O in Oregon is for Oddity:
Exploring the wacky and weird attractions of Oregon
By Jenn Lackey
is an odd, quirky place. Nestled in the Northwest corner
of the U.S. we’re a state mainly known for foresting
issues, extreme ballot measures and high unemployment. We’re
also known for Bigfoot, UFOs and a plethora of unique, odd
and haunted happenings. So if you’re looking to experience
a piece of the paranormal here are a few roadside attractions
that will suit your freaky fancy.
Vortex & The House of Mystery
off in the woods beside the small, gold mining town of Gold
Hill Oregon between Ashland and Medford near the Rogue River,
the Oregon Vortex has been a roadside mystery spot attraction
since 1930. John Lister, a mining engineer and local scientist
claimed the 2.5 acres of property was a vortex, defying the
laws of physics and creating strange occurrences such as
balls rolling up hill and illusions of people growing smaller
property among sloping and slanted hills, also includes the
“House of Mystery”, a slanted wooden shack built
in 1890, which was part of the Gold mining company that once
operated on the land. The house is used to demonstrate the
“unusual conditions” of the area and can be seen
at the attraction’s website: http://www.oregonvortex.com
Lister sold the property to the Cooper family after Lister
died in 1959. The stories told, say Mr. Lister’s findings
and “notes” were burned after he cryptically
said, “The world is not ready for this.” The
Cooper family bought the property in 1961. Maria Cooper,
a former psychiatric social worker was still in high school
when her father bought the place. When her father became
ill in the late 1970s, she took over the Vortex and has kept
it alive since.
question the area is mysterious, some argue the spot is a
vortex similar to the Bermuda Triangle. Others claim it’s
simply a place of optical illusions and odd magnetic fields
found in other places of the world. Russ Donnelly, a professor
of physics at the University of Oregon studies vortices for
a living and says the Oregon Vortex is not a vortex at all.
A vortex is a fluid or gas circulating around a core, where
the pressure is lower inside than out, says Donnelly. In
a recent New York Times article about the Oregon Vortex,
Michael A. Grizzel, a chemical engineering and biotechnology
researcher at the University of Maryland points out, ''You
can find scientific survey maps of the United States and
the planet that show both magnetic and gravitational anomalies.”
of the reasons behind the Oregon Vortex’s strangeness,
the future is uncertain for this widely known paranormal
site. Maria Cooper is retiring and she has put the Vortex
up for sale, she says it’s time to move on and pass
the Vortex on to another. The asking price for the property
is in the area of $3 million, a steep price for paranormal
lovers. So hopefully whoever buys the property will keep
the mystery alive and maintain it as one of Oregon’s
favorite odd spots.
& Oregon Caves National Monument
Caves National Monument has always been a popular family
summer attraction in southern Oregon. Now it’s known
for one of the more credible and most recent sightings of
Bigfoot, despite the recent claims that Bigfoot is a hoax.
sightings have been recorded in the United Sates for more
than 200 years. Long before white men stepped foot in the
Northwest, Native Americans spoke of the legend of Sasquatch,
otherwise known as Bigfoot. According to the Bigfoot Field
Researchers Organization, Indian tribes across North America
have more than 60 different terms for Sasquatch. Sightings
of the 7ft. to 8 ft. tall, hairy and smelly creature may
be far and few between, but they’re often consistent.
of 2000 Oregon Caves National Monument made national headlines
when a credible source came forward with his Bigfoot encounter.
Psychologist Mathew Johnson and his family sighted the creature
while hiking in the woods near the Oregon Caves.
In a San
Francisco Examiner article Johnson revisited the site with
reporters and the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization
and told his story. Johnson first encountered the smell,
a horrible combination of rotting fish and vomit. Then he
heard the sound. It was a deep, distant grunting “Whoa”
repeated slowly several times. At first Johnson didn’t
know what to make of it, until his wife and two kids heard
the grunts too. Then Johnson saw the creature. “It
was over on the left side of that tree, watching my kids,”
Johnson said, crouching as he pointed downhill toward the
trail. “I was watching it watch my family.” He
then bolted out of the area concerned and frightened for
his wife and kids.
story is considered highly credible for several reasons.
For starters he is a psychologist so we can assume he is
sane. Not only did his entire family experience the smell
and heard the creature’s primal grunts; Johnson is
a large man himself, towering close to 7 ft. tall. He played
basketball in college in Anchorage, Alaska, and he’s
familiar to the outdoors and wild life. He hiked a lot in
Alaska and once encountered a Grizzly Bear, and he insists
what he saw on the trail was no bear.
Hotel Oregon annual UFO Festival
to Bigfoot encounters Oregon is also known for UFO sightings.
This month marks McMenamin Hotel Oregon’s 5th annual
UFO Festival, and 54th anniversary of the first pictorial
documented UFO sighting in the U.S.
1950, McMinnville farmer Paul Trent’s wife was finishing
a long day’s work and spotted a strange, elongated
object in the early evening sky. At first she thought it
was the Air Force conducting some kid of experiment. The
object was noiseless and created a wake that rustled her
dress. She dashed into the house to get her husband and a
Mr. Trent snapped several pictures of the object and developed
the photos he shared them with friends and one of the photos
was displayed in the local bank. Soon a reporter published
the photos and the photos were later published in LIFE magazine.
Within weeks the FBI and Air Force interviewed the Trent
family and the photos vanished as effortlessly as the UFO.
years later as interest in UFOs increased, skeptics sought
out the original photograph and found it in a news wire photo
archive. Supporters of Trent’s claims, said he had
no financial gain or motive to make up the story and the
Condon Committee investigation in 1969 left the matter unresolved.
Skeptics argue the photo contains shadows that reveal it
could have only been taken in the early morning light. Regardless
of whether or not it’s true, ufologists consider the
image as one of the most credible existing photographs and
without question, it’s one the most well known UFO
McMinnville Hotel Oregon festival is now the second largest
UFO festival in the nation. The festival consists of Alien
abduction workshops, led by abduction expert Bud Hopkins,
a showing of the 1950 McMinnville UFO sightings and the 3rd
annual costume parade through downtown McMinnville.
Brews up More than Beer
brothers of Portland, Oregon are no strangers to odd happenings.
Perhaps no one has more experience with haunted buildings
other than the McMenamins known for restoring old buildings
into hotels, pubs, restaurants theatres and music venues.
They are the fourth largest producers of micro brewed beer
in the region and own more than 40 businesses. Several of
their establishments are on the National Historic Register
and are known to be haunted.
and the White Eagle are the most well known haunts and attract
ghost hunters and believers seeking paranormal experiences
from all over the world. Other local McMenamin haunts include
Hotel Oregon, the Bagdad Theater, Cornelius Pass Roadhouse,
and the Crystal Ballroom.
does a great job of capitalizing on the histories and experiences
people have had in these places, especially the White Eagle,
one of Portland’s oldest bars. Established as a saloon
in 1905, by polish immigrants Bronislaw Soboleski and William
Hryszko, the White Eagle was meant to be an aid station and
meeting place for Polish immigrants. As the area where the
White Eagle sits became more industrialized, it became a
meeting place for laborers of the nearby docks, rail yards
and factories that popped up along the Willamette river.
turn of the century was a turbulent time for booming Portland
and legend has it that the upstairs portion of the White
Eagle became a brothel and the saloon became a place to get
a stiff drink during prohibition. In 1926 a jealous lover
supposedly murdered a prostitute, known as Rose. In 1955
a man known as Sam who lived in one of the upstairs rooms
was found dead after he became ill.
goes both Rose and Sam still linger in the White Eagle. In
the 1970s, the White Eagle became a popular music venue,
which McMenamins reestablished in the 1990s. Recent activities
reported by McMenamin employees include doors opening and
closing, vibrations, and toilet paper being thrown in the
ladies bathroom. The most disturbing occurrence happened
when a waitress tumbled to the bottom of the stairs leading
from the kitchen to the basement, several stories say she
claims to have been pushed.
McMenamins has renovated and reopened eleven of the upstairs
rooms of the White Eagle as a hotel, and it’s considered
a paranormal hot spot. It has been marketed as the most haunted
Rock-n-Roll hotel in the Northwest via Hauntings Productions
http://www.hauntingproductions.com This past Valentines Day,
Hauntings Productions hosted a stay at the White Eagle with
folks from the Pacific Paranormal Research Society who gave
details of the inhabitances haunting the place. According
to Raymond Latcoki, director of Hauntings Productions, several
of the guests experienced strange sensations and witnessed
orbs, or celestial bodies of light.
Latcoki is an avid fan of the paranormal. Year around he
runs Hauntings Productions that is usually open only 30 days
of the year during the month of October. He promotes Portland’s
oldest Halloween haunted house attraction, The 13th Door,
and he is the promoter for Portland’s first and only
Hearse club. Soon he hopes to use one of his recently purchased
hearses to conduct ghost tours in Portland.
Oregonians are open to weird and wacky events, so it looks
like he’s in the right place.
When I asked Raymond whether or not Oregon happened to be
a more haunted state than other places in the country he
said, “I think everybody in the Haunting industry runs
into this, but there are haunted places all over the country.
I think people in Oregon are little more open to it. For
instance there are a lot of other places that people just
don’t want to talk about it.” Let’s hope
that never changes.