Post submitted by Karreen Busch
There have been many hypotheses as to what causes the odd effects within the famous Oregon Vortex of Gold Hill. Some suggest it is paranormal activity, and others believe it a false illusion.
On March 12, 1980, Richard Engeman and Marjorie Edens, of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, conducted an oral history interview with Fred Coffman. In the transcribed interview, Coffman speaks of the House of Mystery, located within the Oregon Vortex. Coffman worked as manager for the Vortex’s original owner, John Litster, who opened it to the public in 1930.
Here, Coffman makes his own attempts at defining the mystery:
RE: Can I ask you what you feel about some of the mysteries at the House of Mystery.
To me it’s an optical illusion.
FC: Yeah, a lot of it is. But it’s a little hard to describe it to you on neutral ground. I could tell you, go up there and show you, and we use a lot of reverse psychology: I tell you the truth and you’ve got your own idea, see… But I can prove it to you, and you still won’t believe it. Yes, that’s the truth…
Actually, it’s an anomaly (speaking of the effects of the Vortex). To me, it’s a strange thing. I’ve had guys explain it… It’s an anomaly where it effects the light and then as the object is reflected back through, kind of be like looking in water. You don’t see the object, you just see the reflected image.
If there’s anything between you and it, you’ll have a disturbance there.
So I’ve seen it up there. No kidding, I’ve actually seen it where you could go…just be shoulder to shoulder with a guy, almost there, and when you go the guy is so much taller. You’ve seen it.
Well, that’s the interesting thing.
Whatever the cause of the Mystery, it seems destined to remain just that: a mystery. For, while the effects can be scientifically measured, nothing can be proved.
For more information on the Oregon Vortex and the House of Mystery, visit http://oregonvortex.com/. The Vortex is open to the public annually from March 1 to October 31.
Oregon Vortex, Autumn 1954. Mildred & John Litster and manager Fred Coffman (center) on Sardine Creek - near Gold Hill. [Negative # 3271, from Fred Coffman’s personal collection, donated to SOHS]