Book Review - Portland's Rose City Ghosts I by Jefferson Davis
I saw Portland's Rose City Ghosts I by Jefferson Davis at the library the other day, and thought it looked interesting (and short). Living in Portland, I wondered what locations were considered the "most haunted" around here. The best part about the book is that it *was* short, as the writing and content selection was very uneven. I would have enjoyed this much more as a series of blog entries...
Introduction; Founding Portland and its Ghosts; South Old Town Portland; North Old Town Portland; Outside Downtown Portland Proper; The Willamette and East Portland; Index
Davis has done a number of books about mysterious phenomena in this area, and he also leads walking tours of the downtown Portland area. History-wise, he knows his stuff about the early days of Portland, when the roads were mud, the shanghai tunnels were in constant use, and pretty much anything was legal so long as you didn't get caught. In the book, he tells stories about particular buildings that have a history of paranormal activity. By digging into the past, he attempts to put potential names to the apparitions that appear to unsuspecting occupants. After reading Rose City Ghosts, you'll come away with a bit of a different view on certain locations you pass by every day.
The problem I had was with the wide variance in the story styles and information. For instance, he devotes a lot of space to the White Eagle Saloon (with whom I share a very similar phone number). He talks about the owners and occupants of the upper floors, the untimely demise of a certain individual, and how that could well tie back to the strange things that happen there to this day. Not bad... But right before that, we have a story of the Steel Bridge, how it works, and the story of a couple that committed suicide from the bridge by hanging themselves in 1998. The closest we get to a "ghost" story with this is the final two lines: "No one has reported seeing them reliving their tragic fall. Fortunately." Ok, then why is this story even in here? Much the same with the passage about the Morrison Bridge. He says there have been unconfirmed reports (no details) in the past. He says there was a case of a trolley long ago sliding on "one of" Portland's many bridges, but he's not sure anyone died, or that it was even the Morrison Bridge. This is then followed by a story of how coffins were ferried across the river at that point before the bridge was built. Again, this is a ghost story why?
This is a self-published title of 93 pages, with stories that have appeared in other Davis books and publications. It shows. If you are interested in the local history of Portland and have an hour to spend at the library reading Portland's Rose City Ghosts I, go for it. But don't go in thinking that this is going to be a book you just couldn't put down...