Strange things happen when you enter the Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill.
A vortex by definition is a whirling mass and one can draw a perfect circle to determine where the Vortex is located and in that circle, things are a little strange.
According to local history, Native Americans used to call the area “forbidden ground” and would not enter because their horses would shy away from the area, alerting them to the strange activity.
Horses, deer and other mammals tend to avoid the area, but amphibians don’t seem to notice — or maybe they just don’t care — the vortex.
There are several places inside the vortex where you can be standing perfectly still, but once you relax, your body will start to sway in a circular motion. It is a strange feeling and it’s easy to tense up or use your muscles to combat the swaying.
In the 1920s geologist, mining engineer and physicist John Litster conducted thousands of experiments in the area, continuing until his death in 1959.
He came up with three theories on what may cause the strange phenomena in the heart of Oregon gold country. I’ve been asked not to divulge any information regarding these theories, but the tour guides at the Oregon Vortex are more than happy to share them and put visitors through a series of experiments.
In the last month, my son finally grew taller than me. He’s 12 and is blessed/cursed with tall men on both sides of the family. There is no doubt that he will be at least 6-foot tall by the time he’s ready to graduate high school. However, inside the vortex I can still be taller than him.
Throughout the vortex there are platforms and when you stand on one side you appear taller than on the other side, so of course I had to test it.
My son — who’s only about an inch taller than me — stood on the right side and I on the left. We were directly across from each other, and I was shorter than he was. However, when we switched sides, my eye-level would change to be on his forehead — indicating that either I had grown, or he had shrunk, in the mere seconds it took to walk back to the other side.
I prefer to stay on the right side of the platform, appearing taller.
Various tests were done, people were lined up according to height and the difference would change dramatically once they switched, but no real explanation was found — just those three theories.
Visitors are encouraged to bring their own levels, although several are provided at the Oregon Vortex.
While there, we also visited the House of Mystery, which sits inside the vortex.
The building was originally an assay office for the Old Grey Eagle Mining Company, built in 1904. It later served as a tool shack, before it slid off its foundation.
Now the building is slanted, and finding a way to stay upright inside can be quite challenging.
Several replicas have been made of the house, including one at the Enchanted Forest.
But what was most impressive to my preteens was that the animators and cast from “Gravity Falls,” an animated television series, visited the site and used the House of Mystery as inspiration for the Mystery Shack.
Things are certainly mysterious in Southern Oregon.