History and mystery in downtown Anchorage

Dressed from head to toe in centuries old garb, Rick Goodfellow and his wife wait patiently for patrons on the corner of Fourth Avenue and L Street. Complete with a top hat and a microphone, Goodfellow is ready to share the history of Anchorage as you’ve never seen it before.

Fifteen dollars will get a group tour sticker and a 90 to 120 minute wheel-chair accessible walking tour around Anchorage’s downtown area.

“I’ve been here for of couple years. I’m very interested in ghosts, and hauntings and things like that,” Brooke Wilder, a member of the Ghost Tours of Anchorage, said.

Goodfellow was inspired by a tour he took in Victoria, B.C., Canada. The tour showed Goodfellow the city of Victoria in a grim and intriguing light, one that most people don’t see.

“I thought it was a very illuminating way to discover the history of a town. I thought, ‘Woah, Anchorage should do this.’ Anchorage needs to know more about its history and so I went from there.”

One might not know what to think at the sound of the ghost tour. Ghost Tours of Anchorage welcomes all, skeptics and believers. They emphasize that their goal is to not scare or proselytize, but to simply show the city of Anchorage through an eerie, but ultimately, historical lens.

“I’m interested in ghosts, who isn’t? I don’t consider myself a ghost hunter. I’m a history guy. I have met a bunch of ghost hunters. There are some really good ones in Anchorage and that’s their domain and I respect what they do,” Goodfellow said.

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Rick Goodfellow takes the Ghost Tours of Anchorage by the Fourth Avenue Theater to narrate the story of the Lady in White and the history of the city. Photo credit: Young Kim

The Ghost Tours of Anchorage begins at Snow City Cafe and winds through downtown Anchorage. Stopping at Anchorage’s most prominent and most historical sites: the courthouse, Captain Cook Hotel, the Fourth Avenue Theater and the Historic Anchorage Hotel.

Learn about the beginnings of Anchorage and see the architecture of downtown in a whole new way as Goodfellow tells their history and shows pictures of the buildings in the past. Walk through the alleyway where Anchorage’s first police chief, John Sturgus, was murdered with his own weapon. Stand where a KENI radio station worker stood when he saw the late Cap Lathrop stare at him from his office window on the backside of the Fourth Avenue theatre. Hear some spooky tales and you’ll take away a rich history of what Anchorage used to be like; from its wild west days to the era of oil and the money that came with.

Despite being more interested in the stories and the history, many people look to Goodfellow for help in matters he’s just not in a position to help.

“I sometimes get calls; I got one, kind of a scary call, left at 1:30 in the morning last weekend talking about how a ghost has moved into his house and he’s terrified and needs help. That’s just not what I do and not I’m interested in,” Goodfellow said.

The Ghost Tours run Tuesday through Sunday from May 18 until August 31 and begins promptly at 7:30 p.m. at Snow City Cafe, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and L Street.