In the Media

Willamette Week October 31, 2018

Here’s What We Learned About Portland’s Gritty Past on Five Haunted Walking Tours

Our guide to Portland’s haunted walking tours, including what we found scary, lame or just totally bizarre.

Slabtown Tours: A Night With Ghosts, slabtowntours.com

What's the story? Dr. Tanya Lyn March, Ph.D., guides participants through Slabtown, Portland's historic working-class neighborhood. March claims houses with truly bad hauntings tend to be torn down—we visited about as many construction sites as we did standing structures.

Where do you go? Many stops on the tour focused on Ernest Harp, a boy whose interactions with an alleged poltergeist were documented in historic Oregonian articles. The site of Harp's most famous otherworldly disturbance is also the former site of the long-gone Slabtown music venue. New Seasons paved over the lot of a house where doctors with ties to Carl Jung and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle legally abducted and tortured Harp as "research." The tour also stops by the house of late cartoonist John Callahan. The new owners haven't seen Callahan yet, but they do see other spirits around the place.

Special features: Tours starting before 8 pm get free admission to the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, a kitschy and immersive gallery that screams Old Portland.

Scariest moment: Through her storytelling, March makes real the horror of being a child in frontier Portland, where kids were treated horrifically if they survived childhood—back then, it was totally OK not to get vaccinated.

Lamest moment: The Ghost at ComedySportz is more contemporary than the rest of the tour material, but does inspire the existential horror of haunting a comedy bar.

Is it worth it? Yes, if you're a history buff, but not if you're a pagan or spiritualist. ANDREW JANKOWSKI.

 

KGW: Debate over demolition of 1800s home