Although John and I would have loved to spend another day in Ashland, Oregon I had planned for us to make a special stop on our way to Portland which unfortunately meant we had to hit the road. . Our next destination required us to take a little detour off I-5, winding through the gravel roads that snaked back and fourth through the hills of Southern Oregon. After a few wrong turns and creative detours we finally came upon a large sign pointing us toward our destination, a place I had been meaning to visit for years, The House of Mystery! The House of Mystery is every bit as cool as it sounds and originally was an old gold assay office built in the early 1900’s, right, smack dab in the middle of the Oregon Vortex .
The Oregon Vortex is one of a few vortex’s around the world that claims to be a place where some of the rules of the natural world, such as gravity for instance, change because the latitude and longitude of its location is said to create strong and strange magnetic forces in the area. Now I say claims because like most supernatural and awesomely strange places, the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery have their fare share of skeptics. A few of the experiences people have when they are there include watching objects, in our case a glass jar, roll uphill, a broom stand on it’s own and unexplainable height changes meaning depending on where you are standing in the vortex you may find yourself suddenly much shorter or much taller then you were just a few feet before, a sort of Alice and Wonderland effect if you will.
Now skeptics will say that these unexplainable and mysterious occurrences are the result of optical illusions instead of mysterious magnetic forces. These optical illusions skeptics claim are created by the natural landscape in the location and the angles of the structures built upon it, creating distorted backgrounds which in turn lead to people experiencing a forced perspective, or in simpler terms, a manipulation of a person’s visual perception. However legend has it that long ago Native Americans deemed the Oregon Vortex as a sort of sacred ground as their horses refused to ever enter the vortex area. On the day we visited the vortex one of the first things I noticed was how many insects were flying around and then I realized why for as we proceeded into the wooded area of the vortex, there was not a single bird in the trees above us and in fact we didn’t see or hear any animals in the vortex area during our tour that day. Whether the vortex is real or just an illusion is ultimately for you to decide, all I can offer to you is an account of our experience at the vortex that fateful, hot afternoon in July which indeed was quite mysterious.
The experience of the House of Mystery is a guided tour through the vortex area which is a small circular area located in the middle of nowhere in southern Oregon. There is plenty of literature and pictures displayed in the waiting area where the tour commences, accounts of the many mysteries of the vortex reported over the years. It is said that many feel very dizzy when they first enter the vortex, some so dizzy that they are unable to even take the short walking tour around the property. I did feel a little strange at first but I was pretty convinced it was all in my head and John assured me that he felt no different then before entering the property. Now there are two parts to this tour, the experience of being in the vortex area itself AND exploring the House of Mystery. Our guide was great as she led us from location to location, often pulling out one of the many bubble levelers that were tucked away in numerous locations on the tour. Her repetitive use of the levelers was to prove that we were indeed standing on level ground while demonstrating the change in height phenomenon that occurs in the vortex. I was lucky enough to be called to participate three times in the demonstrations, including one with John where we stood back to back and then switched places, and sure enough the change in our heights was, well astounding. Another demonstration was conducted in the front of the property where I stood with my back against a measuring pole facing a man, much taller then I was, also with his back against another measuring pole directly across from mine. Both poles were cemented in the ground, each were measured prior to the demonstration to prove everything was the same size and on a completely level surface. Holding a wooden plank on top of our heads to show the obvious initial height difference we then switched places, turning to face each other again placing the plank on our heads and once again the change in our heights was plain as day. Our height change was not only obvious because of the change in level of the plank on our heads but also by measuring the change in our heights with the poles behind us.