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Haunted campus
Andy Cripe

Nighttime tour of OSU shows the spooky side of Oregon State University

CORVALLIS - Elizabeth Thomas works in Waldo Hall, and people have told her they've seen a woman "disappear" in a second story hallway of the Oregon State University building.

The primary suspect in the vanishing act is Ida Kidder, the school's first librarian.

She's been dead since 1920.

"People weren't creeped out or anything. They thought she was a friendly presence," Thomas said.

Folks love their scary stories for Halloween, and plenty of spooky tales were uncovered during a nighttime tour of campus Thursday night.

"Haunting for History" was held by the OSU Archives, and about 40 people attended, including Thomas. Her story provided an unsolicited and unexpected boost to the event.

Kidder lived in Waldo Hall when it was a women's dormitory, and Thomas said people figured her ghost returned to continue to watch over OSU students.

Thomas isn't sure ghosts exist, but she tries to keep an open mind. "I haven't seen anything myself, but a lot of people have," she said.

Other people said they've heard of a haunted bathroom stall in Waldo Hall - it's in the second floor women's bathroom, on the north side - or seen lights or other strange stuff on the empty fourth floor.

Many stories on the tour, like at Waldo Hall, featured ghosts who so loved OSU that they didn't want to leave.

But others, such as those at Sackett Hall, were more gruesome. Legend has it that Ted Bundy killed a woman in the catacombs below the dormitory, said Tiah Edmunson-Morton, a university archivist.

There's also a ghost said to have been accidentally killed in her room at Sackett by a drunken man in the 1950s. "Brandy" often shows up as spectral lights, or a little girl sitting on the end of beds. She reportedly likes to set fires and throw things.

Rumors and "allegedly" double as fact for many ghost stories at OSU, Edmunson-Morton acknowledged.

And there could be explanations that aren't of the spectral variety for hauntings.

At Benton Hall, for example, people have allegedly heard a ghost playing drums or the piano, or of a woman's singing voice coming from an empty room. "One time, the staff found a woman who was secretly living there at night," Edmunson-Morton said.

Andrew Clark of Corvallis, a senior in history and education, said people like ghost stories because they aren't sure if the spirit lives on after death - or what the heck is responsible for noises in old buildings.

Plus, ghost stories are exciting, said Katy McHenry of Corvallis, a senior in nutrition science. "It's a way to get an adrenaline rush without jumping out of a plane."

Tales of terror

Here's a rundown of other tales of sheer terror, or perhaps nonsense, from OSU's haunted tour.

Dearborn Hall - A student was allegedly electrocuted in one of the rooms, and the handprints are still on the walls. "You can still hear the person's screams," said OSU archivist Tiah Edmunson-Morton, obviously camping it up.

Langton Hall - If you see a person in the pool, make sure they're not swimming for the ectoplasmic team before getting in the water.

Memorial Union - Edward C. Allworth, a World War I hero, served as manager of the MU from 1928 until 1963. Upon his retirement, school president James Jensen wrote the veteran a touching letter. "We expect your presence on the campus and will be disappointed if we do not see you often." People have reportedly seen his spirit there.

The Valley Library - Librarian Stanley Swanson died in 1996, and not long after, a staff member heard something unusual at night: the sound of the pages of a book being turned slowly, like someone was reading nearby. The woman thought it might be Swanson, returning to flip through newly purchased, uncataloged books, which he loved to do in life. An alternative theory: There was something in the air ducts.

Weatherford Hall - Most ghost stories are benign, involving temperamental elevators or a young brunette woman waving from upstairs windows.

Kyle Odegard covers Oregon State University. He can be contacted at kyle.odegard@lee.net or 758-9523.

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