Many of the majestic sentinels along the Oregon Coast have legends of haunted lighthouses plaguing their past....and often times, their present. Muahahahaha! ;)
Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever felt a chilling breeze on the back of your neck or a sudden cooling to the room? Strange sounds from down the hallway and knowing full-well that there is no one else but you at home? How about catching a movement from the corner of your eye or noticing something put somewhere other than the place that you know you put it?
Personally, I don't believe in ghosts and hauntings, but they are fun to giggle nervously about as you visit these lovely, but supposedly haunted lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. I do think that something is going on, but not the usual chain-rattling, moaning and groaning ghosts of lore.
The 1880's-built Tillamook Light was said to have been built on the top of a jagged rock that the local Indians considered inhabited by evil spirits. Only weeks before the cornerstone for the lighthouse was laid, twenty-five people in several fishing boats lost their lives. A terrible storm had hit the mouth of the Columbia River and sank the small vessels. Witnesses to the horrible event reported spotting a ghostly ship making it's way through the wreckage, as if picking up the souls of the dead.
Light Keepers at the Tillamook Lighthouse soon after reported hearing low, bone-chilling groans on the stairwell that led up to the lantern. It quickly gained a reputation of being a mysterious and very haunted lighthouse. Later, in the 1950s, the crew of a Coast Guard vessel reported seeing a ghost ship, breaking through the dense fog, just below the lighthouse. The haunted lighthouse was abandoned in 1957 and presently acts as a depository of cremated human remains. That's another story! :0
Heceta Head Lighthouse
One of the more famous haunted lighthouse legends is about the ghost of an older mother that roams the Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence. The Lady in Gray, or Rue as she is now known, was the wife of an assistant light keeper in the 1890s. It is said that her young daughter drowned in the local estuary or the ocean and, in despair, the mother committed suicide. The location of the young girl's grave is not exactly known, but the headstone supposedly resides somewhere in the vegetation surrounding the lighthouse. Rue now haunts the Heceta Head Light, ever searching for her long-lost daughter.
Rue has been spotted and heard many times by people who have been up to the light to work on it. In the 1970s, a worker, cleaning windows, came face-to-face with the ghost and fled in terror. So frightened, he said that he would only return to work if he didn't have to return to the attic. At one point, he broke an attic window from the outside of the building, but refused to go in to clean it up. That night, the couple who lived there at the time, reported hearing scraping sounds upstairs. After going up to investigate, they found small shards of glass all swept up and placed in a neat little pile in the corner of the room.
Since then, the caretaker's house has been turned into a cozy bed and breakfast, but the haunted lighthouse stories remain a present part of it's intrigue. Rue walks the premises to this day. Guests have reported having some friendly encounters with the Lady in Gray.
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
Our next stop in our search for haunted lighthouses is the beautiful Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, located in Yaquina Bay State Park in Newport.
In 1874, the crew of the whaling ship, Monkton, took over the ship and for reasons unknown, cast Captain Evan MacClure adrift in a small boat off the coastline. The captain was never seen again and the incident was reported a homicide. The dead captain began appearing in homes and taverns along the coastline. Many people since that time have told the tale of seeing the red-haired captain with the face of a skeleton. One homeowner was told by the ghost that he was only "looking for a place to stay and someone to join him in death."
Captain MacClure found that place to stay in the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, after it was abandoned in 1874. Not long after the ghost took up residence, it was reported that a young girl and her friends were picnicking there and she ran back into the lighthouse to retrieve a scarf she had forgotten. The friends heard her scream and dashed to the rescue, only to find the door locked. Despite efforts to find the young girl, she was never seen again....at least not alive.
The ghosts of Captain MacClure and a young lady in a flowing dress have been encountered by many people over the last 120 years.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Now, for our last stop on our haunted lighthouse journey along the coastline.
Some time in the 1920, the head keeper of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and his family were on their way to Newport for an evening out, when the keeper noticed that the lantern had not been lit. Upon making a hasty return to find out why, he found assistant keeper, Frank Story (who was supposed to be filling in for a sick Herbert Higgens) drunk and, in that state, unable to perform his duty.
Although very ill, Mr. Higgens had attempted to light the lantern himself, but collapsed and died in the process. From that time on, Frank Story never entered the tower without his faithful bulldog, fearing revenge from the now-haunted light and the ghost of Herbert Higgens.
Now one of the most visited lighthouses on the Oregon Coast, Yaquina Head Light's infamous ghost walks the spiral staircase of the tower.
Do you have a terrifying tale to tale? An encounter with a real Oregon coast ghost? Tell us all the scary details!
See what supernatural tales others have shared.
Stories of Oregon coast ghostly visits are not limited to the haunted lighthouses. There are legends of supernatural visits and shenanigans that run up and down the entire coastline.
Ghost stories aren't the only legends that have made their way along the mysterious Oregon Coast. There’s a legend that in the late 1600s, the Spanish empire’s fleet offloaded precious cargo -- jewels and gold -- somewhere north of Manzanita. Some locals believe the story -- and some with “treasure fever” have been digging for the buried treasure for centuries. David Welch went in search of the infamous booty. Listen to him tell his story (MP3)