Haunted Oregon: my favorite ghost stories.

My beloved home state of Oregon is a great source for a surprisingly large number of my favorite spooky tales. Maybe I notice the weirdness because of my Northwest Pride, or maybe The X-Files writers were right to set the series pilot around here–a lot of truly bizarre stuff takes place in this region. Those of you from the very plausible state of Oregon may be familiar with some of these. The rest of you, well, we can’t all be cool enough to reside here.

1. The Bandage Man.

This one is less ‘interesting’ and more ‘ahhhh.’ The first time I heard about the bandage man, I was 11, reading about the classic ghost stories of home state. Supposedly, this creature, a smelly phantom cruising around the hills near Cannon Beach, is a kind of mummy who was once a logger in the area. He runs around the highway, scaring motorists, covered in ugly gauze bandages. Creepy! Even more unsettling is that in some versions of the story, the Bandage Man is the cause of no fewer than three deaths. Shudder.

2. The ghost of South Eugene High School.

This one is really more sad than spooky, and when I mention it, it’s more of a cautionary tale for any teenagers still active in their school’s drama programs. Some time in the 1950s, a kid attending South Eugene High was crawling around the top level of their school’s auditorium, slipped, and fell to his death in the seats below. People were still talking about experiencing cold spots in the seats where he died, which, in a tragic commentary on the lack of public school funding around here, were not actually replaced until the mid-’90s.

Stay safe, young drama fiends.

3. McMenamins, Troutdale.

Not a Halloween passes when one of the local radio stations fails to receive at least one or two calls about this notoriously haunted location. Formerly the site of a nursing home where an alleged morgue was once located, this place boasts everything from ghost lights to the noise of people walking over the floors when no one but the evening staff is there. I confess, I love dinner in a haunted space, but I’ve been avoiding this one. Sounds a bit too…active to me.

4. Pentacle theater ghost(s).

Recently, I attended an excellent production of Shakespeare’s Scottish play at this terrific small playhouse in Salem. I’d had a horrible time buying tickets, eventually forced to do it in person at the box office because of not one but two snafus with the website. I couldn’t resist asking if they’d had a problem with the production itself, as it is legendarily difficult to escape the so-called ‘curse’ of this play. I was told by the staff that, no, nothing related to said curse had plagued them during rehearsals, but they wouldn’t have noticed anyway due to the not one, but two spirits who hang around the theater all the time. (I’ve been to many shows at the Pentacle and never noticed anything out of the ordinary, but I’m only there a couple of times a year tops.) Media in the area have written several articles about the Pentacle ghost named Sheila, but I don’t know who the other one is. It’s a charming little place, that stage, so I hope it’s not a mean ghost.

5. Ghost of the Governor’s Mansion.

In the original governor’s mansion in Salem, which I’m not sure if any recent governors have actually used, a ghost allegedly roamed the halls here and stole money from the guests. Legend has it he was someone who worked there a hundred years ago lost some sum of money while in the house, and he continues to try to ‘get it back’ to this day.

I could go on and on here. Oregon is a treasure trove of paranormal lore. Don’t believe me? Come stay here a week. No matter where you are, there’s always something going on.


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