The Haunted Historic
Take a trip back in time,
and maybe meet a ghost!
The Tokeland Hotel lies on a tiny weather-beaten peninsula of the Washington coast. From its windows you can see oyster-filled Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean off in the distance.
Originally constructed in 1885 as a family home, it soon served as a travelers’ haven for persons arriving by boat to the dock at Toke Point. The Hotel is named as the oldest resort hotel in the State of Washington. A violent Pacific storm destroyed part of the Hotel in 1932. Shortly thereafter it was rebuilt, and in the 1970’s it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The hotel keeps to its original design, and that is much of what gives it such coziness and charm. Unlike most hotels or bed and breakfasts today that feature numerous modern-day amenities, the rooms have no television or telephone. They house only the furniture of the period: a bed, a night stand, and a dresser. There are four bathrooms which are shared. Two of the bathrooms feature claw-foot tubs where you may opt for a nice soak. The downstairs restaurant is open to the public and the food is out of this world.
Frequently rented for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, and family gatherings, not all people who come to stay at the Tokeland Hotel are interested in socializing – with living people that is. The hotel is believed by many people to be haunted. It is said that a friendly ghost named “Charley” wanders about the hotel. While most of the time he keeps to himself, he occasionally does things to get a bit of attention.
Charley was one of numerous Chinese immigrants being smuggled into the US to work on the railroads. The fireplace at the Tokeland Hotel had a secret space behind it and immigrants were hidden there on a regular basis. While hiding behind the chimney, Charley died of suffocation. Following his death, unusual occurrences began happening around the hotel and they were attributed to Charley. Many believers say he roams through the hotel and serves as a protector of the property.
Even the Non-Believers Have Stories
Paranormal enthusiasts come from far and wide to “meet” Charley, and many of them come away with a story to tell. Even a good number of non-believers have encountered some out-of-the-ordinary things during their time at the Tokeland Hotel. In fact, while researching this piece, this non-believing author got a sample of what people talk about when being taken on a tour by hotel owner, Katherine White.
She took me on an impromptu tour of the hotel, and I made several comments about the unusual furniture pieces that they had. She told me that patrons regularly donate furniture, so they had acquired quite an eclectic collection. Since I was interested in the furniture, Katherine asked if I would like to see some new furniture donations that had yet to be put on display. I indicated that I’d love to see what else they had.
Katherine led me up another flight of stairs to the third floor that is used only for storage purposes.
This particular day was sunny and natural light was more than enough to light the rooms and hallways.
We spent a few minutes wandering around the third floor as she showed me the donated furniture pieces.
When we returned to the stairway to go back to the second floor, we both stopped because a lightbulb at the top of the stairs was flickering. Katherine asked if I had turned the light on, but I had not.
The stairway and landing were both very well-lit from the sunlight. It would have made no sense to turn on a light.
Neither of us noticed the flickering when we were headed to the third floor. Although it was bright in the stairwell, the flickering light was clearly visible. As we ascended the stairs, I had followed Katherine and I did not see her flip on the light switch. All of the hotel staff members were downstairs working the front desk and the restaurant. Could it have been Charley? I can’t say for sure, but the experience was certainly out of the ordinary.
As if that weren’t strange enough, when I was doing further research on the hotel for this piece, I read numerous accounts of guests who had stayed in several of the rooms on the second floor claiming that they heard noises above them late at night that sounded like sliding coat hangers. The third floor is never used for accommodations – only storage. [Cue Twilight Zone music.]
First-Hand Accounts of Encounters with Charley
A bit of a skeptic herself, Katherine says she doesn’t really believe so much in the paranormal. That being said, she and her husband, Scott (now deceased), have seen more than their fair share of weird happenings during the 26 years that they have owned the hotel.
For example, Katherine tells a story about what happened to her not too long after they purchased the hotel.
While working on the second floor, she looked up and saw some type of foggy-like apparition – a few feet wide and about 1.5 feet wide.
She said it just hung there in the middle of the hallway and looked similar to a cumulus cloud.
On another occasion when she was retrieving something from a store room on the first floor, the door to the room closed behind her and she heard the latch being thrown. She peeked through a crack and saw that the latch had been thrown, preventing the door from being able to be opened. Her first thought was that her husband was playing a trick on her, but he always claimed that it was not him.
She grabbed a piece of wood and pounded against the door to get someone’s attention to let her out, but being in an area of the hotel far from the main area used by guests and staff, she was not heard. It was dark, so she switched on her flashlight which promptly went out.
Unable to get her flashlight to work, she groped her way in the dark over to the light switch located several feet from the door. That light also wouldn’t come on. What makes the story even stranger is that when she came back over to the door with the intention of resuming her pounding to get someone’s attention, she tried again and found the door able to be opened.
As she was telling me the story, Katherine showed me this particular door and asked me to close it. I couldn’t do it with regular effort because it and the threshold beneath it were both swollen from the high humidity levels found on the Washington Coast.
With a great deal of effort, the door could be closed, but it is doubtful that wind blowing through the hotel could have done it – and that still doesn’t explain the latch. With the door shut, I looked through the crack to see if it would be possible to see the latch to verify if it was thrown. Although it took some effort, to peer through such a small space, the latch was visible.
One cold winter day when the hotel was empty, Katherine came over to to set the pipes to drip so they did not freeze. As she was walking by a bookshelf, a very heavy, old fashioned, metal roller skate suddenly fell off the very top of it. The skate narrowly missed her head. (It seems that Charley was not in a good mood that day.)
Once again, I thought that there was likely a simple and rational explanation such as a a loose floor board or something to that effect which must have caused the bookshelf to shift, thereby dislodging the skate that then fell to the floor. I stepped hard on the floor around the bookshelf, but it was solid as bedrock.
Next, I grabbed the shelf and tried to wiggle it. No dice. That thing was just as sturdy. It didn’t move a millimeter. As a last resort, I took a gander at the top shelf and saw that it was level. It had no slope to it – either forward or backwards. I was again without a rational explanation for the reported occurrence.
Living with a Ghost
One would think that Katherine would get rattled after these numerous encounters with Charley, but she seems to just take it in stride. It’s just another day at the Tokeland Hotel to her. She says that Charley normally has pretty good manners, so most of the time it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Katherine is not the only person who has seen these weird things happen. Her late husband, Scott, used to tell a story of a group of “burly local fishermen” who regularly took lunch at the hotel. One afternoon as they were eating, one of the fisherman swore that his plate lifted up above the table, spun around, and set itself back down again. Fishermen are known for their tall tales, but whatever happened left these gentlemen kind of “weirded out.”
On another occasion, Scott saw a bright gleaming white glow of some sort on the floor. He explained that it looked similar to how direct bright sunlight though a window might appear, but when he put his hand over it to block the source of the light, it did not create a shadow. An employee happened into the kitchen at that moment and saw the same thing. A moment later, it vanished.
The Best Seat, errrr, um, Room in the House
Two rooms in the hotel get more reports than any others. Paranormal buffs should ask to stay either in room #7 or in room #3. There seem to be more reports from room #7 than room #3, but the hotel staff hears plenty from folks who stay in either room.
Aside from the two “extra-haunted” rooms, there are 15 more from which to choose if you plan on staying the night. Most rooms have one double or queen-sized bed. There are a few with two doubles or two queens and a few of the rooms have adjoining rooms that can be accessed via a private door.
Whichever room you choose to inhabit, you will find that everyone at the Tokeland Hotel is friendly and accommodating – including Charley…at least most of the time.