Several Months ago I saw a post that the Portland Dill Pickle Club was running a tour of Ghost Towns in Central Oregon. Unfortunately, non-member prices were $95 each and a bit out of my price range during this economic down turn.
A week ago, I saw another post by the Portland Mercury offering free tickets to the tour for the best Ghost Story.
Luckily for me, I just happened to have one heck of a ghost story. I dusted it off, polished it up, posted, and won! Woo Hoo! The trip was last weekend and well worth it. (Pictures are here)
Here is the story:
My uncle was working as caretaker at the old Hot Lake Hotel by the hot springs east of LaGrande.
At that time building had been closed as a hotel for many years. To keep bringing in money, the owners had decided to rent out offices on the second floor. My uncle acted as the property manager and security.
The hotel was built as a sanitarium to help people “take the cure” via the hot springs, it was usually full of sick people (and those who thought they were sick,) and no doubt a few died during their weeks and even months long visits. Add in the general dilapidated look and rumors of ghosts and other spooky happening quickly got attached to the building.
He had heard all the rumors and was even told that the former caretaker quit because he couldn’t take it anymore. But he never noticed anything during the first several months working there so thought that the stories were just that.
My Uncle was living downstairs on the first floor. Anyone entering or exiting the building did so through the front door which was the only one unlocked. All the other rooms were also kept locked. In one of these rooms was an old grand piano.
Apparently one of the office tenants on the second floor knew of or found out about the piano and asked to play it. They were let into the locked room and allowed to play the piano, and told to close and lock the door afterwards. The piano could be easily heard pretty much throughout the entire building. After about 30 minutes the music stopped, footsteps came down the stairs and a car drove away.
A few hours later the piano started up again. My uncle thought maybe the tenant came back and was playing again. He waited for a while then decided to go upstairs to say ‘Hi.’ As he went up the stairs, the piano stopped. He found the door to the room locked and closed. Assuming that he missed the tenant, he checked their office. Locked, and after opening the door, nobody was there. Assuming he simply missed the tenant going down the other stairs he thought nothing of it and went back to his room.
A few nights later, the tenant asked to play again and was allowed in again. The piano played for 30 minutes or so then stopped. It again started up a couple of hours later. My Uncle left the hotel to go in to town for groceries or something and thought it odd that the tenants car was not in the parking lot when he left.
When he got back and exited the car, he could still hear the piano playing. Looking around he noticed the parking lot was still empty. Thinking this a bit weird he went upstairs to check on then tenant and see if he needed a ride home or something.
Once again the music stopped as he walked up the stairs. The door to the piano room was closed and locked. The tenants office was locked and empty when he checked. He thought that the tenant was playing jokes on him.
This kept happening sporadically over a month. The piano would be playing, then stop when he started up the stairs. The doors would all be locked. He finally went to hunt down the tenant to get him to stop fooling around, and to find out how he was getting through the locked doors.
The tenant was dumbfounded though. He stated that he had only played the piano those two times when he was let in. But my Uncle would not have any of it. He demanded the tenant come over that night and show him how he got into the room. The tenant reluctantly agreed, but said that all he could do was to show that the door was locked.
About 8 that night, the piano started playing again. My Uncle was absolutely furious. He said that he started ranting, raving, shouting and just generally working up a good steam to tell this guy off and to quit fooling with him. As he opened the door to his room to go upstairs, he found the tenant coming in the front door. At this point the piano was still playing. Uncle went even more livid, grabbed a walking stick and ran up the stairs. The tenant followed him up. This time the piano stopped playing just as they hit the top stairs and could have a good view of the hallway.
They both stood at the top of the stairs for about five minutes waiting for someone to come out of the room. As nobody did so, they quietly as possible walked to the door and tested it. It was locked. They unlocked the door, opened it slowly and saw that except for the piano, the room was empty just like usual.
My Uncle apologized, but the tenant suggested they check other rooms to see if someone somehow snuck through. They went through the entire building, unlocked and locked every door, checked that every window was secured shut, and made sure the building was empty.
As this had happened every night, they decided to setup a trap for the next night. The plan involved a tin can of rocks fastened to all exterior doors so that it would make a lot of noise when opened. They did the same to the piano room door, checked again that the building was empty and locked up tight. They then waited down stairs.
About 8 or so the piano started playing again. They apparently both jumped out of their skins and thought that their traps didn’t work. But after checking all the exterior doors, the traps were found intact. So they quietly walked upstairs, hoping to sneak up on whoever it was.
The piano room door was still trapped too. So they attempted to peer under the door to see into the room. But as it was dark, and they were not seeing anything they took the trap apart quietly and unlocked the door. As soon as it started swinging open the piano stopped in the middle of a note. Again, the room was empty.
Apparently the rest of the night was spent sharing a bottle, but the piano kept playing night after night after night. Other things started happening too. Locked doors would be unlocked. Old furniture stored in a couple of rooms would be moved to other rooms or into the hallway. One night every single door on the second floor was wide open, yet still locked.
Finally, after about a year of this going on, my Uncle got tired of walking up the stairs. He enjoyed the music for the most part, but just wanted some piece and quiet that night. So he walked to the bottom of the stairs and yelled;
“Concert is over! Go away!”
The music immediately stopped and during the next six months he worked there never started again.