One of the things that I really enjoy when I learn about haunted locations is the story behind the haunt. I find it fascinating to read about the history of a location. I also find it fascinating to see how different the actual history is from the story that is told today. In many cases, there’s quite a discrepancy.
One of the haunted hotspots in Washington is the Tokeland Hotel. As the story goes, the hotel’s ghost is Charley, a Chinese immigrant who was hidden in a secret room behind the fireplace. According to the legend, Charley died there and now haunts the Tokeland Hotel.
While hotel employees, many guests and a number of paranormal investigation teams believe that the hotel is haunted, it is doubtful that the hotel is haunted by Charley. Turns out that the Charley story most likely isn’t real at all, but that doesn’t mean the hotel doesn’t have an interesting history. It’s just not the easy to relate, succinct story of Charley that appears on haunted site blogs, etc.
Another location in Washington with a haunted reputation is the site of the former Wilderness Heights – more commonly known as Starvation Heights. While it sits on private property and isn’t open to paranormal investigations or the public, paranormal teams have investigated Starvation Heights in the past and experienced all sorts of strange things.
The story of Starvation Heights is an interesting one – and unlike some other haunted hot spots, every word of it is true. In his fascinating book, Starvation Heights, author Gregg Olsen tells the story of Starvation Heights – a sanatorium in the wilds of Olalla, Washington that was run by the fanatical and possibly evil Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard. Hazzard was an osteopath who believed strongly in cures through fasting and internal cleansing (read starvation and enemas). Through promises of perfect health and the ability to cure incurable diseases, Hazzard lured the wealthy to Wilderness Heights to take the cure. Once her patients were in remote Olalla and in a weakened state brought about by starvation, Hazzard and her husband Sam assumed total control over their lives, often forging documents and bank drafts, stealing valuables and getting appointed as guardians with power of attorney over their victims.
In 1912, Hazzard was tried for the death of one of her wealthy British patients, Claire Williamson and found guilty of manslaughter. She spent almost two years in prison and had her medical license revoked. After leaving prison, she still continued to practice her starvation cure at Olalla, frequently running afoul of the law.
Over the years, a number of patients died in her care, many under suspicious circumstances with missing valuables and forged documents. Her final victim, however, was none other than Linda Burfield Hazzard. She died taking her own cure in the 20s.
Rumor has it that nothing is left of Starvation Heights. The main sanatorium burned down in the early 20s – possibly for the insurance money although that was never investigated or proven. The family that now owns the land wishes their property to stay private, and those who trespass out of curiosity or to investigate may find themselves on the wrong side of a trespassing citation.
Still, the history is well worth exploring. I’d highly recommend Olsen’s book, Starvation Heights. It is a fascinating look at a period in our nation’s history before our current medical system came of age. Whether you walk away believing that Hazzard was a passionate healer or a psychopathic serial killer, the story will stay with you long after you read its final page.
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