Grey Whale Inn Haunted Tour

gwinnThis past Friday, my son Harrison, daughter-in-law Kasi and I went on the Grey Whale Inn Haunted Tour. The inn was built in 1915 as the town’s hospital, retains some of the old time hospital ambiance—wide doorways to accommodate gurneys and steep ramps where staircases might otherwise be—and is rumored to have ghostly visitors.

At the suggestion of daughter Jenn (who lives in the Seattle area), I downloaded an app called Ghost Radar on my phone.

gwinn2Our guide Marnie was delightful, dressed in Victorian garb with her hair pulled up in the fashion of the era. She had not heard of Ghost Radar but was happy to let me run it during the visit.

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers—you need to take the tour yourself and learn about the history of this remarkable building—but I will share a bit of our experience.

About a half hour in, while on the second floor, a young blonde boy appeared from around a corner. It was a scene straight out of “The Shining.” He looked about eight years old, and stood stick straight and mute. Marnie smiled, and asked, “Would you like to join us?”

He said, “Yes, but I need to ask my mom,” and disappeared behind the corner.

A few minutes later, the boy, his mother and slightly older sister caught up with us. Marnie cautioned that if anyone became scared and wanted to leave, they could. As we walked along the hallway, the boy stuck his index fingers in his ears and intermittently squeezed his eyes shut. His mother chuckled. His sister rolled her eyes. Marnie asked if he wanted to leave the tour. Fingers still in ears, he shook his head.

Ten minutes later, he’d had enough. His mom allowed her daughter to stay with us and escorted the boy away. Marnie asked the girl her name.

“Hazel,” she said.

“Hazel!” I said. “Whenever I’m asked my name at Starbucks, I say Hazel.” The girl humored me with a giggle.

The tour continued for several minutes before the boy and his mother reappeared. As frightened as he was, he couldn’t seem to help himself—stories of the inn drew him back. He remained until the end and smiled with relief. We congratulated him on being so brave.

Ghost Radar picked up a number of spirits sprinkled throughout the building, making the experience both satisfying and creepy.

Grey Whale Inn Haunted Tours are available through Halloween: Thursday-Saturday 12:00, 2:00, 4:00 and 6:00pm; Sundays 1:00 and 3:00 and 5:00pm. To reserve a spot, send an email to or call 707-964-0640.

I promise you’ll enjoy it.gwinn6

Grey Whale Inn

Grey Whale3

Photo from Grey Whale Inn website

On a recent visit to Fort Bragg, our son Harrison and his girlfriend Kasi recounted a television show called “The Haunting Of” which once featured the Grey Whale Inn. According to them, a psychic entered the inn and said she sensed that it had once been a hospital.

Wow. She probably hadn’t read the About page of the website which states, “The Grey Whale Inn started life in 1915 as the Fort Bragg Hospital.”

LM3The psychic also declared the resident cat to be possessed by a demonic spirit.

For a true encounter with the demonic, I invite the psychic to visit our house and meet our cat Little Mister.

Harrison, Kasi and I dropped by the inn to see what vibes we might pick up.


The local artist who makes these gets to keep the proceeds.

The cat’s name is Sweet Pea. As her name suggests, she is very sweet. Guests find her so appealing that many take home a ceramic magnet to commemorate the time spent with her.


Photo from Grey Whale Inn website

I had toured the inn before, but delighted in seeing it again. It has four stories (counting the basement and the Sunset Room set on top like a penthouse suite). Each room is decorated in an eclectic-country style. Though nicely appointed, the basement feels kind of spooky (but I’ve always been spooked by basements).

After we’d combed the place top to bottom, we ran into Mike, the proprietor.

GreyWhale2jpgMike has owned the Inn since 2000. During that time, he’s renovated the grounds by replacing the lawn with drought-resistant plants. A vegetable garden is harvested for use in the breakfasts he prepares for guests. He gave us a brief history of the hospital—how it was founded in 1915 by Dr. F. McLean Campbell, purchased by Dr. Paul J. Bowman in 1923, and sold to Dr. Mervyn Hamlin, another local physician, in 1966.

During the early 2000’s, I took my dogs Wilson and Tucker for runs in the nearby cemetery. We often encountered the retired Dr. Hamlin in the late afternoons. He always had a biscuit for the dogs and walked with us until he veered off to visit the graves of his wife and son.

He told stories of attending Stanford during the Depression. His tuition was $100 a quarter and he struggled to come up with it. Work in the food service department on campus helped support him. He made his way through medical school and to Fort Bragg where he practiced for many years.

Dr. Hamlin took this photo of the dogs & me.

Photo taken by Dr. Hamlin of the dogs & me.

The dogs and I missed him after he had a stroke and could no longer take walks. An online reaction to his death in 2009 states: “Medical practice in Fort Bragg has never been the same since this great man retired. One of my favorite memories of him was as he passed our house on McPherson St., he commented that we should not have our underclothing hanging out on our line to dry.”


The original nurses’ dormitory across the street is now an apartment building.

Mike shrugged off the ghostly findings of “The Haunting Of.” He hasn’t had a supernatural encounter in the 14 years that he’s owned the place.

To hear what others might have to say about spirits rattling about the inn, I went to I discovered a review written on July 24, 2013 by a teenager named Carl S. from Toronto, Canada titled, “An Odd Experience.” By way of introduction, he states: “I like to think that my family and I are very rational people and we haven’t been able to explain these situations in any natural way.”

Carl describes a distressing night of television malfunction, midnight organ music, and a mysterious caress of his brother’s butt while going to the bathroom. (Click here to read the entire review.)

Haunted or not, the Grey Whale Inn is a charming place to stay when visiting Fort Bragg. It reflects the unique flavor of our town—a dear combination of funky and pretty.

Photo from Grey Whale Inn website.

Photo from Grey Whale Inn website