A tour of Lewiston’s dark side is a popular draw around Halloween.
Led by Garry Bush of Idaho History Tours, a group of parka-clad people braved the elements Tuesday night in hopes of hearing scary stories and possibly encountering some “paranormal” activity.
Bush, who has been guiding the Ghost Tour for 12 years, said the 90-minute excursion frequently reaches the 20-person maximum around this holiday. The cost is $20 per person, and it’s geared toward people who are ambulatory and can navigate steep stairs.
“No texting and no lallygagging,” Bush told the group huddled outside Morgan’s Alley.
As he ushered folks upstairs, Bush focused on the “Wild West” days of Lewiston, when the city was a brew of gold miners, ranchers, farmers and cowboys who came to town for supplies and a good time. He said the population was about 99 percent men and 1 percent female at the time.
“You could get a drink here 24 hours a day, gamble 24 hours a day, or seek the comfort of a woman 24 hours a day,” Bush said, while passing out replicas of a madam’s business card.
“The women who worked in the ‘female boarding houses’ knew how to stay warm and get the gold,” he said. “They were soiled doves. You are sitting in one of those houses right now.”
The first mention of a spirit was the mysterious Lady in Blue, who has reportedly been spotted for decades in Morgan’s Alley. A psychic has said she was a deeply religious lady who tried to shut down prostitution, Bush said.
Across the street at the Blue Lantern, Bush pointed out a popular curved glass window, which dates back to 1904, and guided people downstairs to take a peek underneath the city sidewalks, where a ghost reportedly hassles women who use the restroom.
“A Chinese man was killed down here many years ago,” Bush told the tourists, “and the killer is stuck here because he can’t go to heaven. He likes women — young women. Women who have used the bathroom down here have said they hear scratching and rattling on the other side of the door. It happens over and over again.”
All of the buildings in downtown have stories, he said, from a bellhop who died at the Lewis Clark Hotel to a 22-year-old pregnant prostitute who was reportedly murdered in the Kettenbach Building.
A dark, second-floor room where the grisly death allegedly took place was a highlight of the tour for many of the ghost chasers.
A flashlight propped on a window ledge flickered on and off as folks tried to track paranormal activity with a cellphone app. Bush said paranormal investigators have discovered multiple entities haunting the historic building. Past tour participants have reported being shoved or pushed, even though no human was near, he said.
“I definitely saw something,” said Kathy Schock, a 68-year-old Lewiston resident. “It was kind of a foggy thing on the frame of the door. I went to a holistic class a couple of years ago, and they said I have an aura. I really, really believe in it.”
Bush said the reaction of people on the tour is one of his favorite parts of the gig.
“Most of the narrative is based on the stories people have told me,” Bush said.
Tonight he’ll be leading another sold-out group of people from the Granite Lake RV Park through the murky rooms and historic downtown district.
“Last time I did this tour, we all heard a door slam and footsteps in the last building,” Bush said. “Maybe we’ll have a similar experience on Halloween night?”
Sandaine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.