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That Which Haunts the Oregon Coast, Part I

Published 10/25/21 at 5:46 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

That Which Haunts the Oregon Coast, Part I

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(Oregon Coast) – In the “spirit" of the season, take this two-part excursion through the ethereal on Oregon's coastline. The first half covers the northern third of these beach towns, and the kooky and spooky legends that often come alive this time of year. However, there's probably a few you haven't heard yet.

Astoria or Ghostoria?

The tippy top of the Oregon coast has more crusty tales than you can shake a chunk of seaweed at, which is not surprising since it's the oldest settlement west of the Rockies.

Big on the list is the Liberty Theater, where “Handsome Paul" reportedly pops in and out of existence, wearing a white tuxedo and a big hat. He closes and opens doors, according to many of the wacky tales written about him in recent decades. The place is also the after-living hangout for an elderly woman spirit and supposedly two men wearing hats.

The town had a dark history of shanghaiing back in the 19th century and those tunnels that were used to kidnap men and take them aboard ships still exist. Down there, witnesses claim to hear voices, footsteps and encounter random smells.

A former firefighter reportedly haunts the former firehouse, and the stately Flavel mansion is said to have more than one postmortem resident drifting about.

Some north coast locals have relayed plenty of talk of the ghost of a soldier that has been seen wandering not only the Seaside Promenade but Fort Stevens State Park.

Paranormal Highway 18

For decades, mostly before the 2010s, rumors circulated that the Van Duzer corridor just outside Lincoln City had a UFO thing goin' on, and maybe even some kind of experimental secret facility, as if Oregon had its own Area 51. Back in the ‘80s, talk began of people appearing and disappearing on that forested stretch, and strange lights were reportedly seen on the highway at night.

The rumors probably got mixed up with the fact there is a cordoned-off government-owned building near the intersection of Highway 101 and 18.

Spooky in Seaside, Cannon Beach

The purported hauntings in Seaside are varied but a bit hard to pin down. Some of the restaurants along Broadway have talked about presences from beyond, including one restaurant (when it was Girtles) that claimed ectoplasmic former employees of the old Seasider hotel had moved there in the ‘80's after the big hotel was torn down. It's now called Twisted Fish and there have been no ghost reports from them.

There are plenty of tales of smoky specters from some retails spaces in the Gilbert District as well as a Native American presence that haunts a porch swing on the north end of town.

Unbeknownst to many, there's a top floor to the Seaside Aquarium where there used to be apartments. Some remnants of them still exist. In the early 2000s, some employees swore they'd been hearing unexplained noises from up there.


Bandage Man is the big paranormal rumor for Cannon Beach, a kind of low budget mummy. His origin story comes in the form of a woodsmen who was badly injured, covered in bandages and bloody. As he was being transported in an ambulance just south of Cannon Beach, a rockslide hit the vehicle, trapping him. Rescuers dug out the vehicle eventually only to find him gone.

After that, a blood-soaked ghoul in bandages showed up periodically, oddly enough when it was stormy outside. One tale has him smashing through the glass at a bar and grabbing a dog. Many others had him haunting a curved stretch of 101 near town that no longer exists.

Nehalem Bay

For at least a decade and a half, Nehalem Bay Winery has chatted about its ectoplasmic residents. A ghost hunter team or two visited the place and claimed to have found more than one, including the spirit of a little girl.

In Wheeler, the old tale swirls that a longtime resident actually burned down her own house because disturbing spirits haunted it. She was descended from local tribes and claimed the spot was where a group of Native American children died in a fire.

The Old Wheeler Hotel has acquired a bit of a cult following in recent decades 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. Back in the early 2000s, then-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.

Part II in this series will be published shortly, covering the south and central Oregon coast.

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