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The Old Wheeler Hotel
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The Old
Wheeler Hotel
Mystery rocks on the beach, a haunted hotel and the famous "Wheeler Moment": An Oregon Coast Ghost Story
Manzanita - Nehalem - Wheeler

Manzanita, which sits at the north end of the Nehalem Bay, is shrouded in mists and mystery, with Neahkahnie Mountain looming overhead and legends of a galleon and its buried treasures. Some versions of that tale contain atrocities including the tale of burying their African slaves alive with the treasure to keep the natives away. Mysteries of an Oregon Beach

On its beaches, there are mysterious piles of rocks that have appeared over the years, apparently overnight. Sometimes they appear as single piles or stacks. No one has ever figured out who is responsible, creating speculation of an otherworldly artist.

In nearby Wheeler, at the Old Wheeler Hotel, the previous owner, Winston Laszlo said he encountered several things in that old building he couldn't really explain. Sometimes, he said, he believed he saw someone in the corner of his eye, only to discover there was no one there.

Once, Winston was looking in a mirror in the hotel's public area and saw the reflection of a man sitting in a chair behind him. Winston said he turned around to look at the man, whom he didn't recognize as a guest, and there was no one there.

A pair of ghost hunters even came to the visit the place and took photos of what they believed could be "spirit orbs" just outside the basement area.

Winston and wife Maranne Doyle-Laszlo said the entire building seemed to be against them during the process of remodeling the ragged old construct into the first-rate hotel it became. They had a nagging feeling a presence seemed to arrange one disaster and setback after another, such as when a window blew out in a storm. Then, one day, they say the building seemed to accept them, and reconstruction proceeded smoothly thereafter.

In an email just before her visit, ghost hunter Martina DeLude told Winston that "Ghosts that haunt residential and business locations become very threatened when someone starts changing things that they are accustomed to. Some spirits actually become incensed when furniture is moved around. Just like the living, most spirits do not like change. Possibly, as soon as they realized that it was once again going to become a hotel - perhaps something they may remember - they decided to help you along instead of stifling your efforts."

In other tales, Wheeler Antiques owner Garry Gitzen says a Wheeler woman, descended from local tribes, actually burned down her own house in recent years because disturbing spirits haunted it. She did this in lieu of tearing the thing down, never rebuilding it, with rumors floating about that Native American children had died in a fire in that spot in ancient times.

wheelerNot all is creepy here. According to Winston and Garry, there is a host of well-meaning spirits there known as the "Good Spirits of Wheeler," and Ekahni Books owner Peg Miller says the place is a sort of "spiritual vortex lite." They all point to something they call a "Wheeler Moment," where serendipity seems to suddenly rear its head. Locals talk of numerous circumstances where pleasant, happy coincidences popped up, assisting folks in some way. They all note various incidents where someone is discussing wanting to do something, and someone or some opportunity arises that helps things along - like the time the Garry and Winston were talking about creating a film festival, and they discovered a documentary filmmaker was staying in town.

A “Wheeler Moment” It’s a hazy thing, typified by serendipitous coincidences that have an otherworldly element to them. There’s also a sense of the place, say locals, of “make a wish for something and it may come true.”

Local resident Peg Miller described it as: “you’re thinking about something, or needing something, and it just sort of appears.” She refers to the area as being a “spiritual vortex lite.”

A few years back, when Miller owned a B&B in Wheeler, she had one of these “Wheeler Moments” with the plumbing.

“I had just discovered a leak,” Miller said. “And I was wondering what I was going to do. Then I was interrupted by the doorbell, and there was a guest at the door. During registration, I mentioned I had this leak to deal with, and it turned out he was a plumber.”

He not only fixed the leak but became her regular plumber after that.

This is typical of the Wheeler Moment: a bit of serendipity when a need arises – but one that falls gently out of the blue, often from left field.

Other “Wheeler Moments” for Miller include the time she was having trouble with the latch on a thousand-dollar bracelet, and it turned out a guest was a jeweler, among numerous others.

These sort of coincidences happen all the time in someone’s life. But the difference – says the former owner of Old Wheeler Hotel – is that they happen more often in this placid little place. Winston Laszlo helped coin the phrase after he and a handful of others noticed the phenomenon.

“I'd say that the ‘Wheeler Moment’ is the result of some sort of spiritual vortex that apparently exists in this little corner of the Oregon coast,” Laszlo said. “It seems that the vortex - or whatever it is – causes wishes and visions to become manifest at a higher than normal frequency here.

“I believe coincidences occur all the time. It's just that the phenomenon occurs here at a much much more often and much faster than other places. Whether it has to do with the geography of the area, or the meteorology, or maybe even the human history, it is something that you have to experience for yourself.”