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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

The Haunted Heceta Head Lighthouse of Florence, OR

Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence, Oregon
Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence, Oregon

In a PBS special called Legendary Lighthouses, the Heceta Head Lighthouse is referred to as a haunted lighthouse—stating that nearly everyone who has stayed at the lighthouse since the 1950s has experienced paranormal activity. These experiences include things like disembodied screams, items moving or disappear and the reappearing on their own, as well as the shadow of an old woman’s ghost in an attic window. Along with the older woman, it is said that her daughter also haunts this scenic lighthouse.

The History of the Heceta Head Lighthouse

This Queen Anne styled cottage with a red roof overlooks the rocky cliffs and violent waves of the Pacific Ocean and has done so for more than a century. Originally built in 1894, when the lamp was first lit, to the early 1960s, the men who kept the lighthouse running, and their families called this cottage home. During World War II it served as military barracks and was used as a satellite campus for Lane Community College in Eugene from 1970 to 1995. Since 1995, it has been run as a bed and breakfast with room enough to fit fifteen guests comfortably.

Ghostly Experiences at the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage

Heceta Head Lighthouse Keepers Cottage
Photography by Jrozwado

Some of the experiences that have occurred on the premises have been the apparition of a gray-haired woman who appears wearing a late Victorian-era dress; a wispy gray figure has also appeared floating down the hallway. The sounds of sweeping and furniture being moved occur at night and they come from the locked and otherwise unoccupied attic. These occurrences in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage have given this location the reputation of being one of the most haunted places on the West Coast.

For the last four decades, the main apparition—or presence—has been known as Rue, ever since a group of the Lane Community College students broke out their Ouija Board and began to ask questions. Apparently the board spelled out, “R-U-E,” and the name stuck. While “[Rue] doesn’t ever do anything scary or harmful or threatening,” current manager Anderson reports, “it’s more like she’s watching over the place. Watching the house and looking for her daughter.”

Anderson has heard many versions of many stories over the years that she has managed the property, to the point where she wonders if they even know the truth, and says that “it’s just [their] version [of the story].” The only story that they do endorse as the truth is the theory that Rue was the wife of one of the lighthouse keepers, but records can’t confirm that due to the fact that the wives and children of the keepers were never documented. Anderson believes that Rue had two daughters and that one of them had drowned—they are uncertain whether she drowned in the ocean or in a cistern, but that there is an unmarked grave up on the hillside that had been long left undisturbed and consequently was overgrown.

Although Rue left the Heceta Head Cottage after her daughter died, it is said that she came back after her own death to look for her daughter. When checking into the bed and breakfast, there are many guests that request the Victoria room, where the keepers of the lighthouse and their wives were said to have slept. Others are drawn to the Cape Cove Room, which contains a closet that houses the stairs leading up to the locked attic. Still other guests prefer not to know at all.

Possibly the most frightening encounter with Rue that was ever reported appeared in the Siuslaw News in 1975—a workman was cleaning one of the windows in the attic when he noticed an odd reflection in the glass. When she turned to see what was behind him, he saw the apparition of an elderly woman wearing a late-Victorian style gown—he fled the house and didn’t return to the cottage for several days and refused to ever go into the attic again. Even when he accidentally broke one of the attic windows, he opted instead to repair the window from the outside and the broken glass was left on the attic floor. That same night, the caretakers of the house were woken up to the sounds of scraping sounds in the attic and reported that it sounded as if someone was sweeping up broken glass, but they had not yet been told about the broken window. The next morning when they went to investigate, they found that the glass had been swept into a neat pile.

Other stories include one from a guest when sleeping in the Cape Cove room, she was awakened at 4:30 in the morning to what felt like a presence climbing into bed beside her and staying for a couple of hours. She said she felt concerned about the experience, but she was unharmed and in an odd way felt honored that she had the opportunity to experience it. Despite the lack of truly negative experiences, the manager of the bed and breakfast, Anderson, refuses to spend the night there anymore.

One of her employees, a housekeeper and food server named Beth Mozzachio, said she often feels a presence while she’s working and specifically reported making the bed and then noticing a depression has formed, as if someone recently sat there. Mazzachio knows that if she ever saw an apparition of Rue that she would be terrified, but believes that because she takes care of the inn and makes it look nice that Rue doesn’t bother her much.

The Anna Byrne Chronicles: Chapter 01 – The Haunting of Heceta Head

We’ve discussed the Heceta Head Lighthouse before in our Encyclopedia of Supernatural Horror, where we aimed to discuss the facts of the location–in this article we’ve tried to go a bit further with witness experiences. We have even created an original horror fiction where our character visits Heceta Head–so check out The Anna Byrne Chronicles: Chapter 01 – The Haunting of Heceta Head.

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

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

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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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Urban Legends: The Haunting of Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City, Oregon

When the Geiser Grand Hotel opened in 1889, it was originally known as the Queen City of the Mines–perhaps just as a nod to the Gold Rush that flurried on its doorstep. At the time of its conception, it boasted state-of-the-art technology, the third elevator built west of the Mississippi River. The four-story clock tower gave the area an air of sophistication, while the two-hundred-foot cupola gave the building more natural lighting that filtered through a stained glass ceiling.

Albert Geiser, a mining investor, purchased the property just after the turn of the century and rebranded the hotel as The Geiser Grand Hotel in 1902. In these early days of the hotel, the Grand was considered a place for wealthy men and women to make their presence known, including one Granny Annabelle, who made herself out to be a sight-to-be-seen. She would make her grand entrance from her residence in room 302, to her permanently reserved chair at the bar, from which she presided over the hotel.

Within the hotel’s basement, there are apparently subterranean windows that open up into underground tunnels that were created in the 1880s–this was during the time of the gold frenzy, and the tunnels led to brothels. They also gave passage to Chinese immigrants who at the time were not allowed to be on the streets at night, were handy during seasons of heavy snow, as well as for stashing booze during the Prohibition years.

The historic Geiser Grand Hotel of Baker City, Oregon is considered a landmark and a site of incredible paranormal activity, there have been reports of apparitions on many occasions and the hotel staff give ghost stories on Halloween. The hotel’s most famous ghost goes by the name Lady in Blue, who has been seen dressed in a turn of the century gown, walking up and down the main staircase. It is speculated that this beautiful Lady in Blue is actually Granny Annabelle, in her beautiful Victorian gown, where she forever ascends and descends the staircase before disappearing into the wall. Apparently she never had any intention of leaving “the most fortunate place in the country,” as the Geiser Grand Hotel was touted to be in 1906.

Geiser Grand Hotel, Baker City, Oregon
Geiser Grand Hotel, Baker City, Oregon

Haunted Facilities…

The hotel was built in 1889, destined to be extravagant living quarters for mine investors and wealthier people, the Geiser Grand hosts several apparitions on the premises. There have been several reports of a young girl, a 1930s woman wearing a purple dress, a saloon dancer from the 1920s, a former chef who appears headless, a cowboy and his girlfriend, as well as the Lady in Blue. One of the former owners, Maybelle Geiser, who lived in Room 302 is said to be incredibly haunted, with her ghost rearranging the guests’ jewelry and eating their complimentary snacks.

The current owner jokes that while the beds may be comfortable, you should expect to be woken up at least three times a night because of the apparitions.

First-Hand Experiences…

One visitor to the hotel reported having investigated the Geiser Grand a few times and had experienced the most activity in the bar; their report was that the overall experience was as if they had stepped directly into the 1800s, the rooms being magnificent and period-authentic. They were able to capture an EVP, experienced doors opening and closing, but was skeptical that all of the reports were true. A second guest reported having taken photographs of the entire hotel, except for their room, but upon reviewing the pictures they took found that there was a picture of their room–knowing that they did not take it themselves–and saw that there was the figure of an unidentified boy.

Paranormal investigation groups, S.P.I.G. and S.L.A.S.H. regularly take groups through the premises, where the customers were not made aware of the specifics of each haunting before they investigated the rooms. They reported having physical responses to particular rooms, including the library, and the basement, but were unable to determine the identities of any specific spirits.

The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S.) who hosts the television show Ghost Hunters visits the Geiser Grand quite regularly, with the sole mission of gathering evidence to back up all of the claims that have been made. In an attempt to make the process as scientific as possible, they conduct double-blind studies with reliable equipment that doesn’t incite controversy or welcome criticism. During an interview, one of the newer team members, who self-identified as a skeptic, offered up their own experiences. He believed it could have been a coincidence, but also added that it was an experience that he would never forget–during his investigation, he heard the name Wayne several times over the span of a three-hour investigation. A few days later, while researching, he found the name Wayne in a news story–an eighteen-year-old Presley Wayne–who in 1998 had been named Nashville’s Performer of the Year and touted as a rising country music star. The night after his show at the Geiser Grand, young Presley Wayne was found dead, the victim of a gunshot to the head.

Oregon resident, Amy Venezia, travels the country as a professional medium and communicates with spirits regularly. She stayed at the Geiser Grand one Christmas Eve, where she reported experiencing a dark mass floating by her bed. Recounting her story, she felt it was an incredibly frightening experience.

I’m very accustomed to spirits and not scared of much, but this was a very old, strong spirit, a different type of entity, not a typical connection … I was frightened … The spirit was like a big dog that doesn’t know its size when it pounces on you. It was too much for me then. With time though, I see it’s taken me to a deeper level, and that is good. There’s no doubt that hotel is haunted

Amy Venezia, Professional Medium
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Featured Haunted Places

Urban Legends: The Haunting of Hot Lake Hotel in La Grande, OR

The Hot Lake Hotel, originally built in the mid 19th century at the hot springs in La Grande, Oregon. Shortly after being built, the hotel was converted into a hospital, which was unfortunately destroyed in a fire, then was rebuilt as an insane asylum and was inevitably closed down completely. Years after it was closed, it was renovated and turned into the official Hot Lake Hotel, and with the colorful history that it boasted its haunted legend was born. The ghost stories include various sightings of apparitions and strange clouds of fog that suddenly appear, as well as disembodied voices, source-less piano music.

Ten miles outside of La Grande, in Union City, lies the Hot Lake Hotel–the area referred to as Hot Lake was discovered in 1912 by Robert Stuart who was part of the Wilson Price Hunt party. Before being discovered by the explorers, Native American tribes would bring their injured or sick to the hot springs to be nursed back to health on the neutral ground. It wasn’t until the 1840s that the hot springs at Hot Lake became a resting place for families who were traveling along the Oregon Trail. The original hotel at Hot Lake was constructed in 1864 and faced the bluff, instead of the lake, and it had bathhouses, a post office, a dance hall, a barbershop, and even a blacksmith. While the history between its construction in 1864 and 1884 is unknown due to its isolated nature, it was finally put on the map created by the Union Pacific railroad, which linked the state with the transcontinental system and attracted visitors from all around the globe.

Hot Lake Hotel in 1920s
Hot Lake Hotel in 1920s (Image courtesy of the Oregon State Library)

In 1917, a man named Dr. Phy purchased the hotel and it took on a second purpose as a hospital on the third floor, with a surgery ward and recovery rooms for patients. It was renamed as the Hot Lake Sanatorium and eventually added modern x-ray facilities, was host to radiation therapies, as well as experimental treatments in the hot springs for various ailments. By 1924 the hospital/resort combination was attracting 124 new guests every day, with three hundred rooms, and dining facilities that served over one thousand guests. Its downfall came on May 7, 1934 when a fire broke out and all but the brick portions of the building were destroyed. The depression and debilitating fire caused the business to not recover for over seventy years, ownership changed hands multiple times, but every owner struggled to get the business back to its heyday.

With the second World War, the Hot Lake Hotel was converted into a pilot school and nurse training center, but when the war was finally over in 1953, the location was officially licensed for giving nursing care. It operated as a nursing home and an insane asylum until 1975 when it was closed; it was reopened as a restaurant, and country-western club for two years and then was promptly closed after the business failed. Dr. Lyle Griffith took over the location in 1983, with the establishment of the Hot Lake Company and operated a bath and massage business–an RV park was also built on the premises in 1989, but the business closed once again in 1991 and the building fell into major disrepair.

Haunted Facilities…

The reputation of Hot Lake Hotel, however, by this time had become one of extreme haunting–having such a history as a hospital and sanitarium, it’s fair to assume that quite a few people died on the premises. The years have lent to quite a few witnesses alluding to the haunting of the facilities, having heard and viewed things they could not explain all over the premises, including apparitions walking the grounds, strange voices, whispering, as well as footsteps within the hotel. One apparition, in particular, that is regularly reported is believed to be the ghost of a man who worked as a gardener and ended up committing suicide.

First-hand experiences…

A brother and sister drove to the state just to see the Hot Lake Hotel in 2000 and toured the facility on their own. They felt that the abandoned location was quite eerie, but did not report any real apparitions. The piano that is heard playing without a pianist was originally owned by Robert E. Lee’s wife and was then acquired by the hotel, it was placed on the third floor, and to this day the piano is heard playing itself. One of the owners, Donna Pattee, her husband, and their caretaker Richard Owens reported having several strange experiences while they lived on the second floor during the 1970s; they heard screams and cries coming from the third floor–previously the surgical floor, as well as watching rocking chairs moving on their own. The building was officially put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 2003, the Hot Lake Hotel was purchased by the Manuel family and they spent indeterminable millions of dollars to restore the property over the next seven years. They formally opened the gallery and foundry for visitors in 2005 and began offering tours of the location during the restoration process.

Van Gilder Hotel, Seward, AK

Date of Establishment & Haunting

This hotel was built in 1916; the alleged haunting, however, took place after the death of Fannie Guthry-Baehm between 1947 and 1950.

Name & Location

Location

The Van Gilder Hotel in downtown Seward, Alaska

Apparitions

Fannie Guthry-Baehm is said to be one of the resident ghosts that call the Van Gilder Hotel; she is one of many except she’s the only one that people have identified.

Physical Description

Location

A three-story reinforced concrete building with a full basement, on the exterior it is a white and maroon, unassumingly elegant building that is ripe with old Alaskan history.


“The first two floors contain twelve office suites with hot and cold running water and lavatories in every suite. The hall partitions and doors are of non-transparent glass. The third floor is being fitted up for lodge purposes and will be second to none in Alaska.

All exterior doors and windows are to contain wired plate glass. The windows are the celebrated Whitney windows and the building will be heated by an “Ideal” down draft boiler 3750 feet capacity, with a Honeywell automatic temperature regulator. The radiators are of the “Peerless” screw nipper type.

On the whole the building is one of the finest in Alaska. It is one of three fine concrete buildings which have just been completed but it is the largest of the three. Mr. Van Gilder deserves a tremendous lot of credit for giving a building like this to Seward. He came in a stranger and seeing that Seward must grow he set to work unostentatiously to erect The Office Block. It is an enforced concrete building eighty-four by thirty-four feet in dimension. On the first and second floors it has twenty-seven rooms. The basement is large enough to house the whole plant of the Gateway and on the third story, in addition to all the rest, are splendid lodge rooms.

At present there are 31 rooms available for rental. Six more rooms make up the manager’s apartment and lobby. The basement contains seven rooms and two bathrooms.”

News Account: Description of the building when it was opened in 1916


Apparitions

Van Gilder Hotel
Van Gilder Hotel

There is a lone unidentifiable man is said to appear only as wisps and orbs, but there have also been sightings of two men wearing bowler hats standing behind the front desk, as well as three children running from room to room giggling when there were no guests in the hotel.

Fannie Guthry-Baehm

Fannie is described as a young woman who has long blonde hair and wears a blue dress.

Origin

Location

A well-known historic building in Seward, Alaska–the Van Gilder Hotel was initially built as an office building, then underwent the conversion to apartments, and finally a hotel. Between being built 1916 and 1921, the building originally played host to the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodge on the third floor, but after the two lodges constructed their own buildings, the third floor got turned into a ballroom. Once the building made the transition to a hotel, the third floor became the space for hotel guests.

In the last hundred years, the building hasn’t changed much from the time it was built to now, save for some upgrades to keep the building up to code through the years. Changes to the interior were cosmetic, but they only aid in keeping one of the oldest hotels in Alaska feeling authentic to its origins.

Apparitions

There are apparently several reported apparitions that call the Van Gilder Hotel home, but only one is known by name. The rest have been seen, but are unidentifiable.

Fannie Guthry-Baehm

According to local lore, in 1947 a woman named Fannie Guthry-Baehm was said to be shot in the head by her husband; the stories told around town were that her husband was a violent drunk and shot her in a whiskey-fueled rage. Although even some of the locals are not exactly sure about when she was killed–but they know it was between 1947 and 1950, but according to sources, it is more often believed to have been 1947. The details of the room in which she died are also unclear, some sources say room 201, while others say it was room 202 or 209, however, former staff of the hotel insist it was actually room 202.

An eyewitness account suggested in 2001 that at exactly 1:21 am they were awakened to the whole building shaking and windows squeaking right before they heard someone running up the stairs, followed directly by someone running down the stairs. When the customer asked the staff if there had been an earthquake, but was told that there hadn’t been–that what the customer had actually experienced was the ghost of Fannie Guthry-Baehm reliving her murder.

Mythology and Lore

Apparitions

The spirits of the Van Gilder Hotel don’t appear as often in sources that allude to their existence as Fannie, but accounts from the housekeeping staff make it clear that there are a plethora of ghosts who spend their afterlife within the walls of this historic hotel.

Fannie Guthry-Baehm

The book was written by Jonathan Faulkner The Ghost of Fannie Guthry-Baehm (2010) and set the murder as a mystery piece and at face value poses as a tale woven with historical facts. There is one passage in the book that gives what is alleged to be an eyewitness account.

At about 12:30, just after midnight early on the morning of the 13th of July, the room was beginning to get dark, as it was summer in Alaska. As I rolled over, out of the corner of my eye, I saw what I perceived as a woman in a dressing gown with long light-colored hair. I could not tell if it was blond or gray, but my sense was the woman was not old and gray. She appeared tired as she moved from the corner of the bed ‘through’ the dresser and to the door. She paused and went ‘through’ the door and out of the room.

The Ghost of Fannie Guthry-Baehm (2010)

According to housekeeping staff, Fannie has a tendency to sit on freshly made beds and leave a butt print, she’s also known to move cleaning supplies, tools, as well as opening and closing doors and windows. Many people have reported seeing her while they were sitting in chairs in the hallways, as well as people who have woken up to find Fannie sitting at the foot of their bed.

Modern Pop-Culture References

There is some controversy about the validity of the only known publication made about Fannie Guthry-Baehm’s murder–although we’re waiting to hear back from the family, we’re under the impression that the book falsely represented many of the details about the life and death of Fannie.

Books & Literature



Is there anything we missed about the Van Gilder Hotel, Seward, AK? Let us know in the comments section below!