The Most Mysterious Events in Alaska’s History

Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman investigate the infamous Alaskan Hotel in the premiere of Portals to Hell, but it’s not the only location in Alaska with spooky secrets to share.

In the premiere episode of Portals to Hell, Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman investigate the infamous Alaskan Hotel. Built in Juneau, Alaska in 1913, the hotel is currently included in the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout the years, the hotel has been the site of some of Alaska’s most horrifying and mysterious events. Now, it seems that those haunting incidents have caused the Alaskan Hotel to become a hotbed of paranormal activity. In the episode, Jack and Katrina investigate the Alaskan’s notorious past, and make contact with the spirits that remain trapped within the historic hotel. In anticipation for the episode, we’ve created a list of some of Alaska’s other most mysterious events throughout history!

Hosts Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman posing for a photo in front of a black background. As seen on Travel Channel's Portals To Hell.

THE GHOST SHIP S.S. BAYCHIMO

On October 1, 1931, the cargo vessel S.S. Baychimo, became stuck in the icy Alaskan seas. The crew tried in vain to dislodge her, but she wouldn’t budge. The sailors eventually built a small camp on shore, anticipating they may have to wait out the winter before she’d be freed. One night, a massive blizzard blew in, and despite the frigid temperatures and ice and snow the storm brought with it, the next day, the ship was gone.

The crew assumed she broke up and sank during the storm, until a few days later when an Inuit seal hunter told them he’d seen the ship some 45 miles off-shore. From there, the Baychimo was seen again and again, throughout various parts of the arctic seas. People even boarded the ghost ship multiple times throughout the years, attempting to salvage her. But each time, peculiar events would prevent them from being able to. The last known sighting of the ghost ship S.S. Baychimo was in 1696, 39 years after she first vanished. The government has even launched a scientific search for ship, scouting both the seas, as well as the ocean floor in case she sank. The Baychimo still hasn’t been found.

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DeeDee Jonrowe mushes across Puntilla Lake as she comes into the Rainy Pass checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Monday, March 7, 2011. (Bob Hallinen/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images)

Photo by: Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Daily News

IDITAROD GHOSTS

In 2011, famed Iditarod racer Deedee Jonrowe told reporters of a ghostly encounter she had while racing some years prior. One of the rest-stops along the 938-mile trail is a ghost town also named Iditarod. The town was created by miners panning for gold, but by the 1940’s the gold was completely gone and the town was abandoned. When Jonrowe arrived in the deserted ruins, she was shocked to see other Iditarod racing teams there with her…although something was off. These teams looked like they came straight from the turn of the century, still wearing wolf skins and blankets made of hide. She even smelled the smoke from their campfire, and heard the sound the clanging in the nearby mines as if the town was still in its heyday. Though Iditarod was physically abandoned almost 80 years ago, it appears that some souls have remained.

JAPAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 1628

On the evening of November, 17, 1986, JAL flight 1628 – a 747 carrying cargo from Paris to Tokyo – encountered multiple UFOs while flying over Alaska. Two unknown rectangular objects were flying on the left side of the aircraft, when suddenly, they sped ahead of the plane and rose up directly in front of it, emitting light and heat so intense that the pilot reported the cabin being completely illuminated and the crew even feeling the warmth on their skin. What makes this event so remarkable is that the witnesses were multiple crewmembers that had decades of flying experience. The entire event was even documented by their communication with air traffic control.

The controlmen asked the pilot if he recognized the objects, and the pilot responded only with, “We cannot identify the type. But we can see navigation lights…or strobe lights.”

The objects weren’t just viewed visually. JAL 1628 even picked them up on radar, proving that it couldn’t have just been an optical illusion.

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The Arctic lamprey is a small eel-like fish up to 15 inches in total length. Arctic lampreys are distinguished from other Alaska lampreys by two large teeth on the supraoral bar and the presence of a row of posterial teeth.

Photo by: Yiming Chen

Yiming Chen

VAMPIRE FISH FALL FROM THE SKY

On a summer day in June, an arctic lamprey fell from the sky, right into the parking lot of a Value Village outside of Fairbanks, Alaska… and it was alive. Lampreys are parasitic fish. They look like eels and have circular mouths filled with sharp teeth that they use to leech onto larger fish to suck their blood. This has given the lamprey the nickname of “vampire fish.” Soon after the first lamprey fall from the sky, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game began receiving other calls about Vampire Fish dropping from above, one falling right into a man’s front yard. Lampreys are incredibly horrifying. Aside from their razor-sharp teeth, they’re also anadromous, meaning they can live in both fresh and saltwater. Hopefully living on land isn’t next.

HUNTING FOR KUSHTAKA

Kushtaka (translated to “land otter man”) are shapeshifting creatures that can take the shape of humans and otters. They lure people, especially small children, away from their camps, or towards rivers and lakes by imitating the sounds of crying infants or a screaming woman. The Kushtaka then steals the lifeforce if its victim, allowing it to transform into their shape and lure more unsuspecting souls. In 2013, there was a bizarre rash of sightings throughout not just Alaska, but all over the Far North. The incidents were so intriguing that they even caught the attention of actor Charlie Sheen, who put together a research team and flew to Alaska to search for the mythical creatures.

ALASKA’S LAKE MONSTER

Stories about a monster living within Alaska’s Iliamna Lake have been told for decades. But in 2017, a flurry of new sightings lent credibility to the tale and had the press scrambling for answers. Multiple witnesses reported seeing three massive creatures, one being over 60 feet long, breaching the lake’s surface, and shooting water into the air like a whale. So, the answer is simple right? It’s probably a whale. There’s only one problem…whales live in saltwater, but Iliamna Lake is freshwater. The lake is large and deep, and is home to a diverse range of species such as freshwater seals, and Pacific Sleeper Sharks have even been found in the Iliamna. With the lake being so large and holding such a diverse array of life, it’s impossible to know everything that may be lurking beneath the surface…

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The village of Ilamna, Alaska is just a small cluster of buildings around crystal-clear Lake Iliamna, a nursery for wild salmon, which at 80 miles long is the largest U.S. freshwater lake outside the Great Lakes. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images)

Photo by: Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Daily News

For more of Alaska’s mysterious and horrifying history, be sure to watch the premiere of Portals to Hell on April 26 at 10|9c to discover the terrifying secrets and malicious hauntings of one Alaska’s oldest and most historic hotels.

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