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Oct-29-2007 02:33printcomments

Ghosts and Haunted Places in Oregon and Beyond

Whatever the truth about ghosts and haunted houses may be, there are a startling number of similarities in the stories.

A Ghost Hovering Near Tim King
A Ghost Hovering Near Tim King
Photo by: Martina Baker

(SALEM, Ore.) - The state of Oregon holds the title to an extraordinary number of ghost stories and haunted places. The pioneer settlers appear to have left behind more than they planned to, and in some cases, the same is true for Native Americans.

Life was hard in old Oregon, as it was for pioneers throughout the west. But Oregon may have offered even more difficulties and challenges than other early settlements, as it seems more than the average number of people left this world with "unfinished business", which seems to be the primary factor in why people become ghosts in the first place when they die.

From the beautiful and rugged coastline to the remnants of old mining towns, creepy tales and disturbing legends linger on, some so real they can stand the hair on the back of your neck straight up. They're sad too, and paranormal investigators say that some of the time, the spirits that people believe to be ghosts are not the spirits of the departed, but they are spirits.

Those are the ones they leave alone.

Most things that go bump in the night are not paranormal activity, says Martina Baker of Pacific Paranormal in Wilsonville, Oregon. "There are a number of methods that we use to help isolate the source of the activity, sometimes it is paranormal, and sometimes it isn't. When it is, there are usually things we can do to help."

Martina and Todd Baker have investigated hundreds of haunted places, they even teach a college course in paranormal investigation. I have accompanied the Bakers along with other investigators like Christina Bennett, to locations that are the reported locations of not one, but several ghosts or spirit entities.

One of these investigations was conducted at the SpeakEasy Restaurant in Independence, Oregon. Pacific Paranormal was the second group that I took into the building. The Trails End Paranormal Society accompanied me on the first investigation. I documented their findings which accounted for at least four separate ghosts in the building.

These investigators use electro magnetic frequency readers, spot thermometers, digital cameras and recorders to follow and document the evidence, or lack of evidence, whichever the case may be.

The SpeakEasy Restaurant, which is closed today, is housed in the old J.S. Cooper Building from 1886, which has housed many types of businesses over the years including a saloon, doctor's offices, and according to local lore, a brothel.

Tim interviewing a ghosthunter during a paranormal investigation in
Tigard, Oregon, September 2005

When Todd and Martina Baker visited the location where I had brought the other investigators one week before, they immediately said they sensed a presence there. As in the case of the Trails End investigators, they said there was the spirit of a little girl that lingered near a child-sized mannequin, the ghost of a young woman who was murdered, probably by being thrown down a flight of stairs, another ghost that was a young man who was kind, and a mean spirited ghost that was an older, frustrated man.

Most investigators agree that in cases of multiple manifestations, there is usually one entity that is the loudest, most likely to manifest, even serving in the alpha role.

At the Speakeasy this was the older male who tended to stay in the building's empty third floor. It may sound like an episode of Casper the Friendly Ghost, but the people who invest their lives in trying to understand otherworldly phenomena say it helps to comprehend the structure and habits of those who dwell on the other side.

The fact that both groups, without a hint of information beforehand, identified the same things in the restaurant was highly compelling. In fact this independent verification was more than I had anticipated. But that wasn't the only thing that was unexpected. In the photo accompanying this story, a large mist on the left side of the frame is identified by paranormal investigators as an "ectoplasm". Unlike "orbs" which are commonly photographed in haunted places, the ecto is record of a more evolved manifestation.

Prior to this photo being taken, the investigators were attempting to communicate with the ghost of the woman who died near or on the staircase. The owner of the restaurant and I were sitting on the floor of the open third floor area recording bizarre noises on the camera's wireless microphone, when this picture was taken.

I used my television camera to record the image and it was proof that the photo never was taken into Photoshop or a similar program to create the ectoplasm. On the tape Martina Baker is heard taking the picture and saying, "Dude, you've got a ghost standing right over you."

This is one of the experiences I have shared with Martina and Todd Baker, there are several others.

An Introduction to Ghosthunting

In the early 1990's I was the News Director for AM 1290 KLYC, a radio station in McMinnville, Oregon. The station at the time was housed in an old building with the broadcast tower located just outside the door. As the news director, I was the first person to arrive each morning and one of my roles was to power the station up and begin the broadcast day.

Each morning when I arrived it was dark, and I immediately began turning the lights when I entered the door. It wasn't scary, nor was it comfortable, as prowlers had been known to break into the building in its fairly remote location.

When I operated the controls to activate the station, I would see "things" flitting in my peripheral vision. When I would turn my head nothing would be there. I thought it was strange but I only had so much time to even think about it as I went through the multi step process of firing up the transmitter.

The only person I had shared that information with at the time was my wife. Then as Halloween approached that year, I invited a "clairvoyant" named Erin Lasell to the station to do an hour long talk show with me about ghosts, and then to accompany me to a local university to conduct an investigation at a building where ghosts are frequently reported.

I wouldn't say I found it alarming, but I was very surprised when the station's program director told me the afternoon before Erin's arrival, that every person who had ever started the station up in the morning had stories about seeing ghosts and believing the building is haunted. His statement was not prompted specifically in any way.

After the talk show, I took Erin to the room where I witnessed strange things in the mornings and she said that because of all the electricity being generated and broadcast, it was hard to "filter" the information. She did say that she had no doubt the building was haunted, but she couldn't tell what was clearly going on while the station was on the air.

Erin had spent previous time investigating the entities at Knight Hall, the former music building for Pacific University at Forest Grove, Oregon. The old music building had fifty straight years of documented history with their ghost, or ghosts as it turns out.

Today it is no longer a University building, and no current updates exist that I know of. During the investigation in 1991 on the campus, Erin related a story of a young woman who had claimed her own life, and of her father, who had been abusive, and had died a violent death shortly after his daughter's suicide.

She said the spirit of the father occupied the building's upper floors, while the female ghost remained mostly downstairs. Unlike other psychics I have worked with, Erin went into what appeared to be a trance and she held her hands up as though she was feeling some sensation through the palms of her hands.

Several frightful moments were related to us by students and faculty there. One professor said a window that opened outward and was held fast by chains, defied gravity and slammed shut in her face. She told Erin and I that it nearly caused her to have a heart attack.

Over the years, female students frequently complained about the ghostly presence on the lower level, while male students found the presence less threatening, even playful. But they all seemed to agree that the building had a generally creepy aura that chilled the air, particularly when they were alone in certain rooms. Male students often reported smelling perfume, hearing a girl's laughter, and phantom fingers playing songs on the music department's organs.

Ghosts in a War Zone

One of the towers at the haunted Afghanistan castle

Possibly the craziest and most remote haunted location I have ever visited is the Khyar Khot Castle in Afghanistan, a nation that is covered in walled cities, many bearing a medieval appearance like Khyar Khot. The Afghans are deeply religious but they are also superstitious and they believe that certain places whose walls witnessed horrible and brutal treatment of human beings sometimes hold onto that negative energy.

The Khyar Khot Forward Operating Base has towers at all four corners and it is shared today by the Americans, Romanians and Afghan National Army forces. The history the place has witnessed is unspeakable and many locals won't go near it if they can avoid it, at least those who recall the horrors that once took place there.

I asked about the history of the old castle and what I learned was both fascinating and chilling. Khyar Khot was originally constructed by the British during their invasion in the 1870's. The British are just one of several nations that tried, unsuccessfully, to invade Afghanistan.

Over the years the castle fell into disrepair, until the Russians reoccupied it during their invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The Russian war against the Afghans was costly in terms of life; one and a half million Afghan people died over the ten year conflict. The Russians do not fight like western forces either. They can be barbaric toward their enemies with no adherence to any rules of conduct.

As the Soviets used the castle as a fire base against Afghan Mujahadeen warlords who eventually defeated the Russians, it was also a prison for Russia's enemies, and a center of torture.

As the story goes, Soviet soldiers would routinely kidnap local women, who were brought back to the castle and violated. Military and political enemies were abducted and brought to the castle where they would be mercilessly interrogated. They say their screams could be heard outside the castle walls, and that when it is quiet in this high mountain desert region, late at night, you can still hear them screaming.

Navy Chief Petty Officer Lucas Hooper in a haunted
castle tower. Locals believe the Khyar Khot Castle is
haunted by ghosts of people that were tortured and
murdered there. Photo by: Tim King

The castle next occupied a host that is reputed to be even crueler to its enemies than the Russian Communists. After the Soviets were defeated, the Taliban moved into the Khyar Khot Castle and again, the base was used as a place to torture the enemies of the opposition.

It is reported that many died horrible deaths at the castle, and those who failed to cooperate with the Taliban would often end up here, never to be seen alive again. Sadly, most of their stories are lost amid the tragedy of Afghanistan's violent history.

Locals believe the castle is haunted by the spirits of the unfortunate people who were tortured and who died here, they say these disembodied spirits roam the castle walls in agony. I did not see or experience anything, but the place did have an uneasy feeling about it. Soldiers were solemn when they talked about it. It was last Christmas when I visited Khyar Khot Castle, a strange time indeed.

Graffiti covers the walls inside one of the haunted castle's towers. There were faded words written in English, and there was messages from the hands of Afghans, some from the Russians. I had to wonder how old it was, and if any of those scratches in the wall could yield clues about the castle's haunted past, about the miseries and death and the haunted agony that can envelope a place.

My life as a reporter has afforded many unusual and unforgettable opportunities. Whatever the truth about ghosts and haunted houses may be, there are a startling number of similarities in the stories, regardless of the culture they evolve from, or which side of the world they occur on.

Visit Pacific Paranormal Research Society to learn more about Oregon hauntings.


Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

You can write to Tim at this address: tim@salem-news.com.

Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)

With almost 25 years of experience on the west coast and worldwide as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor, Tim King is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.

Tim King reporting from the war in Iraq

Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu

In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.

Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Jazmin July 6, 2012 3:38 pm (Pacific time)

Man there good but i just want to hear really scary stories that happen here in oregon forest grove PLEASE:)

ripcity24 June 27, 2011 11:31 am (Pacific time)


Elizabeth September 3, 2008 7:04 pm (Pacific time)

I would be interested in Learning from you. I've been part of Bandit Paranormal/Cross Over Already for about 7 years now, Mainly Cross Over Already and recently with Bandit Paranormal of which Cross Over Already is the parenting group of. I find it difficult to haven an opportunity to connect with other paranormal investigators, even just as rsources and 'someone' I can learn from and further gain experience in 'ghost hunting' with. would there be anyone I could get in contact with possibly even as just to use as a resource/contact?

marci May 28, 2008 9:50 pm (Pacific time)

I would like to become involved with your group. I know I can help people that have not been able to move on because of various issues. My family has a history of suicide which has made me more in touch with the other side. I am interested in helping if needed.

kc April 25, 2008 12:55 pm (Pacific time)

soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo scaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Christy April 14, 2008 9:37 pm (Pacific time)

Hey, it's neat to see another Paranormal group in Oregon. My group has been around for about two years, and would love to meet up with any other group to share ideas and techniques. Sincerely, Christy, from Psychics and Ghost Hunters of Western Oregon - http://www.myspace.com/oregonghosthunters

cherie October 31, 2007 9:08 pm (Pacific time)

mad as stuff i tell ya !!!

brooke October 31, 2007 9:18 am (Pacific time)

ghost and spirits are real, they are some can hurt you and some cannot.

Hauntress October 30, 2007 12:57 pm (Pacific time)

Great article! Always love to read about your ghostly experiences. The Afghanistan Castle sounds like a creepy place- wow.

natasha October 29, 2007 12:32 pm (Pacific time)

i think it is really scary for Halloween. i think you should add more scary stories to this page

Doug Barnum October 29, 2007 10:22 am (Pacific time)

Can you explain more on how you "used my television camera to record the image and it was proof that the photo never was taken into Photoshop or a similar program to create the ectoplasm." ? Was the original photograph digital? Or film? Thanks in advance

Tim King: Doug, I'm sorry I don't have the video clip attached, that would explain it. As the owner and I were recording the strange audio with the camera pointed straight up at the ceiling, you hear the photo taken on the digital camera. My television camera never stopped rolling, and Martina walked a few feet over to my location and I was able to focus on the image, on the screen of her digital camera, within seconds of it being taken. At the time I worked for KATU Channel-2 in Portland, Oregon. The station became so excited about it that they talked me into putting the story together for the 11:00 News. I have had independent investigators examine the photo and all so far have agreed that it was an ectoplasm. Do we know this for certain? I would say not, but I would say it is as close as most people get to recording this type of activity.

Tim King October 29, 2007 8:31 am (Pacific time)

Clairvoyants generally agree that a spirit is comprised of emotion, that is the sole attribute that remains. I've heard it compared to the energy you feel when a person is staring at you in a room and you look up and notice.

Shawntal byrd October 29, 2007 7:33 am (Pacific time)

Hey, what are spirts made of

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