A town perched on the western edge of the continent, with a tavern operating since the time of the second world war and a fire truck more than half a century old and haunted by a restless spirit, is ripe for spine tingling stories. But the organizers of the “Haunted Taft: Ghost and Legends of the Oregon Coast” walking tours hit upon one more way to set the mood: tell the tales under a full moon.
“Our first ‘Haunted Taft’ tour went great,” said organizer Shellie Stuart. “We’re having so much fun finding and sharing the many stories from around here. Going out during a full moon just adds that little something extra.”
Putting the creep into creepy, the monthly walking tours, the next being offered Friday, June 21, wind slowly through the historic Taft district. Stops include the actual sites of the stories told or scenic spots where participants might be visited by special guests. The guided portion of the tour usually ends outside the Snug Tavern, the longest continuously running bar on the Oregon Coast, but people can choose to head inside and might get lucky hearing a bit more lore from locals at this popular watering hole.
“We end the tour there so people can get off their feet and have an adult beverage if they want,” said Susan Wahlke, who helped create the tours. “What better way to end it; when you have a place that’s been around for that long, there are bound to be some hauntings.”
This upcoming June tour, however, will have a special detour to celebrate the summer solstice, also that day.
“We are including a beach bonfire just for that one,” Stuart said. “It will be an informal stand-around-style bonfire, but we’ll have s’more fixins.”
Though some fantasy might be woven in, most of what you’ll hear on the tour is grounded in true events and historical places. Tour guide Paul Robertson, a Lincoln City native, enjoys sharing the unique town he grew up in.
“It’s fun to share the local history,” he said. “I’ve actually learned a lot that I didn’t know since I started doing this.”
People who think they already know all of the local legends, people coming from out of the area, and even those who’ve been on previous tours can all enjoy the tour, since even stories that you’ve heard before become just a bit more eerie when the sun is going down and the vintage-style lamps provided to each participant begin to glow in the twilight.
“We have new stories for our 2019 season and we’ll have new stories for 2020,” Stuart said. “We need to keep mixing it up because people love the tour and come back.”
Josh Mattin was looking for something special to do in Lincoln City to celebrate an anniversary with Jessica Gallego when he found out about the tour.
“He surprised me with it,” Gallego said. “He knows I like spooky stuff so when he told me what we were doing I was really excited. I was definitely not disappointed; it was a lot of fun.”
Because the tours are conducted rain or (moon)shine, logo-printed rain ponchos are provided along with other items in a swag bag filled with gifts from local business.
The tour lasts about one and a half hours, covers just under a mile of walking on (mostly) flat surfaces, and is wheelchair accessible.
Reserving a spot ahead of time is highly recommended, as the tours have been quite popular.
“We’re looking at ideas to add more tours, and we even are now offering private group tours,” Stuart said. “We’ve been floored by how many people want to try this experience.”
Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids aged eight to 17. The tour is not recommended for children younger than eight. Through August, the tours begin at 8 pm and meet at the Sapphire Center, 4840 SE Hwy. 101. Please try to arrive 10 minutes early to sign in for your tour.
For more information, go to hauntedtaft.com.