Urban Legends: Scary Mary at the Golden North Hotel in Skagway, Alaska

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

As the forty-ninth state of the United States, Alaska is often described by locals as being thirty years behind the contiguous United States—with the days of pioneers and people flocking to take advantage of the gold rush set so recently in the past, it’s not too far-fetched to see how life might be a little slower in the Last Frontier. This also means that the ghost stories that haunt the oldest buildings in the state of Alaska are a little bit more recent and sometimes seem a little bit more vivid.

The Klondike Gold Rush

The Klondike Gold Rush began in the Yukon in 1896, when gold was first discovered, this drew roughly one hundred thousand prospectors into the territory—all of whom decided they would strike it rich. Skagway served as the most direct route to the gold-fields, so most of the traffic flowed through this deep-water port. This, of course, caused the population of Skagway to explode nearly overnight, with a population going from approximately seven hundred residents in 1897 to over ten thousand in 1898, it made it the largest city in Alaska at the time. That rush only lasted about two years and the population dwindled back under two thousand. The times in which the Klondike Gold Rush was underway, created an atmosphere that was rife with chaotic ambition, corruption, lawlessness, disease, shattered dreams, and many untimely deaths. Built at the height of the gold rush in 1898, the Golden North Hotel provided accommodations and refreshments to nearly one thousand prospectors who passed through the city on a weekly basis. It was a breeding ground for ghost stories.

The Origin of Scary Mary

One of the most legendary ghosts in Alaska goes by the name of Scary Mary and her story begins with a Gold Rush expedition. Mary came to Skagway, Alaska as a blushing young woman, already engaged to a prospector that went by the name of Klondike Ike—she checked into the Golden North Hotel where she and Ike became engaged and were set to start their future together. The two lovers spent several days at the hotel before Ike had to return to his prospecting ventures over Chilkoot Pass. Mary’s fiancé, Klondike Ike, set off over five hundred miles to the gold-fields with tremendously high hopes that he would win them their fortune—unfortunately for both Ike and Mary, Ike never returned. Ever the loyal partner, Mary waited for Ike to return home to her—she locked herself in the room the couple had rented, lost in the abyss of worry for her lover, and waited. When the housekeepers of the Golden North Hotel finally broke down the door with concern, they discovered Mary in the wedding dress she had planned to be married in, dead and waiting for Ike to return to her, so that they may marry. In many of the stories, it is said that Mary ended up coming down with a fatal case of pneumonia while waiting for Ike in room 23—other stories imply that after months of waiting for his return, she simply locked herself in her room disallowed any company and refused to eat.

Golden North Hotel in Skagway, AK
Photography by Kira Picabo

First-Hand Experiences

Legends tell us that Mary still hasn’t checked out of her room at the Golden North Hotel and since her death arrived all-too-soon, that she has been checking up on guests in the middle of the night. Her apparition appears as a pale figure and is seen looking through the hotel windows, waiting for her lover’s return from the mountains. There have been reports of cold air pockets when walking through the hallways and a subsequent glimpses of white rushing past them—even more strange are the reports of the unfortunate guest who wakes up to Mary’s ghost hovering above their beds as if checking to be sure that Ike isn’t in bed with another woman.

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Urban Legends: The Ghost of Kuhn Theater in Lebanon, Oregon

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Kuhn Cinema—a theater that is located in Lebanon, Oregon—was built in 1932 and was a prime spot for watching movies until the late 1980s. The theater, unfortunately, had to close its doors in the eighties. It then sat vacant, abandoned, and unused until the Pitts purchased the property in 2004 and then proceeded to renovate with the goal to reopen. Eventually, when the theater was reopened in 2005, it opened its doors to a sold-out crowd to a popular movie. Since it is reported to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl in a white dress, is then it possible that all the renovations were what caused the little girl’s apparition to come out of hiding? Ever since the reopening of the cinema, both movie patrons and theater staff have claimed to have experienced strange activity. The doors open and close on their own and then they hear the disembodied laughter of children echo throughout the theater.

Kuhn Cinema in Lebanon Oregon
Kuhn Cinema in Lebanon Oregon

A Haunted Cinema

What is it about a haunted location? What draws people to be interested in these relics of the past that seem to have a history that just won’t cease to want attention. Ghost stories are always interesting to come across—they’re a peek into the past, whether you believe in spirits or you don’t. It’s true, even skeptics enjoy visiting and investigating places that are supposed to be haunted by the ghosts of the past. They do this with the hopes–or possibly even the fears–that they can experience something they can’t explain. It’s only natural to be curious about what we can’t explain. So, if you decide to visit Kuhn Cinema in Lebanon, you might end up seeing more than just a movie.

In recent years, the theater was at risk of being demolished, so the community came together to save it and it has since undergone several small renovations—despite the changing of the theater, the renovations that it has undergone over the course of its existence, one thing has remained the same—the ghostly little girl in the white dress who came to see a movie and never left. Would you go to this theater to see a movie, or to have a chance to see the little girl in white?

First-Hand Experience

There have been employees and visitors alike who have claimed to have seen this unfortunately young apparition in different places throughout the building. It’s as if she likes to explore the premises and some of the witnesses say they have seen her sitting in the theater seats, the women’s bathroom, and even reported that she has been seen sitting at the top of the stairs near the projection booth. There are some employees who believe that they have felt her presence while they were inside of the projection booth manning the projectors; there they reported having felt pressure around their waist, as if a small child were hugging them from behind. Lights seem to turn on and off by themselves all through the building and when the employees close up the theater at night, they seem to all report hearing small child-like footsteps, giggling, and odd thumps that cannot be explained. If keys or other small objects go missing, they can usually be found, but they’re in an entirely different location from where they went missing. So, even though the young girl’s ghost seems to enjoy pulling pranks on people quite regularly, she doesn’t seem to be a malicious entity at all.

As far as how she died? Well, people say that she fell from the theater’s balcony way back when, which is how they say she died, but then again—they also say that the theater has never had a balcony. So how did her apparition come to be?

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