The winds cut
deeper and make progressively louder
noises as the days shorten. Fog creeps
in from the sea more often. And then
Halloween shows up, as if to really
remind us about things otherworldly.
It's no wonder Oregon's northern coast
has a load of ghostly tales swirling
about. It's no wonder the remake of "The
Fog" currently in release is set in a
fictional North Oregon Coast town. From
flying pots and specters who've moved
from one building to another in Seaside,
the ghostly legends of a hotel in the
Nehalem Bay, to the myriad of hauntings
in ancient Astoria - there's plenty for
the ghost-hunting tourist in this
pristine and stunning area.
SLEEPLESS IN SEASIDE
Tales of things creepy abound in
Seaside - but they're hard to find. It's
almost as if they've been swept under
For almost 100 years, the old Hotel
Seaside (later named The Seasider) was a
grandiose, beautiful building that was a
sort of centerpiece to Seaside, at the
Turnaround. So it's no surprise that
place acquired tales of apparitions and
otherworldly guests over the years.
There were numerous spirits that
purportedly haunted it.
These days, the Shilo Inn sits in
that spot. But when the old hotel was
torn down, the spooks moved to Girtle's
Restaurant, just down the street on
Broadway, according to owner Bob Girtle.
He recounted numerous stories of
otherworldly happenings in the
restaurant, having seen them himself or
coming from various employees who tell
their own tales. They talk of seeing the
mysterious shadows of feet walking
behind the door of a closed-off area of
the kitchen, visible from the small
space between the floor and the door.
This happens when it's not possible
anyone else is in there, say Bob and his
crew. They don't even check that room
anymore when they see the shadows.
Then there is the notorious flying
coffee pot in the galley area between
the kitchen and the main dining room.
Bob and others on his staff have
experienced this more than once.
Sometimes it moves a bit, others it
literally flies across the hallway.
Bob said he inherited some employees
of the old Seasider back in the 80's,
and at least one said they saw some of
the same ghosts.
John Sowa, owner of the New
Orleans-style eatery Lil' Bayou, also
related tales of moving objects in the
kitchen and a strange sense of someone
being near him while alone in his
office. Kitchen utensils are found in
different places than employees have
left them, or an object suddenly falls
off a hook or a shelf.
Lil' Bayou lies in the historic
Gilbert District of Seaside, which is
filled with old buildings, almost all
with upstairs areas that are often
unused. The charming, atmospheric area
has gone through a rebirth in recent
years, and often there are whispers of
ghosts coinciding with many of the
The Seaside Aquarium may have a
closet containing something - or rather,
an upstairs that could be haunted. When
the building was a natatorium back about
80 years ago, there were apartments at
the top floor. That area isn't used much
at all now, but manager Keith Chandler
says he's heard whispers over the years
the top floor is haunted. Various
stories have been handed down over the
years about noises coming from there.
EERIE AND NOT-SO-EERIE ON THE BAY
Manzanita, which caps the north end
of the Nehalem Bay, is shrouded in mists
and mystery, with Neahkahnie Mountain
looming overhead and legends of a
galleon and its buried treasures. Some
versions of that tale contain
atrocities, like purportedly burying
their African slaves alive with the
treasure to keep the natives away.
On its beaches, there are mysterious
piles of rocks that have appeared over
the years, apparently overnight.
Sometimes they appear as single piles or
stacks. No one has ever figured out who
is responsible, creating speculation of
an otherworldly artist.
In nearby Wheeler, facing the Nehalem
Bay, Old Wheeler Hotel 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
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
a nagging feeling a presence seemed to
arrange one disaster and setback after
another, such as when a window blew
in a storm. Then, one day, they say the
building seemed to accept them, and
reconstruction proceeded smoothly
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
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
In other tales, Wheeler Antiques
owner Garry Gitzen says a Wheeler woman,
descended from local tribes, actually
burned down her own house in recent
years 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.
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 rear its head. 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.
ASTORIA - OR GHOSTORIA?
At the very tip of Oregon, Astoria is
full of major ghost stories of one sort
or another. That's no surprise,
considering it's the oldest settlement
west of the Mississippi.
The Liberty Theater is widely
regarded as haunted. It was once a haven
for the likes of Duke Ellington, Jack
Benny, Guy Lombardo and supposedly even
gangster Al Capone. Purportedly, it's
also occupied by someone named Paul. One
employee was quoted as saying that Paul
is "quite handsome," giving him the
nickname Handsome Paul. He apparently
wears a "white tuxedo and a panama hat,"
according to the Clatsop County
Cast and crews over the years have
talked about spotting him. While mostly
just an apparition, he's been known to
slam doors and make other unruly noises.
Other tales from the theater include
objects gliding through the air, knobs
unscrewing themselves from appliances
and utilities, as well as two or three
other inhabitants from beyond.
Also famous for being haunted is the
firehouse there, plus the town has a
brutal history of men being "shanghaied"
in the early part of the century.