Haunted Harbor: A Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Places in Grays Harbor County

The spirit of a lady dressed in white and the ghost of a young child haunt the rooms in the Polson Museum.

 

By Rachel Thomson

chehalis sheet metalGrays Harbor County is known for its overcast skies and frequent rainstorms. Cities and towns are filled with weathered homes and buildings nearly a century old that could easily serve as the backdrop of a spooky paranormal-themed movie.  It’s no wonder several sites in this coastal community could be home to ghosts. As Halloween draws near (or any time of year) visitors can take a tour of the Harbor’s many haunted places.

A patron leaves Billy’s Bar & Grill in Aberdeen. It’s said the ghosts of notorious serial killer Billy Gohl and the spirits of his victims haunt one of this town’s famous establishments.
A patron leaves Billy’s Bar & Grill in Aberdeen. It’s said the ghosts of notorious serial killer Billy Gohl and the spirits of his victims haunt one of this town’s famous establishments. Photo courtesy of Rachel Thomson.

Billy’s Bar & Grill
Kurt Cobain may have been Aberdeen’s most famous resident, but many historians may say Billy Gohl was the most sinister. Gohl was an infamous serial killer who lived in Aberdeen in the early 1900s. The legend of his ghost has been documented in many books and a quick Google search turns up dozens of websites detailing his horrific murder spree.

Gohl was a sailor and laborer who came to Grays Harbor around 1903. Gohl became a representative for the Sailor’s Union of the Pacific and had a wharf near the present-day restaurant that bares his name. Sailors from every port of call would stop at his office to collect mail, deposit valuables or connect with friends. After a while, Gohl began stealing from the sailors. After swiping the valuables belonging to his fellow sailors, he would then shoot, poison, strangle or bludgeon his victims and dump the bodies down a trap door that led to the Wishkah River. It’s not known for sure how many deaths Gohl was responsible for, but some estimates have been as low as 40 to well over 100.

Guests and employees have reported seeing shot glasses flying across the bar, feeling cold spots around the restaurant, and hearing voices when there’s no one around. There have also been accounts of numerous apparitions. Some witnesses claim they’ve seen ragged sailors in period clothing that could have been Gohl’s victims, while others say they’ve seen the ghost that could be Gohl himself.

Billy’s Bar & Grill
322 E. Heron St.
Aberdeen, WA 98520

lake quinault lodge
A fire burned the lodge down in 1924. A bigger resort, which still stands today, was built two years later.

Lake Quinault Lodge
When rain drizzles at the Lake Quinault Lodge – which is surrounded by an old growth forest and featured a log-cabin like appearance with a Native American totem pole outside – the building seems suspended in time. A two-room suite that fills the entire top floor of the resort’s boat house offers sweeping panoramic views of towering spruce trees, Lake Quinault and sometimes a ghost.

Guests and employees of the lodge have reported having encounters with Beverly, the ghost who allegedly haunts the lodge. According to an account in the book Weird Washington: Your Travel Guide to Washington’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets, Beverly was an employee at the lodge, which was built in the late 1800s. A fire burned the lodge down in 1924. A bigger resort, which still stands today, was built two years later.

According to the book, Beverly was scheduled to work the day of the fire. She was apparently feeling sick that day, but decided to work anyway. She fell asleep at her post and later perished in the fire. Beverly allegedly had been rooming at the suite above the boat house. The suite, which is now named after her, has been the site of many paranormal encounters.

According to Roger Blain, director of Activities and Interpretation at the lodge, guests have reported witnessing the apparition of a woman in the room. Some have reported their keys or cell phone being moved. Others have reported hearing a woman singing. Once a guest reported seeing a mysterious orb of light floating in the air.

Beverly sightings are not confined to the suite above the boat house. Employees have seen lights flicker on and off for no reason, doors that shut on their own, and some have even reported getting a “strange feeling” in the attic. The book also recounts tales of kitchen staff seeing glasses fall off shelves in the dining room or being shattered on tables when no one is around.

Lake Quinault Lodge
345 S. Shore Rd.
Quinault, WA 98575
360-288-2900

According to “A Haunted Tour Guide to the Pacific Northwest” by Jefferson Davis, spirits are attracted to the tall ship when it sails into old ports.
According to “A Haunted Tour Guide to the Pacific Northwest” by Jefferson Davis, spirits are attracted to the tall ship when it sails into old ports.

The Lady Washington
The state’s tall ship has been featured in the book A Haunted Tour of the Pacific Northwest by Jefferson Davis. The ship, which can be viewed during Aberdeen’s annual Splash Festival, is a replica of the original tall ship of Captain Robert Gray, Grays Harbor’s namesake. In 1788, the ship was the first United States ship to visit the Pacific Northwest. The book’s author spoke with a crew member. The crew member did not believe the ship itself is haunted, but claims in the book when the ship visits old ports, “historic ghosts that remain on the docks seem to gravitate toward the tall ship.”

The Polson Museum
This riverfront colonial-style mansion was originally built in 1924 as a home for the Polson Logging Company and the Polson family. The museum’s exhibits include historical displays on the region’s sawmills and deep-woods logging camps. There’s also a vintage working kitchen, dressing rooms and mannequins dressed in period clothing.

Several websites such as “The Shadowlands” – a website chronicling the most haunted places in America – have the Polson Museum listed as being a home to numerous ghosts, including a lady dressed in white and the spirit of young child in the nursery. However, the curator of the museum has long insisted there are no ghosts.

The Polson Museum
1611 Riverside Ave.
Hoquiam, WA 98550
360-533-5862

Cooney Mansion
The historic Cooney Mansion is another hot spot for paranormal activity. The former Bed & Breakfast, built in 1908, overlooks the Highland Golf Course and Mill Creek Park.

The number of ghosts that allegedly haunt the mansion varies, according to the book, Haunted Inns of America: Go and Know A National Directory of Haunted Hotels and Bed and Breakfast Inn.

A 2009 article in The Daily World newspaper reported that many psychics have visited the mansion over the years, including a group of psychics who visited the mansion in 1996. Among the group was a Lutheran minister’s wife who claimed there were seven ghosts in the mansion.

A former owner of the mansion once brought in a team of paranormal investigators from the Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seatte- Tacoma (A.G.H.O.S.T.). The investigators reported doors shutting on their own, members of the team hearing sounds of an entity walking behind them, and readings on their electromagnetic fields (EMFs) device detected naturally occurring electric fields around electronic devices, indicating paranormal activity was present.

Cooney Mansion
1505 5th Street
Cosmopolis, WA 98537

In 2010, the Paranormal Investigators of Historic America conducted an overnight investigation of the Museum of The North Beach in Moclips. Team members said the instruments used in the investigation picked up a significant amount of activity and declared the building was haunted.
In 2010, the Paranormal Investigators of Historic America conducted an overnight investigation of the Museum of The North Beach in Moclips deeming the building  haunted. Photo courtesy of The Museum of The North Beach.

The Museum of The North Beach
In 2010, a team of investigators from the Monroe, WA-based Paranormal Investigators of Historic America visited the Museum of the North Beach to find out if it was haunted. Prior to the investigation, there had been few reports of paranormal activity, apart from a few visitors reporting experiencing a strange feeling around certain parts of the building. The team of investigators, who investigate historical sites to encourage tourism and promote local history, said their investigation turned up evidence that could indicate paranormal activity. During their investigation, they recorded activity on their EMF readers. They also heard some faint voices picked up from a parabolic listening device they brought to the investigation. Additionally, a piñata that hung in a room that was a former foot locker appeared to rotate in response to questions from one of the investigators.

The identity of the alleged ghosts is not certain, though the town’s history could offer some clues. Historical records have chronicled fatalities of a blind woman dying in a house fire, a mill employee hit by a passing train, a falling tree crushing a fireman and engineer, and numerous casualties associated with shipwrecks.

The paranormal investigators presented the Museum of the North Beach with a certificate deeming the museum “certifiably haunted.” Parts of the investigation can be seen on a video on PIHA’s website.

The Museum of the North Beach
4658 Highway 109
Moclips, WA 98562
360-276-4441

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