Ghosts of Roche Harbor Await Visitors at the Afterglow Vista

Afterglow Vista Mausoleum

Meet the McMillins.

They’re some of San Juan Island’s favorite ghosts. In their bizarre home in the middle of a forest near Roche Harbor, Wash., they share some laughs and like to entertain visitors from time to time.

And I do mean bizarre. It’s the kind of place you need to see to believe.

The Mausoleum Walk

sanjuanislandFrom Friday Harbor, the ferry destination for San Juan Island, bike or drive to Roche Harbor. The trail starts near the airfield; follow the signs leading into the woods.

The trail winds through an old cemetery, then eventually hits a gravel road. Keep walking down the road and deeper into a dreary forest straight out of a Stephen King story. Eventually, you’ll come to the arched entrance for the Afterglow Vista Mausoleum.

Afterglow Vista: Step inside for a bizarre experience.

Come to the Table

In the middle of a clearing, you’ll find a limestone table ringed by six chairs. It’s surrounded by 30-foot columns supporting a concrete ring with fleur-de-lis designs.

John S. McMillin

The ashes of the McMillin family members are stored inside the bases of the chairs.

John S. McMillin, the family patriarch, is the man behind the mausoleum. The industrialist McMillin made a fortune on the limestone quarry and lime-kiln at Roche Harbor in the 1800s, and built the nearby Hotel de Haro, now part of the Roche Harbor Resort.

McMillin created the mausoleum during the 1930s as a final resting place to honor what he believed in: The Masonic Order, the Bible and the Sigma Chi fraternity, among other things.

The stairway leading to the McMillin family mausoleum.
Ashes for members of the McMillin family are stored in the chairs at the Afterglow Vista Mausoleum.
The names of McMillin family members are on the backs of each chair.
One column of the mausoleum structure was intentionally left broken to symbolize death as “the broken column of life.”

The Ghosts

The ghost stories about the Afterglow Vista Mausoleum go like this:

  • Blue orbs are sometimes seen floating above the chairs at night.
  • Sounds and voices are sometimes heard.
  • Cold spots seem to linger near the table and chairs.
  • On full-moon nights, the ghosts of the family may be seen sitting talking and laughing around the table.
  • Visitors who sit in the chairs report feeling nervous, as if they are violating a sacred space.
  • Those who sit on the table have said it felt like invisible hands were shoving them, trying to make them move.

And for ghost-story lovers, it gets better. The ashes of Adah Beeny, the McMillin family’s governess, are also are interred at the mausoleum. Her ghost is said to haunt a different location nearby — McMillin’s Restaurant in Roche Harbor. Adah has been said to turn on appliances and lights, and she also likes to open and shut doors in the restaurant.

The historic Hotel de Haro at Roche Harbor.

SkiZer Suggests

When to visit: If you aren’t into getting scared and just want to see the mausoleum, go at midday. The mausoleum is eerie, no getting around it, but at midday your brain won’t be conjuring strange noises and nervous feelings. If, on the other hand, you’d like freak yourself out, a visit at sunset does the trick. The woods are dark and the setting is beyond weird.

Bike it? That’s what I did. The ride from Friday Harbor can be done as a 22-mile loop, with mostly rolling terrain.

Drink up: You may need to calm your nerves after an Afterglow Vista visit. McMillin’s, at the Roche Harbor complex, is the perfect place for a drink. And you may just run into the precocious Adah.

McMillin’s: Where the ghost of Ada Beane likes to play tricks.




2 thoughts on “Ghosts of Roche Harbor Await Visitors at the Afterglow Vista

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s