Autumn is upon us. As the days get shorter and darker, things get a little creepier. Almost half of Americans believe in ghosts and about 20 percent say they’ve been in the presence of something paranormal. Lewis County is home to many places with reports of eerie sights, sounds and sensations, leading people to believe they’re haunted.
Lewis County Historical Museum
Undoubtedly, one of the most haunted local buildings is The Lewis County Historical Museum. The former train depot was built in 1912 and is now filled with artifacts of those long gone. South Sound Paranormal Research has investigated the museum since 2008. “I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the museum is truly haunted and it is our belief that the museum is perhaps one of the most haunted locations in all of Washington,” says Patty Valdez, Founder of SSPR.
Museum Director Jason Mattson invites interested individuals to attend the museum’s upcoming Ghost Tours. Previous tours have produced unexplained voice recordings and a video that is decidedly creepy. “You may experience something you otherwise wouldn’t and hear fun stories,” he says.
Jason has had his own encounters at the museum. “I was in the office after hours and it was getting dark,” he recalls. “While typing away on the computer, I saw a shadowy figure peak its head around the corner. And lights get turned on that were turned off previously.”
Silvia Livermore has volunteered there for the last 12 years. During that time, she has experienced unexplained encounters in the museum, many while she was there by herself. However, museum staff find the visitors more interesting than frightening. “I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me,” says Silvia. “I am not scared, but things do get moved around now and then.”
Silvia has heard her name called while walking down the hallway. A cabinet in the attic continued to open even when she shoved something in the door to keep it closed. Reflections are a common occurrence when no one is in the building and once she witnessed two young girls in old-time clothing looking at the rock display in the hallway only to vanish suddenly. A military trunk that had other trunks stacked on top of it mysteriously appears on top of the pile, over and over again. “The person that owned it must have wanted it to be seen,” says Silvia.
Another haunted location is The Cowlitz Tribal Center formerly known as St. Mary’s in Toledo. It was Mike Jones’ childhood church. “I have seen the ‘nuns’ in the hallway more than once,” says Mike. “There’s lots of history there and many witnesses to confirm sightings.”
He was asked about it while visiting the church years later. “He freaked when I answered, ‘You too?’” says Mike.
One childhood memory from Sunday school stands out. “There’s a marble floor hallway where a black figure, looking like a nun, crossed,” Mike says. “I would say it’s a life echo.”
Old Centralia Hospital
The Old Centralia Hospital, now an apartment building, has its share of scary stories from those who’ve lived and worked there. Gary Van Auken, a former maintenance worker, was in the basement sorting parts in 1999 when he heard a conversation between two people talking. “I looked around for a vent where I would hear a conversation through,” he says. “I thought, it’s got to be the people above me. When I went to look upstairs, I realized one of the areas was my apartment and the other was completely empty.” He describes what he heard as mumbling. “You couldn’t really make it out, but it was so clear it was almost like somebody whispering standing in the corner. That place always felt kind of creepy.”
There’s nothing more frightening than a haunted forest and Winlock is home to one of the most legendary ones: Brenson’s Hollow. Its tales of strange sightings have been reported for decades. Nancy Sobolesky visited the area when she was young with other teenagers looking for a party. “We drove out to Brenson’s but there was nobody there,” she says. “We turned the car around to drive away, when a huge white shape with glowing eyes emerged from the trees right in front of us. The thing never made a sound the whole time it chased us.” The site is not accessible now, but was once a family homestead and is now the site of the Snow family graves.
McMenamins Olympic Club
McMenamins Olympic Club is filled with history and lore, and seems to be a location where the dead like to hang out with the living. Staff members have reported clocks changing the time in hotel rooms where no one has stayed, or alarms going off for no reason. One bartender recalls an ashtray flying across the room. A recent guest at the hotel says he felt someone tap him on the shoulder while brushing his teeth. Many people have reported seeing a ghostly man sitting by the wood stove. What’s certain is there’s something spooky going on.
Lewis County is no stranger to the unexplained with Bigfoot sightings, crop circles and UFOs, but with such a rich history, these historic hauntings offer clues to the past. So discover a bone-chilling thrill with a paranormal adventure right here in Lewis County.