A terrible lighthouse, swift treasure hunters, and a paranormal ghost town – High Country News

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Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

OREGON
A picturesque lighthouse near Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast is for sale for just $6.5 million, The Astorian reports. But before you start thinking, “Wow, great site for an Airbnb,” you should know that it’s part of the federal Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex and protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a sanctuary for sea lions and seabirds. Also, it’s practically inaccessible without a helicopter; the lighthouse has long been nicknamed “Terrible Tilly,” if that’s any indication. The last time owner Mimi Morissette dropped by, she never made it out of the cockpit; there were “too many sea lions blocking the way.” Morissette and her business partners bought the property in 1980 hoping to create a more permanent resting place than a Airbnb: “Eternity At Sea” is now a columbarium, with 31 funeral urns. There’s room for up to 300,000 more, if the new owners decide to renew its license, which, like the lighthouse’s tenants, has expired. Morissette couldn’t renew it for various reasons — vandals broke in sometime in the ’90s, for example, and absconded with two urns. KMUN reported that Morissette has met with potential buyers, including a large cemetery brokerage and consulting firm. Even if helicopter-impaired families cannot visit their loved ones directly, there’s still plenty to do nearby, Morissette said — horseback riding on the beach, salmon fishing, hiking in Ecola State Park. It all sounds heavenly to us. 

MONTANA
Wolverines are as elusive as sasquatches and unicorns, seldom seen and even more rarely photographed. However, unlike unicorns and sasquatches, they do exist. ABC News reports that according to the National Wildlife Foundation, the animal’s southernmost range touches Yellowstone National Park, though “fewer than 10 wolverines are thought to call Yellowstone and its 2.2 million acres home.” In March, Nick Nowak spotted the stealthy critter near Tractor Supply in Lewistown, Montana, telling MTN News: “Saw him out in a field and turned around and saw him running down the road and got that video of him running away.” The Fergus County Sheriff’s Office dutifully reported, “Wolverine has been pushed out of town and headed away from us.” A couple of days later, NBC News reported that MacNeil Lyons, operator of Yellowstone Insight, a tour company, sighted a wolverine, calling the encounter “phenomenal.” While it’s uncertain what the uptick in sightings means, some good photos were taken and strong medicine given.

UTAH
Utah is not known for gold rushes; its biggest strike came in 1864 in Bingham Canyon, where placers yielded about $1.5 million, though the gold was gone by 1900. Then, in 2020, at the start of the pandemic, John Maxim and David Cline had an idea. Deseret News reported that Maxim and Cline decided to use their COVID-19 stimulus checks to help people in need by stashing $5,000 in cash and silver coins in a chest and burying it in a hole in the forest. Next, they posted a “poem” on their Instagram accounts, with clues detailing the chest’s whereabouts. At the time, they joked that they’d end up digging it up themselves, since nobody else would be interested. But they were in for a shock: In just four days, 8 million Instagram impressions were logged, and the treasure was found. Cline said, “We seriously underestimated the brilliance of people.” Inspired, they planned another hunt last June with a $10,000 pot and harder clues. This second treasure hunt lasted only 17 days. Their third attempt last September jumped to a $20,000 prize, with half the amount sponsored by a local business. This summer, they’re planning a fourth hunt. Given how bright the spotlight’s become — and how much the pot has swelled — all would-be treasure hunters should hit the hills sooner rather than later.

MONTANA
Western ghost towns have always had a peculiar appeal. Gunslinger Gulch, a ghost town and ranch just outside Anaconda, Montana, recently landed its own series on the Travel Channel. The Ghost Town Terror will highlight unexplained activity at the 52-acre property, home to Karen Broussard and her three kids. Paranormal investigators Tim Wood and Sapphire Sandalo spent several weeks there after the family reported voices and footsteps, doors opening and shutting and “people” walking past windows, MontanaRightNow.com reported. The investigators hope to determine whether the spooky energy comes from the land, the buildings or the family. If this sounds like a kick in the pantaloons, Gunslinger Gulch is also a bed and breakfast. But actual spooks are not guaranteed, so BYOG: Bring your own ghosts.

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book, Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, 2019), was a Washington State Book Award nominee. She resides in north-central Idaho near the Columbia River Plateau, homeland of the Nimiipuu.

Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected], or submit a letter to the editor

   

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