Category: General Article
GPS Coordinates: 44.624152, -124.063035
There’s hardly a lighthouse in the world that doesn’t boast at least one ghost story. And why not? Often lighthouses are located in remote and inhospitable areas, where they’re frequently battered by high seas, hurricane-force winds and driving rains. The tower’s light can produce strange illusions on a foggy night. The wind blowing across the conically-shaped towers and the machinery inside can produce strange noises which can be misinterpreted as something… well… unearthly.
Both Newport area lighthouses have their own ghost stories, but the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse boasts the most famous short story, which started as a piece of fiction written in 1899 by an Oregon resident named Lischen M. Miller.
“The Haunted Lighthouse” appeared in the Pacific Monthly magazine and was inspired by Miller’s own fascination with the then-abandoned building.
In the tale, a young woman named Muriel Trevenard visits the old lighthouse with a group of acquaintances and finds a mysterious chamber behind an inside wall. The visitors all assume it’s a passage used by smugglers and pay it little mind. But then Muriel goes missing… and only her blood-soaked handkerchief is recovered.
In spite of the title, there’s no ghost in Miller’s story, but ghosthunters were happy to create one. Even today, the story is often told as a factual account with Muriel Trevenard becoming the ghost who haunts the lighthouse. Volunteers at the lighthouse have fun with the tale, too. Every Halloween, they retell it to wide-eyed visitors and then invite them to explore the lighthouse in search of Muriel.
So far, no one’s reported finding her.
Related Information: The Twin Lights of Newport
Photo credits: Lincoln County Historical Society.