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Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune Historic Jacksonville Inc. tour guide Carolyn Embry stands on the stairs of the historic 1883 Jacksonville County Courthouse.

Historic Haunted Places Tours Return

JACKSONVILLE — Preparing for what they hope will be a season unaffected by the pandemic, fires or other unforeseen circumstances, a touring season filled with stories of “unhappiness, grief and regret from the spirits that still linger in the historic buildings of Jacksonville” returns to the city.

A huge hit with visitors, Jacksonville Haunted History Walking Tours will run for a very long season until September 9th. Tours depart from the Jacksonville Visitors Center at the corner of North Oregon and C streets and last approximately one hour.

The tours, which are scheduled on the second Friday of each month, have two time slots each evening.

Courthouse tours, highlighting brothels, epidemics and hangings, start at 7 and 7:30 p.m.

The Britt Hill tour, departing at 7:15 and 7:45 p.m., will highlight arson, saloons, and Oregon’s oldest Chinatown.

In October, tours will be offered on Fridays and Saturdays.

Carolyn Kingsnorth, local historian and president of Historic Jacksonville, Inc., said the upcoming season will be longer than previous years, hoping to achieve a full season of visits despite possible disruptions or forces of nature. .

“When tours take place at dusk or after dark, visitors may plan to bring lanterns or flashlights to help them see. It’s likely that the nighttime lighting will provide an even scarier effect, not that some of the stories to be shared might be much scarier,” she said.

Withstanding everything from the pandemic to wildfires, touring has been constantly evolving in recent years. A sign that touring fans are ready to be back, many dates had already started to fill up before the schedule was even officially released.

Run through Halloween but very scary for year-round creepiness and a colorful glimpse into history, Kingsnorth said tours are not recommended for youngsters. Children 6 and under are definitely not allowed.

“These are not your typical ghost tours with special effects and role-playing, but historical tours about real hauntings resulting from past events, and the spirits are still very active,” Kingsnorth said.

“People love the tours, and they really seem to attract people who wouldn’t necessarily come to history-themed events. We look for ways to share history in the sense of what history is really about – people and their stories.

Dressed for an upcoming tour on a recent visit, docent Carolyn Embry looked a lot like a former resident in period attire on the lawn of the 1883 courthouse, which now houses Jacksonville City Hall.

A favorite with visitors, Embry Courthouse tours include a wealth of stories about the old courthouse, the site of the jail, and the site of the gallows that once stood between the two buildings.

Embry shares a tail of the Chinese miner named Tom accused of unethical behavior. Before hanging himself, he shredded pieces of newspapers and formed Chinese characters to proclaim his innocence.

Five years later, in 1886, the ghost of the miner is said to have haunted convicted murderer Louis O’Neil, the last man to be hanged in Jacksonville. O’Neil complained of a Chinese ghost that kept him awake at night.

At the time, Ashland Tidings reported that the dead miner was pranking his cell to have his bones dug up and sent back to China to finally allow eternal rest.

Worth a thrill or two, the former gallows site, between the courthouse and the fourth jail to sit on the site, was once a circus atmosphere where county officials, who put up fencing to “prevent onlookers to come in,” sold 200 tickets to take advantage of the event, Embry explained.

Across the street, the Magnolia Inn was once a sanatorium, abandoned over the next few years to serve as low-cost lodging for the needy. The ghost of a little girl is said to have peeked through the window of the old coroner’s office, diagonally from the courthouse.

Kingsnorth said the stories worth sharing are endless. She reiterates that the stories are very real.

“There’s a lot of activity here, and the stories have been around for many years. One of our teachers who grew up here, when she was a teacher as a teenager and the prison was the children’s museum, she was sitting and reading alone when she was suddenly moved a yard… it was the end of her teaching career,” Kingsnorth said. .

“We talk about those restless souls who were here before us and the things they went through. Many of them…are still there.

If you are going to

Reservations for summer tours offered by Historic Jacksonville are on a first-come, first-served basis. Organizers say space is limited, so book early. Most tours are $10, with a Saturday morning walking tour available for a registered donation.

Summer offers include:

Victorian Days: Third Saturdays, through August 16

Walk through history: every Saturday, from May 28 to September 3

Beekman Bank “Behind the Counter” Tours: Every weekend, May 28 – September 4

To book tours online, visit historicjacksonville.org/haunted-history-tours/

For more information, email [email protected] or call 541-245-3650.

Contact freelance writer Buffy Pollock at [email protected]


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