Ghosts at the Vancouver Barracks: Excerpt from an Oct. 24, 1999 story in The Columbian

By BRETT OPPEGAARD, Columbian staff writer

Of all the places in town, the most notoriously haunted hangout is Vancouver Barracks.

A door at the East Barracks building (by Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)

A door at the East Barracks building (by Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)

In 1982, workers digging for a water pipe in the basement stumbled across bones and some coffins.

They hadn’t realized before digging that the auditorium had been built on an old cemetery.

Since then, the spirits have been restless, said Roy Wilson, spiritual leader for the Cowlitz and Chinook Indians.

From 1982 to 1993, the remnants of these coffins from a cemetery dating to 1846 laid open in that barracks basement. It reportedly caused quite a spiritual awakening, according to Wilson and others who have spent time in the barracks.

“If you work late at night, you can hear footsteps upstairs, people talking and doors opening and closing,” Lt. Col. Ward Jones, the former barracks commander, said in a previous interview. “I just figure it’s a coexistence. We work during the day, and they work during the night.”

Richard Reed, a civilian barracks employee who worked in Building 638, a place where several sightings have occurred, said, “I used to come to work about 5 a.m., and one morning I was in my office when I heard footsteps upstairs. … Nobody was supposed to be there, so I went upstairs. I could hear footsteps going down the hallway, about 6 feet in front of me. But nobody was there. I followed them down the stairs. When they got to the door, it swung open by itself and then shut.

The East Barracks building (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)

The East Barracks building (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)

“It kind of upset me, but after listening to the same thing for months, I got used to it,” Reed said.

A sergeant who stayed in the same building for two weeks was awakened twice by a loud command of “ten-hut!” followed by the clicking of boots together. Later he awoke to the sounds of someone playing pool. He ran upstairs and found no one in the room, but the pool balls still were moving.

Lt. Col. Jones said he made no changes at the barracks because of the occurrences.

“They’re just here doing their job,” Jones said, “while we do ours.”

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