From scary ghost stories to true crime tales, Bob Antone’s Haunting Walking Tours are guaranteed to send chills up your spine. The North Bend musician, wood carver and artist expertly blends local history and lore with tales of the netherworld, designed to appeal to the “morbidly curious,” as he likes to say.
But for Bob, the events are just as much about rekindling the old-fashioned art of storytelling, which he grew up with, listening to grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors who shared family histories and stories with each other. “These stories and others like them are oral histories that you can’t find on the internet,” he says. “It’s like what we did sitting around the campfire.”
On the June 23rd Duvall Haunted Walking Tour – the second one this year held due to the popularity of the first one in the spring - the group gathered under a steady drizzle on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, then continued on through Historic Duvall, finally ending up at the pioneer cemetery next to the Dougherty Farmstead.
As the walk began, Bob pointed out local plants growing along the pathway such as the wild rose (a connection to his wife Laura’s native DENE heritage), and licorice root, a fern-like epiphyte that grows on the sides of maple trees that was used by native people as chewing gum to treat sore throat and the common cold.
Expanding further on native history, he noted that the Tolt indigenous people believed that the source of water was sacred. “Kanim Lake, for instance, is the source for North Fork Snoqualmie and named after the Kanim family of the 1855 treaty,” he said. “The crater and lake at the summit of the mountain were said to endow powers to anyone who swam in its waters. The Salish religious ceremony involves 5-7 spirit doctors standing in a row facing the west. A patient, with a piece of soul kidnapped by malevolent ‘hungry ghosts’ is aided by a team of spiritual workers who travel in a spirit canoe to the ‘land of the dead’ located to the west.”
Over time, Bob has accumulated a wealth of historical knowledge and tales, plus an impressive list of strange sightings which include Bigfoot and other odd or paranormal apparitions reportedly seen by one or several people (such as what appeared to be a person by the side of the road, but when it turned around had a face of a possum – which Bob told the group he actually saw on Paradise Lake Road).
And of course, a haunted tour can’t be complete without adding some true crime stories, including a couple that included local ties to infamous murderers such as Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer.
All of which led to a discussion of the concept of “evil.”
To European/American culture, the concept of evil, he said, goes back to the earliest Judeo-Christian holy texts, he said. “But to Native Americans, including the Snoqualmie, the concept of evil can be described as ‘hungry ghosts,’ using the concept of a bear kept in a cage, without food or water … taunted … forgotten … then you invite that bear to dinner!”
It’s the “negative residue of serial killers …” he said.
“Strange but true” tales of “Old Duvall” followed, as Bob and his entourage arrived on Main Street where he pointed out the tall wood carvings on the street corners, which were installed 10 years ago as part of the downtown renovation project. Bob had worked with some Hmong artists and tribal members to create the pieces next to the Duvall Church. One of the carvings shows canoes and riders plunging to their deaths over Snoqualmie Falls. “This is from the famous legend of Chief Patkanim tricking his enemies into paddling over the Falls,” he explained. “Sadly, in 2011, one of the carvers, Kee Cha, inexplicably drove head-on into the Snoqualmie River. His knife marks are seen in that plank carving.”
Bob then explained the history of the other side of the piece that shows a young woman. The carving was complete and installed when the then-mayor decided the breasts on the woman were too large and wanted them reduced. “It seemed that someone had commented that the art looked ‘like the mudflap girls on a redneck truck,’” he said. “The mayor said the breasts were a size ‘D’ and he wanted them an ‘A’ size. I told him I would meet him in the middle and make them a ‘B’ size,” he laughed.
Then there was the tale of the talking crow. The crow first appeared in January 1954 and was first observed tapping on the windows and begging for food all over town, he said. The crow soon became a local celebrity. It was noted that the animal had a large vocabulary (including dirty words and phrases). The crow was thought to have been owned by someone in a nearby logging camp which would explain his colorful language.
The final destination was the old pioneer cemetery on Cherry Valley Road where many of the early settlers had been buried but had to be moved over the years because of poor drainage. Bob said that although most of the bodies there had been relocated, it was thought that more may still remain that are unidentified. There have been reports of people seeing lights and hearing voices, accompanied by a “feeling of unrest,” Bob said.
Following the official part of the tour, which lasted over three hours, Bob and Laura (who had created a magnificent salmon lunch in McCormick Park for the guests to enjoy) played a Salish song inside the Dougherty home in honor of Annie Duvall (James’ Native American wife) who, when she passed, had to be interred in a separate part of the cemetery just because she was Indian.