The basement ghost at the Clark County Historical Museum

Rumor has it the Clark County Historical Museum has a ghost of its own roaming the basement. The building that houses the museum was constructed as a Carnegie library in 1909 and once had a children’s section on the lower level, said Brad Richardson, a historian and volunteer services coordinator with the Clark County Historical Museum.

Greg Wahl-Stephens for the Columbian

Greg Wahl-Stephens for the Columbian

“It seems like when it gets to this time of year, and we start talking about these things, it gets kind of strange around here,” Richardson said, standing near the twisting stairs in what is now the basement archive.

Richardson first started the museum’s Haunted Walking Tours in 2012, and after one of the 8 p.m. excursions down Main Street, a customer asked if she could go to the basement to use the bathroom.

“She came pretty much running up the stairs,” Richardson said. “She said ‘I walked into the bathroom and I heard all kinds of people down there.’ I went to look and we heard the pipes banging like crazy.”

That said, the pipes could have been noisy because of the heating system, and the eerie feel could have been amplified by the subject matter of the tour, he said.

That’s not the only story about the basement. Another time, a volunteer was working down there, felt a chill and felt compelled to look up, Richardson said.

“All of a sudden his eyes just locked with a little boy, dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing,” Richardson said. “He looked away and looked back and the boy was gone.”

For his part, Richardson said he’s also heard his share of footsteps and banging when nobody was around. He leans toward believing in ghosts, although he’d like more proof, he said.

Vancouver historian Jeff Davis and his wife Janine also said they’ve experienced strange sounds in the museum’s basement.

“One thing I’ve heard is that the Grand Army of the Republic used to meet down there, and at one point a librarian told them they had to move out, and that caused a lot of strife,” Davis said.

One time, his wife and he stayed overnight for a ghost hunt there, he added.

“At one point we were recording, and we heard what sounded like breathing in the microphone of our tape recorder,” Davis said. “That was interesting.”

Janine Davis remembers a little more.

“I remember all of a sudden hearing a dog bark and a low voice (when nobody was there),” she said. “You couldn’t hear the words, but by the cadence it was speech.”

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