Do you believe in ghosts? Many Alaska residents do—because they claim to have seen them. Sometimes it’s in a cemetery, sometimes a hotel, sometimes even a school. Alaska’s history is rich with the kind of stories that lead to ghostly lore: accidents, tragedies, miners and husbands who never return from the unknown. So Alaska’s cities and small towns—and, of course, its ghost towns—seem to be full of ghouls ready to surprise visitors. Whether you want to visit these sites or not is up to you—but at least these stories will get you in the mood for Halloween.
One haunt finds a home in a high school. Students at Ketchikan High School in Ketchikan believe in ghosts—they’ve even given a name to one who seems to hang around the school. The legend goes, in the 1940s, a student fell to his death from a catwalk in the building. Students say they’ll sometimes hear a scream as if a student were falling, but find no one when they search for the source of the scream. They say the spot where he fell must be painted and repainted because blood will reappear. Students have dubbed the ghost “Boochie.”
From ski resorts to historic places, hotels also give stage to Alaska’s ghosts. Have you ever woken up to a strange sound outside your hotel room door? Found things rearranged or a TV on when you left it off? Visitors to several Alaska hotels say they’ve had strange, paranormal experiences—and some hotels have the creepy history to back up the rumors.
The Golden North Hotel in Skagway is the perfect example. During the gold rush, a woman named Mary came to stay there, while her fiancé, “Klondike Ike” went to find his fortune in gold, the story goes. Mary was to wait for him, and then they’d be married—but Ike never returned. Mary waited and waited, and the hotel owners became concerned when she locked herself in her room. Finally they broke down the door, finding her dead, wearing the wedding dress she would have worn if Ike had returned to marry her. Today, guests have reported seeing a pale, ghostly figure staring out the window, watching for her Ike to return. And a few have reported waking up to find a ghostly figure watching them—perhaps making sure Ike isn’t in bed with another.
Even more contemporary spots aren’t immune to haunts, residents say. Visitors to the Alyeska ski resort report seeing a paranormal visitor in rooms 721 and 515—perhaps the ghost of a man who committed suicide there. Rumor has it, the ghost is responsible for opening and closing drawers, turning water faucets on and off and flicking TVs and lights off and on.
Ghosts of native spirits reportedly wander an Anchorage shopping mall, too. Even the shopping malls in Anchorage aren’t immune to the paranormal, apparently. The Dimond Center mall, as the story goes, was built above an ancient native burial ground. As workers dug up the area, they found a few graves, but mostly ignored them since they were so small and old. Now, people share tales of hearing flute and drum music and seeing the transparent figures of wolves inside the mall, as well as ghostly people dressed in native garb roaming the hallways. Some people say they’ve felt a fearful presence in one particular room that hisses in the visitors’ ears and pinches them if they linger too long.
Whether haunt hunting is your thing, or you just like a good ghost story around Halloween, Alaska is full of creepy tales about its historic places. The Hotel Captain Cook, Augustus Seaburg House and Gaslight Lounge in Anchorage are three more places to visit on a ghost tour, as well as the Birchwood Saloon in Chugiak, the Kenai Cemetery and the historic Kennecott Copper Mines. If you’d like to spend more time in the area—ghost hunting or not—check out jobs at Alaskatourjobs.com for more information.