Paranormal Tourism Big in Small Oregon Town

for Those Traveling to and from Oregon; Space Travel

Published 10/25/09

Paranormal Tourism Big in Small Oregon Town

Above Manzanita and ethereal Nehalem Bay.

(Wheeler, Oregon) – For fans of the ABC show 'LOST,' one tiny town on the Oregon coast is gaining popularity for a strange legend that says it has many of the qualities of that mysterious, paranormal island in the show. That, combined with a handful of other weird tales of hauntings, is making it sort of a paranormal tourism hotspot.

Wheeler, which sits on the Nehalem Bay, is about six blocks long, straddling the coastal Highway 101. It's a kind of blip if you’re passing through, verging on unremarkable if you're not looking. But it's here where a large amount of wild tales emerge – one of them called the “Wheeler Moment.” It’s a hazy thing, typified by serendipitous coincidences that have an otherworldly element to them. There’s also a sense of the place, say locals, of “make a wish for something and it may come true.”

Local resident Peg Miller described it as: “you’re thinking about something, or needing something, and it just sort of appears.” She refers to the area as being a “spiritual vortex lite.”

Interior of the Old Wheeler Hotel

A few years back, when Miller owned a B&B in Wheeler, she had one of these “Wheeler Moments” with the plumbing.

“I had just discovered a leak,” Miller said. “And I was wondering what I was going to do. Then I was interrupted by the doorbell, and there was a guest at the door. During registration, I mentioned I had this leak to deal with, and it turned out he was a plumber.”

He not only fixed the leak but became her regular plumber after that.

This is typical of the Wheeler Moment: a bit of serendipity when a need arises – but one that falls gently out of the blue, often from left field.

Old docks of the Nehalem Bay

Other “Wheeler Moments” for Miller include the time she was having trouble with the latch on a thousand-dollar bracelet, and it turned out a guest was a jeweler, among numerous others.

These sort of coincidences happen all the time in someone’s life. But the difference – says the former owner of Old Wheeler Hotel – is that they happen more often in this placid little place. Winston Laszlo helped coin the phrase after he and a handful of others noticed the phenomenon.

“I'd say that the ‘Wheeler Moment’ is the result of some sort of spiritual vortex that apparently exists in this little corner of the Oregon coast,” Laszlo said. “It seems that the vortex - or whatever it is – causes wishes and visions to become manifest at a higher than normal frequency here.

Old Wheeler Hotel

“I believe ‘funky coincidences’ occur all the time. It's just that apparently that property of nature is stronger around here. The phenomenon occurs here at a much higher frequency - and at a higher speed - than elsewhere. Whether it has to do with the geography of the area, or the meteorology, or maybe even the human history, it is something that you have to experience for yourself.”

Like ‘LOST,’ with its strangely intertwined coincidences, the little town seems to yield more layers all the time.

Another famous Wheeler Moment is the newlywed couple who came to town and began to become entranced by it. They started thinking about living here. As they wandered the streets, looking at homes for sale, they discovered a telephone in front that had a heart with two sets of initials scratched into it – the same initials as theirs.

Like ‘LOST,’ with its strangely intertwined coincidences, the little town seems to yield more layers all the time. LOST is also typified by people who were unknowingly tied together in surprising ways – and this place is doling that out as well.

"Spirit orbs" photographed by a ghost hunting group outside the basement of the Old Wheeler Hotel.

Laszlo said a few years after starting the Old Wheeler Hotel, his family discovered a distant family member had spent time in that building already decades ago. His family is from other states, and somehow one ended up in this tiny little place that most Oregonians haven’t even heard of.

The list of these tales goes on as well.

Also like the island on LOST, there’s a lot of ghosts.

Nehalem Bay is comprised of Wheeler as well as the little towns of Nehalem and Manzanita – the latter is right on the beach. Each has their own little ghost tale or two, but Wheeler has the most.

The Old Wheeler Hotel is a standout, most notably its haunted beginnings. Laszlo said as he and has wife started refurbishing the dilapidated building into the glory it is now, the building seemed to be fighting them. For much of that year and a half, one oddball disaster after another set them back.

Then, one day, the building seemed to accept them and stop fighting them, and the remodeling went smoothly.

Meanwhile, there had already been rumors the building – once a clinic – was pretty haunted. In fact, local business owner Amy Dunlap said the structure was sold to the Laszlo’s by her mother years ago. But Amy would not go in the building.

The stage at the nearby winery is said to be inhabited by something otherwordly.

Later, more than one group of ghost hunter has wandered through the hotel. One caught pictures of what may be “spirit orbs” outside the hotel’s basement.

The local wateringhole The Sea Shack has rumors of hauntings. At the very northern end of Wheeler, a woman got the permits to have her own home burned down in the 90’s, saying it was haunted by children of native tribes.

On the outskirts of town, the Nehalem Bay Winery has abundance of spooky tales as well, cajoling two groups of ghost hunters. One group said they encountered the spirit of a young girl playing in the place, happy to carouse by herself there in the afterlife.

To see a video about the winery hauntings, click here.


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