Author Archives: the Oregon State Parks Team

A squeaky voice, a wet footprint, a figure appearing in the mist …

Thompson's Mills circa 1917

Thompson’s Mills circa 1917

… these are all accounts of the ghosts that haunt Oregon’s historic places.

Missing tools and cupboard doors mysteriously opening and closing are trademark moves of “the Gray Lady,” the mischievous ghost said to haunt the keeper’s house next to the Heceta Head Lighthouse near Florence. The lady ghost – nicknamed Rue – tends to act out during times of construction, according to She allegedly peers down from the attic and appears as a smoky mist. Residents of the house have reported unusual incidents since the 1950s.

The Sumpter Valley Dredge — which dug up and processed some $4 million worth in gold in the Sumpter Valley until 1954 — is allegedly home to a ghost named Joe Bush, charged with turning on faucets, turning off the power and leaving mysterious wet footprints, according to the Baker City Herald. The Joe Bush story is captured in the book series Skeleton Creek. Information is on the Friends of the Sumpter Valley Dredge website.

And then there is the ghost that haunts Thompson’s Mills State Heritage Site, the site of a water-powered flour mill that operated from 1858 to 2004.  Two different paranormal research companies have investigated the mill (Emerald Valley Paranormal and Mid-Valley Paranormal), said Park Ranger Tom Parsons.

“Both have found strong evidence” of a ghost, he said.

Mid-Valley Paranormal recorded a man’s voice saying in a squeaky, high-pitched tone, “We gotta get the product out,” Parsons said.  Ott Thompson – who ran the mill for over 60 years – was known for pushing his workers and had a squeaky, high-pitched voice.

“The Emerald Valley folks had no way of knowing that,” Parsons said.

He said staffers have glimpsed the fleeting image of a man dressed in clothing from the 1950s standing next to a machine. Some ranger assistants have had very strong “feelings” and even felt hands on their shoulders in the main bedroom of the house.

Parsons himself may have encountered a ghost when working late one night. “I walked into the mill from the office, not thinking anything about the darkness or night, not feeling creeped out at all,” he said. “Suddenly, I felt like ice water was pouring through my spine.”

Free camping for Whale Watching Spoken Here volunteers

Register now for training!

Gray whale surfaces near the Depoe Bay sea wall

Volunteer at a Whale Watching Spoken Here site for a birds-eye view of migrating whales.

Are you ready to help visitors spot gray whales during the winter and spring watch weeks? We’re looking for Whale Watching Spoken Here volunteers. Sign up for training sessions set for:

  • Dec. 6, 2014, in Newport, central coast;
  • Jan. 10, 2015, in Brookings, south coast;
  • Feb. 7, 2015 in Tillamook, north coast.

The day-long training includes an overview of gray whale biology and natural history, basic whale information, strategies for seeing whales and sharing whale facts with visitors. Dr. Bruce Mate, director of the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute will lead the Dec. 6 session and marine biologist Carrie Newell will lead the Jan. 10 and Feb. 7 sessions.

You’ll receive one-night free tent or RV camping while you attend the training. The closest campgrounds are South Beach State Park  south of Newport, Harris Beach State Park north of Brookings and Cape Lookout State Park south of Tillamook. Sign up to volunteer at one of the 24 whale watching sites and the training and two nights of tent or RV camping during the watch weeks are free.

The training registration form, agenda and watch week sign-up form are available in the 2014-2015 Call for Volunteers newsletter. Fill out the online forms and either e-mail, fax or regular mail to Whale Watching Spoken Here. The address is on the forms.

Forage for mushrooms at Fort Stevens

Hats off to Agaricus augustus, also known as The Prince.

Hats off to Agaricus augustas, also known as the Prince.

Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria on Oregon’s north coast offers several sessions of two different mushroom programs this fall.

One-mile mushroom identification hikes led by Park Ranger Dane Osis begin at Battery Russell at 1 p.m. on Oct. 20 and Nov. 10 and 30. Wear weather-appropriate clothing and bring a basket, pocket knife and optional mushroom identification book. Hikers are also welcome to bring mushrooms for identification.

He will also present “Mysterious Mushrooms of Fort Stevens” about wild mushroom regulations, uses and the role mushrooms play in the health of the forest. Following the program, join him for a short hike around the park to look for and identify mushrooms. The programs are held at the Coffenbury Lake picnic shelter at 1 p.m. on Oct. 18 and Nov. 9, 22 and 29.

No registration is required for the free programs; parking is $5 at Coffenbury Lake. For more information, call or e-mail Dane Osis at (503) 861-3170.