Tuesday, September 25, 2012
INDEPENDENCE -- There's a home on Third Street in Independence -- a former asylum for "shell shocked" World War I troops -- whose owner reports objects get mysteriously moved or come up missing in the residence.
Past occupants of the Sperling Building on Main Street claim to hear voices and footsteps in the vacant upper floors of the structure. Most believe it's the ghost of a woman who committed suicide there during the 1940s.
Supernatural tales in downtown like these have perpetuated for years, Marilyn Morton said. But the notion of Independence being haunted took on a life of its own after she created the Ghost Walk back in 2002.
More stories cropped up. Paranormal research teams visited town. And the tour she heads annually has become so popular during the Hop & Heritage Festival, she's been asked to run it during the entire month of October.
So what's next? A book, of course.
Morton has been commissioned by South Carolina-based History Press to write and assemble a tome about the community's supernatural heritage -- to be entitled "Haunted Independence."
"To me, it just seemed out of the blue," said Morton, an Independence City Councilor and Ghost Walk coordinator.
"I keep a list of 25 things I want to do and recultivate it every year," Morton continued. "On the top of that list has been `write a book.'"
History Press seeks out and publishes local and regional history titles across the United States as a means of research and preservation.
"Haunted Independence" will be part of a running series that focuses on ghostly occurrences and haunted landmarks in cities large and small -- ranging from Washington, D.C. to Deadwood, S.D.
Despite several Oregon books, "we have yet to represent the haunted history of any Oregon city," said Aubrie Koenig, the company's commissioning editor, in an email.
Koenig said she was in Salem for a conference this past April when she heard accolades for Independence's Ghost Walk. She contacted Morton and asked her to write about the community and its ghost stories.
"The press is very excited about her book," Koenig said, noting it will likely be published by August 2013.
Morton said she'll have to turn in 30,000 to 35,000 words by next spring and 150 photographs.
Much of the material for the book has already been unearthed in the form of stories told on the Ghost Walk, she said, adding that she hopes to conduct some new interviews, too.
Morton's inspiration for Independence's local haunts tour came during a trip to San Francisco in 2002, when she saw an advertisement for the "Ghosts of the Barbary Coast."
The fanfare for the event since has "amazed me."
And "this book was nothing we pursued at all," she said. "If I tried to start it today, it would be daunting ... but I'm looking forward to it."