Friday, October 12, 2012

Hauntings at Geiser Grand Hotel by Paty Jager

In 1889 along the Oregon Trail in Baker City, merchants Jake and Harry Warshauer opened the Warshauer Hotel. It was designed by Czechoslovakian architect, John Bennes who incorporated the Italianate Victorian architecture style to the building.  An early Oregon journalist, Edward Gardner Jones described the hotel as “one of the most imposing structures in Eastern Oregon.”

The building was three stories tall with 70-80 rooms( not all sources say the same) and a large dining room with a stained glass ceiling that seated two hundred. It had the third elevator ever installed west of the Mississippi, electrical lights, and was extolled as one of the most opulent, modern hotels along the Oregon Trail. The cost of the hotel ranged from $65,000-70,000 depending on the source.

In 1895 the hotel was bought by John Geiser and his son Albert. They renamed it the Geiser Grand Hotel. The two had made money in the mining industry and Albert found his calling running the opulent hotel.
After the Depression the hotel slowly began losing business and falling into disrepair. The cast of Paint Your Wagon stayed in the Geiser Grand during the shooting of the movie which took place outside of Baker City in 1968. After the crew left the Hotel closed down.  The exterior cracked, inside walls and ceilings fell, the roof collapsed and water caused massive damage.

In 1978 the Baker Historic District was added to the National Register of Historical Places and soon after there were several attempts to bring the hotel back to its original state.

However, it wasn’t until 1993 when Dwight and Barbara Sidway purchased the Geiser Grand Hotel that it came back to life in both its looks and its history.

There had been multiple ghost sightings at the Geiser Grand before it closed its doors in 1968.  IN fact the local citizens take pride in their ghosts and have a Ghost tour in the hotel on Halloween.

Most of the ghostly activity is on the hotel’s top floor. Staff and guests have reported hearing the sounds of a loud crowd laughing, drinking, and having a good time on the third floor. The sightings come mostly from guests on the second and third floor who call down to the desk in the middle of the night to complain of obnoxious guests. When someone is sent to investigate the party breaks up and there are no more calls of noise. Other times guest dining in the Geiser Grill will report seeing people dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing looking over the balcony. The guests usually say the gawkers were wearing flapper-style dresses but their legs were missing.

The most famous ghost in the hotel is the Lady in Blue. She walks up and down the grand staircase in a long, lavender dress looking like a Gibson Girl of the 1900s. Many have watched her climb the staircase only to disappear into a wall. Her identity is unknown. Some say she was a former owner of the hotel and others say she is a woman who hung herself after her cowboy boyfriend was shot.

There have been other occurrences such as items moving and missing in the kitchen and workers, while restoring the hotel, reported that their tools and equipment would move when they looked away. All this activity didn’t shock the Sidways. They had similar experiences while doing restoration on the famously haunted Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida.  They did however, say that the Geiser Grand’s ghosts were more joyful and playful than the ones at the Biltmore. 

Sources: Wikipedia, Baker City Historical Society, 


  1. Didn't want you to be lonely. Good luck with your book.

  2. sounds like a great concept! good luck with it---here is to many sales.

  3. OOOH I love a good ghost story. I love the architecture of this hotel. We have a hotel built in 1857 that is haunted in Placerville, I used it in my first published story. It was fun researching the history and encountering one of the ghosts while doing so. I sure would love to go inside the Geiser Grand Hotel and look around.

  4. Thanks Marian! It's always nice to have company when surrounded by ghosts.

    Thanks, Liz.

    Paisley, it fits its name, Grand! My daughter and her family live in Baker City and I've been there several times for meals. We've also walked the second floor balcony area. It is a gorgeous old hotel. I actually found the basement area to be creepy. Dark and cold eve though it is where you can read all about the history of the building. I'd think that was where the ghosts lurked and not in the upper floors.

  5. Interesting post, Paty. I love reading about ghosts, especially when people report hearing party noises but no one is there. Makes you wonder.

  6. Fun post! I'd love to visit this place! My RWA chapter had our retreat at a Bed and Breakfast that had a ghost. We were all hoping for an encounter, but it didn't happen. We went back the next year, and the owners said they ghost had 'disappeared'. They felt it happened when they got rid of a fainting couch in the porch area.

  7. Ghosts in hotels. What a good ghost story. Why are ghosts always in old hotels?
    I enjoyed reading this. Thanks.

  8. Hi, Paty! I didn't get your e-mail about this post until today--sorry I'm late to party with the ghosts! This is indeed a grand looking hotel! And I love the ghost stories that seem to come along with these structures. Even my fictional town has a Victorian mansion with a resident ghost. Thanks for sharing this story!

  9. Hi Paty. Can't have you being lonely. I love haunted hotel, house stories. I wonder what happened to make it haunted.

  10. Hi Paty,
    What a perfect post for October! Supposedly our previous city hall building here, and another building as well, are haunted. I know people who have encountered some really strange things. As for ghosts moving things around or items disappearing, I have a couple of friends who lived in a haunted building in Portland. They had things disappear and their clothing in their closet would be rearranged. When something started poking them in the night, they moved!

  11. Very interesting story and a beautiful old building. We have a hotel not too many miles from here (Southwest Missouri) where hauntings are said to take place. The stories from there are eerie--but sad, too.

    Good post!

  12. Gerri, I agree!

    Lauri, doesn't that make you wonder what happened on that fainting couch?

    Celia, Probably because so many things some known and some unknown have happened in hotels that have been around a long time.

    Hi Genene! Yes. The mansion in your story sounds like fun!

    Hi Ella. Thanks for popping in! I know, especially if people see girls in flappers. I need to go dig through the old newspaper archives and see if some tragedy happened during that era.

    Collette, Now that would make me move to!

    Hi Barbara, It is amazing how lives that are disrupted need to find closure.

  13. Now I'm thinking I need to write a story about the flappers....

  14. I adore stories of history and hauntings! Great post!

  15. Fun post, Paty! Seems like there are a lot of haunted hotels. I'd like tosee those flappers.

  16. Thanks, Paty! What a great article! I'd like to personally invite your followers to come visit us;make your reservation by calling 888 GeiserG, then email me, and I'll get you a complimentary upgrade! Please consider coming for the Paranormal Weekend, Nov 2-4, with investigations, seminars and more!

  17. Thanks, Sarah!

    LOL Lyn, I agree!

    Barbara, Thanks for popping in and making such a great offer!


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