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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Local ghost tour offers lesson in Spokane’s spirited history

Chet Caskey, a former attorney, leads a ghost tour of Spokane on Friday that includes a story about hauntings in the theaters at River Park Square. Caskey takes tour participants around to the seedy and gruesome side of Spokane. (Jesse Tinsley)

People have been living in Spokane for a very long time. They were born, they created lives and families for themselves and they died.

But did some of the dead decide to stick around?

Chet Caskey has been offering ghost tours in Spokane for a few years and has even written a book, “Haunted Spokane, Ghosts & Dark Places in the Lilac City.” He also teaches a five-week course through the ACT 2 program of Community Colleges of Spokane.

Caskey leads groups through downtown Spokane and cemeteries, pointing out landmarks and telling the tales that surround them.

“Everybody loves a good ghost story,” he told a tour group last week. “Spokane has plenty to offer.”

On the tour he talked about the Great Fire which, destroyed 32 blocks of downtown on Aug. 4, 1889. He pointed out the monument the city erected underneath a tree on Lincoln Street where it is believed the fire started. Caskey weaves his tales with facts and names, describing what it would be like inside the inferno.

Last week’s tour group included a variety of people including friends celebrating a birthday and a member of Caskey’s ACT 2 class.

Susan Lundstrom said she enrolled in Caskey’s class with her husband. He couldn’t make it to the tour last week.

“I’m going to take copious notes,” she said.

Lundstrom is a retired teacher who was born and raised in Spokane. She has always been interested in history and even taught Spokane history, but is learning new things by taking Caskey’s class.

Mary Louise Kinslow Smelzer said her friends brought her along on the tour.

“I didn’t realize there were so many ghost stories,” she said.

Caskey tells a mix of ghost stories for recent past and long ago. Among them: The Monaghan Mansion on the Gonzaga University campus was reportedly so haunted in the 1970s an exorcism was performed. And at the Civic Theatre, it is reported a ghost named George has haunted the place for so long nobody knows why they call him George. The theater follows the custom of turning on a ghost light on stage every Monday when the theater is closed to keep him happy.

“Actors are believers,” Caskey said.

Even for those who don’t believe, the tour offers a lesson in local history, and all the spooky tales that go with it.