As Halloween approaches, some guests may wonder about spirits of early Californians that may linger near Fortuna. While none reside at The Redwood Riverwalk Hotel, there are stories about ghosts who haunt Ferndale, Scotia, Samoa, and Eureka. Here are just a few of these tales, presented in the spirit of the season.
In the nearby historic Victorian Village of Ferndale, there may be many ghostly citizens, but the most reported spirit is Bertha Russ-Lytel, who resides at the Ferndale Repertory Theatre. The Theatre is housed in the former Hart Theatre building, where Ferndale residents once enjoyed silent films, talkies, and touring vaudeville acts. Bertha is said to sometimes appear at night, often in the form of a cat walking in the theater’s aisles during a play, or helpfully answering the telephone when no one else is around. Beware if you need to use the restroom – she can be a bit of a prankster, locking the door from the inside!
If you are seeking spirits from the past, Eureka is said to be one of the most haunted places on the West Coast. Theaters are popular among spirits there, too. People tell stories about ghosts in the Eureka Theater and in the Eureka High School auditorium. Many local residents believe ghosts haunt old buildings at Fort Humboldt State Historic Park. Staff and visitors report mysterious sounds of heavy objects being dragged across the floor, lights flickering off and on, and apparitions in the old hospital of a post commander who died of malaria in 1859.
Eureka’s Old Town abounds with stories of lingering spirits, perhaps in part because of its historic buildings and the history of gold miners, sailors, and loggers enjoying the port’s gambling, saloons, and ladies of the evening. There’s no better residence for ghosts than a museum, and both the Clarke Historical Museum and the Morris Graves Museum of Art are said to have such permanent residents. Three female ghosts reside in the Clarke Historical Museum, apparently with very different temperaments. Museum workers and visitors report that one who appears near a piano, perhaps its former owner, seems happy, but the one in the basement seems lost or confused, and the third, on the second floor, is angry. At the Morris Graves Museum of Art, a workman’s spirit may linger from the building’s construction in 1903, when Howell, as the ghost is known, fell to his death from the balcony. Women drinking at the water fountain near the rotunda have reported he can get a little “fresh” – uninhibited by 21st century views of sexual harassment!
According to Old Town Haunted History Tours, there are 27 spots in Old Town Eureka that are haunted or have reported ghost sightings. You can take a paranormal journey back through time to see for yourself, and learn about Eureka’s hauntingly bawdy past on one of their walking tours. The tours begin and end near the Old Town Gazebo, and cost $20 per person. Reservations are required; tours are available most evenings with a minimum of five people. For more information, visit the Old Town Haunted History Tour website.
Whether or not you believe in these stories and spirits, October is a wonderful month to visit the Fortuna, and enjoy all the adventures the Redwood Coast, so give us a call or go online and book your stay at The Redwood today!