Cascadia resident's Ghost Towne awakens memories of past

 

September 16, 2020

TERRY LAHODNY stands amidst some of the exhibits at his Short Bridge Ghost Towne Attraction in Cascadia.

What started out as a means to keep Terry Lahodny's pets safe and teach his grandchildren a lesson has turned into an attraction that draws people from all over to see the mock western town he's built beside Highway 20 in Cascadia.

The Short Bridge Ghost Towne Attraction, so named because it's located across from Cascadia's covered Short Bridge, sits where the Cascadia Bar and old Maples Store once stood.

Lahodny, who built and lives behind the ghost town attraction, remembers the store before it burned down.

"They had wood floors, big thick planks 4 inches thick, you know, where you can walk in with the corks and s-t, the logging boots with all the spikes on it and stuff. So all the floors were all stuck full of holes," he said, "But it was like all the loggers come in here for a hundred years. It was a logging camp here a long time ago, turn of the century."

Lahodny erected the fake ghost town as a fence to keep his pets off the highway, he said. His menagerie includes dogs and peacocks, but there once used to be a lion, too.

He also wanted to teach his grandchildren a lesson about reusing salvaged items.

"I wanted them to understand that in life there's way too many people that buy new stuff. Every time somethin' breaks, they gotta go buy a brand new 'this'," Lahodny said. "People throw away way too much stuff, and it's just a wasteful world."


Everything used to build the western facade is reclaimed lumber and miscellany salvaged from around the state.

"Nobody cares about anything like this 'til they drive by one time with their wife on vacation and they go, 'Wow, that's kinda neat!' and then they realize it was made from all stuff that they (threw away)."

Lahodny and his family prepared to move onto the property, located at 47457 Santiam Hwy., about 10 or 12 years ago.

The first attraction to go up was Slim's Cafe. Lahodny built the facade while living on his previous property, and hauled it down to the site.

"I dug some holes, put some posts in and stood it up," he said.

Then he figured he'd just keep going.

"The thing of the old west kind of came to mind," he said. "I watched a lot of Clint Eastwood movies when I was a kid, spaghetti westerns, so I thought, you know, well, it wouldn't be too hard to build one of them."

The next thing he built was the barn with a sign that reads, "Ye old stage stop! Livery, Blacksmith."

"And then I just kept going this way (left) and slowly built it," he said.

His "town" includes Maples Country Store – a nod to the old market, Town Undertaker, Drunken Horse Saloon, Susie's Bath House-N-Barber Shop, Doe Mtn. Mining, and Pony Express Office.

At one point some time ago, Lahodny said, he sold snacks from the window of Maples Country Store.

"This was a drive-up little window where you can get pop and stuff, like a little store," he said. "I was gonna make a business out of it. It would've been cool."

The last person to buy a drink from there was an official who, minutes later, handed over a letter ordering Lahodny to cease all business, he said.

Though he never really intended his fence attraction to be a spot for tourists, he believes he's seen people come from as far away as Japan, China, Germany, France, Switzerland and Poland, "running around taking pictures."

"If they enjoy it and they think it's kinda cool and want to stop and take pictures in front of it, then in my book it means it's kinda cool, so let 'em take a picture; it's no big deal," he said.

"It's kind of a relic, you know?" noted Darrel Laxton, Lahodny's friend, who serves as communication manager for the attraction. "People stop all the time, especially when we're out here. They stop and talk with you and chat with you and stuff."


There's more to look at than just the facade. The town includes old mining and logging equipment, fake skeletons and Halloween décor, an antique wheelchair that belonged to some "old bastard" up on Whiskey Butte, an antique chair from the county clerk, and other eccentricities.


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He also has a coffin out front, sized to his own body, which visitors really like.

"Every time somebody come by, I swear they take their picture (with it)," he said. "They always take the lid off to see if there's something in it."

All his props are just part of what makes a ghost town a ghost town, in Lahodny's view.

"When you say 'ghost town,' of course you're gonna think skeletons and creepy," he said.

As for actual ghosts, that may have to be left up to visitors' imaginations. Lahodny hasn't seen anything, himself, but sometimes he felt something was there with him while he worked in his shop late at night.

Laxton has felt the same way at times.

"There's something creepy that you kinda just feel like something's watching you or something," Laxton said. "Kinda feels like there's eyes on you sometimes."

But Lahodny passes it off as nothing evil. If anything, he said it could be related to the old stories of apparitions of old loggers from the area.

More recently, Lahodny and Laxton have been working on some new additions.

"It's gonna be Magic Meg's Cat House and Eggs. Basically a bed and breakfast," Lahodny said of the blue, two-story structure.

Next to it will be a jail, Laxton added.

There will even be a "sheriff from hell," standing out front, which Lahodny carved himself out of yew and maple wood.

The life-sized un-dead sheriff has a movable jaw and eyes that glow, he said. When finished, the character will wear a vest, badge, six shooters and an old duster.

"When you see him – he's gonna be out here real soon standing on that porch – you're gonna trip, it's gonna be so cool," Lahodny said. "He's gonna be somethin' to see. It's gonna be cool as hell."

Lahodny also thinks about adding a church into the attraction, because it's almost "sacrilegious" not to, he said.

But it all comes down to time, which he is short on. His to-do list includes repairing shingles and signs, and fixing the peak on the handmade water tower.

"There's a lot of things that need to be done, but over the years, I mean, you can only do so much in one little season, and here pretty soon I have to go back to truck driving, so I'm not going to have much time, but I got 'til the end of the month, and we're rockin' and rollin', so I think we'll get a lot done."

After Lahodny passes on, he may just make a personal appearance or two at the ol' ghost town attraction, he suggested.

"I wouldn't want to haunt it, but I sure wouldn't mind checking in every once in awhile making sure everything was being taken care of and everything. If not, get 'em in gear."

"Oh come on. You'd haunt it. You know you would," Laxton responded with a laugh.

"I just want somebody to love it enough like me to take care of it," Lahodny replied.

TERRY LAHODNY points out a wheelchair he saved from a dump, which he's added to the collection at his ghost town. Behnd him is a coffin that visitors like to peek into.

 
 

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