This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 22, 2003 5:00 PM. The previous post in this blog was Oh, won't you stay.... The next post in this blog is Moving on. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

They're still there

There's a great series of stories in this week's weekday Portland Tribune about haunted spots around Portland. Among those profiled is Edgefield Manor, the former Multnomah County Poor Farm out in Troutdale that's been transformed into a hotel-theater-brewery-restaurant-golf-you-name-it complex by my favorite Oregon entrepreneurs, the McMenamin brothers.

My wife and I had the privilege of spending a night out at Edgefield years ago when it first opened as a hotel. There were only a small number of rooms, because only the first floor of the hotel was occupied. The upper floors hadn't been restored yet, and as one of the kids who worked there showed us on an impromptu tour, they were still a neglected and vandalized wreck.

Hardly anyone was staying at the place, and so we had the run of it to ourselves. After a nice dinner and some excellent wine that we had brought along (their winery operation hadn't really begun in earnest yet), we took a stroll around the buildings and grounds.

And though we didn't see anything "paranormal," we couldn't help but feel the many spirits of the folks who had lived and died at Edgefield between 1911 and 1982. These people had been sent there in the days before welfare checks, to earn their keep through manual labor on a sprawling, financially successful, operating farm. When that kind of role for the poor fell out of fashion, most of them were too old to fend for themselves, and so the county simply turned the place into a public nursing home. Many of the old folks died right where they had lived for many years.

That night, we heard their laughs and their cries. There was a strong aura of death, but also one of birth, about the place. We felt the "inmates," as they had been known, looking down at us from the high ceilings. We sensed them around every corner.

The quietly spoken story had it that the McMenamins had brought in some psychics to check the place out before they rebuilt it. Most of these visitors were deeply moved by what they felt at Edgefield; some were reduced to tears. The energy pulsing from the old infirmary (now the winery) was so strong that one expert took just a quick look around the wing and literally had to run out and regain her composure.

For our part, we felt no fear, just awe. We recognized right off that of the many special places in Oregon, this is one to be approached only with the greatest reverence.

Despite all the fun trappings of the bustling McMenamin resort, there's a steady ringing vibe there, coming from the people to whom the place once belonged, and still belongs. Their presence is way too strong to ignore.

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