I’ve made no secret of my fear of bats, or the fact that I am relatively certain that they will someday fly out of an outhouse toilet and bite me in the butt. It is a fear that arises from childhood, when we used to visit a cabin at the lake with only two ways to utilize the facilities. In one corner sat a rickety, dark outhouse, surrounded by woods and trees. In the other corner, an incinerating toilet that immediately engulfed human waste in fiery flames. Imagine being six years old and faced with these two possibilities: bats or Satan. Inevitably, the fear of accidentally getting my rear end burned frightened me more than having flying rodents swoop out of the netherworld, and so I opted for the outhouse. After dark, I would take my flashlight and walk 100 yards down a dark wooded path, with bats swooping overhead, probably alerting their brethren hiding in the toilet to my approach. In the dark of the outhouse, I raced through my business, and as soon as I was done I took off like a flash down the path towards the welcoming lights of the cabin.
Fears that come early sometimes stay with us – regardless of how irrational they seem. Rationally, I know that it is very unlikely a bat will swoop out of an outhouse toilet or come flying from the trees to get trapped in my hair. But the six year old girl in me? She still wonders.
Which brings me to this past weekend. Are there bats underground? I couldn’t help but wonder as I strolled with a group through the underground of Seattle.
I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for my entire life, and I’ve never been on Seattle’s underground tour before. On Saturday, I suggested to the boys that they come up with a family activity we could do, or that I would come up with one that involved cleaning products. Before I knew it, we were headed up to Pioneer Square in Seattle in order to take the underground tour.
As we walked in to take our seats, one of the guides noted my Paranormal Underground vest with its uber-discrete logo and said, “Ah – you’re here for the ghosts.”
I perked right up. You see, I’d forgotten. Seattle Underground is haunted. My friends Bert and Jayme Coates of NWPIA investigated the Seattle Underground once, and apparently came face-to-face with said ghost.
As the tour guides gave a brief and extremely entertaining history of Seattle, they also mentioned that we would be entering the realm of rats and spiders. I couldn’t help but wonder, would there be bats, too?
The underground tour occurs in three discrete sections with various entrance points around Pioneer Square. As you walk through dank and sometimes smelly passageways with doorways, signs, and a ton of debris, the tour guides tell the tale of the great Seattle fire, toilets with plumbing that reversed itself whenever the tides came in, bootlegging, prostitution, and gold rush scams. The history is fascinating and well worth the price of admission for the tour.
As we stood outside of an old bank building – or at least the underground portion of it, a boy asked the tour guide, “What’s behind that door?”
“I wasn’t going to tell you this,” she started in with theatrical flare, “But perhaps you are in the mood for a ghost story?”
Our guide the proceeded to tell us that the local bank placed a lone and unprotected teller cage in the Seattle underground. As you might imagine, the story didn’t end well for the young teller, who apparently remains. Sightings include bright fiery orbs of light and a sudden and distinct drop in temperature. Neither happened while we were there.
Ghosts I didn’t see; however, we did spot a giant rat as we emerged in to an alleyway, spiders the size of dinner plates, and the fascinating history of Seattle. As for bats? I didn’t notice any, which rendered my helmet a bit silly in the end. Still, if you’re ever in Seattle and want to learn about all of the hijinx upon which it was built, check out the underground tour. You might just see a rat. Or even a ghost.