A bit of Oregon esoterica for everyone this Friday morning, and it’s a ghost story to boot: The Bandage Man of Cannon Beach.
The Bandage Man is a phantom of a man completely wrapped in bandages that haunts this small community. The bloody figure, who smells of rotting flesh, jumps into vehicles passing on a road outside of town, notably pickup trucks or open-topped cars, but also sedans, station wagons, and even sports cars. Sometimes the mummy breaks windows or leaves behind bits of bloody or foul-smelling bandages. One legend has it that he is the ghost of a dead logger cut to pieces in a sawmill accident.
The Bandage Man is sometimes said to eat dogs and may have murdered several people. He appears on the short approach road connecting US Highway 101 to Cannon Beach, between the town and where Highway 26 intersects with 101. The phantom always vanishes just before reaching town.
I first came across the story of Bandage Man in the book Ghosts, Critters & Sacred Places of Washington and Oregon, and it stood out because it’s not the typical “sounds and thumps in the night” type of ghost story that fills books like these.
Not surprisingly, there’s not much on the web about Bandage Man; digging around only reveals a handful of sites, with pretty much the same one or two paragraph description. However, I did find this post on the MysteryPlanet MSN Group that sheds light on the origin of the legend:
I was googling on the chance that I might find some mention somewhere of the Bandage Man. I have been aware of this story for over forty years. For I was a child in the community where it got it’s start. I knew some of the family of the kid that first encountered the Bandage Man. There is an old road, that for all the years I was growing up was known as “Bandage Man Road”. It was just an old section of Highway 101 that had been bypassed when a new section put in place, but it was still accessible and wasn’t very long-just a short loop off of the highway-the whole thing from end to end could be driven in maybe five minutes or so.
This loop of road was a popular place for local kids to go park and makeout.
That is where the story started. One night, two of the local kids were up there doing just what teenaged boys and girls do when they are parked on dark lonely roads. The boy had an old chevy pickup and his girl and he were sitting in the cab. All off a sudden they felt the truck sort of lean, like something was moving around in the bed of the truck. They turned to look out the rear window and there looking back was a bandaged face, with only some wierd looking eyes showing through eyeholes in the bandages. The bandaged figure started beating on the glass, and the top of the cab. The kid started his engine, got it gear and tore out of there-his girlfriend screaming in terror as the man in the back continued his pounding. Any of you who’ve been to Bandage Man road, or Cannon Beach, know how curvey the roads are and to drive them at highspeed is dangerous. On they went-after what seemed an eternity they made it to downtown Cannon Beach, where the boy’s family owned a service station that they lived next door to in green house. Once they got there, they looked in the back and the Bandaged figure was no where to be seen.
I first heard this story back in 1960-61. And it’s the original version. Some of the family of the kid still lives around here too, I know two of his brothers.
I have never heard of a repeat appearance by the Bandage Man.
I guess you’d better watch out if you’re driving around Cannon Beach, if you believe that sort of thing…