The St. Helen's Manor House (7476 Hwy 12, Morton, WA)
When Susyn Dragness purchased the St. Helen's Manor House Bed and Breakfast approximately five years ago she had no idea that she might have had one or two permanent guests. Unlike many haunted houses where the ghosts fade over time, her ghosts seem to be as active as ever.
My wife and I stayed in her comfortable 1910s home in April of 1999. We appreciated being treated more like long lost cousins rather than customers. A psychic visited the house and said that she detected the presence of two women, a mother and daughter. She also felt there had been a murder in the house. One of the regular aspects of this haunting is the way the fire door on the stairs closes all on its own. When the house was converted into a B&B, fire codes required a fire door be installed. This door is held open by an Electro-magnet attached to the wall. If the electricity goes out, the magnetic field cuts out and the door slams shut. At the St. Helen's Manor house the door shuts on it's own nearly every night at precisely 4:20 AM.
The guest bedrooms are all located on the second floor. There is the pink room, the blue room, and the green room. They all seem to have their own ghostly character. One night a couple stayed in the green room. The husband woke his wife up in the middle of the night. He complained to his wife that the heavy scent of lilac perfume was nearly suffocating him.
When Susyn was telling this story and many others, the house was quiet as my wife and I listened with our full attention. When she reached the point where she described the death of a past owner, the fire door slammed shut. From personal experience I can tell you, the reader that there is such a thing as coincidence. But sometimes coincidence is just too big of a word to fit situations like this.
The Puget Sound
The Landmark Convention Center and Temple Theater (47 Saint Helens Ave, Tacoma, WA)
The Convention center was built in 1927 as the home of the Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of Washington State. It is an impressive, somewhat forbidding building, which does credit to the metaphorical history of Freemasonry. Its façade includes huge Greek Columns rising over a double door entrance. According to one employee, the building has eight floors including basements and attic. There are stories of blocked up tunnels located in the basement.
The Landmark Convention Center and Temple Theater
The adjoining Temple Theater is another impressive component of the old lodge. The theater has seating for 1620 people. There is seating on the main floor as well as a balcony. In addition to a live stage set-up a projection booth and movie screen are part of the theater's equipment. It is the theater that most people believe is haunted, almost from its opening. In 1930, a girl was dancing on the live stage. Audience members had the experience of watching a ghost watch her. After the performance he disappeared.
In November of 1982 the theater manager, Karen Ford went up to the balcony overlooking the main seating. She wanted to make sure that no children had sneaked up there during the movie. Although she did not hear anything, she felt like there was someone up there with her. After the movie she and one of the staff inspected the theater to make sure that it was empty. They turned up the house lights and looked around. In the balcony they saw a glowing light. The employee thought it was the glow of a spirit aura. Ford thought it might have been light reflecting off of a glass encased fire extinguisher. She did not investigate.
In May of 1983 Jim Erickson of the Tacoma News Tribune visited the Temple Theater. A member of his party included psychic Lou Johnson. When the party went up to the balcony, members of the group felt a chill. Johnson and the photographer both thought they saw ghostly figures moving in one area of the balcony. Other people could not see anything. She also noted that the ghosts who haunted the theater and adjoining convention center were all men.
In March of 1972 one of the building's janitors was crushed and killed in an elevator accident. His ghost is supposed to ride the repaired service elevator. I talked to one of the maintenance workers in passing. I asked him if the elevator was haunted. He replied that the service elevator had a mind of its own. The elevator frequently goes up and down, stopping at random on floors. Sometimes the doors will stay open for several seconds, as if an unseen person is keeping them open. \par \tab The people are familiar with the ghost, and call him Charlie. They seemed happy to talk about him and the other ghosts of the old Temple. None of them seem afraid.
The Old Tacoma City Hall (625 Commerce St, Tacoma, WA)
Many of the security guards who had to patrol the wide hallways have seen and complained of fleeting shadows walking around them. One night in February of 1979 the police were summoned repeatedly to the old building when burglar and fire alarms went off several times. When they arrived each time the building was secured and there were not trespassers on the premises. The police and guards within the building noted many strange events. Lights would flick on in one room and then off and then turn on in other rooms. It was as if someone were hurrying through the building playing with the light switches. The guards hurried through the building trying to catch the intruder or intruders. Despite their efforts they never saw anyone.
Since that time, the Old City Hall has been converted into upscale businesses as diverse as architects and aromatherapy. A large portion of the ground floor has been turned into the T.B. & G., the Tacoma Bar & Grill. In 1999 I visited the T.B. & G. and spoke with owner Stephanie Clark and Claude, one of the employees. According to them the ghost or ghosts are still active.
This ghost is known as Gus. He seems to be harmless and engages in the occasional poltergeist prank. During the grand opening of the bar they were cooking lunch for a full house when the stove stopped working. There was nothing wrong with the electricity or the stove. It just stopped working. It started working again as soon as lunch was over. On two occasions Stephanie was observing two new bartenders on their first night. Shortly after their shift started, they all watched in amazement as all of the bottles tumbled off of their shelves, one by one. It was as if someone walked along behind the bar, knocking them down with a finger. Strangely enough, none of the bottle broke. Most of the employees have had something like this happen. The best way to stop it is to come to terms with Gus. Stephanie told me; "Everyone talks to Gus!"
Whidbey Island Naval Air Station has two facilities located a few miles apart on North Whidbey Island. This story comes from the Sea Plane Base. The transient housing facility at the Air Station is a series of very nice single wide mobile homes parked on what used to be the runway for the airbase during World War II. While I was checking in with the manager's office I asked my usual question, "do you know of any haunted locations nearby?"
I was surprised at the proximity of the haunting. They pointed
out the window at the Base Exchange, or store.
According to stories around the base, in the late 1940s, one of the airplane mechanics walked into the propeller of one of the P-3's and was promptly converted into a pink cloud. No one knows whether he did this on purpose or accidentally. It is hard to imagine someone doing something like this accidentally. Maybe that is why he remained behind. Over the past few decades many people have seen a strange man dressed in coveralls walking along the catwalks in the back portion of the warehouse space. When they go over to the catwalks to investigate, the man has disappeared. In most cases he has been seen in places where there is no way a person could have gotten down from the catwalks without passing by the people pursuing him. In the morning when they open up, workers will frequently find piles of clothing on the floors.
Sometimes the clothing is arranged as if someone was wearing it, laid down and disappeared, leaving the clothing perfectly arranged; shoes, sock (with the feet inside the shoes), pants, underwear (inside the pants) and shirts. Sometimes workers have heard the sound of footsteps walking through the clothing racks. The sight of the clothing moving sometimes accompanies this sound; it looks as if someone is brushing against the hanging clothes as they walk by the racks. Strangely enough, this ghost is also accompanied by an unusual smell.
One of the responsibilities of the assistant manager of the Base Exchange is to lock the doors every night. As I explained earlier, the old hangar building is divided into several different stores. A sturdy chain with a key padlock secures the main retail outlet doors. Several times the manager and at least one other employee have closed the exchange, locked the door and walked away, only to hear a clank and rattle as the lock somehow unlocks itself and falls off the chain onto the floor. This has happened more than once. One evening they called the base security officer who tried securing the door with the same results. No one, not even the most skeptical employee can explain the popcorn smell or the unlocking lock.
When I first began talking with the man in front of the Exchange I pulled out the little pad I carry with me. I had some problem writing, so I decided to place it on the garbage can I was standing next to. I looked down at the lid of the can to make sure that there was no gum or even more disgusting "stuff" that might attach itself to my pad. It was clean. I placed my pad down and wrote for several minutes. When I finished writing I picked up my pad and glanced down at the garbage can lid again. I was surprised to see a 1947 penny resting on the spot where I had placed my writing pad!
No one seemed to know for sure when the man had died, but the building was only used as a hangar from 1942 to the early 1950s. The stories placed the man as dying sometime in the late 1940s. Could this have been some kind of ghostly effect, called an apport? An apport is a physical object that moves from one place only to appear in another by paranormal means. I cannot think of a reasonable explanation for the appearance of this coin.
The Inland Empire
The Mane Attraction is ...Ghosts (the Mane Attraction hair salon in the Lynch Building at the corner of 12th and Pearl Street, Ellensburg, WA)
Lori Sherrell is the owner and manager of the Mane Attraction hair salon. She has operated her salon out of the 110-year-old building since November of 1997. This is long enough for her to know something was different about her shop. Her aunt Nancy went to look over the space with Lori before she took it over. Nancy felt something was wrong, particularly the upper loft. Lori felt the same oddity but moved in and began her renovation.
During the remodel she did not find anything strange but when she opened for business she noticed strange things. Nancy remembered when she helped count out the cash receipts late one night. She kept looking up in the upper loft, expecting to see the person she could feel looking at her. She finished counting money and prepared to leave. After closing when Lori was alone she would sometimes hear the sound of footsteps in the upper loft. Many of the salon employees would loose small items like combs and beauty aids. These would turn up in unusual places. Some items have never been found.
Lori and her staff were not the only ones who felt something strange. More than one customer commented that they felt something strange in the upper loft's partitioned off massage therapy room. One of them suggested she contact a Native American shaman who lives in the Ellensburg area. After a phone contact the shaman came out to the salon. He immediately felt the presence of some spirits. A dark presence was confined to the loft,. There were other presences in the lower portion of the shop.
Regardless of the exact ritual, the intent of exorcism is always the same; to lay the spirits and send them to eternal rest. In this case the shaman used Native American prayers and burning sage as a sacrament. Since that time she and the staff have not had any strange happenings. These things may not always be permanent. He advised her to periodically burn more sage to keep the spirits away.
The Lynch building was constructed in 1888 and successfully survived a fire that swept through Ellensburg on July 4th, 1889. Her space had been put to several different uses. Portions of the building were taken up as a boarding house, her area also housed a company that produced embalming fluid and later a butcher shop operated for nearly three decades. The butcher shop was replaced by a candy maker's shop for another twenty years. In 1992 a beauty shop moved in, which Lori later purchased and expanded to its present size and decor. There are no good candidates for the identity of the ghost.
I do not think that the brooding ghost described by workers at the Mane Attraction is that of the original builder, Pat Lynch. Lynch was a fiery Irishman with a shrewd sense of judgment and humor. In the 1870s Lynch rode toward the "Robber's Roost" which was the inn/store that was the nucleus of Ellensburg. To do this he had to cross long-time enemy Windy Johnson's property line. Lynch decided to fight rather than make a detour and a gun battle ensued between trespasser and property owner. After the fight was over with no casualties Lynch was arrested and tried in court for assault.
Lynch knew the temperament of the jury of his peers. To aid in their deliberations he purchased a bottle of liquor for each of his jurors and the judge. After the trial and jury deliberations the judge and four of the jurors were able to stand declared him innocent of all charges. This does not seem like the kind of man who would watch people from the safety of a loft without coming down and tweaking their noses, or other parts.
The Carson Mineral Hot Springs (Carson, WA)
There are several natural hot springs in the Columbia River gorge. Native Americans used them in prehistoric time for therapeutic purposes. When pioneers began to settle in the gorge, many chose lands on or near the hot springs. After a few years, several resorts were constructed. During the Great Depression many of the hot springs were covered or drowned under the reservoirs constructed as part of the public works projects.
One of the few remaining resorts is the Carson Mineral Hot Springs, also known as the Hotel St. Martin, in Carson, Washington. The three story hotel was built 1899 by 57 year old Isadore St. Martin as his retirement business. St. Martin had led an active life up to that point. At the age of 13 he had volunteered as a scout in the Indian Wars of 1855 and 1856. He had also been a guide for miners in the various gold, silver and copper rushes in the Cascade Mountains.
In 1910 St. Martin had a disagreement with "Old Man" Robert Brown about the health benefits of the hot springs. The two men had been arguing about the subject for years. This time the disagreement ended in tragedy. St. Martin grabbed Brown by the shirt collar and force marched him off the property. While he was doing this Brown accidentally stabbed St. Martin. Whether he had been cutting an apple or whittling a piece of wood, no on remembered, but Brown had been holding a pen knife in his hand while he argued with St. Martin. As St. Martin was marching him off the property, Brown had flailed his arms around and accidentally stabbed St. Martin in the chest.
St Martin walked into the hotel where he collapsed. He was carried up to the third floor where he and his wife had their apartment; and died a few minutes later. Mrs. St. Martin was devestated by the death of her husband and did not survive him for very long. It is her ghost, or that of an old time maid who continues "help" the living house keeping staff.
Some of the staff have had glimpses of an elderly lady, moving about the second story rooms and hallway at the front of the hotel. When the follow her to investigate, the woman has vanished. She is sometimes seen in the first floor lobby. People have heard the sound of footsteps at night, walking along the third floor. This is unusual, since the third floor is no longer used and is kept blocked off.
Stonehenge State Park (in the vicinity of mile marker 102 on Washington State Highway 14)
What makes a place sacred or a spiritual center? Are some sacred places naturally high in supernatural energy that can be detected by sensitive people who travel there? Or can we go to any place and worship, and the power of our own belief then makes the place sacred. Or are both theories true? This question may be answered at the Stonehenge monument built by Sam Hill from the 1910s to 1930.
Stonehenge comparison: The left was taken at the Columbia River Gorge, the right in England.
I have been to Stonehenge several times over the last decade. It is now a state park and open during daylight hours. Exceptions to this rule are during the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes in March, and September when the hours of daylight and nighttime are equal and the 21st of June, the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year. At these times, depending on the weather in the gorge there may be hundreds or even thousands of people there before sunrise to celebrate ancient festivals; sometimes with new twists.
In the late 1980s, I visited Stonehenge to watch the sunrise of the Summer Solstice. While I was waiting for sunrise, I watched several groups of people arrive. A carload of young women arrived. They had driven all night from Seattle. They wandered around the monument for several minutes, singing songs like, "Here comes the sun...". They passed around a bottle of red wine and ritually ate part of a loaf of whole-wheat bread and salt. One of them buried an offering at the base of the Hele stone. Another group of worshippers arrived. This group consisted of around 10 men and women dressed in gold and silver lame' robes. They stood off to the side of the monument and performed a ceremony with chanting, waving wooden rods and brandishing a dagger.
In the 1990s the number of people visiting the monument has grown. Will their activities convert this site into a psychic shrine? Only time will tell.
The Cape Horn Grange (Washington State Highway 14)
Sometimes the story of a haunting is not the historical background or events that lead to the formation of a ghost. Sometimes it is the events or experiences of the people who perceive the ghost that really make the story. Pat has been sensitive to the supernatural since he was a child. Many children seem to have the gift of seeing ghosts and spirits but it usually fades over time. This is not true in Pat's case. Even at the age of 39 he sees and feels things that most other people do not.
In August of 1999, Pat and his wife took a drive through the Columbia River Gorge to look at the stars. On the way home they decided to finally stop and look at the Cape Horn Grange historical marker at the edge of the road. It is hard to tell how many times they and other people drive by signs like this and are curious, but do not have the time to stop and read them. When they headed into the driveway Pat began experience the familiar "fuzzy" feeling he always gets when going into a haunted location. Pat's wife is not sensitive to the paranormal, but she became abnormally quiet.
This was a clue that this was not just another simple haunting or latent memory. Pat became aware of more than one spirit surrounding them. He sensed many spirits or all ages, both male and female. They were located both inside and outside of the building. Whatever caused their presence was not good. Pat has been in several haunted houses in the past and it never bothered him after he came to grips with his ability. This was different. He described the aura surrounding the grange hall as thick, clingy and awful! Pat can usually separate out a residual aura of past events from an active haunting with self aware spirits. He is sure that this is not just past memories lingering behind, but there are active spirits remaining around the grange hall. It only took a few seconds before he and his wife had to leave.
Copyright © 1996-2001 by Jeff Davis | Maintained by J. Goodman