Signpost up ahead: Next stop, Port Gamble

The Ames House — come nightfall it takes on a life of its own. - Bronsyn Springer/Photo illustration
The Ames House — come nightfall it takes on a life of its own.
— image credit: Bronsyn Springer/Photo illustration

t Is Port Gamble haunted? Wouldn’t you like to find out?

PORT GAMBLE — A 150-year-old town, strange creaks and paranormal sightings sound like the perfect set up for a scary movie. But for many Port Gamble residents it’s a daily reality.

From sightings of a mother and two kids peering out the Ames House attic windows, to unexplained bruising and self-deadbolting doors — it happens too often and to too many people to be coincidence, said Shana Smith, Port Gamble manager and museum curator.

“There are strange things that happen in a lot of the buildings in town,” Smith said. “Shoot, it has been here since 1853. It has been here a long time and had a lot of things happen.”

After heavy research by psychics, sensitives and Evergreen Paranormal — a paranormal research investigative team specializing in the Pacific Northwest — Smith entered the town to SciFi channel’s television show “Ghost Hunters.” Port Gamble is now competing with the nation’s top haunts to air in the series on All Hallow’s Eve. Her case is strong.

The dark, damp basement and attic of the Ames House might be too cliche for some but they generate the most activity and seem to be the gathering spaces for the poltergeist residing there, Smith said in reference to the documents completed by Evergreen Paranormal.

What’s scarier than the sightings are the happenings undetected by human eyes or ears but picked up by simple devices like a tape recorder.

In many nightly investigations, devices such as electro magnetic field (EMF) meters, a camera and a tape recorder were taken into the buildings.

On one of the nights Smith forgot her EMF meter but the group continued with the project and recorded it just the same.

Upon playing the tape back of that night, Smith is heard apologizing to the group saying she must have left the EMF meter in her desk. Right after Smith spoke, the recording captured another voice saying “That’s a lie! Liar, liar!” but no one in the group heard anything in the house that night.

On another segment of tape, one of the men participating in the walk through is heard joking saying, “What are you trying to do, blind me?” to a woman taking photos using a flash.

The recording picked up a more sinister voice saying, “(She) tried to blind me too. Get ‘er.”

While some recordings capture voices seeming to talk back to the investigating crew, other recordings capture multiple voices holding a dialogue completely separate from the group.

In a brown guest house, located down the hill from the graveyard, a dialogue was captured between a male and female voice.

“Hi, I’m Cecil. Please sign in here.”

“Thank you. I will.”

The recording signifies a residual interaction, said Smith.

“Whatever they are, it doesn’t seem like they are aware of us. It’s like an imprint they left from living that way day after day. It’s not like the other ones. It’s not a conscious interaction.”

Most recordings capture one to two word responses ranging from a simple “Thank you” or a “Hi.”

Kathy Kellar, Port Gamble maintenance manager, assisted in some of the night sessions after experiencing her own paranormal activity while working in some of the houses.

“I thought I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye,” she said. “My boss came up to me and, pointing at the upstairs window, asked who I had working with me that day. I was all alone.”

Kellar said she also has been dead-bolted inside one of the homes and heard from three different tenants the same story of waking up with the feeling that something was sitting at the end of their bed.

“None of the tenants knew each other or the background of what we have experienced,” she said.

Ethel Molina, owner of the Port Gamble General Store, said she has no doubt in her mind there is unexplained activity centered throughout the town and inside her store.

“It is really haunted,” she said. “All the employees feel a presence here. Cabinet files open by themselves and I can hear someone following me.”

While cleaning off tables in the store, next door to the Ames House, Molina said she saw the figure of a woman with two kids watching her.

“There is no guess in my mind,” she said. “This is real.”

Molina said she has a specialty wine sold in the store devoted to the paranormal, named ‘Port Gamble Ghost,’ sold as a tribute to the activities encountered there.

For now, the case at Port Gamble is closed, unless ‘Ghost Hunters’ picks it up to unravel the mystery of the unsettled.

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