Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lost But Not Forgotten

Magnet # 380:  Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Material:  Resin

Purchased By:  Me

This Halloween season, I've been indulging in one of my favorite creepy activities - watching lots of programs on the Travel Channel about haunted spots all over the world.  I particularly enjoy the shows on haunted lighthouses and hadn't quite realized just how many Oregon has until this year.  So I took to the web, and was able to find a site where I bought a nice supply of very attractive magnets from the Beaver State.  Best of all, they even arrived in time for me to include them in this year's spooky posts.  I've decided to include this one featuring the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse this year, and save the rest for later.  Years ago, one particularly chilling event at this lonely site forever changed the way it's viewed, and even now people are intrigued by the mystery at Yaquina Bay.

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse has seen just about the least amount of activity of any lighthouse in the country - it was used for a mere three years.  It was first lit on November 3rd of 1871 to serve as a beacon for the very popular nearby port.  But it proved to be incapable of keeping up with the growing traffic and just four miles to the north, the taller Yaquina Head Lighthouse was constructed.  At its completion, the Fresnel lens was removed from the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and it was abandoned for about fourteen years.  There were rumors that in 1874 a Captain Evan MacClure, who had once commanded the whaling ship Monkton but had been mutinied against by his crew and put to sea in a small boat had perished and was looking for a place to stay.  People claimed to see his spectre traveling along the coast, complete with red hair and a skeleton face, and believed that he had taken up a sort of residency in the empty lighthouse. And some even said he was looking for a companion.  Later, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was used intermittently by the U.S. Lifesaving Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, who made repairs but also eventually left the structure to the elements.  It was during one of its periods of desertion that the lighthouse received a group of young visitors.  Among them was Muriel Travenard, a teenage girl who had been born at sea to a captain and his wife, who had passed away when Muriel was young.  She sailed with her father for some time, but he eventually took her to Newport, Oregon, where he left her behind with some friends as he took what should have been a short trip to deliver goods.  For months, she awaited her father's return, and was taken in by a group of travelers.  With them, she took trips all over the area, and they finally decided to visit one of the few spots they hadn't explored - the lonely Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.  They were able to borrow a set of keys and ventured out to have a look around.  As the legend goes, the group entered the empty structure and began to look around, a bit shocked by its state of disrepair.  They soon came upon a curious iron plate on the floor of the second story.  They pried it open and were amazed to find it covered a deep hole with no visible end.  Leaving the plate open, they continued on with searching the house and its surroundings.  By the end of the day, when they were ready to leave, Muriel realized she'd left a handkerchief or shawl behind in the house.  She went back alone, at her insistence, to get it.  Her friends waited for her, but she didn't return.  Some versions of the story claim they heard three horrific cries for help come from the house.  At last, they returned to the lighthouse, calling out to the girl.  And when they came upon a pool of warm blood, they were stunned.  Drops of blood led in a trail to the iron door, which was now closed.  Try as they might, the group couldn't get it open again.  Some say they even found a bloody handkerchief there.  And althought they brought in reinforcements to search the area, they never found Muriel, or managed to open the mysterious door.  And sadly, her father never came back for her.  Gone, Muriel might have eventually been forgotten, but it seems as though she's had other plans.

Visitors to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse now claim to see bloodstains in the floor which never seem to go away, no matter how hard some try to remove them.  And some have even said they've spotted the ghost of Muriel herself, looking down at them from the lantern room, standing on the landing of the second story, or walking a path behind the lighthouse.  Others have apparently encountered the ghost of Captain MacClure.  They've also supposedly heard Muriel crying and hold that when the weather gets bad, she becomes even more agitated.  And one couple whose daughter was married at the lighthouse say that Muriel may have made an appearance in a photo that was taken of the bride on the staircase.  Of course, the mystery of just what happened to poor Muriel continues to stir interest.  One theory is that the tunnel was used to shanghai sailors to use on ships, and a fate similar to that may have befallen her.  Or perhaps a person was living in that hole and he killed the girl, then dragged her body in.  And there's always the small chance that the ghost of Captain MacClure got her.  It's impossible to know what Muriel encountered that day, but by all accounts, it was awful.  As for the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, by the 1940's, it was scheduled for demolition, but through the efforts of a local campaign and a generous donation from a wealthy industrialist, the historic site was saved.  And on December 7, 1996 it was lit for the first time in over a century thanks to a loan of a 250mm modern optic from a lighthouse historian.  Now, the light from the once dim structure can reach as far as six miles.  It's open to the public, so stop by if you want a chance to see the Captain or Muriel.  But learn from her mistake and don't wander away from your group.  The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is not a place where it's wise to venture off on your own!

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