Ghostly encounters

<p> Lloyd Piercy tells stories about spooks and specters with a historical nuance to a group that signed up for the ghost tour in Echo on Friday.</p>

It may have been the cool, autumn breeze that sent a shiver down the spine of Brenda Bruner of Hermiston as she made her way around the town of Echo on Friday night during a walking tour. Some would argue, however, it was more likely a supernatural phenomenon that caused her to shudder during her walking tour of buildings reportedly haunted by ghosts. According to tour organizer and business owner Lloyd Piercy, Echo is a town full of ghosts.

The first ghost tour led by Piercy gathered in front of the Sno River Winery for a quick briefing of the evening’s activities Friday. Piercy said paranormal experts have come to Echo and declared the town infested with apparitions and spirits, but Piercy said the presence of ghosts is well-known among those in the community.

“You can’t talk to anyone who has lived here a long time before they start telling ghost stories,” Piercy said. “I don’t know if you believe in ghosts or not. It doesn’t matter. They are here.”

In contrast to a haunted house or corn maze where actors and volunteers provide the entertainment, Piercy told the tour members they might not see or feel anything on the tour. There were no props or artificial tactics to elicit a reaction. The group would be merely wandering through rooms and basements where ghosts have been witnessed in the past.

The group made its way around the outside of a few reportedly haunted buildings, including City Hall, the museum that occupies the old bank building and the Mason’s hall as Piercy spun stories about the ghosts and why they occupied certain locations.

“This apartment had a 5-year-old that used to live here, and if she left her closet door open she couldn’t sleep,” Piercy said. “Her mom asked her why she couldn’t sleep. The girl said ‘the little boy won’t stop talking to me.’ Apparently there was a tragedy here with the little boy, so if the closet door isn’t closed he comes out.”

In the basement of the old town meat market, now a neighborhood pub, the group was allowed to walk through the area that was the scene of a suicide and subsequent haunting. The dark, musty space once served as storage for the market and an area for smoking meats.

In the final building on the tour, Piercy informed the group it was touring the haunting grounds of no less than 30 ghosts. Individually identified during an investigation by paranormal investigators, some of the ghosts in the old Echo Hotel and Tavern even have names. Piercy told the story of Matilda, who supposedly wanders the upstairs of the hotel. A former working girl at the upstairs brothel, Piercy said Matilda has been seen by multiple people through the years. The group peered inside Matilda’s room, which is now only occupied by dust and a few dead birds on the ground.

“This was Matilda’s room,” Piercy said. “If you’re going to feel anything you will feel her here.”

Currently under renovation by Piercy, the Echo Hotel yielded one last phantomly yarn from the group’s guide that included a little town history among the traditional twists and turns of a good ghost story.

“This building was built by the town founder James Koontz for his daughter Echo, who the town is named for,” Piercy said. “When we started renovating this someone asked us if we wanted a piano in here. I said sure and I went and took a look at it. It seemed like a nice piano so we stuck it in here. A little later one of the older residents of the town was walking by, and he just went pale. He asked me: “How did Echo’s piano get back in her building?’ It turned out she was a concert pianist, and it was her piano. This guy asked me again: “How did her piano get back in here?’ I said, ‘I think Echo arranged that.’ ”

As the tour wound down, Bruner reflected on the her experience in the haunted town of Echo.

“It was fascinating,” Bruner said. “We learned a lot of history. We’ve always been curious about the ghosts. We’ve heard about them, and it was a blast. It’s well worth the trip.”

The ghost tour will continue on Friday and Saturday nights during the month of October. Interested parties should contact Lloyd or Lois Piercy at the Sno River Winery in downtown Echo.

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