Eerie Places People Don't Talk About
A Look Into Oregon's Wasco County
I think it is obvious to all of us what people look for when trying to find haunted areas. It usually includes a building in which someone was murdered or where people were tortured. It has some sort of well known history like that and people like to go there to toy around with whatever spirits are left there to haunt visitors. I want to introduce a different sort of eerie; the one you really have to be in tuned with your surroundings to figure out what is going on.
Over the past few days, two friends of mine and I decided to go on a little road trip to Bend, Oregon (We are from Portland.) Our trip was going great until we decided to look up ghost towns to explore for our way back. We noticed many of the ghost towns listed were all in Wasco County, a county we could go through on our way home, located east of Mt. Hood, including the Dalles in it. Without any further research, we went for it.
There is not much to describe the feeling I had when entering the wheat farm foothills leading to this ghost town called Friend. Its like I knew it was a bad idea, but didn't know why. Maybe it was the instant change in weather from sunny to icy and foggy. Or maybe that every other option of road despite the one we were taking was dirt and gravel. Sometimes you just know, though...
When we reached Friend, we found what was the only store in the area, shown below.
We did not get out of the car because it looked like someone was still living there, and this is the type of area in Oregon where, if you step foot on someone's property, they shoot you. Further down the road, we discovered the one-room school house the town used to use. Inside was an old piano, desks, and chalkboards.
Up until now, everything was borderline sketchy. It wasn't until we decided to leave that things started reaching a creepy. Using the maps app on iPhone, we looked up the route back to Portland. The fastest route it suggested was some forest road that connected with 35 on Mt. Hood. Knowing it would be closed from snow or just too dangerous in general, I suggested we just go up through the Dalles. I've traveled on too many forest roads to know the bad situations they lead to...
With that decided, we clicked that route on maps and went on our way. The first turn it told us to make was on a dead end road. First red flag? Probably. I skipped that road and went down the next one, which then told us to make a right turn straight into a wheat field with tractor tire marks. Nope. I skipped that turn, too, and kept going. Once it told us to go down another dead end road, we looked at maps again and realized it had switched the route on us to take us on the sketchy road leading to 35! Not okay. We switched it back and drove back to the paved road and continued not the way we came, but the opposite direction, since it should have connected us with Dufur, then the Dalles.
As the road kept getting icier and it started to rain, we passed the sign that said "Now entering Mt. Hood National Forest." WHAT. We were supposed to be heading east, not west into the forest. Maps had switched yet again, and, by this point, I couldn't hide how unnerved I was. I had never had this happen to me. Is maps even allowed to switch the route on you without saying?
This was the type of backcountry that people go missing in. You don't know what kind of folks are nice or not. After making a "U'y," we program maps to take us to the Dalles instead of Portland. I ignored most of its suggestions and stayed on the paved road, not making turns into anymore wheat fields or dead ends until we reached Highway 197 again.
My dad has told me this one story where he was hunting and came to a place in the woods where every hair on his body stood up straight. He figured it must have been old Native American burial grounds or something of the sort. We have a lot of areas like that in Oregon. When I told my parents how out by Dufur was kind of creepy, he told me that is where he encountered that area. Turns out there is a lot of bad history with the Native Americans, within their owns tribes and with the Oregon Trail. With this new knowledge, it made a lot more sense why this area east of the mountain did feel haunted. History has a way of shaping the land.
The next day, I was getting lunch with a friend and I was telling her about my haunting events from the day before. She told me her coworker who kept walking by lived in Dufur. I called her over and asked her if she thought the area out by Dufur was haunted. She immediately went into about how there was bad history with Native Americans over there and that there were creepy things that went on that were never documented. There was a reason her family moved over to Portland.
When you look up haunted areas in Oregon, the eastern side of Mt. Hood and into the foothills over there never come up. Is this not strange? I looked up Wasco County itself and found some interesting history about this cult tribe called the Rajneeshee, who, to win votes in Wasco County, poisoned people with Salmonella back in the 1980s. There were other stories like this, too.
Though it is not obvious what has gone on over there on the east side of the mountain, something did. Talk to anyone who has spent time out there. It is not a place you want to hangout in. There is a bone-chilling effect you get just from the atmosphere itself. There have to be more reasons why this county has the most abandoned cities in Oregon.