Local Treasures with Pia: Ghost Tour

It may not be the most common question they get at the library, but it happens often enough that librarians take notice, especially around Halloween.

“People come in and ask if their house is haunted,” said Spokane librarian Vanessa Strange. “We can’t answer that question, but we can help them find information about the history of their house, and sometimes they find something in that history that explains what they have experienced.”

Because so many Halloween events are canceled because of COVID, Strange and her colleagues came up with a safe, fun and a little bit spooky outdoor activity for families; a walking tour of haunted places in downtown Spokane.

“Architecture and spooky things are kind of my main jam, so this was the perfect project,” Strange said.

To find haunted spots, Strange relied on Chet Caskey’s books on haunted places in Spokane and lots of reading of old newspaper articles. Like the 1920 news story about widow Ellen McNamara who fell to her death at the Historic Davenport Hotel, and now allegedly haunts the place uttering her last words, ‘Where did I go?’

“There are some pretty cool ghost stories in downtown Spokane, if you just look for them a little,” Strange said.

The Spokane Club and the former Smith Funeral Home on Riverside Avenue are both on the tour for ghostly activity, as is the Steam Plant on South Lincoln Street. 

The Steam Plant was built on the site of a passenger terminal that burned to the ground in the 1889 Spokane fire, and several people didn’t escape the burning building. Construction of the Steam Plant began in 1915. However, rebuilding wasn’t quick and easy because workers reported seeing dark shadows and hearing strange cries – and they repeatedly walked off the job. 

Spokane Psychic Medium Teacher Candess Campbell explored reports of a poltergeist (a noisy ghost that moves things) at the Steam Plant together with Caskey, and she felt a presence there.

So, what is a ghost? Campbell said that, very briefly explained, a ghost is a human who died but did not cross fully over to the afterlife, leaving its spirit here.

“If you do encounter a ghost just imagine a golden white light, a divine light, flooding the ghost,” Campbell said. “It will either thank you or scamper away!”

If you want to do more of your own research, you can find Chet Caskey’s books at the library or at Auntie’s Bookstore or you can connect with the Spokane Paranormal Investigation Group found on Facebook. Learn more about Candess Campbell online.

Are you ready to go out there and look for a different kind of downtown haunt? View Spokane Library's online interactive map.

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  1. Local Treasures with Pia