American Folklore

American Folklore: Oregon

American Folklore: Oregon

The Spanish, French, and British quarreled over this territory, before it became an American state. It has some intriguing folklore. Here are some of the highlights of it.

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Admitted to the union in 1859 as the thirty-third state, Oregon first shows up in written records in the 1500’s, when Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo came to the area while sailing the North American Pacific coast in 1543. European nations routinely explored the area from that time until 1744, when Spanish, French, and British powers quarreled over the territory. It eventually became a British territory, then was divided between Britain and the United States shortly before being admitted to the union as a state of America.

Naturally, with such a long history of human habitation behind it, Oregon is home to some rich and wonderful folklore. Here are some of the highlights of it.

The Monster of Conser Lake

As with many heavily wooded and/or remote areas of the world, particularly in North America, Oregon has a Bigfoot-like monster associated with it. In the 1960s, visitors to picturesque Conser Lake began reporting sightings of a seven-foot-tall Bigfoot-like creature that supposedly had shaggy white fur and pointy ears.

While the local residents referred to the monster as many different things, it got its official name from a journalist and a psychic who visited the lake together and encountered the monster. They said he spoke to them and told them his name was Flix. Locals still refer to the monster as the Conser Lake Monster, however.

Some people believe the monster to be a Bigfoot, while others believe he is an alien, as there were reports of a UFO crashing to Conser Lake about the same time as the monster was first encountered. Bands of locals formed many times over the years to hunt and capture the monster, but never came back with him. Today, the monster may still be in the Conser Lake area, but no one knows for sure because the lake is now privately owned. This means monster hunting parties can no longer legally access the area.

The Legend of Colossal Claude

Just like the Conser Lake monster is an example of a local Bigfoot, Colossal Claude is an example of one of the many deep, freshwater lake and river monsters around the world. Unlike Bigfoots, which seem to be mostly indigenous to North America, lake and river monsters can be found worldwide. Oregon is no exception. It has its own river monster called Colossal Claude who lives in the Columbia River.

First seen in 1934 by a group of sailors, Colossal Claude was described as being forty feet long, with a snake-like appearance, and eyes that appeared “evil.” Over the next thirty years, Claude was seen and reported numerous times in the Columbia River by both locals, sailors, and visitors, and has been spotted at the mouth of the river, and as far south as Lincoln City.

Most people who have seen Claude say he looks “prehistoric.” Video footage taken in 1963 shows a creature that closely matches the descriptions given by others, except this creature was smaller than the forty to fifty foot long being most other reports described. It was just as creepy in appearance as other reports, and alike to other reports in every other way, however. It seems clear that something is in the Columbia River, though no one knows just what it is yet (just like the other lake and river monsters of the world)

Nina the Pizza Parlor Ghost

If you are looking for a haunted place to hang out, Old Town Pizza in Portland, Oregon has your back. It is not only consistently voted to be one of the best pizza joints in town, it also has a long-time ghostly resident named Nina. Back in the Old West days of more than a century ago, Nina was a local prostitute who worked with the police to help bring down some local bad guys.

The criminal element in Portland did not like this, and took retribution on Nina by pushing her down the elevator shaft of the building in which Old Town Pizza is now located. Her ghost has been there ever since, though she is not an angry spirit. Instead, she keeps to herself, mostly hanging out in the parlor, but still making herself visible to workers and guests.

The Famous Ghosts of Wolf Creek Inn

The Wolf Creek Inn has been around for a while, and was once a fancy and popular place for celebrities and rich people. Such notables as John Wayne, Clarke Gable, US President Rutherford B. Hayes, and Orson Welles are known to have visited the place. It is also the oldest continually operating inn in the American West.

Many ghosts have been reported as having been seen there over the decades. One of the most famous is the ghost of author Jack London, who lived at the inn for a summer and wrote there. He is sometimes seen about the place. Another famous ghost is known as One-Eyed Charlie. Charlie was a stagecoach driver whose name was actually Charlotte Parkhurst.

Charlotte dressed as a man in order to escape the orphanage where she spent her early years. She is famous for having voted in the 1868 US presidential election, long before it was legal for women to do so. She may possibly have been the first American woman to vote in a presidential election. Her ghost haunts the main floor of the inn, and is reportedly quite friendly to visitors.


Will Moneymaker

Will established Ancestral Findings in 1995 and has helped genealogy researchers for over 25 years. He is also a freelance photographer, husband of twenty-eight years, father of four children, and has one grandchild.