House of Mystery
Gold Hill, OR
Gold Hill, OR
From one of Oregon’s most famous attractions, we drove along another scenic highway, through the town of Medford, to one of its oddest. The Oregon Vortex is either a scientific fact or a local legend, depending on your point of view. There are many stories of Bermuda Triangle-like effects, such as instruments going crazy on airplanes that fly near it. It’s either a scientific phenomenon, or a grand illusion. Either way it will entertain you and challenge your assumptions!
At the center of the Vortex is the House of Mystery, a family-owned tourist attraction for decades. It’s located just outside Gold Hill, OR on Sardine Creek Rd. Our guide took us through the house, formerly used as an assay office in the gold rush days. You feel off balance the minute you walk in. Maggie and I are naturally skeptical, but here we are demonstrating one of the common oddities of the area: as we stand on the level platform, Maggie is clearly taller than I am; then we switch sides, and…wait, what happened?
In other demonstrations, a broom stands on end by itself, and a bottle rolls uphill. You can see our guide rolling a golf ball down what appears to be a downhill slope…until the ball rolls a foot or two, stops, and starts to roll back! The website contains some scientific references, mostly to a Scottish geologist named Litster who performed many experiments here. Check it out at
The native people who lived in this area were said to have avoided the Vortex area, calling it the Forbidden Ground. Back in the town of Gold Hill, we visited another Takelma site, Ti’lomikh Falls. These falls were the site of an elaborate ceremony celebrating the first salmon caught each year. The city has built several trails along the river here where you can cool off by the falls.
We also visited the Grave Creek covered bridge, just off I-5 at Sunny Valley (exit 71). We were sorry to miss the Applegate Valley Interpretive Center at this site, which always seems to be closed no matter what time of day I visit.
By late afternoon we arrived in Ashland for our five day visit to the famed Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We met our fellow tourists for dinner at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel, where we would stay during our visit. Dessert was a cake to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Road Scholar (formerly known as Elder Hostel), providing educational tourism opportunities for seniors. I believe this was my 10th Road Scholar program and I thoroughly enjoyed them all.