October 2013 archive

A Dose of Stripes and Ghosts

A few weeks ago, my dad, brothers, Eric, and I went on a
ghost hunting tour of Oregon City. I’ve always loved history – not the
read-your-textbook-and-memorize-dates kind, but the stories of people, places,
and what life was like decades or centuries ago. Since Oregon City was the
official end of the Oregon Trail and the capital of the Oregon Territory during
the mid-1800s, it is a city rich in history and, particularly, in ghost
stories.

This was actually my third “ghost hunting” experience. Along with my dad, brothers, and boyfriend, I’d previously taken a different ghost tour of Oregon City and one in Jerome, Arizona. I think learning about ghost stories is an interesting and more personal way to connect to the history of a place. Even though I’ve never encountered any ghosts on these tours, I love going just for the historic tales.

 These photos were taken at the Oregon City Municipal
Elevator. This elevator is one of four in the entire world and the only one in
the United States. How cool is that? The first elevator was a steel and wood
version built in 1915 to replace the difficult to climb stairs and trails that
had previously been the only connection between the upper, wealthy part of the
city and the commercial, industrial area. On our ghost tour, we were told the
tale of Sarah Chase, who owned a grand mansion on the bluff and opposed the
elevator because it would be built in her front yard. Once it was built, she
would stand in her yard and scream at passersby to take the stairs instead of
the elevator. To this day, people still hear a voice telling them to take the
stairs.

Not too far from the elevator is Singer Falls, where people often see a little redheaded boy playing in the water. On our tour, we were told that he is believed to be Carl Green, who died around 1913 of typhoid fever. Back then, people believed that they could drink straight from any stream or creek and the water would be safe. However, the water in Singer Falls was often very dangerous to drink as it contained unsanitary runoff from the houses on the cliff. 
We headed down some long flights of stairs underneath the Oregon
City Bridge, which was definitely the creepiest part of the tour for me. It was
pitch-black and sea lions out in the water kept making unexpected noises. Our
tour guide told us that this was where they usually encounter some of the more
unfriendly ghosts. Lucky for me, no one grabbed my ankles or threw rocks at my
head while we were down there. We also peered through the windows of many
haunted buildings and explored an old tunnel near the cliffs on which Native
Americans were once hung for murdering an Oregon City couple, Dr. and Mrs.
Whitman. Nowadays, the cliffs are infamous as the site of numerous suicides
over the years.
Obviously, ghost stories don’t usually have happy endings,
but I still love learning the stories of the people who used to live here and
what their lives were like. Even more, I love that I have a family and
boyfriend who will geek out over a walking history tour with me. 
Top, dress: Nordstrom Rack / Bag: Nordstrom Rack / Flats: Target / Bracelet: vintage

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