Categories
Indie Horror Short Horror Stories

“Rose” – The Ghost of The White Eagle

By Modern Cauldron and Tritone.

White Eagle Hotel Sign

Cameron exhaled a tired sigh as the group made their way into Portland, the paranormal team had been on the road for what feels like years now. The trip started early November and it was now January. The last stop on this trip finally came at 12 am as they turned onto Russell Street, they pulled up to an old brick building with two old single-pane windows looking out from the upstairs hotel. An old fashion wooden sign swung in the air as if to greet them and moved just enough to make the eerie creek all paranormal investigators like to hear.

“White Eagle Saloon!” exclaimed Nicole as she climbed out of the vehicle. Cameron clamored out, looking exhausted and less than impressed at her over-joyed excitement. 

“I can’t believe they call this the most haunted hotel in Oregon” he stated daftly as he rolled his eyes. Nicole cut him a look as if to say chill out, before spinning around to practice her opening segment under the old sign. Their technical intern Jessie gathered the bags and gear while shaking his head wondering what he had gotten himself into on this one.

The team entered the dimly lit saloon, the bar is old but had been beautifully maintained. It felt like a mixture of a speakeasy and an old English pub. Over the arched door to the back, there was a large painting of a crystal ball that read Palmistry. There were a few tables scattered about the floor surrounding a small stage where hundreds of bands must have played over the years. Gas-lantern-looking lights adorned the walls and gave off a mellow soft glow. The bar felt old and sleepy yet oddly comforting. Nicole checked in with the bartender as the boys started to take a closer look around. Jessie made his way to a wall which harbored pictures of the bar’s history, some seemed to date back to the early 1900s. He took the time to study one of a man named Sam Warrick before he moved down to another portrait of a beautiful young lady in a white dress. His eyes drifted down to the plaque on the wall beneath it which simply read, Rose. Cameron slapped him on the back and scared the skin off of him.

“Ready to settle in? Nicole has our room keys.” Jessie laughed nervously back at him and watched his friend leave the bar area.

White Eagle Saloon Inside

The old door to the hotel was outside the bar and led to a steep and narrow staircase. After almost 100 years of service, each step creaked as they walked up, protesting the weight of the gear they had brought with them. The floor that the rooms were on was much cooler than the floor below; it was even more dimly lit than the saloon, but it felt just as cozy and homey as they struggled with their bags down the narrow hallway to their rooms.

They unloaded their gear in the rooms, Nicole was in room 2 which had the window that overlooked the street. Inside of the room, there was a small sitting chair, a standing Chester drawer, a vanity table with a lace cloth across it, and a large painting in the corner across from the bed of a beautiful landscape–it felt like she had stepped into a different time. The boys were sharing room 3 just next door, it didn’t have a window but it was slightly larger. In their room, there were two single beds both with side tables, there was a large oakwood table with chairs and a long dresser drawer. Around the room, Jessie noticed pictures of the man Sam, on a wall was a shelf with a few old-timey items: a shaving kit, a flask, a wooden hairbrush, and a stopwatch. He figured they were probably personal items of Sam or supposed to look as if they were.

After they had settled in, the team returned to the saloon for a few drinks and to gather their plans for the following day of filming. Two more team members would join them to help with reading equipment and examination of the building and its alleged Shanghai tunnels. Nicole always demanded to be a day ahead of the others, the only reason Jessie was with them ahead of schedule was due to the lack of space in the other car as well as the set-up of night vision cameras.

The three of them had a few beers as Nicole and Cameron bickered back and forth about details: lighting, walkthroughs, content about the haunting, and so on it went. Jessie found himself rather bored with the planning stage and decided to return to the room for the night. He left Nicole and Cameron to work things out. Walking up the stairs he noticed the creaking was much louder than earlier in the day, and he had a sudden, strong feeling of being watched, this feeling seemed to intensify as he made his way to the door of his room. Digging the key from his pocket he suddenly felt a firm tug at the back of his shirt, nearly untucking it, which almost caused him to lose balance. He whipped around to find he was alone in the hallway, he shook his head. When he turned back to the door he felt a light wind sweep across his neck, which sent him spinning around again. He tried to shake it off and laughed, clearly the long drive and extra round of beers were playing tricks on him. Once in the room he quickly got settled into the far bed and was fell into a deep sleep. 

“Come on Cameron, one more round” pled Nicole who gave him her best pouty face.

“Fine” he exclaimed and rolled his eyes at her again.

Nicole popped up and all but ran to the bar to order the drinks, before promptly slipping off to the ladies’ room. He sat studying the label he had almost peeled completely from his bottle in one single piece. This seemed to bring a smile to his face just slightly. Nicole returned to the table looking a little pale and upset before he could ask what was going on, she demanded to go see the room. A bit shocked, he picked on her over the light-weight drinker she was, but there was no bubble burst of the typical Nicole response he would have expected from her. He followed her up the stairs and sensed eyes on him as he took a last look down at the bar. All the sounds seemed to die away as he reached the top of the stairs almost bumping into Nicole who had suddenly stopped.

“This is where it happened you know. This spot right here is where she died,” Nicole said barely looking over her shoulder at him. He blinked hard and slow only to find she was gone in the small second it took to gather himself. 

Rose White Eagle Ghost Face

He slowly walked down the hall to room 2 and found the door was cracked open just enough; he saw her sitting in the chair by the window. He pushed the door all the way open and softly called to her. “She sat here night after night, wondering what life she could have,” Nicole said in a flat tone that had him shuttering with each word.

“How do you know that?” he asked slowly as he walked closer to her. He reached out to touch her shoulder, shaking slightly; suddenly she rolled her head around. Her face was ghostly white and haunting to gaze upon, her mouth opened and at first, no sound came out, then suddenly she shrieked a deafening wail that sent him scrambling from the room. The door slammed behind him as he backed into the wall and sank to the floor. He pulled his camera up and tried to explain what just happened to him. His mind raced uncontrollably and caused him to feel like the world was spinning around him. His first thoughts were to capture everything that just happened on film, then he remembered “Nicole…” What had happened to her, was she ok? He needed to muster enough courage to go back into the room to help her. He looked down the hall to the stairs and noticed the shadow of a figure, it was Nicole looking overly concerned.

“What are you doing? I came back from the bathroom and you were gone.” She looked as confused as she sounded. He was without words and stammered a confusing trail of details and she helped him up off the floor. She tried to calm him down and explain she couldn’t have been in the room, as she was downstairs but he wouldn’t listen. He clawed at the doorknob only to find it was locked. She pulled her key out and twisted the knob revealing an empty room. At this point, all of the colors ran out of his face and he was completely speechless. He swore what he saw was real, and that they needed to gather their things and leave RIGHT NOW. Nicole wouldn’t have it, she thought he was just drunk and letting his mind get the best of him. She pushed him out of the room and ordered him to get some rest, she was now tired and feeling the rounds of beers as well. “If you can’t handle night one here Cameron, I’m seriously worried about you,” she laughed him off. “Get to bed and get yourself together before tomorrow, I have too much riding on this.” She further mocked as he slowly dragged himself back to sanity. 

He nervously opened the door to room 3 to find Jessie sleeping hard in the far bed as if nothing has happened. He settled into the bed fully dressed and continued to search his mind for any form of peace. It’s just the exhaustion and too much to drink, he tried to reason with himself, everything will be fine. I just need to sleep. As he spoke to himself his eyes got heavier and heavier and he felt the biting cold gnawing at his body. He wanted to get up but couldn’t find the strength within himself to do so. He resigned himself to roll over and tuck himself into a loose ball. Tomorrow will be better, he repeated to himself over and over again until the dark cloud of sleep took ahold of him and carried him off.

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

History and Haunting of The White Eagle Saloon in Portland, OR

White Eagle Saloon image from early 1900's

On Russell Street, the White Eagle Saloon has been serving drinks to the community of Portland since 1905. Today, the building stands a regular hot spot on the Eastside of Portland for musicians and travelers alike. Notably marked on the National Register of Historic Places, the building has acquired a set of ghost stories and tales that expands over a century. Polish immigrants, William Hryszko and Bronisław Sobolewski, opened the saloon with intent to help serve other Polish immigrants around them. Yet shortly after opening, the White Eagle Saloon garnished a reputation for itself that would endure a century later: as a puzzle piece of the past in the Albina district. Prostitutes, kidnappings and an opium den are some of the rumors circling what the building, possibly, could have hidden within the walls. The mysterious and mischievous past are never far behind us, and many who stay at the hotel today experience frequent paranormal activity. Stories surrounding the saloon aren’t soon to die, and neither are the spirits still roaming the grounds. 

Oregonian newspaper clipping from early 1900's about Polish Society not being anarchistic

Shortly after opening, the White Eagle Saloon made headlines regarding who occupied the building and what it stood for. Multiple publications in the Oregonian helped to circulate rumors. The Saloon was thought to be an opium den, a brothel, the headquarters for an anarchist group or possibly all three combined. In June of 1906, press surrounding the White Eagle alerted the Secret Service to investigate the happenings within the saloon, believing the Polish members were planning to assassinate President Theodore Roosevelt. Although cleared after investigation, Portland natives were wary of the White Eagle Saloon after this press, which helped secure the saloon’s reputation on the mischievous side. Later that same June, the Oregonian printed an article clarifying that the White Eagle Saloon had, “been misrepresented by enemies”. (1) The Polish immigrants were often thought of as anarchists. Perhaps other members of the community saw them as violent members, as it was reported that many disturbances, such as beatings and brawls, occurred within the property. The Polish immigrants who came to Portland created a circle where they could retain their traditions and share their faith with other Poles. Many of these disturbances were due to politics or religion, as any Pole who did not believe in the Catholic Church was considered an anarchist (1) and one of the founders, Broinslaw “Barney” Sobolewski, was also the Minister of Justice on the Polish Cabinet (7). Regardless of the disturbances within the Polish community, the Saloon stood as meeting hall and refugee for Polish immigrants (3) where, “an immense emblem, a Polish eagle with the American and Polish flags underneath, occupies a prominent place on the wall.” (1)

newspaper clipping early 1900's about a war on vices such as prostitution being planned by the US government.

The White Eagle underwent a remodel from a wooden structure to a brick building, and beginning in 1914 lodging was offered. The original intent Hryszko had to serve their Polish community proved true, as a census taken in 1920 showed that all the guests at the White Eagle were Polish men. (2) Although there is no substantial evidence to prove that the White Eagle Saloon was also a brothel along with the offered lodging, that is not to say that “working women”, or prostitutes, did not frequent the rooms available to rent on the second floor. Proof that prostitution existed in this way on the streets of Portland is shown in an Oregonian article from October of 1917. The article discusses cracking down on prostitution, and that the policy involves, “not only in eliminating regular houses of prostitution, but in checking the more or less clandestine class that walks the streets, and is apt to frequent lodging-houses and hotels”. (4) With Prohibition beginning in 1917, the saloon began to offer “soft drinks”, but it is largely eluded that regular activities were engaged in within. 

Gritty stories surrounding shanghai-ing patrons and enslaved women in the basement have circled the saloon for decades, with little truth ever found behind them. Tim Hills, a historian who researched the origin of the White Eagle, clarified that, “the opening in the basement that is usually identified as the shanghai tunnel is actually a coal chute leading to a trap door in the front sidewalk”. (2) Not only this, but Shanghai activity decreased at the turn of the century, making those dark rumors difficult to believe – thankfully. Nevertheless, rumors of spirits from the shanghai tunnels continue to proliferate even as recently as to my last visit to the bar in late 2019. When asked about the haunted hotel the staff reported that several ghosts from the tunnels have been heard over the years.

It’s natural for a destination of this notoriety to be believed to be haunted. The White Eagle Saloon was a notable location for dozens over the decades, and the idea that spirits of the dead are still attached to the building is not a unique idea. There are a couple of prominent ghosts known to haunt the grounds, with other ghosts poking fun at current hotel guests. Recounting’s of the tales vary in dates, names and other details. With something as intangible as ghosts, these differences are bound to appear. It has been reported that a prostitute named Rose met an untimely fate within the walls of the saloon. The general tale is that Rose was a favored and frequent prostitute around the area, who was often at the White Eagle. Sadly, a customer happened to fall in love with her and schemed up a plan for the two of them to run away together. Hoping to convince her to run away with him, he met up with Rose one night, pleading with her to leave her life of prostitution. Rose refused his advances and chose to remain. In desperation and anger, whether she was pushed down the stairs or stabbed to death in her room, the man then killed Rose. Guests at the hotel reported having seen an apparition of a beautiful woman, with some experiencing the feeling of being touched while in their beds. (5) While the spirits of multiple prostitutes may be tied to the saloon, guests have been reported to experience a run-in with some sort of female energy. Local staff report that most of the activity is rumored to come out of Room #2 in the hotel where she allegedly frequently stayed.

Another prominent ghost is a man rumored to be named Sam Warrick. (6) The tale surrounding Sam is that he was born on the second floor, believed to be birthed by a prostitute. Orphaned at birth, Sam grew up in the White Eagle trading his services for room and board. It is reported that he was a bartender amongst other jobs at the White Eagle. The saloon would be his final resting place, as he never moved away and eventually passed away in his room. Some of his possessions are said to still be in the guest rooms, appearing to have been moved on their own. It’s told that Sam is one of the faces you can see in the old photographs hung upon the walls on the White Eagle, keeping a dutiful eye on his forever home. 

A quick check on youtube has several paranormal investigators who have stayed at the hotel with various measurement tools. Their reports vary and some even report that room 3 has more paranormal activity than room 2. If you get the chance to walk the halls you will see why this hotel maintains such a vibrant haunted past. It is truly spooky in the hotel although it does maintain a warm vibe regardless of the low lighting, creaky stairs and stories of hauntings.

Perhaps it’s the spirits of Bronislaw Szelaszkewiez and William Hryszko that roam the halls, as their spirits are no doubt also tied to the White Eagle Saloon. Regardless of the truth, which many may never truly know, these tales that come from the White Eagle Saloon is an honor itself to the significance the building has had in Portland. The White Eagle Saloon has seen over a century of happenings occur within its brick walls, fluctuating between a safe haven for immigrants or a final meeting place for some souls. Spirits are still welcoming new guests, so feel free to book one of the original boarding rooms any night of the week and test it yourself. If you are brave enough perhaps add the Stanley hotel and Crescent hotel to your list as well, those are certainly on mine!

Oregon has several other haunted hotels also worth investigating including Hood River, Oregon’s Hood River Hotel and The Gorge Hotel.

Index 

  1. Article: The Oregonian, June 25, 1906 “Polish Society Not Anarchists”
  2. Article: Hills, Tim. “Oregon Places: Myths and Anarchists: Sorting out the History of Portland’s White Eagle Saloon.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol. 101, no. 4, 2000, pp. 520–529. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20615097.
  3. Article: The Oregonian, “White Eagles True Story”, Sep 27,2001 
  4. Article: The Oregonian, Oct 13, 1917, “Vice War Planned” 
  5. Ghost Hunting Oregon by Donna Stewart 
  6. Ghost Hunters Guide to Portland the Oregon Coast by Jeff Dwyer 
  7. Article: “Journal of the American-Polish Chamber or Commerce and Industry June/July 1921” 
Atlas of Lore #1