Oct. 31 is drawing nearer, and in anticipation of the spookiest day of the year, why not get up-close-and-personal with some of our area’s most infamous ghosts? If you’re itching for an autumnal getaway, we suggest taking a haunted jaunt down the I-5 corridor– starting right here in the North Sound.
You won’t have to venture far to reach the first destination, because Bellingham’s very own Mount Baker Theatre is allegedly home to more than a few resident spooks– and Judy might be the most well-known of them all. According to legend, Judy’s home was bulldozed to make way for the iconic theater, and she’s been haunting it since its grand opening in 1927. The balcony is her hangout spot of choice, although this flirty spirit has been sighted all over the theater (and has a particular preference for male employees).
Our next stop is none other than Northern State Recreation Area, located just south in Sedro-Woolley. The park once functioned as a working farm for the Northern State Hospital, a mental asylum colloquially known as “The Bughouse,” from 1911 to 1973. Rather than confining its patients to cramped quarters, the facility aimed to be a self-sustained occupational therapy and treatment facility for the “insane.” (Unfortunately the era’s accepted definition of “insanity” also included conditions like epilepsy and “menopausal depression.”)
But while treatments were cutting-edge at the time, many of them– such as electroshock treatment, heavy sedation, and even transorbital lobotomies– are now considered to be barbaric. It’s no surprise that the crumbling remains of the campus are now said to be haunted, and the hospital’s graveyard is the final resting place for 1,487 individuals. Many visitor accounts include details of strange apparitions, auras, sensations, and noises.
Once you’ve had your fill of the great outdoors, continue down I-5 to the Oxford Saloon in Snohomish. This legendary watering hole has a history of grisly happenings, including the murder of a policeman named Henry– and, to make matters worse, it’s said that Henry’s spirit never quite moved on. The upstairs area (which is now rented out as an office space) is home to three additional ghosts: A man in a bowler hat, an older woman in a purple dress, and a young escort named Amelia.
As you continue to Seattle, you might find yourself wondering: What could possibly be spookier than a haunted saloon? Why, a haunted hotel, of course. If you ascend to the ninth floor of Seattle’s Hotel Andra (originally known as the Claremont Hotel), you might find yourself crashing a Prohibition-era party. During the ‘20s and ‘30s, the establishment was a rowdy hangout for gangsters and socialites alike– and, while these characters are long-deceased, the festivities show no signs of dying down.
The building’s ninth floor seems to be the hub for hauntings, and guests have the sound of laughter, shattering glass, and jazz piano (despite the conspicuous lack of a piano anywhere nearby). Objects have been known to levitate or disappear, and several ghosts– including a ‘20s-era flapper and the ghost of a female employee who fell to her death– have been sighted roaming the premises.
Your next stop is the mining town of Black Diamond, which is just a short drive from Seattle (despite feeling a world apart). Black Diamond Cemetery is easily one of the spookiest cemeteries in the state, and its grounds are home to upwards of 1,000 graves. It’s also infamous for paranormal activity, with reports of a strange mist that descends around dusk, phantom lanterns, and a ghostly white horse prowling the grounds.
Tacoma’s picturesque Point Defiance Park might not be the most obvious spot for ghost sightings, but Five Mile Drive is allegedly one of the most haunted roads in Washington. If you choose to visit, keep your eyes peeled for a child with a bike, an eerie smile, and a concerningly blank gaze. It just might be the spirit of a young girl who went missing in the park– and never made it out alive.
Conclude your fright-filled journey with a visit to Bucoda, located just south of Olympia. Rather than just one site, the whole town (population 600) has a lurid past: For starters, the settlement’s original name, Seatco, was said to be derived from a Coast Salish word meaning “evil” or “demon.” The town was home to Washington’s first penitentiary, and conditions were famously brutal. Moreover, Bucoda’s once-profitable lumber mill mysteriously burned down– not just one time, but twice. And don’t even get us started on the gymnasium that’s used to host the town’s annual haunted house event: It’s the site of numerous alleged paranormal experiences, and none of them are exclusive to Halloween.
If you dare to explore Bucoda, October is the perfect time to do so. The town embraces its grim history with a month-long celebration of “Boo-Coda,” and it features everything from a hearse procession to a pine box derby race, family day, and even a zombie flash mob. Happy haunting!