Local Haunts

6 Spooktacular Places in Southern Oregon

Cate Battles, Travel Grants Pass
October 21st, 2019

Have you ever been so creeped out, the hair stood on the back of your neck? Or perhaps you’ve walked into a space that made you uneasy for no particular reason. Maybe it was a sudden chill in the air, a strange noise, or the unsettling feeling that you were being watched.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always gravitated towards stories and places with a macabre nature, whether it’s exploring abandoned ruins and moss covered graveyards, visiting historical sights with a dark past, or enjoying ghost stories around the fire. These thrills aren’t for the faint of heart, but there’s something about the unknown that keeps some of us searching for answers.

Here in Southern Oregon, we’ve got our fair share of urban legends, some go back to the early pioneer days. Ghost hunters and paranormal investigators have frequented several spots here in Josephine County and the surrounding area. Many claim to have found evidence of supernatural activity, from seeing the ghostly image of a woman in a window, the whispers of a child, or things moving on their own. Whether it’s fact or fiction, we might never know, but it sure makes for a thrilling October roadtrip!

Historic Wolf Creek Inn

One of the most famous haunts in Oregon is the Wolf Creek Inn, which first opened to guests travelling along the Applegate Trail in 1883. The location was a popular stagecoach stop and afforded visitors a comfortable stay during the 16 day trip from San Francisco to Portland. Over the years, visitors and owners alike have documented their eerie experiences and unexplainable happenings at the property. Some of these observances have included doors slamming, the disembodied sound of a piano playing, pans flying across the floor, and ghostly images in the window.

The inn has not only been a favorite place for ghost hunters, it also has a famous guest list, including Clarke Gable, Carole Lombard, John Wayne, President Hayes, Orson Wells, Douglas Fairbanks, and writer, Jack London. For those interested in the paranormal, the Inn now offers ghost tours with professional authorized mediums.

More info here: www.wolfcreekinn.com

Wolf Creek Inn

Jacksonville Cemetery

If you enjoy walking through old historic graveyards, the Jacksonville Cemetery contains some of the earliest pioneer gravesites in Southern Oregon and is one of the oldest and largest historic cemeteries in the state. The first burial was in 1859 and the property is the final resting place to over 4,000 Jacksonville area citizens. Part of what makes this cemetery unique, is the fact that it’s divided into seven different sections ( Jewish, Catholic, Independent Order of Oddfellows, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Independent and Improved Order of Red Men, and the City of Jacksonville).

Looking at the grave markers, you can imagine how tough life was back in the day, between epidemics, settler/tribal wars, and the frequent deaths during childbirth. The moss-covered stones and wooden crosses mark the graves of hundreds of infants and children who never had the chance to grow old. Perhaps the creepiest grave of all, is the mass grave at Potter’s Field, containing the remains of 133 Blacks, Native Americans, Hawaiians, Chinese and Whites who were not allowed to own property. Though none of the graves are marked with individual markers, a large monument was erected to honor the dead.

Historic Tours are available at the cemetery or you can explore on your own. While visiting, please respect this hallowed ground and follow the rules posted.

More info here: http://www.friendsjvillecemetery.org

Jacksonville Cemetery

Golden Ghost Town

“Nothing gold can stay” certainly holds true for the once thriving mining town of Golden, located just north of Grants Pass. After the discovery of gold in the mid 19th century, miners from California made their way north to the Rogue Valley and laid claim to the area along Coyote Creek. After a few years, these men left for Idaho’s mining boom and nearly 500 Chinese immigrants took their place between 1862-1872. Unfortunately for the Chinese miners, as soon as the work slowed down along the Salmon and Snake Rivers, many of these same men returned to reclaim the mines and forced the Chinese out.

In 1880, William and Ruth Ruble along with their sons moved to Golden to seek their fortune, and eventually designed a system that made hydraulic mining more efficient with their invention, the Ruble Elevator. With the success of their new invention, the family quickly bought up land and mining rights and officially established the town in 1890. What makes this town distinguished among the rest, is that it had two churches and no saloons—and Golden became known as the “Driest ghost town of the West”. The Ruble family was very religious, so if miners got thirsty, they would have to travel to the nearby Wolf Creek Inn for libations.

After the years, gold production slowed down and by the early to mid 20th century, the town was abandoned. Today, it’s a popular place for ghost hunters and has been featured on the Travel Channel’s show “Ghost Adventures”.

More info here: https://travelgrantspass.com/explore/golden-ghost-town/

Golden Oregon

The House of Mystery and the Oregon Vortex

One of the strangest places in Southern Oregon is undoubtedly the Oregon Vortex. This long time area attraction is just that- its magnetic pull attracts guests from all over the world and stumps even the most skeptical of visitors. The House of Mystery itself was originally a mining office and later used for tool storage, built by the Old Grey Eagle Mining Company in 1904. At some point, the building fell down the hill and still to this day remains at an odd angle that makes you woozy to walk through.

However, history of the Oregon Vortex predates the pioneers and began with Native Americans, whose horses would not come into the affected area for reasons nobody has been able to figure out. The Takelma Tribe called the area the "Forbidden Ground", a place to be shunned. Even to this day, animals avoid the property. The reality show, Paranormal Files found this to be true when investigators on horseback could not enter the grounds as the animals stopped and reversed direction at the vortex boundary line, whose circumference is roughly 1,036 feet.

Though it’s easy to get disoriented by the mind bending angles and strange perspectives at this magnetic whirlpool, it’s a fun place to bring the whole family and have a one-of-a-kind experience here in Southern Oregon.

More info here: www.OregonVortex.com

Oregon Vortex House of Mystery

Lithia Park

Ashland’s historic Lithia Park was originally an eight acre parcel where the Chautauqua Association could bring entertainment and culture to the Rogue Valley in 1892. As the years went on, the park changed along with the town, adding new areas of the park with the help of architect, John McLaren (designer of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park) in 1914.

Many folks visit the park for the beautiful foliage in the fall, for quiet afternoon strolls, and leisurely family picnics- without knowing it’s been regarded as one of the most haunted locations in Southern Oregon. It’s been rumored that there was a young girl murdered there in the late 1800’s and locals have seen a light blue apparition floating above the ponds. Though the park is absolutely gorgeous during the daytime, at night, it is darkly lit, making it easy to scare yourself, so bring a friend! Nearby you can have a stay at the Peerless Hotel, a former boarding house for railroad workers where you might feel the presence of a spirit named Amelia. But don’t worry, apparently she’s a friendly ghost!

More info here: https://traveloregon.com/things-to-do/lithia-park/

Lithia Park

Room #310 at the Oregon Caves Chateau

If you’ve ever visited Oregon Caves National Monument, you might’ve heard the cavern isn’t the only dark element to the park. The Chateau, which is currently closed for remodeling, has its fair share of sinister lore. Built in 1934, the six story rustic hotel is rumored to be haunted by a woman named Elizabeth. As the story goes, Elizabeth and her new husband were honeymooning at the hotel shortly after it opened. On their wedding night, he disappeared, and when his wife went to look for him, she found her husband in a compromising position with a chambermaid. Overcome with grief, the distraught Elizabeth ran up to room #310, where she either got entangled in a violent argument with her husband, or more likely, in her own despair, leaped out of the window and crashed into the rocky creek below.

Of course, like most ghost stories, there are no official records of deaths at the Chateau or of this mysterious “Elizabeth”. However, guests continue to seek out the lodge in hopes of having a supernatural encounter. For those extra brave souls, Oregon Caves offers Haunted Candlelight Tours where you can hear spooky stories and history of the area….just watch out for the bats!

More info here: https://www.nps.gov/orca/index.htm

Oregon Caves Candelight Tour, Photo Credit nps.gov

Photo Courtesy https://www.nps.gov/orca/index.htm