A Spooky Tour of Old Lewiston
There are a lot of cities across America that claim to be haunted, but Lewiston is probably a more fertile ghostly breeding ground than most. This was the original capital of the Idaho Territory, where prospectors and mountain men came to spend their money on liquor, women and gambling. It was the kind of lawless, greed-soaked place which inspired intrigue and murder… and exactly the kind of place which might produce ghosts.
Today, Lewiston is a town of about 30,000, defined by the confluence of its two rivers: the Clearwater and the Snake. Although it was squarely within the territory of the Nez Perce, the Indians had never settled Lewiston because of incessant flooding. So, because they weren’t trampling valuable territory, the original Europeans were tolerated, and Lewiston started as a small town of relatively little import in northern Idaho.
That changed, though, after the discovery of gold. Lewiston’s strategic riverside location made it the port of call for miners arriving from the west. And Abraham Lincoln shrewdly made Lewiston the capital of the newly formed Idaho Territory, as opposed to the much larger Idaho City to the south. From Lewiston, the gold was forced to go west toward the US mint in San Francisco, meaning Idaho’s gold would line Union coffers, as opposed to those of the Confederacy.
On our first night in town, we met Gary Bush at Morgan’s Alley for a Ghost Tour of Lewiston. During the evening’s course, he provided a detailed history of the city, and introduced us to the spirits which still inhabit it. For an hour and a half, we walked around the old town, learning about and entering some its most historic buildings.
In the basement of a tattoo shop, we heard the tale of a Chinese man who was brutally murdered by a drug runner, right where we stood. The victim’s body had been disposed of in the Clearwater, and the killer escaped unpunished. Today, the room is home to a terrifying psychic presence. Although we didn’t sense anything, some people immediately scream or even faint when brought into the room. When a woman uses the bathroom found in the room, the door will often slam and the handle rattle. Apparently, it’s not the victim who’s been condemned to haunt this space… but his murderer.
I’m a certified skeptic, but Gary was so convincing about the supernatural episodes which have occurred under his watch, that it was hard to remain aloof. The best story of the night occurred in the Luna House, which was a bordello during Lewiston’s heyday. Today, the building is haunted by the Lady in Blue. She appears either as a blue ball of light, blue smoke, or a fully-formed person. Her spirit shows up so regularly that Gary invited a medium to investigate. After establishing contact, the medium learned that the Lady wasn’t a prostitute, as had been assumed, but a God-fearing woman who spent her life trying to shut the bordello down.
Gary was a great guide, and we had a good time. It’s worth taking the tour not just for the spooky fun, but for the interesting look at Lewiston and its history.