“If you’re afraid, then you better stay home
‘Cause there’s no turning back once the dice are cast
Lovers and strangers will all go thru changes
When they get the good, old spirit down at the Hoodoo Bash”
– Peter Stampfel & the Unholy Modal Rounders, “Hoodoo Bash” – Have Moicy! (1976)
When Liz and I learned that there was a haunted saloon turned into a brew pub in Portland we just had to book a stay there. Okay, to be honest, the conversation went something more like this:
Liz: The White Eagle Cafe & Saloon is allegedly haunted. Let’s see if we can book a night there when we’re in Portland.
Mark: Are you kidding me? No. No way. No way will you get me to sleep at a haunted inn.
Liz: It’ll be great research for our book and blog.
Mark: No. Uh-Uh. No dice. Too scary. You know how frightened I am even when it’s not a supposedly haunted location. Remember that night in the tent when I was convinced Bigfoot was coming to get us?
[conversation continues in this stream for several minutes]
Liz: Just think of the first hand experience we can write about. And with the brewpub downstairs, we won’t need to drive. We can enjoy the night of beer and live music and then just
Mark: Hmm, I suppose I could go a single night of sitting in bed getting absolutely no sleep with the covers over my head and cowering in fear. Or perhaps I’ll have enough beer that I’ll pass out and miss the whole thing.
Liz: That’s the spirit.
The White Eagle Saloon and Hotel is part of the McMenamins family of properties and their ongoing goal to preserve, celebrate and commemorate historic locations. It was originally built in 1889 and served as a tavern and “house of ill repute.”
As the story goes, in near the year 1910 the building was occasionally the site of shanghai and brothel-like activities. Two of the ghosts reported to haunt the building are a prostitute by the name of Rose who was killed by a lover by the name of Sam, who later died of a heart attack.
Guests at the hotel are allegedly groped by invisible hands, thought to be either Rose or Sam; coins supposedly materialize from thin air on the floor of the rooms (potentially a sign of the money dropped for sexual favors) and the disembodied sound of a woman crying.
Ghostly specters are sometimes seen in the upstairs hallway or seen looking down to the street from an upstairs window.
After checking in to the hotel, we first popped down the street to visit the nearby LAbrewtory, (a spot we had enjoyed on our previous visit to the city) then returned in time to do a little research about the ghosts from our room (Room 5: Hoodoo Bash) recording a quick Facebook live video about being there and then heading downstairs to enjoy the food, the brews and the live music.
Despite my nervous anticipation, we didn’t see nor hear anything out of the ordinary that night (which is just fine by me), except for the incredibly talented performers who were slated for the stage that night.
The Elke Robitaille Duo were the opening act and we couldn’t get enough of their fun and vibrant contemporary music meets country-rock. Among the many songs they played we quite enjoyed “The Devil” from Elke’s In The End album. Of course it was neat when, after they finished performing, we had a chance to chat with them and learn that they were fellow Canadians, calling Portland home, but originally from the Vancouver, British Columbia area.
Next up was Seattle native Ian Jones who entertained the crowd not only with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, but with some interesting behind-the-song stories of how various friends and experiences he has had on tour had inspired some of the songs such as “Rollin” and “Without You I’m Lost.”
We were drawn by the ghost stories and the craft beer, but we ended up being surprised and delighted with the amazing musical talent. We would call the White Eagle Saloon a five star experience. It was not only a fun and decidedly affordable place to stay, particularly if you’re interested in local history and lore, but most especially if you want to enjoy some craft brews and wonderful indie artist music.