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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

5 Ghost Ships Sighted on the West Coast

The sea has always been a prime spot for terrifying tales. From the monstrously beautiful creatures that lurk in the depths of the ocean (think mermaids) to the countless people who have vanished at sea without a trace, this large body of water is as scary as it is stunning. And it’s not just human spirits that you’ll come across on the water, but also ghost ships. These urban legends have been told for centuries, with stories of sailors who disappear and mysterious ships that quite literally go passing in the night. Flying Dutchman is a classic ghostly vessel that you may have heard about at a bonfire or two, but do you know about the spirit ships that sail along the West Coast? From Washington to Alaska, here are the spooky mariner tales that will keep you away from the water. 

SS Baychimo

SS Baychimo Ghost Ship

Formerly used to trade provisions for pelts in Inuit settlements, this ghost ship cruised along the Alaskan coast for nearly four decades. There have been countless sightings of the SS Baychimo since she broke free of the ice, and her crew, in 1931… always sailing with no crew in sight. The scary part? Quite a few people have managed to board the ship, but have been unable to salvage her due to intervening factors – like the creeping ice floes that stopped Captain High Polson or the freak storm that trapped a group onboard for 10 days in 1933. It’s almost like supernatural factors always help her escape, right? The last known sighting of the SS Baychimo was in 1969, around 38 years after she initially went missing. The Alaskan government has been unsuccessfully trying to find her since 2006, and we’re sure that she’s still cruising along the ice somewhere!

Squando 

Squando Ghost Ship

There are some tales about ghost ships that are simply low-key, with the vessel escaping its crew and calmly sailing the seas solo for decades. The story of Squando is not one of them. In fact, it’s downright brutal. This Norwegian ship docked in San Francisco back in 1890, and took a violet turn when the Captain and his wife decided to murder and decapitate the first mate. The reasons for the killing vary by telling, but one fact remains the same – the headless corpse was discovered in the San Francisco bay some time later. As a result, the Captain and his wife were captured and executed. While the ship found a new crew shortly afterwards, they eventually murdered the new Captain… and the next two were also killed in violent ways. By 1893, the Squando’s reputation as a cursed ship preceded it, and the entire crew decided to desert the vessel in the Bay. However, that hasn’t stopped its legacy from sailing on. Over a century later, there are still stories about the Squando, and how you can still make out the ghostly outline of the ship sailing off the Embarcadero along the San Francisco coastline.

Siletz Bay Ship

Siletz Bay

Does the fact that this ghost ship has no name or backstory make it even scarier? Quite possibly. Siletz Bay is a scenic area in Oregon composed of gorgeous blue waters, and it’s been said that you might just get another view on foggy days: a phantom ship. Many guests have reported seeing a ghost ship sailing away at a distance, only for it to disappear within seconds. It’s quite literally a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment. Not much is known about the ship or why it was seemingly abandoned, but the spiritual vessel has created quite the buzz in Oregon. It’s a top location in many haunted tours within the state, and guests arrive from all over the world to catch a glimpse of this ghostly ship. 

Lost Ship of the Desert 

Lost Ship of the Desert Ghost Ship

Spanish treasure galleons and riches buried deep beneath the desert grounds of Coachella? That’s what the urban legends say. The Lost Ship of the Desert has been a subject of folklore for centuries, with people saying that an ancient vessel is buried along the Colorado Desert in California. People have tried to dig up the remains to no avail for years, while others claim to have seen the ghostly ship in either its full or deteriorated form. Whether you believe the legends about Spanish explorers, think it’s Viking ship (many people do!), or have doubts about whether it’s there at all… the Lost Ship of the Desert will have a place in folklore for years to come.

The Queen Mary

Queen Mary ghost Ship

This legendary vessel gives a new meaning to the term “ghost ship.” The ship itself isn’t a ghostly apparition that you need to stretch to get a sight of – in fact, it’s one of the top landmarks in California. What makes it ghostly? The countless spirits and haunted experiences that happen within the halls of this 80+ year old ship. Time magazine named it one of the top 10 haunted places in America back in 2008, and people flock in from all over the world to stay in the haunted rooms and participate in the hotel’s many ghostly encounters. From the well-dressed man who appears at the end of the hall to the little girl who supposedly drowned in the pool many years ago, the spirits have made a home for themselves at The Queen Mary. And they’re dying for you to come and visit this ghostly ship. 

Another infamous ghost ship we just added to our encyclopedia of supernatural horrors is The Ghost Ship Jenny and it might be the most terrifying yet.

Sources:

http://www.weirdca.com/location.php?location=160

https://www.beachconnection.net/news/ghost_siletz061420.php

https://www.desertsun.com/story/desert-magazine/2019/12/02/5-facts-lost-ship-california-desert-what-we-know/3981175002/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Ship_of_the_Desert

https://www.travelandleisure.com/hotels-resorts/most-haunted-hotel-america-queen-mary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Queen_Mary#Haunting_legends

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

7 Terrors of the Far North

The frontier of the far north is typically regarded with mystery and a sense of trepidation. Even if you have lived through it all, there is always something about the place that can feel rather unsettling. The standardized phobia of the dark is exacerbated by the long, cold winters of Alaska—a place where nearly half the year is shrouded in the dark bitter cold. Those of us who live in a place that is constantly trying to kill us can attest to the harshness of the environment, at least during the winter, where temperatures often plummet to thirty degrees below freezing. To say that the cold and dark are our sole worries would be a farce, but that’s only because we have all heard the stories about what lurks in the darkness of the Last Frontier.

Don’t be mistaken—you don’t have to be a Sourdough to be wary of the beasts abound in the frozen tundra. Stay for a couple of days in a rural cabin during the darkest part of the year and you’ll soon be wondering if those are really are the eyes of the Adlet glimmering at you from the shadows, or if it’s just light shining off of the crystalized snow. Was that shadow under the the water the Tizheruk or something else? Turn your back and you’ll likely feel as if you’re being watched by a deadly monster waiting to attack.

The Monsters of Alaska Native Culture

Every culture has its own unique beasts that torment the locals—the farther you get out of the urban atmosphere, the closer you get to what keeps people from roaming unnecessarily into the shadows.

The Stalker - Adlet, the Werewolf of the North

1. The Adlet: The Werewolf of the Far North

The murderous Adlet is considered the arctic counterpart to the well-known werewolf. Believed to be the unholy descendants of an Inuit woman and a dog, they have an upper body of their human brethren, but their lower half is fully canine. They are considered to be a full-fledged race of humanoids, who after their initial creation were sent to a remote island away from humans, so as not to satiate themselves on local tribes—except that didn’t last.

Keelut Evil Earth Spirit

2. The Keelut: The Evil Earth Spirit

A mixture between a cryptid and the paranormal spirit—the Keelut (key-loot) is considered an earth spirit who primarily takes the shape of an immense black, hairless dog. It’s often compared to the Church Grim of Great Britain and stalks travelers at night, often attacking and killing them.

Qalupalik, the Inuit Siren or Mermaid

3. The Qalupalik: The Inuit Siren

If you live by the arctic ocean you will have undoubtedly heard about the Qalupalik (kah-loo-pah-lick), a creature that stems from Inuit culture and haunts the nights of children as they’re sleeping. She’s described as being humanoid, with green skin, long hair, and even longer fingernails. Like a siren, her home is the sea and she hums to lure children to come closer to the water, but what does she do with them?

Thunderbird Alaskan Lore

4. The Thunderbird: An Avian Nightmare

From Southern Alaska all the way to the Pacific Northwest, there are legends that speak of the mythical Thunderbird. As large as a small plane, stories have been told by Natives as well as bush pilots who can confirm the existence of such a monster. Considering the reputation that even the bald eagle has for snatching up small dogs, it’s not too much of a stretch to fear for your children with such a gigantic vicious bird of prey in the skies above.

Tizheruk Sear Monster of the Arctic

5. The Tizheruk: The Sea-Monster of the Arctic

Not unlike the lore that brings us Loch Ness, the Tizheruk (te-zer-ook) is described as being a sea serpent that is approximately fifteen feet long. Where Loch Ness is considered to be less of a threat and more of a mystery, the Tizheruk is known to snatch their unwitting victims from docks and piers.

Alaskan Bushman The Tornit

6. The Tornit: The Alaskan Bushman

Even Alaska has its own legends about Bigfoot—we reference it as the Tornit (tore-nit), or the Alaskan Bushman. Another monster from Inuit folklore, the Tornit is nearly indistinguishable from a bear except for the ghastly skunk-like smell they exude. They mostly keep to themselves out in the bush, after their troubled history dealing with humans, who can blame them?

Read our original story about this beast and his fateful encounter with an Inuit boy.

Scary Kushtaka hand

7. Kushtaka: The Otter People

The Otter People are most often seen in the Pacific Northwestern region of Alaska known as the Kushtaka. These tall, ape-like creatures are known to be aggressive and deadly and chase and kill their victims. Described as being horribly ugly, covered in long coarse hair, scabs, scars, and have enormously long claws. Their scream is high-pitched and terrifying, they have a strange whistling call that also alerts people to their presence.

Adlet Northern Monster

The Adlet
Artwork by Mary Farnstrom

Date of Discovery

Discovered by Europeans during the late nineteenth century, 1888 to be exact when ethnological studies were being performed across the far northern reaches of North America and Greenland.

Name

Known as the Adlet (ah-dlit), also known as the Erqigdlet (urk-kig-dlit) in Greenland.

Comparable to the well-known werewolf of popular culture.

Physical Description

Even though the Adlet is considered a close cousin to the werewolf, there are certain differences that are apparent through the stories that were passed down through generations of oral storytelling. The Adlet is a half-man, half-wolf hybrid that has razor-sharp teeth, a pronounced canine snout, pointy ears, piercing yellow or red eyes, a wolf-like tail, and rusty red fur.

Origin

The Adlet comes from the oral culture of the indigenous people of the arctic circle, Greenland, and Canada–the Inuit people in particular, but it is shared amongst many of the different indigenous people of the area. The Adlet is not a shapeshifter, nor does the moon have any effect on it. As the lore goes, the Adlet is the product of the unnatural mating between an Inuit woman and a dog/wolf. The woman birthed a litter of ten, five were full dogs and the other five were the half-human, half-canine monsters that became known as Adlets.

Mythology and Lore

The following is the story of the Adlet, which came from an oral tradition–recorded by ethnologists that were researching the traditions of the arctic circle.

Uinigumissuitoq married a dog. One night she was found outside the hut sleeping with the dog. She gave birth to ten children, one half of them dogs, the other Adlet. The children grew up. Every time their grandfather had got a seal, he loaded it upon his kayak and carried it to them. His grandchildren were very voracious. Therefore, he selected an island for their place of abode and carried them over there, his daughter, the dog, and the children.

Their father, the dog, swam every day to the old man’s hut to fetch meat in a pair of boots which he had hung around his neck. One day the grandfather filled them with stones instead of meat and thus drowned the dog. When he was drowned their grandfather continued to send them food.

The mother, however, said to her children, “Watch your grandfather, when he goes out in his kayak, and attack him!” They killed him. Then she searched for her children, and after having cut a sole for herself, she transformed it quickly into a boat, in which she ordered them to travel across the ocean. She sang, “Angnaijaja. When you have arrived on the other side, you will make many little things. Angnaija.”

Excerpt from Journal of American Folklore v. 1-2 (1888-1889): Eskimo Tales and Songs



Is there anything we missed about the Adlet? Let us know in the comments section below!

Alaska Triangle

Date of Discovery

Unknown

Name – Alaska Triangle

Description

If you draw a line from Barrow in the Northernmost region of Alaska stretching down to Anchorage and then East to Juneau you create the area known as the Alaska Triangle. The triangle is made up of some of the most remote wilderness on the planet.

Haunting trees

Origin

Unknown

Lore

20,000 people have gone missing in the triangle in the last 50 years making it one of the highest missing persons location in the world. Aside from missing people it is said that over 2,000 airplanes have also gone missing within the triangle.

Inuit legends like Keelut or the Qalupalik are amongst the reasons the locals believe people go missing. Tlingit Indian lore talks about shapeshifting demons called Kushtaka (aka the Ottermen) that also take humans. Some are likely lost hikers, adventurers, and hunters taken by severe weather but the sheer numbers suggest something else. In 1972 House Majority Leader Hale Boggs’ Cessna went missing. The plane was carrying 5 men and a pilot U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, Alaska Congressman Nick Begich, an aide, Russell Brown, and their bush pilot Don Jonz. After months of searching neither the plane nor the passengers were ever found.

Akin to the Bermuda Triangle some believe the area contains an electromagnetically influenced “vile vortex.” This negative energy is believed to create confusion, nightmares, health issues and is said to distort electronic signals causing plane crashes and equipment malfunctions.

There are also stories of unexplained lights, creatures that cannot be explained, and even alien/UFO sightings.

Finally rumors of Bigfoot have also been cited as possible reasons why so many people go missing.

Modern Pop-Culture References

TV Shows

Alaska Monsters 2014 –

Categories
Horror Books Horror Mystery and Lore

Alaska’s Bigfoot: The Tornit

History and Mythology of the Tornit

Tornit, Alaska's Bigfoot, caught and caged
Photography by Elmira Gokoryan

Back in the old times, when Baffin Island was still known as Nunatsiarmiut (new-naht-saw-me-oot) and before European influence, the Inuit people lived near the coast of Kangiqtualuk. They were master kayak-builders and survived by means of subsistence—they were excellent hunters, regularly bringing in seals and whales to feed the people in their villages. They were not the only people living on the island though, they lived under the shadow of fear with a tribe of much bigger and aggressive people. Their way of living was different than their Inuit counterparts, as they could not build kayaks, tan hides, or preserve food in the traditional ways of the north.

These people are known as the Tornit (tore-knit) and possessed not only a larger stature but extraordinary strength; they would build houses out of stones and boulders that were much too large for any Inuit person to lift. These creatures, although human-like, are not human at all, with long arms and legs, they present more like a large ape or Neanderthal. Although they are bipedal in nature they would still be mistaken for a bear at a distance, due to their hairy appearance. Despite their largely physical advantages over a regular man, the Tornit have exceedingly poor eyesight which hinders their ability to hunt. They often smell like ghastly rotting flesh at worst and at best as if they have been freshly sprayed by a skunk—this concept also connects them largely to the creature of the southern United States known as the Skunk Ape.

So What’s the Story?

Crouching ape; Alaska's bigfoot, the Tornit
Photography by Kelly Sikkema

There is an abundance of lore available on these creatures through the published anthropological surveys of the Northern territories from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Franz Boas wrote down the oral traditions of the Inuit people from Baffin Island to Hudson Bay and captured many stories of the unscrupulous nature of the Tornit. There were some inconsistencies, with some villages recalling oral traditions that painted the Tornit to be a friendlier beast and even other recollections that the Tornit were actually hunted as a food source.

Their tense relationship with most of the Inuit tribes may have had less to do with the race of people as a whole and more so with the idea that neither the Inuit nor the Tornit seemed to be too fond of each other in general. The overwhelming consensus with all of the information available in books and online suggest they are a morally repugnant, dim-witted, unpleasant, and vicious creature. All of the lore taken into consideration, the reputation that the Tornit have, smacks more of a feudal war than that of a monster that hunts its prey from the shadows, but the isolated incidents of Tornit invading Inuit villages while the men were away simply to kill all of the women and children, in my opinion, makes them creatures to be feared.

Read the first installation of our original story, which features a rendition of the Tornit folktale, or check out other fascinating Alaskan cryptids!