CHEMULT — “Who,” Colleen Riley remembers being asked by a guest, “was that lady with the long white dress and the long white hair walking between rooms?”
“Nobody,” Riley answered.
Maybe she should have answered, “No body.”
Riley is the owner of the Dawson House Lodge in Chemult, a lodge with a history. And, depending on who’s talking, a spooky history that includes a ghost or two.
Riley, who started working at the Dawson House in 2009 and now owns the lodge, has been hearing stories about paranormal inhabitants for years.
“Just shadows,” she says of her own ghostly experiences at the two-story structure which was built in 1929 to serve as a boarding house for railroad and highway workers. “Once in a while, a Victorian lady.”
Was she smirking?
“In the Trupp Room,” she continued, adding, supposedly for clarification, “The room you stayed in.”
Holy ghost! Is it a friendly Casper ghost, or an escaped slasher from the “Halloween” movie franchise?
“If they are ghosts,” Riley offered reassuringly, “they’re nice ghosts.”
Reports of ghosts haunting the hallowed halls of the Dawson House are nothing new.
In 2008, reports of haunted hallways lured Haunted Hunters, a Klamath Falls group that has since mysteriously vanished, to the lodge. The apparently defunct group — their telephone number has been disconnected and their website no longer exists — filed an “investigation report” that November following an overnight visit.
According to the report, owners who preceded Riley told of hearing the banging of doors, sounds of footsteps, things dropping on the hallway floor and voices from turned off computer speakers. Other tales included musty — dusty smells, lights that unnaturally dimmed, sounds of laughter from inside rooms, rattling doorknobs and faces in mirrors.
The Haunted Hunters unit, nine investigators and one junior member, split into three teams and rotated to pre-assigned locations on an hourly basis. They used an arsenal of spook detecting equipment — including two digital camcorders with “nightshot,” four hand-held audio recorders, three audio recorders, six walkie-talkies and even more tracking devices.
Because of earlier reports indicating the sightings of a little girl, the team used “trigger objects” — a coloring book, playing cards and marbles — “in hopes that they would be played with.”
But, wait. There’s more.
EVP (electronic voice phenomena) sessions were started to open dialogue between investigators and potential presences. A video recorder, the report says, “caught what we believed to be a voice of a small child saying, ‘Mommy.’ ” Teams reported sounds that could not be explained. An investigator, relaxing in the Jessup Room, said the television turned itself on to a static screen. She turned it off, went in search of another investigator. When they returned, the television was on, again with a static screen.
Teams walking across the Trupp Room — that room again! — heard noises from inside, but once inside nobody, and no body, was found.
A team review later concluded the Hunters could not declare the lodge was haunted. But, based on personal experiences and staff reports “we would definitely say they have some good activity going on, but not enough to really support a ‘haunting.’ ”
Riley’s heard some stories, including a man who said the comforter on his bed was inching down, something he suspected was his wife’s doing. But, according to the tale, when he opened his eyes, she was in the shower.
“I’ve had people tell me they’ve had experiences, but I believe they wanted them,” she says.
Still, “Once in a while, the cat’s in the hallway, and runs like she’s startled.”
And, Riley confessed, she has found cereal boxes inside doors and other illogical places.
Is the Dawson House haunted?
Riley doesn’t think so. But she welcomes visitors wanting to find out for themselves.
Ask for the Trupp Room.