America’s spookiest lighthouse

Published October 18, 2012

| Coastal Living

The spirit of a mourning mother haunts Heceta Head, a 115-year-old lightstation on the windswept Oregon Coast. Some say the ghost, called The Gray Lady, searches for her infant daughter, who tumbled from the 200-foot cliffs to her death.

A visitor can get creeped out just by the setting―an isolated stretch of shore where sudden fog can blot out the sun. Mariners braving the pounding surf depend on the lighthouse to avoid smashing into the rocks below. The beacon, the strongest on the Oregon Coast, is visible 21 miles away at sea.

The Gray Lady, usually seen wearing a floor-length gray skirt, lurks in the attic of the lightkeeper’s home, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and now operates as a bed-and-breakfast. One worker saw the silver-haired ghost floating over the floorboards as he repaired a broken attic window. He fled, but the next day the shattered glass in the sealed room had been swept into a neat pile.

Others report a mischievous side to the spirit. Lights flick on unexpectedly, doors sud-denly lock, and objects placed in one room later appear in another.

Photographer Steve Terrill of Portland recalls standing outside at dusk and seeing a translucent figure looking down on him from the attic. “It moved and then it dis-appeared,” he says. “We knew absolutely nobody was in there. I thought, ‘Man this is weird. This must be my imagination.’” Steve and a friend were the only ones staying in the building.

The next morning his friend called out in alarm. During the night, the inn’s guestbook mysteriously appeared in his room. It was open to a page describing a previous lodger’s encounter with the spirit. “I don’t know where that book came from,” Steve says. “I’m getting goosebumps now just thinking about it.”

You, too, can see if the spirit moves you during a lighthouse tour. Or reserve a night at the B&B (rates from $133; 866/547-3696 or hecetalighthouse.com).

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