Oregon Ghosts and Hauntings: Hot Lake Hotel

On a lonely stretch of highway in the eastern Oregon desert, the grand Hot Lake Hotel stands as a reminder of days gone by. Now a bed and breakfast, Hot Lake Hotel was once a grand resort, and people from all over the country flocked to bathe and relax in it’s thermal mineral springs. The hotel, ravaged by time and tragedy, has been restored to some of it’s original luxury – so much so that a few of it’s former guests have never checked out.

Built in 1864, Hot Lake Hotel enjoyed a great popularity, due in part to the attribution of “healing properties” to the hot springs that existed on the site. In 1917, a Dr. W.T. Phy bought the property and transformed it into a state-of-the-art medical sanitarium, capitalizing on the hot springs to draw in the patients. For years, it functioned as both a hotel and a hospital, until a fire in 1934 destroyed the original building.

From then on, Hot Lake Hotel served as asylum, nursing home, and finally an unsuccessful restaurant, before being abandoned and left to vandals in the late 80’s or early 90’s. It was at this time that the rumors of haunting began to surface.

The most persistent story seems to be that of a gardener who committed suicide on the grounds. Reports vary widely, but most say he either jumped from an upper story, or hanged himself in the hotel’s grand ballroom. He can be seen lurking in the shadows on the grounds, generally with a spade in his hand.

The creaky voice of an old woman is sometimes heard muttering to herself as she ascends the staircase from the first floor to the second. It is believed that she is a holdout from the nursing home days of the hotel, and does not appreciate the changes that have been made to her home.

A young boy is said to run back and forth on the top floor of the hotel. He is a happy spirit, always laughing and smiling, although those who have seen him say that the right side of his body is horribly burned, leading to the belief that he may have perished or been gravely injured in the 1934 fire. If so, it certainly hasn’t ruined his appetite, as guests occasionally report returning to their rooms to find their snacks have disappeared, and hearing his joyful laugh in the hall.

Hot Lake Hotel’s days as a mental asylum have led to some reports of deranged ghosts appearing at second and third story windows, frightening guests from sleep with unintelligible words and animal-like grunts. There are also rumors of screams from former operating rooms, generally attributed to cruel and painful experiments carried out by Dr. Phy in Hot Lake’s hospital days. There are, however, no reports of Dr. Phy being anything less than a capable physician.

A piano, once belonging to the wife of General Robert E. Lee, sits on the third floor of Hot Lake Hotel, and is said to play by itself from time to time, and occasionally rocking chairs rock when no one is nearby.

The current owner has restored many of the guest rooms, and the bed and breakfast now contains a spa, museum and a restaurant. He is hesitant to speak of the hotel’s non-paying guests, and prefers to discuss history rather than hauntings. The mineral pool, which drew so many people to the Hot Lake Hotel, is now covered and landscaped, although plans for new pools are in the works.

Is Hot Lake Hotel really haunted? People who have stayed there certainly think so. To find out for yourself, head out Interstate 84 to exit 265 and turn right towards Union. Reservations for the bed and breakfast can be made by calling (541) 963-4685.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *