Ghosts. Spirits. Specters. Wraiths. Whatever you call them, fall is the time for all things spooky. But there's a small contingent of coast residents who think about ghosts year-round, frequenting old buildings in the dark, measuring the airwaves with electromagnetic meters, asking questions of departed spirits, and poring over digital pictures filled with "orbs."
Whether or not you believe in ghosts or the paranormal, one thing is certain: The coast has a rich lore of hauntings. From Heceta House, where a ghost named Rue is said to keep a watchful eye, to the Egyptian Theatre, where the spirit of "Belinda" may invisibly show you to your seat, stories abound.
I watched Judy Fleagle, our writer, progress during her research from profoundly skeptical to somewhat of a believer. I'll let you read her story and decide for yourself. If you want to learn more, she's included information on a few ghost researchers and groups on the coast.
Also in this issue, we have a story about Bayocean, a town that just plain disappeared. In this case, no ghosts or spirits were involved, just over-eager developers and well-intended engineers who didn't realize how much a jetty can change ocean currents. A little more than a decade after the town was created on a sandy spit in Tillamook Bay, its buildings began to wash into the sea. When you visit this now deserted spit, listen for the ghosts of previous residents, perhaps you'll hear the happy shouts of children swimming in the natatorium or the sounds of Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra streaming from the windows of the dance hall. This once thriving resort is now a protected area where birds and hikers enjoy a quiet coexistence.
And then there's Oysterville, a town full of memories for writer Paul Pintarich. While many of the town's structures are still standing, its life as the hub of the West Coast's oyster industry in the late 1800s (when oysters were selling for a dollar apiece in gold coin) is just a whisper in the wind. As Paul says, "what remains of this once-thriving 19th century settlement is a gentle reminder of what used to be."
The lack of native oysters in Oysterville leads us to the topic of marine reserves. Science writer Nancy Steinberg takes a look at the concept, interviewing people on both sides of the fence to present a balanced report on the issue. There’s certainly no clear answer here.
But take heart! While there may be few native oysters left, native mushrooms are plentiful. The folks in Yachats go all out in October to celebrate fungi, adding all sorts of mushroom-y delicacies such as chanterelle pizza, wild mushroom pate, and truffle butter baguettes to their menus during the three days of fungi fun.
Last but certainly not least, we bring you Seal Rock, a tiny town with outstanding views of offshore rocks and some really fun shops, including not one, but two, fudge shops and a highly regarded sushi restaurant.
Also, speaking of spirits, I hiked the Washburne State Park beach and the Hobbit Trail recently, finishing up with the China Creek Trail on the other side of Hwy 101. I didn't see any hobbits, or any other large or small spirits, but the hike is highly recommended!
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