Seattle’s Haunted History for Students

*Note, most of these tours are recommended for students 12 and up due to graphic content.

Seattle today is known for its coffee legacy, amazing views of the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier, and general fun, funky resident vibe.

In the past, however, Seattle has had a much more turbulent, dark history than it lets on today. From influenza outbreaks, 'Skid Row', the Great Fire of 1889, and a myriad of ghost stories throughout its most famous buildings, Seattle is actually what we consider to be quite the 'haunted' historic city!

We believe that all of the attractions and tours listed in this blog are interesting ways to educate your students on the city's history, each option combining the thrill of the possible 'haunt' with the true stories of Seattle's past.

  • Georgetown Morgue
    • This popular 'haunted' history spot delves deep into one of Seattle's most infamous, and unsolved, crimes in history, the 'Seattle Crematorium Massacre' of 1969.

      Georgetown Morgue has a history of thousands of funeral preparations, cremations, and processing of animal carcasses. It also holds the title of 'most horrifying unsolved crime in Seattle history', referring to an incident in which 9 staff members were forced into the cremation chamber and killed. There were no survivors or witnesses.

      Today you can visit this morgue and take part in a haunted tour with the fictional infamous Dr. Simons, who allegedly lives in the catacombs of underground Seattle. It is easy to see why this spot has been put on the list of 'most intriguing historic urban morgues'!

  • Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
    • Perhaps a little history lesson is needed to fully understand this tour option:

      In 1889 glue boiled over and caught wood chips on fire in a shop downtown, the fire quickly spreading 25 blocks of mostly wooden buildings and completely devastating Seattle's downtown area. This event was a 'great' blessing in disguise, however, as the city was having several infrastructural issues in this area, to begin with. Seeing it as a chance to start over, city officials built retaining walls 8 foot or higher, filled them, and paved over what used to be the city. The tour's namesake, Bill Speidel, was a pioneer in showing this forgotten underground world to guests, first starting his Seattle restoration project in 1954.

      Today this 75-minute tour begins beneath Doc Maynards Public House and ends in Rogues Gallery and Underground Gift Shop, which holds displays, memorabilia, and souvenirs. You will see Pioneer Square and the underground up close and personal, your journey taking you through rugged conditions underground, complete with rickety stairs (in spots) and spotty lighting. The hollow tunnels reach up to 35 feet in places!

  • Spooked in Seattle (Tour and Museum)
    • These are the oldest running tours of their kind in the area and they aim to 'tell the real stories of haunted Seattle' by using the evidence collected on actual paranormal investigations. The tours have been rated #2 in the US by USA Today in 2018, #6 by Timeout, and earned the 2019 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.

      The museum half of this adventure showcases paranormal memorabilia and funerary items, oftentimes referred to as the 'Death Museum'. Inside you will see vintage 1800s mourning jewelry, attire, coffins, and embalming tools and equipment. Take a good look around before you embark on your tour!

  • Private Eye Tours
    • Explore Seattle's most famous and infamous murders, mysteries, and hauntings with a Private Eye Tour, these tours voted as 'one of the creepiest True Crime Tours in America' by Fodors. Explore cases such as the Unlucky 13, Axe Man, and Black Widow as you stroll the streets of the city's most historic neighborhoods.

      The most popular tour is the original Queen Anne True Crime Tour, which takes you through Pioneer Square, Downtown, Chinatown, and Queen Anne Hill, exploring the topics above along the way. Another good option is the Capitol Hill True Crime Tour, focusing on two very famous past residents, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. There are more tour options as well, and each lasts 2.5 to 3 hours.

  • Kell's Irish Pub
    • Any aged visitor is allowed in Kell's Irish Pub during the day for food options, as well as for possible glimpses of the pub's two most (in)famous residents, Charlie and 'the young girl'.

      Located in Pikes Place Market, this spot has been called 'the most haunted bar in America' on more than one occasion, and after hearing its history it is easy to see why. Upon opening, this building, the Butterworth Building, was actually a mortuary. The basement, what is the pub today, was used as an embalming room and the bodies were sent upstairs for prep afterward. Many people believe the 'hauntings' here are from the great 1918 influenza outbreak in Seattle, this event being a key part of it's 'haunted' history.

      Grab a bite to eat and see if you can spot Charlie in the Guinness Mirror!

  • Hotel Sorrento
    • Hotel Sorrento is an integral part of Seattle's history for many reasons. 110 years old this year (2019), this hotel saw its beginnings during the Alaska-Yukon- Pacific Exposition of 1909. It was very busy back in its heydey and still is today as an upscale hotel in the First Hill Neighborhood.

      It has, however, earned the name of 'one of the country's 13 most haunted hotels' (USA Today 2015), as it seems to have an unexplained unliving guest roaming its halls, especially near room 408. Writer Alice B Toklas is said to occupy the hotel, though the reasons seem very unknown.

  • Skid Road
    • The well-known term 'Skid Row', or as it originally were, 'Skid Road' (run-down urban area), actually originated in the historic city of Seattle!

      That's right, the old road known as Yesler Way, now known as Pioneer Square, was highly traversed and utilized during the late 1800s. This is the main street along which logs were transported, as logging was a highly profitable business for the area in the past. The road became questionable in character after a while, known as a dividing line between the more affluent Seattlites and the rough and tumble mill workers and impoverished within the city.

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