Deborah Cuyle loves a good ghost story. She loves hearing the stories of people who've encountered ghosts, and researching the history of buildings considered haunted. Perhaps it's just her natural curiosity and love of history, or perhaps it's because being a survivor of a near-death experience herself, she has an unusually open mind about the possibility of spirits hanging around after their physical forms have shuffled off this mortal coil.
Whether they believe or not, local readers will find a lot to enjoy in her new book, Ghosts and Legends of Spokane, published by the Haunted America division of The History Press. She divides her book into sections on haunted mansions, haunted buildings, haunted hotels and haunted "hot spots," and while locals might be familiar with some of these tales, when they're all collected in one place as Cuyle has done, it's hard to deny her assertion that, thanks to its "countless ghost-infested old buildings and spooky places," Spokane is high on the list of haunted cities.
Cuyle attributes much of our ghostly activity to the city's history as a booming city in the Old West. As the population soared in the late 1800s and early 1900s and many miners had rags-to-riches successes, the city also saw a shocking number of murders and disputes, situations that led to old Patsy Clark and his wife, Mary, continuing to haunt the Patsy Mansion. Same goes for Ellen, the ghost in the old Davenport Hotel of a woman who accidentally plunged to her death on the historic spot's marble floor.
I particularly enjoyed sections on scary spots I'd never heard about before, like the "haunted intersection" of Division and Sprague, with scary sightings going back to 1890, and the ghost children who lurk in Minnehaha Park. A perusal through the "haunted hotels" section will have you questioning ever staying in a Spokane hotel again!
Cuyle writes succinctly, with a clear passion for her subject. And she admits that while she did a lot of research into all the places and ghosts she writes about, she found plenty of contradicting dates and stories. So take the stories in Ghosts and Legends of Spokane with a grain of salt. But if you're looking for a fun little history book that fits the Halloween season perfectly, this is a good one.