The Winslow Incident
refers to a
plague of madness and mass hysteria that struck the small, isolated town of Winslow, Washington in July of 2010. Many of the details remain unclear, as townsfolk have been reluctant to divulge what actually occurred during this bizarre episode. The initial symptoms included chills, nausea and insomnia, but soon the afflicted began to lose their minds. As the lunacy spread, panic and speculation swept through town, and the unsound were ostracized. Residents then turned against one another for crimes either real or imagined.

This epidemic was one of the most peculiar cases of mass psychosis, hysteria and inquisition since the Middle Ages.

             Contents [hide]
  
1 The history of Winslow Washington
      1.1 A once prosperous mining town goes bust       1.2 Frontier justice
  2 The setting - the isolated town of Winslow, WA
  3 The characters
      3.1 Hazel Winslow
      3.2 Sean Adair
      3.3 Pard Holloway
      3.4 Sheriff Nate Winslow
      3.5 Veterinarian Reed Simmons
      3.6 Patience Mathers
      3.7 Tanner Holloway
      3.8 Kenny Clark
      3.9 Hawkin Rhone
  4 The madness
      4.1 Initial events
      4.2 The madness spreads like wild fire
  5 Documentation on the strange true story
      5.1 The Stepstone Bee newspaper article
      5.2 A Plague of Madness by G.F. Olson
      5.3 The Winslow Incident by Elizabeth Voss

 

The history of Winslow, Washington

A once prosperous mining town goes bust
Established in 1888 shortly after Dinky Dowd, a
drifter and hapless miner inadvertently discovered silver ore after waking up in a dry riverbed following a long night with a bottle of bourbon. Winslow was named after its most prominent citizen, Evan Winslow, who along with investors from San Francisco set up the highly prosperous Yellow Jacket and Fourth of July Mines. The mines yielded over a million dollars in silver before the price fell out of silver in 1893. With no profit to be had, most people cleared out and the town was left to slowly die.

Frontier justice
Winslow has a long history of frontier justice. In 1889 Dinky Dowd shot Gus Bolinger in the gut over a fair prostitute's favors in the Never Tell Brothel. He was subsequently sent to the gallows for his misdeed. In 1989 Hawkin Rhone was banished from town and sent to live in isolation across Three Fools Creek for alleged indiscretions involving poison.

The setting - Winslow, Washington
A historical silver mining town, population 255, hidden in the piney mountains of the Pacific Northwest, 73 miles off winding Hwy 20, up Yellow Jacket Pass, and across the Lamprey River. Winslow bills itself as the jewel of the Stepstone Range, and is home to Holloway Ranch, Rose's Country Crock, The Buckhorn Tavern, Tiny’s Mercantile, and Rhone Bakery. The Winslow is the town’s only hotel, the converted Italianate mansion built by Evan Winslow in 1889. The town of Winslow is directly adjacent to Matherston—once the heart of the mining community, currently a ghost town. During the spring and summer the Mathers family gives ghost town tours dressed in period costumes. There are two graveyards, the boarded-up Fourth of July and Yellow Jacket Mines, and a rusty old water tower. Every 4th of July the town hosts a popular carnival and rodeo.

The Characters

Hazel Winslow: Seventeen, willowy, long strawberry blond hair, hazel eyes. She is a firecracker—tough, but with a sweet streak. She plans to leave "this one horse town" as soon as she turns eighteen, and suspects that just like her mother she won’t miss anything that she leaves behind. She worries her boyfriend Sean Adair will never leave Winslow.

Sean Adair: Seventeen, tall and lanky, long brown hair, brown eyes. Sean is basically a good kid who wouldn't pass up a bit of trouble, including a tangle with Hawkin Rhone a few years back from which Sean barely escaped. He adores his girlfriend Hazel, but worries she’ll grow bored of him.

Pard Holloway: A large man, and the bull-headed owner of Holloway Ranch. He is the first to take drastic action when the plague strikes. Keeping this incident out of the news, and keeping Holloway Ranch’s reputation in tact are his main concerns. He is Hazel and Tanner Holloway’s uncle, and a man used to calling the shots. 

Sheriff Nate Winslow: Hazel’s father, who is quickly overcome by the lunacy and struggles to keep his wits while hunting a creature that's been haunting the woods.

Veterinarian Reed Simmons: The only medical professional in Winslow, the thin and bespectacled Vet is the first to realize the magnitude of the crisis. Instead of helping his friends and neighbors, the delusional Simmons hides in his home attempting to stay out of the whole mess.

Patience Mathers: Seventeen, long dark hair, beautiful doll-like features. Patience is exceedingly superstitious, and goes to extreme lengths to make her best friend Hazel realize that her dire premonitions are finally coming true.

Tanner Holloway: Pale, ice blue eyes, blond surfer hair, Tanner Holloway is a little weasel. He'd been sent to his Uncle Pard’s for the Summer to straighten out and fly right. The only two things Tanner looks out for are a himself and a good time.

Kenny Clark: Holloway ranch hand who takes his job and himself very seriously. There's been bad blood between Kenny and Sean ever since they fought in 2006. Kenny wears stonewashed jeans, too tight t-shirts and his favorite band is Bon Jovi.

Hawkin Rhone: Ever since the baker was run out of town in 1989, rumor, conjecture and wild imaginations have transformed him into Winslow’s own bogeyman. The children of Winslow live in great fear of Hawkin Rhone.

The Madness

Initial events
In July of 2010 in Winslow, Washington, the animals began to go strange. Several dozen cattle appeared to be drunk, and a few were found dead. Soon many residents were struck with nausea, fever and chills. Everybody panicked. Townsfolk agreed that the mysterious food poisoning must not spread beyond the borders of Winslow—or even word of it—because news like that ruins reputations and spoils tourists’ appetites. Everyone was quick to grasp that if they lost their good reputation, they'd lose the smattering of visitors that kept their remote town alive.

The lunacy spreads like wildfire
A day later, the residents' symptoms intensified, conditions worsened, and speculation gave way to hysteria as people realized the sickness was far worse than food poisoning: the victims were losing their minds. Delusions and hallucinations, insomnia and convulsions escalated their suffering. As the lunacy spread, the town of Winslow began to unravel. The ghosts came out to haunt, the creature lurked in the woods, and Hawkin Rhone wouldn’t stay in his grave.

And seventeen-year-old Hazel Winslow was forced to navigate this surreal nightmare, terrified of losing her own mind, struggling to save her family and friends from themselves and the others.

Documentation on the strange true story

The Stepsone Bee - newspaper article
Initial reports of an incident in Winslow came out in the local newspaper shortly after the outbreak. However, the small paper, already in rapid decline, discontinued circulation in January 2011 and the story was subsequently dropped.
Link: The Stepstone Bee

A Plague of Madness, The Strange True Account of
Extraordinay Events-Winslow, Washington by G.F. Olson

A "non-fiction" account written and published by G.F. Olson, a Forest Service first responder to the epidemic. The book went quickly out-of-print due to legal complications.
Link: A Plague of Madness

The Winslow Incident by Elizabeth Voss
Published in 2011 as a "
fictional" account of the crisis. The novel follows Hazel Winslow, her family and friends from those first hot days in July through the harrowing madness that ensued.
A fun exciting read
well worth the price of admission.
Link:
The Winslow Incident

© 2011 cum grano salis
The fine print:
THE WINSLOW INCIDENT is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.
THE WINSLOW INCIDENT is inspired by historical accounts of entire villages gone mad including:
The Mass Hallucinations in Pont-Saint-Esprit, The Salem Witch Trials, among others. SEE: Historical Accounts of Remarkable Events
All information on this website about Winslow Washington, especially this page, should be taken with a grain of salt.
We hope you enjoy a good story...