had such rumors through the years, and in fact all of this and more were part of a ghost tours given in the area for a time.

On the truly scary side there are “ghost tunnels” around some Coos Bay spot: old, tunneled-out areas of rock where they supplied the jetties with boulders. These aren't really accessible, however, as the tide fills them up fairly often.

Up into the central Oregon coast, near Florence, the Heceta Head Lighthouse itself has no ghosts associated with it - though in the past some rumors existed that a workman building the structure fell in between walls and the walls were finished around his lifeless body. None of that happened, however.

The neighboring BnB – the former keeper's quarters – has had quite a few folks claim to see a spirit hanging about. In fact, it's giving ghost tours this fall.

Newport has plenty of tales whirling about. Two of the most famous is the teenage ghost at the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and a geist named Higgins at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The teen story made it through decades before someone figured it came from a short story written in the early century. Higgins was ghostbusted in the early 2000s when the Bureau of Land Management heard from a descendant of his, saying he moved to Portland and died there in the '30s.

There's quite a few other “stirrings” in town, including the tale of a lighthouse keeper haunting the beaches. Yet perhaps the most notorious case there was that of brief resident Christian Longo, who killed his wife and kids in that area. The case gained national attention when he escaped capture for a time by heading to Mexico.

Lincoln City has many creepy yarns embedded in it, but the most intriguing is that of the ghost ship at Siletz Bay. Some claimed seeing an old sailing ship come out of the fog there and then disappear. That, however, has some basis in reality, as there is an old shipwreck buried in those mudflats.

In Wheeler, on the Nehalem Bay, there was talk of a woman who had her house burned down by local officials because it was severely haunted by children that had died in a fire there decades before that. Old Wheeler Hotel has a bundle of tales surrounding it.

In Cannon Beach, Bandage Man is the truly famous spook that has been wandering here since maybe the '40s. In 1995, however, Ecola State Park became the site of a nationally-covered murder case involving a women who pushed her boyfriend off the cliff.

Seaside has several haunted moments surrounding it, including rumors at the Seaside Aquarium and something haunting the Gilbert District. Yet truly frightening was a thrill kill that happened on the beach here in the late '90s, where two young college students shot a local couple in the head, in the dark, on the beach.

Astoria, by far the oldest place on the Oregon coast, is sometimes nicknamed Ghostoria. The Liberty Theater, the old firehouse, and numerous other spots all have talk of visits from beyond. One major legend is one that curiously is echoed at Seaside as well. Both the Prom and Fort Stevens are supposedly haunted by a guy in old-style uniform strolling at night, even saying hello – then disappearing when you look behind you. More details at Haunted Legends of Oregon Coast parts I and II.

Oregon Coast Hotels in this area - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

Beachcomber Vacation Homes.  Numerous vacation rentals in the Cannon Beach area, including Falcon Cove and Arch Cape. Depending on the home, you may find amenities and luxuries such as a barbecue, claw foot tub, a ship's ladder. 115 Sunset Blvd. Cannon Beach, Oregon. 855-219-4758. 503-436-4500. Website.

Oregon Beach Vacations.  Literally over 260 homes available as vacation rentals all quite distinctive and carefully selected to be special. Available in Yachats, Waldport, Newport, Nye Beach, Otter Rock, Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach, Lincoln Beach, Lincoln City, Neskowin, Pacific City, Tierra Del Mar, Rockaway Beach, Manzanita, Cannon Beach, Seaside, Florence and Astoria. 1-800-723-2383


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