Abandoned Places and Haunted Spaces


Connor Mckee-Sargent

THE ABANDONDED HOUSE OF MINE HILL ROAD The area remains desolated and tarnished, yet it still contains a certain type of peace, rare to find in this busy day and age.

Abigail Lee, Staff Writer

About two weeks ago, I attended Nightmare at Beaver Lake, a haunted house and trail experience located in Sammamish. The sky was dark and was thick with fog, the setting being perfect for being spooked. Taking the “mom” role of the friend group, I led 11 other teenagers into the line for the entrance. Like herding a group of paranoid kittens, the group had already felt the suspense building up and the tension was rising. We had not even reached the start of the trail when a loud “BRZZZZ” cut through the crowd and caused a frenzy. Multiple people jumped. My cousin grabbed my coat and launched my body back towards the noise, reminding me to never be in a life or death situation with him. The noise had came from a masked man holding a giant chainsaw; smeared with fake blood and wearing a grimey apron, I had a feeling that I was on the route for a spook-taculiar time. As we parted the curtains, we were led onto a well crafted journey of Halloween classics; collapsing from jump scares, staring back at clowns in strobe light lit rooms, and feeling fear through fog machines and fangs.

After the journey came to a close, I drove on dimly lit roads back home, and I thought to myself, “What kind of haunted history does Issaquah have?” And, “Do we have any haunted places today?” The journey started at the Issaquah Depot, right in the heart of our town. The Issaquah Depot was built in 1888 and opened in 1889, and ten years ago it was restored to the building it is today. However, more interesting than existing as just a historical site, it exists as a possibly haunted one too. Erica Mainez is the director of the Issaquah History Museum and has been informing people from all over about Issaquah’s interesting history since 1999. When describing the possibilities of ghosts at the Depot, Mainez says, “According to a group of paranormal investigators, both the Issaquah Depot and the Gilman Town Hall have signs that point to the presence of ghosts. Some staff members and volunteers believe that there is the ghost of a former volunteer at the Gilman Town Hall.” Skeptics may say that ghosts are a complete lie, but ultimately with an open mind and a museum pass, embracing the unknown can be an enjoyable experience. But even then, maybe ghosts are closer to our reality than we think. Mainez says, “I don’t think I believe in the paranormal, but I’ve also had some experiences that defy rational explanation. So perhaps I do.”

On my continued exploration into the paranormal locations of Issaquah, I found myself longing for a real-life haunted house experience. Was there going to be somewhere I could actually find that could provide a perfect near Halloween scare? I decided to take my search from historical sites to abandoned ones. Although its existence is fairly well known within the Issaquah community, for those who do not know, there is a building on Mine Hill Road SW, tucked into a lovely neighborhood located just before the Salmon Hatchery. Taking three other friends with me, we walked up a steep driveway surrounded by trees on both sides. A ravine was located on the left and running water could be heard from below. (As we got past the curve of the driveway, we were led to a clearing containing an old house, completely overgrown by bushes and bramble, a car, half plunged into the ground it resided on, and a trailer, rusty and broken from years of unuse.) The floor was strewn with litter, and plastic containers and old cigarette boxes graced the grass as we carefully stepped over it. On the side of the house, there was a pile of what I had presumed were belongings from the previous residents. Among the layers of boxes and large plastic bags, one of the most striking items seen were some polaroids. They looked like any other families kind of photos with smiling children and happy memories. I suddenly felt a shift in my feelings to the house we wanted explore. The entrance was wide open the only thing holding us back being a few branches and thorns– but suddenly I was not sure if I was comfortable to do so. We knew no history of the property because we could not find any. All these signs of this once being a family home made me feel more sad than spooked. We had not even been technically trespassing onto anyone’s area, yet I could not help but feel like I was still doing so. I decided that we should leave there. It did not feel right passing the boundary into what was, at one point, someone’s happy home. Turning away from the front door, we steadily made our way back down to the car, bringing my physical search for a haunted house in Issaquah to a close.

Part of me wished I was a ghost hunting professional, that I had the equipment and experience to get deeper into the paranormal happenings in Issaquah, but sadly that was not the case. However, that does not mean that the possible haunted areas of Issaquah only remains at two. Mainez says, “The City Auto building at 155 East Sunset Way was said by one of its tenants to be haunted. She experienced the ghosts as friendly, helpful pranksters. She said that they saved her from falling on one incident. Family members of Alex Strnard and Ed Berntsen say that these two spirits sound a lot like Al and Ed, who ran the City Auto business for several decades.” Another possibly haunted location near Issaquah High School is Antique Importers, an antique store with aged items and furniture coming all the way from Europe. Although the building was destroyed, a post on the Issaquah History Blog titled, The Mystery of the Haunted Mansion describes of a once “haunted” mansion in the area. The post says, “We always called it the ‘Haunted Mansion’ or ‘The Green Mansion.’ You could not see it from the road but it was visible from Lake Sammamish if you were in a boat—we were always able to find our way to the house by following a small trail from the lake.  It was a mansion to us (three stories, I think, plus a basement and an attic).” According to the post, the mansion was owned by the Shaw family and the property was haunted by the ghost of a maid who had drowned in the pool. Although such a building is no longer accessible, looking into the history of a place like that still gives the hope of a real life haunted house experience.

Issaquah is an interesting place filled with a rich history that is fleshed out by the stories and the storytellers who share it. I had originally went into solely finding the haunted history of Issaquah and a modern-day location to experience a scare, but by the end, I had only learned more about Issaquah’s history itself. Ghosts may or may not be real, but if one wanted to visit any of these places looking for a good scare, an open mind is required. Maybe in the end, the real haunted houses that can scare us are just the human made ones. But with proper lighting, good atmosphere, and that classic feeling of dread in your stomach, anyone can get haunted in Issaquah.