Baker City’s Geiser Grand Hotel Has Much to Offer Visitors This Halloween
Oregon, like most states with long histories rooted in the New World frontier and widespread settlement, has evolved consistently since its inception. Naturally, with such lengthy history comes folklore and hauntings. There are countless reports of ghoulish activity throughout the state, and many are linked to historic places like the Oregon Trail and early settlements.
Another such historical location with a wealth of paranormal reports is the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City, where guests have seen ghosts stretching back to the late 19th century.
Good Old Days of the Geiser Grand Hotel
Built in 1889 as luxurious lodgings for wealthy miners and other elites on the West Coast, the Geiser Grand Hotel certainly lives up to its name. Situated on a prominent corner in downtown Baker City, the property featured grand architecture and state-of-the-art technology for the time, including the third elevator ever built west of the Mississippi River. Inspired by the classic Italian Revival style, the building was constructed using mined volcanic tuff from the surrounding area.
Baker City, located about 300 miles east of Portland, was known as the "Queen City of the Mines." The mining business helped fuel the energy behind the Gold Rush that was sweeping the West Coast, along with the growing logging industry in the state. As time wore on, and more miners moved in, Baker City’s reputation started to lean towards that of the wild west. Even the Geiser Grand felt this change, going from a luxurious building to a rowdy brothel, gambling hall, and overall party zone.
In the basement area, there is a large set of doors that once opened up to underground tunnels, so gentlemen could enter discreetly without being seen by other members of proper, moral society. Today, tunnels can still be found in the wine cellar where women and men would sneak through to the brothel operating on the third floor.
Who Still Haunts the Hotel?
Owner Barbara Sidway, who bought the property in 1993 with her husband, Dwight, spent four years and $7 million in renovation. She loves to tell guests stories of the cowboys who used to ride their horses through the halls as a nod to the poor condition of the building before she fixed it up. Sidway will admit that she personally hasn’t experienced any paranormal activity, citing that most activity happens past midnight, and she’s usually in bed very early. She also likes to remind guests that these ghosts aren’t mean, and don’t intend to frighten them. They just want to party and have fun.
Despite Sidway’s reassurances, the reports of paranormal activity and unexplained occurrences go on and on. Some of the most haunted areas of the property include the wine cellar, tunnels, and, most notably, the third floor. Guests also encounter a woman dressed in an elegant blue gown, descending the staircase into the lobby. The Lady in Blue, as she’s commonly called, was Granny Annabelle in life, an elite at the time who held a reserved chair at the hotel bar. Visitors and staff have been pinched when they try to usurp her seat, so it seems her reservation holds even beyond the grave.
The most frightening spirit of all is the big, dark dog that’s rumored to watch guests sleep. Amy Venezia, an Oregon resident and professional medium, described her experience with the canine figure in an interview with CountryLiving.com: "The spirit was like a big dog that doesn't know its size when it pounces on you. It was too much for me then. With time though, I see it's taken me to a deeper level, and that is good. There's no doubt that the hotel is haunted."
In another detailed account, Jennifer Von Behren recently paid a visit to the Geiser Grand, where she and her team set up shop for the night on the third floor. Hers wasn’t the first professional ghost hunter team to visit the hotel. The Atlantic Paranormal Group, hosts of the show Ghost Hunters, has stayed overnight at the inn and also deemed it haunted.
If you’re up for the action and anxiety of being close to haunted places, living in Baker City is a delight. The average home value in Baker City is $153,832, according to Zillow. This figure falls below the national average, making the city a great option for buyers seeking small town (and occasionally spooky) vibes in Oregon.
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