Another year, another scare. After last year’s smash hit, 11 Scariest Haunted Places in Oregon, we wanted to expand the terror even further northwest, because true horror knows no boundaries. No matter where you go, if you look in the right spooky crannies, you’ll find something you wish you never saw. If you’re looking for a thorough, and allegedly legitimate haunt this year, read below for some of the top most haunted spots in Washington state. If you’re one of those ghost hunter enthusiasts, check out this very official guide to hunting the ghosts of Seattle. Just be warned that some of these locations may be private property or belong to the city, country, state or federal government. You may need to obtain the consent of the property owners in order to lawfully enter the premises. You’ve been warned—now let’s get on with the show.
In the seemingly ordinary, popular maritime port of Aberdeen, there exists a century-old building with a heavy past. Billy Gohl, also known as “Billy Montana,” was a well respected sailor union secretary turned murderer. Numerous arsons, murders, robberies and shootings were traced back to good old Billy, who was eventually sent to prison for his crimes, only to die later in a Washington mental asylum. Billy allegedly preyed upon Aberdeen tourists, sailors, and union opponents for over a quarter century and was blamed for the disappearance of more than a hundred men. According to some, Billy Gohl is considered one of the most prolific serial killers in US history and continues to live on in Aberdeen. Restaurant employees have reported glasses being thrown from the shelves; a paranormal investigation group claims to have captured a faint recording of some ghostly voice calling the word “whore.” Eerie cold spots dot the building where the Bar and Grill now resides, seeming to show that even in death, Billy refuses to relinquish his murderous title. If you’re in the area, hungry and feeling brave why not try your luck and see if you can bring good ol’ Billy out from the shadows.
Alice B. Toklas, lover of poet Gertrude Stein and the woman credited with inventing pot brownies back in 1954, is said to now spend her days and nights roaming the halls of The Sorrento Hotel, one of Seattle’s oldest hotels. Though her presence has been felt throughout the building, including in the basement, it is said that she can most often be found on the fourth floor, in and around room 408—though the real mystery is why she didn’t pick room 420. The woman who works the night shift says she’s seen black mist billowing out of the elevator, which sometimes stops on the fourth floor when nobody is there. Despite the fear engendered in some guests, Hotel Sorrento is not ashamed of Alice, having created a drink in her honor called the “Ms. Toklas,” made of lucid absinthe, elderflower, chamomile, honey and lemon juice. Apparently Ms. Toklas took this as an invitation to the bar, as some have been rumored to see bar glasses move on their own. Next time you find yourself in Seattle, why not sit down and have a drink with the woman who brought special brownies into our lives.
Even the king of horror, Stephen King himself couldn’t keep his curiosity at bay when it came to the Thornewood Castle Inn. His ABC television mini-series “Rose Red” was filmed on location here in 2002 (this castle was also featured in a film called “There Will Be Blood”). Mr. Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma had the castle built as a gift for his then-bride, Anna. The castle is 27,000 square feet, nestled on three acres of gardens and lakefront, and now the permanent home to a few undead souls. Mr. Thorne is said to be the most prevalent spirit roaming the castle, making numerous documented appearances and allegedly unscrewing light bulbs in his former room. His wife Anna has also been seen siting in the window seat of her former room (which is now the bridal suite—no thanks, we’ll get ready in a port-a-potty), overlooking the garden. She can also occasionally be seen in the reflection of the mirror in her room. Legend has it that one of Thorne’s grandchildren drowned in the lake, and some guests have claimed to see a young child standing alone on the shore. If a mere visit to the castle just isn’t enough for you, perhaps you’d like to spend your Christmas here or have a few extra un-ghouly guests at your wedding? Scary stuff aside, we do have to admit it’s quite pretty.
It’s a bit of a no brainer to avoid cemeteries at all costs if spook is not your game. If you’re afraid of the dead or the undead (any type of dead, really), you perhaps shouldn’t subject yourselves to walking over the graves of their departed bodies. Black Diamond Cemetery, founded in 1884, was once known for its coal mining and currently has well over 1000 graves. A short walk amongst the tombstones and you’ll read of the peril that existed throughout the decades, including coal mining explosions, smallpox and influenza. Paranormal reports include seeing swinging lights through the fog—that supposedly belong to the ghost of a coal miner—quiet whistling in the wind and a trotting white horse weaving in between the headstones. The Puget Sound Ghost Hunters have published a detailed investigation of the cemetery, and while there was no physical evidence of paranormal activity, the crew experienced strange odors and the sensation of being watched. Again, haunted or not, you should probably avoid cemeteries during the entire month of October if you don’t enjoy the heebie-jeebies. Which brings us right to our next question—movie anyone?
Opened in the fall of 1910, Northern State Mental Hospital was built in the city of Sedro-Woolley, about an hour’s drive from Seattle, as a response to the economic crisis of the late 19th century. The hospital was meant to be home to nonviolent mentally ill patients, and it was known for its surprisingly humane practices, which were both unheard of and frowned upon at the time. Patients were often enrolled in vocational training to prepare them for their eventual release, receiving instruction in areas such as farming and printing. Then in 1922, ten years after the first admissions, a patient murdered another patient during an altercation, an event which cast a deep shadow across Northern State’s reputation. During the 1940s, the hospital took on Charles H. Jones, who was a strong participator in the practice of the controversial and extremely experimental trans-orbital lobotomy. After Jones took up residence at Northern State, a weird discrepancy appeared between the number of patients discharged and the number released—about 250 annually. The number of people to die within the walls of the hospital is rumored to be in the thousands, and there is a cemetery full of unmarked graves behind its gymnasium. Visitors have reported numerous ghost sightings, most often a little girl with a red ball who’s being followed by an unknown man, though he can never seem to find her. Other more disturbing accounts tell of a body hanging in the window of the nurses’ station. Needless to say, Northern State has long been a favorite destination of paranormal investigators, but make sure you ask before you go traipsing around the grounds—they’re not particularly receptive to living intruders.
Haunted roads are an entirely different level of scary. You’re driving on a dark road, there’s a bit of fog, a fair amount of curves, and perhaps you’re alone. Then, as you come around one bend and enter a break in the fog, you see the figure of a young girl along the side of the road. There have been many accidents along this road at the ghostly hands of this girl, who appears to be diligently looking for something. Numerous people have actually tried to communicate with her to find what it is she’s looking for (these are the people you scream at in the movies when they walk blindly into a dark basement) and rumor has it she’s looking for a locket that she lost when she died in a car accident on that very road. On the same highway, there’s an old haunted house with flickering lights despite the fact that it hasn’t had electricity for years. If you take a trip down this haunted highway and the flickering haunted house, might as well make a stop at the Haunted Forest of Maple Valley to pile on the scares.
The right combination of a quiet trail and an eerie darkness can spook even the most straight-laced person. There’s just something about being in the wilderness in the dark that makes you vulnerable and at the mercy of your surroundings—all the flashlights in the world wouldn’t save you. Leave the campfire talk at home, because Spirit Lake in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument has its fair share of scary ghost stories. The 1980 volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens claimed numerous human lives, which are now said to call Spirit Lake their home. Native Americans living in the area have always avoided the lake, saying they can hear voices coming from its depths. As the story goes, a ghost elk lures men close enough for the lake monster called Seatco to claim them deep into the lake. It is undoubtedly a gorgeous place—just look at that photo—but is there really a monster lurking beneath those bright blue waters?
If you like a challenge and enjoy the hunt of a spooky spot, check out Il Bistro in Pike Place Market. Nestled at the end of a narrow, sloping cobblestone side road and next to the famous Gum Wall sits Il Bistro, beckoning you to enter. With its dim lighting, it’s easy to see shadows and construe all kinds of strange images. Glasses fly off the shelves, smashing to the floor without breaking, ghosts flicker into view in the dining room mirror, and a woman floats in and out of the bathroom doors. The market itself is quite old—it was established in Seattle in 1907, 108 years ago. Are these spirits the ghosts of patrons or vendors long dead, looking for one last drink at the bar? We’ll let you find out and report back to us—and take a photo while you’re there. Rumor has it that the mirror ghost likes to make an appearance on film from time to time.
Ghosts must have a thing for bars, but who can blame them? At Rancho Viejo Sports Bar and Grill, formerly known as Buzz’s Sports Bar, both employees and customers have reported ghostly poltergeist activity. Some have claimed to capture apparitions or ectoplasm (a fancy term for spiritual energy) on their personal cameras and surrounding surveillance cameras have allegedly recorded an apparition on more than one occasion. Televisions mysteriously turn on in the middle of the night, which the night bartenders and owners vow isn’t a prank of their own. Customers occasionally feel chills passing through the dining room, a single drawer flies open at odd times of the day, and dimes seem to move by themselves inside the cash registers. The manager has described seeing a ghostly figure in blue with long hair disappear and reappear from the bar. Paranormal experts have said this is the ghost of a woman named Mary, who used to run a brothel on the property many years ago.
Once the ghost occupancy limit has been reached in the bars, apparently they overflow to the streets. Spirits of departed souls seem to have a thing for loitering along the side of dark and foggy roads, seeking for new lives to claim. The story behind the ghosts on Holland Road is a bit cloudy and no one story is considered to be more true than another. Depending on who you ask, the Holland road ghost is one of two people—a young, black-haired girl with a black horse, or an old man—both of whom were killed by a drunk driver. The story of the old man is underdeveloped; it is said that he was killed by a group of teenagers while getting his mail. Most people who have traveled this road claim to have caught glimpses of the little girl and her horse, however. As the story goes, the drunk driver and a few of his buddies buried the young girl after she was struck. A couple weeks later the drunk driver mysteriously died, after denying his involvement in her death. Then, in the years after the young girl’s parents died, the house was sold to an older lady, who had documented nightly hauntings in the home throughout the years. After the old lady mysteriously died as well, officials demolished the home. Now all that’s left is the road on which they died and the lonely wanderings of the souls that remain. If you turn off your headlights as you take Holland Road, you may be able to see their shadows shifting in the dark.
The Bush House Inn is a historic building, built in 1889, and currently undergoing renovations. Nobody forwarded the memo to the ghosts though, as they continue to reside within the building. At the turn of the 19th century, a young woman named Annabel came to the city of Index to wed her future husband who worked in the mines. After an explosion at the site where he worked, Annabel was told that her husband had died. Consumed by grief, she hung herself. As fate would have it, Annabel’s husband did not die in the explosion, and when he returned to her, he found her dead. Rumor has it that he promptly killed himself in classic Romeo and Juliet tit-for-tat fashion. The ghost of Annabel is said to haunt room number 9—the same place where she died—and both employees and guests have reported many unexplained phenomena. Some staff have been so shaken by their experiences that they refuse to go into certain parts of the hotel. One particular guest who had planned for an extended stay in room 9 reported that he was unable to re-enter his hotel room after having rearranged the furniture. When the hotel staff arrived and helped him open the door, they were met with a strong gust of wind rushing out of the door. When the man looked into the room, he saw that the room he had just spent time rearranging was in complete disarray. Needless to say he promptly relocated, cancelling his extended stay at the hotel. Paranormal groups have captured numerous anomalies on film throughout the hotel, picking up strange electromagnetic field measurements and a few chills to boot. Many people agree that the spirits within the walls of the Inn have a serious vendetta against the living who choose to vacation there. If you value your pulse, you may want to widen your hotel search if your travels take you through Index.
Yet again we have a bar-loving ghost who has apparently set up permanent residency at the Lamplighter Restaurant, established in 1970. More than a real terrifying spirit, this particular ghostly fellow seems playful with a sense of humor. Louie Sloan is his name, the deceased owner of the restaurant, and his ashes are on display within the restaurant. To most people, this is the obvious explanation for many of the strange oddities that happen in the bar. There have been rumors of the ashes being removed, but we have since been reassured by the current owner that they most certainly are still there. Even in death, Louie appreciates the occasional game of pool, although he can no longer play in the conventional manner. Patrons have reported seeing the pool balls roll unprovoked in every direction. He also enjoys flickering the lights, and rattling the occasional glass. Regardless of Louie’s pranks, the Lamplighter is said to be a lovely restaurant with a lively bar.
Completed in 1892, the Manresa Castle was originally the home of Mr. Charles Eisenbeis and his wife Kate. Mr. Eisenbeis served a prominent role within the early Port Townsend business community and was the town’s first mayor. Charles died in 1902 and Kate remarried years later, leaving the castle empty for nearly 20 years. In the early to mid-1900’s, ownership of the castle traded many hands and it was converted into many different types of establishments. When the castle was used as a bed and breakfast, a young woman also named Kate, who had been staying at the property, received news that her fiancé was forever lost at sea. Kate later jumped from her third story room, number 306, falling to her death. There is also a rumor floating around that a man of the cloth once hung himself in the attic. There have been many reports of heat changes, unexplained clock chimes, flickering lights, opening and closing doors, and numerous apparition sightings. Although some reports may sound creepy, such as claims that a woman stands over beds or appears at the window, the activity inside the castle is largely harmless and it remains a popular destination for tourists and curious ghost hunters alike.