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Covering 160 miles of Oregon coast travel: Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.

Summer Cometh: Are you ready?

Adventures in Ghost Hunting on Oregon’s Coast

By Andre’ Hagestedt

15th St. ramp in Lincoln City

(Oregon Coast) – Some people collect hubcaps, figurines or stamps. I collect paranormal stories about Oregon’s coast.

It’s not that I swallow this stuff – it’s just that it fascinates the hell outta me. It’s certainly a whole new level to Oregon tourism, I’ve discovered. And well, I have had a few things happen I can’t really explain.

Doing this research has been an adventure all its own as well, filled with startling, strange discoveries, memorable moments and interesting twists in all sorts of ways.

It all started about 20 years ago, when I was in my early 20’s, and I was dating this girl whose family went out to Oceanside quite a bit. Stranger than fiction already: I actually grew up hating the Oregon coast. But this one trip to Oceanside with this girl’s family had me entranced with the place. I got my mother hooked on it as well, and she took me and my brother out there once or twice, which, in turn, got me even more hooked.


Somewhere around one of these trips with my mom, my girlfriend and I read this book about Oregon ghost stories, including this one about “bandage man,” – some goofy tale about a bandaged specter who terrorized folks on dark roads around Cannon Beach. Really, it was a silly story that was sort of a low-budget version of the mummy, but it had me scared late one night when I took a walk in Netarts, next to Oceanside. Here I was, 22 years old, and all of a sudden the idea of “bandage man” frightened me into high-tailing it back to the motel.

Then, I had what I call my own "personal X-File." A couple years later, in 1987, I was dating this amazing beauty for about a month - exactly a month, actually. It was the second full moon and Friday the 13th in a row. This was weird enough. But Christine and I were celebrating our one-month anniversary together (we had hooked up on the prior full moon/Friday the 13th).

Mysterious Neskowin

She and I joined a group of friends at their beach cabin at Neskowin about 1 a.m. We immediately hit the beach, and serendipitously, we found a big bonfire still burning - as if waiting for two star-crossed lovers.

We chatted beneath cloud cover so thick the moon was not visible, but you could still just barely make out the horizon. At one point, I noticed something odd in the darkness. There was a faint, undulating patch of red on the horizon, apparently on the water. It was as if something was glowing from beneath. It didn't look like anything was casting the glow from above, as the moon wasn't to be seen, and it certainly wouldn't have looked red. Whatever it was, it must've been huge, and it kept changing shape.

I thought I was seeing things, but finally pointed it out to Christine, and we spent the next half hour staring at it, trying to figure it out, with theories about UFO's and whatever just flying. Just as we began zipping up the foredunes to the cabin to grab our friends, it disappeared. They simply laughed at us.

This got me thinking about the coast in a whole new way. Over the years, as my obsession with the coast grew, and “The X-Files” came on TV, I periodically wondered about what I’d seen that night in 1987. I paid attention to fishing boats on the sea, and realized these definitely did not create this oddity.

Somewhere in the early 80’s, I heard about a weird phenomenon called “glowing sands” in a hidden cave in Lincoln City. This, too, captivated me for years and years, and I yearned to finally see this. Eventually I did some research on the subject, and discovered it was glowing phytoplankton named dinoflagelettes, which are bioluminescent, meaning they glow in the same manner fireflies do.

Finally, in 1993, I spotted the dinoflagelettes myself on a dark beach in Newport. It was one of the biggest thrills of my life.


It was suggested once that maybe what I saw in Neskowin was those little glowing critters. Somewhere around 1997 or ’98, I’m interviewing this expert on glowing phytoplankton from Florida, and I ask her about my personal X-File. She said there is a brand of glowing phytoplankton known that glow in red, but these waters are too cold for that.

The rest of her response still chills me to this day: "There's still much out there we don't know about."

So, by 1997, I became engaged with discovering more ghost stories. At the time, I had a wacky, cutting edge website called the Oregon Coast Alterna-Guide, which had a paranormal/weird science section to it. Periodically, people would email me their weird tales of the coast. Someone told me about glowing balls of lightning floating around Coos Bay. Someone supposedly discovered “crop circles” in the sands of Hug Point near Cannon Beach, which they attributed to beings who lived under the Earth (whatever that meant).

Between ’97 and 2000, I did a number of interviews with people on this subject. I heard a tale about a UFO sighting in Astoria. Indeed, that whole town is full of strange tales about hauntings in numerous spots, like the old fire engine house and plenty in the Liberty Theater. Then again, this is the oldest town west of the Mississippi. Two horror flicks latched onto it recently and filmed there: “The Ring II” and the Lovecraft tale “Cthulu” was recently made there.

Moody Manzanita

I heard about a supposed sea monster at Cape Kiwanda (probably just the result of people going missing in the raging, monstrous surf of the area). I was told of coffee pots that go flying in a restaurant in Seaside, and the mysterious footsteps of someone walking behind a kitchen door when there’s no one there. There’s the old tales of buried treasure and a mysterious Spanish Galleon in Manzanita, with one version purporting the crew buried their African slaves alive with the treasure to keep the natives away.

There were the strange, nebulous tales of the Van Duzer Corridor – between Salem and Lincoln City – sort of Oregon’s version of the “Extraterrestrial Highway,” with talk of lights in the sky or people appearing in the roadway and then disappearing. One rumor has a pair driving through the winding, twisting roadway and feeling as if their car was being controlled by some unseen force. Another tale, according to my old friend Jason Frank, has two Seattle friends telling him they spotted what looked like a secret military base while hiking in those woods.

Lincoln City’s visitor center sells a videotape of ghost hunters rummaging around town, looking into the famed “ghost ship” of Siletz Bay, and there are numerous seriously chilling moments where they deal with ghosts in the firehouse on the north end of town and with a really ticked-off ghost at a Depoe Bay restaurant.

Then there was the bone-chilling interview I had with famed photographer Steve Terrill about the ghost at the Heceta Head lighthouse. While I laughingly remark that this yarn has shades of the old "Ghost and Mrs. Muir" TV series, Steve was thoroughly lucid and convincing on this one. He and photographer Steve Gaddis were staying at the lighthouse B&B, when they had various encounters with the “lady phantom of the house,” including spotting someone in Gaddis’ room window, when there wasn’t a soul in the B&B. The family there considers her a member of the family, and this tale actually has the most witnesses of all the ones I’ve researched on the coast.

Another fairly credible yarn comes from Wheeler, from Winston Laszlo, owner of Old Wheeler Hotel. 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.

My favorites, however, are the oddball ones that are easily debunked or obviously silly. Like the story about the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, which purportedly had the ghost of an assistant lighthouse keeper named Higgins bumbling around the place. I called lighthouse authorities once to interview them about that, and they told me they had recently received a letter from a descendent of the man, saying he had never died in the lighthouse but had moved to Portland and eventually died there of old age.

The other, somewhat hilarious, part of this one has the TV crew of the Hardy Boys show filming there in the 70’s, smothering the inside of the lighthouse with cobwebs and other props, but leaving the place in such a mess that the organization in charge of the lighthouse at the time had to sue the Hollywood team to get them to come and clean it up.

Nehalem Bay: home of the "Wheeler Moment"

In recent years, I, too, have come across a phenomenon I can’t explain, but have certainly experienced it. Called the “Wheeler Moment,” it’s a legend that has to do with the Nehalem Bay area and how unarticulated thoughts and wishes just somehow seem to come true – or odd little coincidences just seem to happen there with startling regularity. Everyone has these: where you’re thinking about needing something, or wanting to talk to someone about something, etc., and then somehow, serendipitously, something just falls in your lap to help you along in some way. But in Wheeler, indeed much of the bay area, it happens a lot more often. I spend a great deal of time in Portland and towns up and down the coast, and this place, I strenuously maintain, is very different. Newport’s Nye Beach area has some of the same thing going on. Click here to read more on this.

"Snow" going the wrong way, Cape Perpetua, 1993

In the meantime, in and around all this fascination with – and research on – the paranormal tales of the coast, I’ve seen dozens of crazy natural things on the beaches. Sea foam so frothy it flies upwards in huge chunks, looking like flurries of snow going the wrong way. The summer of 2004 was so full of glowing phytoplankton sightings it was amazing. Whales and their baby calves cavorting in a bay near Depoe Bay. Huge bundles of unidentifiable objects washed up after storms. Strange, hidden spots with an unmistakable mystical, spiritual vibe. And of course, there have been plenty of freaks in the local bars – both natives and tourists. The list goes on.

It’s all led me to the inescapable conclusion there’s so much more to Oregon’s coast than finding a nice beach or a bowl of clam chowder. There’s a whole other dimension to this coastline. Even after 10 years of obsessively gathering every possible detail about this shoreline, I’m grateful I’m still making discoveries.


Oregon Coastal Village Wows with Mystic Vibe, Ghost Forest Neskowin is different in many ways, including its geologic features

Outdoor Fish Market Starts On N. Oregon Coast Pacific Oyster hosts the market throughout the summer

Ghostly Tourism on Oregon’s Coast Hunting tales of ghosts is another fun pasttime on the coast

Hiking It and Roughing It on Oregon’s Coast A look at trails and rugged campgrounds

Some Oregon Spots Are Hidden; Some Have Secrets A tour of unusual details from Manzanita to Florence

Geologic Wonders of Oregon Beaches Make Freaky History Lesson Beneath the sands and deep inside the cliffs, there's more to the coast




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In Awe of AstoriaASTORIA
Where the Columbia meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of atmosphere & history
Serenity in SeasideSEASIDE
The Promenade, Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
Cavort in Cannon BeachCANNON BEACH
A mysterious lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries & an art mecca
Annihilating  Beauty of Nehalem BayNEHALEM BAY
Manzanita's beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Time Trip Around Tillamook BayTILLAMOOK BAY
Garibaldi, Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
Triple the Pleasure in 3 CapesTHREE CAPES LOOP
The hidden secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside, Netarts and Pacific City
Miles & miles of unbroken beaches, Cascade Head, Neskowin and many manmade attractions
Divine Depoe BayDEPOE BAY
A spouting horn downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Nature in NewportNEWPORT
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Staggering Seal RockWALDPORT / SEAL ROCK
Pristine, even secretive sands and wild geologic landmarks
Aargh, there's no alliteration with Yachats - but it IS unbelievableYACHATS
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix of the rugged & upscale
Unsurpassable Upper LaneUPPER LANE COUNTY
25 miles of deserted beaches & oodles of wonders
Fine Times in FlorenceFLORENCE
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles and miles of fluffy dunes







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