Monday, October 20, 2008

The Mysteries of the Oregon Vortex

There is a patch of land in southern Oregon that has baffled and amused countless visitors over the years. There are some claims that the anomalies witnessed inside (a broom standing on its end, bottles that roll uphill, compasses going haywire, and people shrinking or growing depending on where they stand) are in fact the work of a spherical area of vortex that encompasses the property. The claims have been perhaps further magnified after being name-dropped by the Winchester brothers from the CW's Supernatural, in which they claimed that the Oregon Vortex was in fact, the real deal.

The story goes that the Native American tribes considered the area as "the Forbidden Ground" and would never step foot on it. Even animals are said to avoid the area to this day. However, in the 1920s a geologist by the name of John Lister and was so taken by the strange goings-on that he stayed there the rest of his life to study the effects. In 1930, he opened the grounds to the general public so they could see the odd sights for themselves and continued his studies. He died in 1959 and interestingly enough, some claim his ghost still lingers there to this day.

I stopped by the Oregon Vortex in the summer of 2007 to have a look for myself. While I can't say that I had the feeling of vertigo while inside the "sphere of force," I was a little surprised to be caught off guard by the visual abnormalities inside. Interestingly enough, I found that the visual effects could be greatly impacted by where one stood. At some areas, it appeared that nothing was different while after only moving a couple feet, things seem to shrink and/or grow. While this does support that the mysteries of the Oregon Vortex were just a series of optical illusions, I have to say that to get the true benefit of the effects was to partake in the demonstrations. It was interesting to see the person on the other side of the platform seemingly shrink when we swapped ends - even though we were both standing on a level slab of wood.

Below are two photographs of one such demonstration that my ever-fearless niece Haylee agreed to do with me (because her father wouldn't) in front of the attractions's House of Mystery. From the first photo to the second photo, Haylee appears to shrink. While the dramatic angles of the House of Mystery surely play into the photograph effect, I can attest that the effects were equally felt from my position in the photo though I was staring in Haylee's direction.

There have been countless so-called imitations of the Oregon Vortex popping up around the world since the days the attraction first opened its doors, but some still argue that there are real powers at work at the original. The ghost stories of John Lister seemingly only add to the mysterious aura of the site. So I throw it out to all of you - What are the mysteries of the Oregon Vortex? Is it a true "spherical force" or simply a series of clever optical illusions? For those that have been there, I'd love to hear about your visit as well. If you are planning on going, you have to hurry. The Oregon Vortex shuts its doors after Halloween and does not return until next March.

Angle your head 7 1/2 degress and visit our page on The Oregon Vortex.

-Casey H.

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