By Kristine Thomas
There is an legend to explain why there is a single light dangling above the Odd Fellows’ door on First Street.
And there are tales about the Masonic symbols on four buildings on four corners. There are ghost stories about a man sitting on a ledge near Silver Creek, a fellow staring out of a window and of an old man walking with his head down in front of the Wolf Building.
These are a few of the stories shared by Dawane and Denise Harris of Spirit Expeditions on a tour of historic downtown Silverton on a chilly Sunday evening in October.
Both skeptics and believers in the paranormal walked away from the Spirit Expeditions Tour of Silverton on a recent Sunday night with one thing in common – a new perspective on town’s history.
“I now look at the buildings in a totally different way,” said Sandra Chapman of Pendleton.
From stories of a hidden passageway to insight on Homer Davenport’s beliefs to a murder in a brothel, Denise and Dawane Harris agree there is some “spine-tingling and creepy stuff” going on in Silverton.
Standing in front of the Adolf Wolf building on Main Street, Dawane explains he doesn’t believe in ghosts.
Haunted tours of Salem, Silverton, Albany,
Corvallis, Independence and Eugene. Silverton
tours begin at 8 p.m. Fridays and Sundays.
Spirit Expeditions also has
The Maze of the Undead at Pink Ribbon Farms,
10953 Silverton Road,
every Friday and Saturday
from now to Oct. 26, 7 to 11 p.m.
and daily Oct. 27 to Nov. 2. Cost is $15.
For information on the tour or the maze,
call 503-689-1450 or
“However, my wife does,” he said. “Our job is not to try to convince you one way or another but rather to share the stories that we have learned while researching Silverton’s history.”
Most importantly, he said, he and his wife want their guests to enjoy an evening of exploring Silverton.Referring to places as “investigation spots,” Dawane and Denise encouraged the 15 people on the tour to use the paranormal equipment they provided to gather their own evidence.
Salem residents Jessi Keller, 27; Lee Nichols, 33, Jorge Gonzalez, 32 and Andy Berkeland, 34, decided to take the tour because they like ghost stories and movies.
While Nichols and Berkeland were skeptical but open-minded to the possibility of the paranormal if the research presented itself, Gonzalez was intrigued by stories of ghosts and mediums.
“I grew up on scary stories and scary movies,” Gonzalez said. “I am not as skeptical about the possibility of there being ghosts.”
Silverton resident Danie Monaghan celebrated her birthday with her husband, Marcus, and several friends by taking the haunted tour.
“I think the reason people are intrigued by ghost stories is because there is something nostalgic about them,” Danie, 31, said. “I think the ghost tours are a way for people to recapture some of their childhood.”
While she doesn’t believe in ghosts, her husband does. And when they were standing in a room reported to have a vortex, Marcus felt his knees wobbling while Danie didn’t.
Denise said people who tend to believe in ghosts are more likely to feel their presence.
“I have noticed the more skeptical the group, the less activity we see,” she said.
Quietly explaining she is sensitive to the supernatural world, Denise remembers her first medium reading.
“I was with my sister and her best friend sitting on the couch when I kept hearing a voice in my head say, ‘Ask her about Snicker Baby,’” Denise said. “I kept ignoring this voice when I finally said out loud, ‘Who is Snicker Baby?” My sister’s friend started crying and said that’s the name her grandmother used to call her.”
When Denise walks around town, she gets a sad feeling in certain places, especially near the old flour mill and the former brothel.
Sandra Chapman and her friend Ana Angel of Salem took the Silverton tour because they are intrigued by history. They said they enjoyed how the tour combined legends, folklore, history and ghost stories.
“It’s fascinating to see a town in a different way and to learn more about its history and its ghosts,” Angel said.