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'Haunted Oregon' - interesting before scary

It's a short book by Andy Weeks, but full of stories


'Haunted Oregon' is a guide to the state's spirit world.When I came home one night last week, I found the cover torn off my half-read copy of “Haunted Oregon: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Beaver State” by Andy Weeks ($10.95, Stackpole Books).

My first reaction was to be pretty unimpressed by my 2-year-old pug, Gus. The dog was lying suspiciously close to the book, looking quite guilty. In a court of law, I had enough evidence to try and convict him. He definitely tore the cover off the book, right?

Sure. If you want to take the unimaginative viewpoint. But the stories from “Haunted Oregon” might lead you to consider other scenarios. A poltergeist, for instance.

Weeks’ book is one of many in the Haunted Series, which covers the paranormal in other states. His other work includes “Haunted Utah” and “Haunted Idaho.” I imagine those books are quite interesting, but I probably would not take the time to read them. The reason I was so interested in “Haunted Oregon” was because it was about my home state, and it explored things I had never heard of.

The book is not long, just 100 pages. It is broken into five sections based on Oregon’s geography: Portland, Northwest Oregon, Central Coast and Southwest Corner, Middle Oregon and Eastern Oregon. The book contains more than 50 paranormal stories.

“Haunted” was extremely easy to read, both because of Weeks’ unimposing prose and because the stories are so short. It is easy to finish a single story inside five minutes. Weeks tells these stories very straight most of the way. At the end of stories, he will occasionally interject commentary, such as, “Keep a sharp ear for those otherworldly sounds. Who knows — you just might encounter a real phantom.”

Weeks, you see, is a believer in the paranormal. In his introduction to the book, he writes, “It is okay not to believe in the paranormal, of course, but it strikes me as funny when I hear skeptics.” Most of Weeks’ commentary was easily palatable and often amusing, even for a nonbeliever.

One of the best parts of the book is that it is easy to skip around from story to story. Looking at the table of contents, you can see what interests you and jump to that story. You can go from the story of the Chetco Indian Devil, to the Sea Serpents of Newport, to Portland’s Haunted Schools.

The most fun part about the book is simply learning about legends that you may never have heard of. Whether or not these stories of the paranormal are “real,” the stories and legends exist, and it is fascinating to read them.

Did you know that there is supposedly a female phantom haunting Waldo Hall at Oregon State? Did you know there is a legend of an Indian maiden who leaped to her death at Multnomah Falls to save her people from epidemic and now wanders the falls? Did you know that there are supposedly ghosts and mummies who meander around Cannon Beach at night? And there are many, many more stories of the paranormal that I imagine most people, even those living in Oregon, have not heard of.

One question I had before reading the book was whether it was going to be relevant to me, if I am not one who is prone to believe that I am going to run into the mummy “Bandage Man” while driving into Cannon Beach on Highway 101. The answer is, the book requires absolutely no belief in the paranormal to enjoy it. “Haunted” is filled with fascinating stories about the paranormal that both entertain and give you further insight into our state.

“Haunted” did not make a believer out of me. I rejected the idea that a poltergeist tore the cover off my book, and the pug was sent to a timeout.

Even without the cover, though, “Haunted” was a very enjoyable read.

Some upcoming readings:

Annie Bloom’s Books, annie blooms.com, 7834 S.W. Capitol Highway, 7 p.m. Aug. 7, Dan Berne and Jared John Smith

Broadway Books, broadway books.net, 1714 NE Broadway,

7 p.m. Aug. 12, Brian Benson, “Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America”

Powell’s Books, powells.com, 1005 W. Burnside St., 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11, Margaret Thornton; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12, Emily Gould; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14, Malcolm Brooks/Smith Henderson; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18, Chelsea Cain