The historical Taft Pioneer Cemetery will be full of life this October, for Tour To Die For — a walk through the graveyard with figures who lived and died in Lincoln City.
This is the third year for the popular event attracting visitors and locals to the hilltop cemetery just east of Highway 101, near the Spanish Head Resort.
It’s an chance to meet residents of the cementary brought to life by local actors. The actors recite details of their lives written by the North Lincoln County Historical Museum.
“Tour To Die For is literally the history of Lincoln City brought to life,” Explore Lincoln City Director Ed Dreistadt said.
Workers and voluteers at the Lincoln County Historical Museum collected oral histories about the pioneers who arrived to build the towns that became Lincoln City. Many of those pioneers are buried in Taft Pioneer Cemetery.
Through an accumulation of efforts by North Lincoln County Historical Museum, Theatre West, Taft Pioneer Cemetery and Chinook Winds Casino Resort, Tour To Die For has come to life once again, according to Dreistadt.
“We took the stories from the museum, paired them with actors from Theatre West and staged them at their gravesites in the cemetery,” Dreistadt said.
He said Tour To Die For is not a scary Halloween event, it’s the little-known history of the town brought to life in a dramatic setting.
“People who take the tour love being transported to another time and hearing true stories about the life and times of some pretty colorful characters,” Dreistadt said. “You hear wonderful stories about love, hardship, folly and fun,”
Dreistadt said Tour To Die For was actually modeled after Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I worked in Atlanta with Todd Cregar, the Director of Business Operations with The Historic Oakland Foundation, and he shared the idea with us about how they conduct their cemetery tours,” Dreistadt said. “The event partners were able to go into A Tour To Die For with a proven template and an understanding that would normally have taken us years to develop on our own.”
Although Tour To Die For has been successful, Dreistadt said there have been challenges along the way.
“Transportation was the biggest challenge from the beginning,” he said. “There is very little parking at the cemetery, so people can’t gather there.”
He said A Tour To Die For almost didn’t happen because Explore Lincoln City couldn’t come up with a financial model that made sense.
“Fortunately, Chinook Winds Casino Resort came to the rescue by donating shuttle buses and drivers,” Dreistadt said. “Without that, the Tour would never have gotten off the ground.”
With the challenges behind them, the event will carry on this year with some new tricks, such as an entirely new set of characters, as well as some surprises that you'll have to wait to see.
Launching in 2016, Tour to Die For received the 2016 Oregon Heritage Tourism Award from Travel Oregon.
Tours are set for Oct. 19, 20, and 21st from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Special matinee shows available.
The matinees are only on the closing day Sunday, Oct. 21 at 12:00 p.m., 1:00.p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Tickets for Tour To Die For are $25 for everyone. Tours depart every hour from the Lincoln City Cultural Center, 540 NE Highway 101. Purchase your tickets in advance at TourtoDieFor.com, or call 541-994-9994.