Admittedly, it was California-heavy so we expanded it. We’re back this week with additional weirdness from Oregon and Washington. Many thanks to Sean Abernathy for some of the suggestions.
4). The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum (Portland, Oregon) — There is an oily underside to myths and folklore known as urban legends and the Peculiarium is a tribute to them. This Portland Museum is part-Ripley’s, part-roadside tourist trap with exhibits covering everything from the Bunny Man to black market organ harvesting (complete with cartoon kidneys telling you how you ended up in a motel bathtub full of ice). Alien autopsies, cryptids and a haunted dollhouse are just a few of the other themed attractions on display. A cursory glance will tell you that this museum may not be for children, however its a road trip must for the slightly-deranged adult.
3). The Bigfoot Trap (Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon) — This one reminds me of the UFO watchtower in Colorado. Buried (but not far) in Siskiyou National Forest is the only bigfoot trap on the planet. Back in 1974 some industrious cryptid researchers from the North American Wildlife Research Team built a shack designed to trap a bigfoot. The hypothetical bigfoot would enter the trap to get the raw meat waiting inside, triggering the metal door to close. An alarm wired to a nearby hunting cabin would alert the researchers.
The trap never caught a bigfoot, but it did catch one very angry bear and, later, a hunter. The trap’s latter quarry prompted rangers to bolt the trap’s door open. Imagine being stuck inside a booby trapped shed overnight in the cold on the side of a mountain. Yikes. Those cruising the West Coast can still visit the now-safe bigfoot trap today, although it looks like it’s seen it’s fair share of partying in the decades that followed. I found directions here.
2). Twede’s Cafe (North Bend, Washington) — It’s difficult to comprehend exactly how much influence David Lynch has on pop culture. His work causes a kind of “blue car syndrome” where, once you’re familiar with him, you see him everywhere. Twin Peaks set the stage for the X-Files and much of the paranormal, conspiratorial, hypnagogic storytelling that followed. You should know that Twede’s, the cafe where FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper had his —excuse me— damn fine cup of coffee is still in business. Unfortunately a fire gutted the place several years ago and so some of the look of the original Twede’s was changed in renovation, but it’s still a siren call for fans of one of the strangest things ever aired on television. Yep, a West Coast road trip must!
1). The Seattle Metaphysical Library (Seattle, Washington) — The popularity of fringe science, esoteric learning and conspiracy theories may have exploded since the dawn of the Internet, but time hasn’t been kind to libraries and bookstores. That’s not fair, because The Seattle Metaphysical Library has been the torchbearer for mysterious lore since 1961. Their free-to-browse collection spans more than 14,000 books on everything from the hidden spiritual meanings of Beowulf, to elves, palm reading, magic, alien abduction stories and good ol’ fashioned woo-woo self-help. Due to a decades-long agreement with their landlord their sign declares them to be the As-You-Like-It bookstore but hidden knowledge shouldn’t be easy to find, that’s why it’s hidden. They’re apparently hard-up for money, as the donation requests in their newsletter indicate, so see them while you can and toss them a couple bucks.
Honorable Mention: Mel’s Hole (Ellensberg, Washington) — I can’t end an article about strange sights on the West Coast without mentioning Mel’s Hole, even if it is complete hokum. I’m a fan of a paranormal radio program called Coast to Coast AM, a creation of host Art Bell. Mel’s Hole is a relic of the show’s golden years. “Mel Waters” called in one night in 1997 with a story about a hole in his backyard that didn’t appear to have a bottom. It swallowed mile after mile of fishing line, defying every attempt by Mel to probe its depths. The story gets more elaborate from there, involving everything from mysticism, sinister government agents and an intelligent creature that looks like a cross between a sheep and a sea lion. I have no idea who came up with this hoax (Mel himself may not be real) but mark my words: Art Bell will go down in history as one of the greatest BS artists who ever lived and yarns like this one are the reason why. You owe it to yourself to listen to the whole thing.
— Billiam Rodgers