Old photo of the empty dining room at Wolf Creek Inn & Tavern in the Applegate Valley.

Paranormal Guests

Haunted historic hotels nourish spirit of Halloween

By Mark Stock

Wine country is full of chilling yet entertaining stories that don’t quite add up. Maybe it’s because harvest tends to coincide with Halloween and the damp, dark days of autumn. Maybe it’s because winemaking can be a solitary, after-hours affair in dank old cellars. Or, perhaps ghosts simply exist and have a taste for fermenting fruit.

And while countless eerie noises have been heard in wineries and tasting rooms, the scarier stuff stretches into restaurants and hotels as well. All across Oregon, there are believers — either because they’ve seen something for themselves or digested enough convincing anecdotes.

The Wolf Creek Inn & Tavern resides in a fairly remote part of Southern Oregon. The building served as a stop along the Applegate Trail in the late 1800s. It’s been the resting place for famous folks of old like Clark Gable. The building is part of the esteemed National Register of Historic Places and the lodge itself is one of the oldest continuously running inns in the entire American West.

The building very much looks the part: creaking wooden floors, antique furniture, a fireplace that’s old enough to have seen some things, all before a backdrop of dense, seemingly endless forest. Fittingly, the hotel offers paranormal tours and has been featured on myth-adoring shows like “Ghost Adventures.”

“We’ve had plenty of action around here,” says Wolf Creek’s Andrew Shroyer. He came to the Inn in January of 2018 with no prior knowledge of the place’s haunted past. And it’s a fairly storied one, by Oregon standards. “I’m a skeptic,” he says. “Ghosts aren’t really my thing; I’m a Bigfoot person.”

At first, there were rational excuses for things. The heating system, maybe, was the cause of that bang. Maybe there was an animal scurrying about in the hall. Perhaps the old electrical panel tripped and caused some flickering. There had to be a reason.

A preliminary stay in Room 8 changed his mind. He would hear everything from kids playing people in the hallway. Keep in mind, this was when the place was being renovated and Shroyer was the lone guest. One evening, in Room 8, he felt the sensation of somebody jumping on his chest. Shroyer swung in defense and got bruises to show for his struggles. “I then moved out of Room 8,” he says.

One day, Shroyer says, an old lady popped into the building to look around. She wondered around the property before meeting up with him downstairs. “She said ‘something happened to you in Room 8,’” he says. “The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up.”

The woman was a medium and went on to explain that the ghosts appreciated what Shroyer was doing — staying in and reopening the Inn. He’s accepted the paranormal energy of the place and often chats out loud, as though communicating with whatever is out there.

“We’ve been here long enough everyone has had an experience,” he continues. “The building is so old, it has a certain way of communicating.”

One of the more active days was a little while back, the morning after a pair of paranormal tours, something the Inn often puts on. Shroyer entered the kitchen in the morning to a scene straight out of “Ghostbusters.” Lids were popping off containers, sailing across the room, and spatulas were moving on their own.

The Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City, circa early 1900s.

Barbara Sidway of the historic Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City claims to be agnostic when it comes to paranormal activity. But the hotel owner is intrigued by the tales that have come out of the iconic Eastern Oregon hotel and wonders still about the possibility.

“The stories of ghosts here at the Geiser Grand go back to the mid-20th century,” she says. Sidway joined the hotel in 1993, during a threat of demolition. They ended up protecting the Geiser from the wrecking ball and restored and reopened five years later.

“During the restoration work, I began hearing stories from former bartenders who were here when Johnny Cash was playing, construction workers, and then restaurant and hotel staff,” she says. “Sadly, I’ve not seen a ghost here. It’s said that they come out between midnight and four in the morning, and I’m always asleep then, so that might be the reason!”

Her favorite ghost story involves an elderly local. Sidway says the man approached her with a question: “Have you heard them yet?” He explained that the ghosts would hang out in the original dining room next to the bar. There were laughing sounds, the dull tap of ice in glasses. The doors would open and the sounds would come to an abrupt halt. “Maybe these spirits are still having so much fun here they are declining to move on to other venues,” Sidway wonders.

The dining room continues to be a hotbed of bizarre activity. The show “Ghost Mine” on SyFy has revealed as much, along with other paranormal persons, Sidway says. Some hotel staff continue to claim to hear the ghostly dinner parties late at night to this day.

She recounts another story from about a century ago. The manager’s mother, Granny Anabelle, lived in the hotel in what is now Room 302. She was a barfly and had a favorite seat. Apparently, those who sit at her seat will get the occasional pinch from the late Anabelle. Sidway says Granny continues to float up and down the staircase, wearing a blue gown and smelling of rosewater perfume. She has a thing, apparently, for nosing through guests’ jewelry and toiletries.

The Geiser plays host to a group of paranormal investigators a few times a year. They lead guests on hunts for anything out of the ordinary. Last month, Sidway says, a small group of people came all the way from Tokyo for the ghostly excursion.

It’s part of a reoccurring and spooky theme alive and well within the walls of the Baker City establishment. In October alone, the hotel puts on a “Witches Weekend” with séances, readings and festive food as well as a Masquerade Ball the weekend before Halloween. The ball features horse-drawn carriage rides, costumes and spooky readings.

If you can’t get to the Geiser or Wolf Creek, Oregon has plenty other spooky locales to rest your head and feed your soul. McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale is legendary, as well as the Columbia Gorge Hotel, The Heathman in Portland and Ashland’s Peerless Hotel. As we’ve reported in the past, there are plenty of allegedly haunted wineries as well — Argyle, Montinore, Ghost Hill, Nehalem Bay and others have all been frequented by spirits, some say. It’s a reminder that the dead, like the living, tend to prefer the finer things.



Web Design and Web Development by Buildable