White Eagle Cafe & Rock 'n' Roll Hotel
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Paranormal Ambience
White Eagle Cafe & Rock 'n' Roll Hotel

By Greg Latimer
MysteriousDestinationsMagzine.com Research Director

Today a visitor to the While Eagle Café in Portland, Oregon finds a beautiful oak back-bar, dining booths of polished wood and a staff of friendly employees.

Physically, the scene would have been have been much the same as when the bar was in its beginnings during the early 1900’s, but the ambience was a bit more sinister, according to historical research.

When it first opened in 1905, the White Eagle Saloon was owned and operated by Bronislaw Soboleski and William Hryszko, serving the Polish workers who lived in this then residential area, according to historic reports. It had the distinction of being the place where the parishioners of St. Stanislaus, the first Polish Catholic church on the west coast, held their organizational meetings.

As the surrounding neighborhood became industrialized, the patrons of the White Eagle changed, drawing in laborers who worked at the docks, rail yards, and factories. By this time, and under new ownership, the White Eagle Saloon was no longer a respectable establishment.

While rowdy working class patrons filled the bar area, the rooms upstairs were staffed by white prostitutes while the basement downstairs was home to an opium den as well as black and Asian prostitutes. Tales are also told of drunken patrons disappearing through secret doorways in the basement into the labyrinth of underground tunnels that linked in-town Portland with the waterfront. These lost souls would often find themselves shanghaied as forced crew on one of the many oceangoing vessels that visited Portland harbor.

Murder, robbery and a whole host of other crimes were said to be commonplace, and the collective angst of this history has apparently left both residual and active presences at the location, which is said to be one of the most haunted places in Portland.

EMF Fields Observed

The Mysterious Destinations Team was primarily interested in a needed break and a good meal when they visited the White Eagle Cafe & Rock 'n' Roll Hotel during the 2012 Research Expedition, however, consistent electromagnetic field (EMF) anomalies throughout the building added paranormal research to the menu items.

Upon being seated, the team was surprised to register a strong EMF presence in their booth and at other locations of the restaurant floor where no electrical wiring or appliances were apparent. While these were compelling, they were far from conclusive because there was no opportunity to accurately identify non-paranormal sources of EMF presence in the busy tavern.

However, a visit to the quieter upstairs area, where rooms are still available to rent, returned much more dynamic results. EMF activity rose and fell based on location, and in some cases seemed to be associated with certain rooms or areas. (For video of our visit to the White Eagle Cafe & Rock 'n' Roll Hotel, click here.)

Our EMF survey of the upstairs area was also consistent with earlier reports from visitors.

Other Witnesses to Paranormal Activity

According to one posting from the White Eagle’s Ghost Log, a book where guests can enter their paranormal experiences, a guest in room six had some surprises on his camera when he returned home.

“I stayed in Room Six at the White Eagle for two nights in early April of 2011. We had a great time, enjoyed some awesome beer, but to our knowledge at the time nothing out of the ordinary happened,” a witness named Dan said.

According to the witness they had returned to the room late at night after a fun evening downstairs. Perhaps hoping to capture some paranormal activity, he had set up a video camera on a tripod in the room. “At 4 a.m., right before we went to bed, we went outside to smoke a cigarette. Nobody was in the room, no bands were playing, (there was) no noise,” but the video camera was still running, Dan said. Dan returned a short time later and finding nothing out of the ordinary, retired to bed.

It wasn’t until the witness returned home and reviewed his video footage that he noticed something strange appeared on the videotape while he was out of the room.

“(The camera) started shaking violently for approximately six minutes as if someone was holding the back of the tripod and wiggling it around. As soon as we opened the door to get back into the room, the shaking stoped, and in the audio you hear an eerie breathing sound, like an old man letting out his last breath,” Dan described, adding that the footage, “It sends chills up my spine.”

While Dan hasn’t made the video public, other strange encounters at the White Eagle have been posted on YouTube, including this compelling EMF response posted by “SpiritedAwayPIT” (click here for video link).

In the winter of 2010 a witness named Renee related that she and her husband had an experience with anomalous movement similar to Dan’s, but this time the witness was not only in the room, she was also one of the moving objects.

Renee and her husband were staying in Room Two, and had already been a bit spooked by an earlier conversation with a waitress about haunted areas of the hotel. Well into the wee hours of the morning, with the band playing downstairs long finished and all quiet in the building, Renee was suddenly awakened when their bed “shook horizontally six or seven times”, according to Renee.

“There were no trains running at this time, there was no sound from downstairs... My husband woke immediately and asked if I had felt the shaking,” Renee said. She was later told that a prostitute had been strangled in the room during the hotel’s bawdier times. However, the experience didn’t deter Renee from returning. “We have been back on three different occasions. We love the White Eagle!” Renee said.

General Reports of Paranormal Activity

According to a report on HauntedHouses.com a variety of paranormal activity has been associated with the location.

The upstairs area and hotel rooms are thought to be home to two entities, Rose and Sam.

Rose was a young prostitute who fell in love with one of her customers. Fearing the wrath of the owner of the bar, she refused the marriage proposal of her boyfriend who then killed her in a rage. Sounds of a woman's crying can be heard at times, which is attributed to Rose, according to HauntedHouses.com. Rose was the personal property of the saloon manager until one paying customer fell in love with her and wanted to take her away from her dangerous life, according to a report on ParanormalStories.Blogspot.com.

Rose wanted to go but was fearful of the saloon manager's reaction. So, she refused. Instead, her young lover confronted him and was nearly beaten to death. He again pleaded with Rose to run away with him, but she refused. In a fit of rage, he stabbed his beloved to death in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Sam was a caretaker who had lived upstairs since he was ten-years-old. The owner at the time sort of adopted him, giving him a room, meals and a job. He stayed in the hotel his whole life and died in his room, according to HauntedHouses.com (which did not specify Sam’s room number).

Other activity reported by HauntedHouses.com at the White Eagle Cafe & Rock 'n' Roll Hotel include: all the doors and windows of the 13 rooms located upstairs have been known to open and shut by themselves; “apports” (defined as the production or movement of objects by apparently supernatural means) appear from nowhere, flying through the air; coins appear on the floor; toilets flushing and doors closing in the restrooms; and "tear-drop-shaped" apparitions have been seen.

Another observation made by HauntedHouses.com is that the living have been groped and touched by cold hands. This assertion is supported by a somewhat humorous report in the ghost log by a woman who wrote, “I was taking a shower then all of a sudden I felt a hand grab my butt. I screamed and grabbed my towel to dry off and get my clothes on. Right as I spotted my shirt, it flew up in the air!"

Hotel management responded to the woman’s report, adding an inscription: “We, uh, apologize for that one... We'll have the manager speak to the ghost in question.”

(If the concept of amorous entities intrigues you, check out our article “Is There Libido After Death?” -- which includes video from the Johnny Cash house in Jamaica – by clicking here.

How You Can Explore the White Eagle

Today the White Eagle is known for its vintage charm and nightly rock 'n' roll shows, according to its website.

The Holy Modal Rounders and blues man Robert Cray helped launch the locations live music tradition. Others like the Isley Brothers, ZZ Top and Big Walter Horton were followed in the '80s by Northwest music icons Paul deLay, Curtis Salgado, Norman Sylvester, Steve Bradley and more.   

Upstairs, the original guestrooms offer simple charm. Named for a variety of Holy Modal Rounder tunes, historic photos of the band's performances line the walls and painted lyric lines adorn the walls of each room. With its nightly live music tradition, the hotel is not for the light sleeper; but is a great place to crash after watching the show (unless your bed starts shaking).    An outdoor beer garden is popular during warmer months and inside the Saloon, a massive oak back-bar serves up handcrafted ales, wines and spirits along with a menu of pub fare. The original ceramic-tiled floor, corner stage and artwork all contribute to the strong sense of place that envelopes visitors to this Portland legend.

White Eagle Cafe & Rock 'n' Roll Hotel is located at 836 N. Russell St. in Portland, Oregon. (Click here to visit their website).

Our paranormal exploration of the building was enhanced by a great dinner, excellent beverages and efficient, friendly service. While management was not effusive about the paranormal side of the building, neither were they dismissive (as management at some other locations in our travels have been). The rooms are very reasonably priced, and there’s no extra charge for any paranormal activity you may witness. (Of some note, bathrooms are located in the hallway and pets are not allowed.)

Recommendations for Your Explore at the White Eagle

The Mysterious Destinations Team recommends that paranormal explorers include an EMF detector in their equipment choices. An EMF detector combined with a flashlight could produce some noteworthy responses at this location. (To learn more about the use of an EMF detector, click here. To learn more about the use of a flashlight, click here.)

Given past reports at this location, we would consider renting two rooms.

In one room establish a passive surveillance and then leave it unoccupied between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., when the building is quietest. A video camera showing as much as possible of the room with an EMF detector on a tabletop (and perhaps a supporting MEL meter or K2 meter) should be left on in the room. A digital tape recorder should also be considered. Passive infra-red surveillance should definitely be considered, if the equipment is available.

In the second room (which should preferably be some distance from the first) establish an active contact session with a flashlight supported by EMF detector and if possible a MEL meter or K2 meter. A digital recorder for electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) should be used as well. Use of a “ghost box” could be considered, but these devices vary widely in terms of quality and therefore accuracy. The entire session should be video taped and as many digital cameras as possible should be on hand and used frequently, even when there are no apparent objects or activity to photograph.

In both cases, trigger devices such as whiskey in a glass, objects from the early 1900’s or memorabilia from the establishment could enhance the possibility of response.

Any readers who obtain photos, videos or have stories to relate about paranormal activity  at the White Eagle Cafe & Rock 'n' Roll Hotel are encouraged to contact us by clicking here.

Remember…

Never use taunting or challenging language to urge entities.

Never offer to do something (like leave the location) in “exchange” for a response from an entity unless you are willing follow through by doing what you offer. Instead frame your queries in a more non-committal manner as in “Do you want us to leave?”

Never use any device like a Quija board that uses your body as a conducting device. Caution should also be exercised when using dowsing rods.

Be prepared to leave the location if you or any of your group experience symptoms of nausea, disorientation or physical contact from an unknown source.

Always work with a minimum of two people.

If you are so inclined, begin and end your session with prayer or a statement. Open the session by advising any entities present that you mean them no harm and respect their privilege to be present at the location. Advise them that you are here only to visit, and are interested in finding ways to communicate with them. Let them know that you empathize with the frustration they must feel not being able to communicate, and that you are here to assist them in doing so. Advise them that you are not trying make them leave, or do anything they don’t want to. Close the session by thanking any entities present for allowing you to visit (even if you draw blanks on your investigation). Advise them that you will now go your way, and they should remain at the location. Let them know you may visit again, and if so, you hope you’ll be welcome.

Happy hauntings from the Mysterious Destinations Team!