Most Haunted California (Part 2)

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We’ve saved the best for last! We continue our coverage of the Most Haunted California locations with the top lucky 13! California’s gold-hungry settlers’ wild west attitude has laid out a spiritual landscape unlike any other. The hotels, bars, and roads these Anglo-American gold miners built are now extremely haunted.

These are not only found in the big cities but also smaller towns and scenic countryside locations.

Want to check some of California’s most haunted locations? Take a guided tour with US Ghost Adventures. We offer tours in Los AngelesMontereySan FranciscoSanta Monica, San Diego, and Sacramento.

13. Point Sur Lighthouse in Monterey, CA 

A light emanating from a rock formation sticking out into the water

Source: Flickr

Point Sur lighthouse in Monterey is another far-reaching, remote, and haunted location found in California. The victims of the various shipwrecks that occurred offshore and the families that lived here are just a few of the spirits that inhabit the lighthouse. 

The Point Sur Lighthouse, built in 1889, is one of the oldest in the state. Located near Big Sur, a popular vacation destination, the lighthouse attempted to curb the deaths incurred by the deadly waters offshore. 

During that time, the nearest medical assistance lay miles away, and supplies arrived by water. Families lived here in serene and beautiful isolation. By 1972 the lighthouse became automated, and the last lightkeeper and their family moved out in 1974. 

Why is the Point Sur Lighthouse Haunted?

But it appears that some did not want to leave the isolated point of land sticking out into the Pacific. Spiritual enthusiasts come far and wide to experience the hauntings for themselves. Moonlight tours are available in both the lighthouse and the lightkeeper’s house. 

A woman named Julie Nunes brought a recording device with her upon a particular visit. She recorded the ghostly voice of who she believed to be Catherine Ingersoll, a Danish immigrant who married one of the lightkeepers here in the lighthouse. Julie caught the spirit saying, “Pokey, go to bed,” made creepier by the fact that it is documented that she had a child nicknamed Pokey. 

Ingersoll is not the only former light keepers wife that remains here. A volunteer named Shelia Fraser once saw the apparition of a woman in turn-of-the-century clothing in the main house. It was early morning, and she was cleaning the house for the day. She was the only person in the house.

12. Creek Road in Ojai, CA

The remote Southern California valley town of Ojai is famous for much more than just being the former home of Johnny Cash. Creek Road, an optional route into the town adjacent to the more common route 33, is haunted by not one but four spirits. 

This road covers it all, with stories ranging from the ghost of a former spiritual leader to a vampiric stranger. The most famous spirit to haunt Creek Road is that of the “Charman.” Tales of a man appearing late at night near the road, smelling of burning flesh with strips of flesh hanging from his body, have been told in Ojai since the 1960s. 

Along the road also rides a headless motorcyclist. He lost his head after a fateful run-in with a semi-truck. He now scours the Creek Road late at night for his skull. A phantom hitchhiker, strange mists, and even Bigfoot have also been reported along Creek Road. 

Mysteries of The Road

Ojai is a place of mystery and has continuously attracted unusual residents. In 1922 an Indian spiritual guru named Jiddu Krishnamurti had an epiphany under a pepper tree. He became entwined with the Theosophists movement in the 1920s after gaining national acclaim for a book he wrote at 12 entitled At The Feet Of The Master. By 1969 he left their movement and retired in Ojai. He died in India in 1986, but his spirit still appears near his home on Creek Road. 

In the 1890s, a less enlightening visitor came to Ojai. A European man bought a large tract of land on a hill near Creek Road. Soon word got out that he was a vampire. Townsfolk formed a mob one day and went searching for him. 

Armed with holy water and crosses, they eventually came to his sarcophagus underneath a large oak tree. The mob drove a stake into his heart, and though there have been no reports of his presence since, it cements Creek Road’s spookiness. 

11. Mission San Miguel in San Miguel, CA

A spanish styled mission with red tile roofs and white walls sits in the brush during sunset

Source: Picryl

Along California’s coastal interior are a series of missions built by the Spanish in the early colonial days—21 in total. None are more haunted than the death-ridden Mission San Miguel. 

On the afternoon of December 4th, 1848, 5 riders made their way into the town of San Miguel. The group of military deserters, murderers, and wayward souls were making their way toward Mission San Miguel with the illest of intent. 

William Reed and his family had been living there since 1846. They made their living selling sheep to the recent influx of gold miners flocking to Northern California. The five men sold 30 ounces of gold to the Reeds at $30 an ounce and stayed the night. 

Why Mission San Miguel is Haunted

After warming themselves by the campfire, they proceeded to murder all eleven people residing at the Mission with axes and knives. William Reed’s family and the various servants working at the Mission were among the dead. The robbers believed Spanish gold was hidden underneath the Mission, yet it was never found. 

They moved on, eventually meeting their untimely ends at the hands of Western justice. The Reed family, however, remains in eternal agony. 

Today the Mission is one of the twenty-one that dot California’s landscape and may be the only one an entire family haunts. Many say they can see the spirit of Mrs. Reed. She appears wearing the white flowing dress she was murdered in, covered in blood. Her muffled screams and her daughters are often heard echoing throughout the historic building. Sometimes Mr. Reed also makes an appearance, showing up in the blue peacoat he lost his life in. 

10.  Cary House in Placerville, CA

Known as “the Jewel of Placerville,” the Cary House is one of the oldest and most haunted hotels in El Dorado County. About an hour outside both Sacramento and Tahoe, it was and still is a common stop to travelers heading in and out of the area.

Built in 1857, the Cary House was the finest hotel in the gold country. The hotel had modern amenities such as hot and cold running water, and all of its 77 bedrooms had a bathroom. 

It served as a stop for the Wells Fargo Express, and it is estimated that $90 million in unvalued gold passed through the building. As you can imagine, this led to the typical wild west violence and greed that early California history is known for. 

Why is The Cary House Haunted?

The hotel is haunted by numerous, almost too great to count. Guests have heard TVs turning on in the middle of the night, loud conversations happening in adjacent rooms, and the elevator running up and down by itself. 

Their most famous spirit is an old clerk named Stan. Stan was known to be a big talker, especially after a couple of rounds of whiskey. One day he mouthed off to the wrong gold miner and was stabbed to death on the lobby stairway. 

Rooms 208 and 406 are known to be particularly haunted. Guests often heard piano music playing at the top of the first floor. The violence, unfortunately, spread to a house cat as guests often spot a phantom feline.  

9. Oak Park Cemetery in Claremont, CA 

The Oak Park Cemetery is said to be one of the most haunted of the many cemeteries that fill California. Terrifyingly this one, resting on the edge of Los Angeles County, is known for its sometimes violent spirits. 

Oak Park Cemetery, founded in 1897, holds the remains of some of Claremont’s earliest founders. Visitors are welcome, and many come to pay respects to their loved ones. The serenity and peacefulness of this cemetery; however, not all who lay here are in a state of respite. There seems to be something otherworldly, perhaps sinister, lurking around the cemetery late into the night. 

The Terror at Oak Park Cemetery

Visitors have reported strange shadow figures darting around the tree-laden cemetery. Not only at night but during the day as well. There have even been reports of these strange figures attacking people! So beware if you plan to do some of your investigating here. 

One man reports hearing the sounds of bells coming from somewhere in the cemetery between midnight and 3 am. There have been apparitions of two women, one brunette and one blonde, hiding behind certain trees. 

One visitor used EVP equipment to contact a young boy named Jacob Fisher. A small toy lay near here his grave. When the experiment began, it was still. But as he began to talk with the boy, the toy would spin at full speed. 

The highest point of paranormal activity comes from a tomb shaped like a gargoyle. Many have captured orbs flying in and around the tomb. But the sightings don’t stop here. 

There have been reports of a large winged figure behind the tombstone and even walking toward the visitor behind the camera! The Oak Park cemetery is not for the faint of heart. 

8. Disneyland in Anaheim, CA

An old photo of the haunted mansion in Disneyland

Source: Flickr

Known as the happiest place on earth, Disneyland receives millions of visitors each year. So it’s no wonder some spiritual residue has been left behind. Some say that Walt Disney himself haunts the park. Walt had a love for trains, one that continued into the afterlife. 

The Disney Railroad encircles the entirety of the park. There is a command center where all the trains can be tracked. One worker, Darrold Wagner, says that one train will light up late at night on the command center board. A whistle would blow, but all the trains were docked. 

He was told by the older workers there that it was Walt’s favorite train. Wagner also reports the strange smell of cigarettes coming from Walt’s smoking staircase. Walt Disney was an avid smoker but kept out of his public image. He would retreat to this one staircase to indulge. 

After his death, many workers would smell cigarette smoke coming from the area. They would investigate to find the culprit, yet they would find no one. Many workers sneak into the park illegally after hours and report seeing Walt’s spirit walking about the grounds. 

He has been seen in front of Fantasyland on multiple occasions. He disappears after 20 to 30 seconds, happily waving until he vanishes. He can also be seen near his old apartment and by Great Moments. 

Tragedy at Disneyland

Multiple people have died in the park due to ride malfunctions and accidents. A bobsled on the Matterhorn killed one woman named Dolly Young. Strange sounds can be heard from that part of the ride at night. Another woman named Deborah Stone was crushed to death between the Walls of America Sings, a now-defunct attraction. 

While it was still in operation, workers say they could feel her warning them about the dangers of the walls. The most famous spirit, other than that of Walt Disney, is known as Mr. One Way. He was a former worker who loved space mountain. He is known to hop into empty seats and pull on people’s hair in front of him.

7. Court of Mysteries in Santa Cruz, CA

An archway with an esoteric looking triange at the top of it

“The Gates of Prophecy”
Source: Flickr

California is known for its many attractions. One of the more unique is the Court of Mysteries, an occult-themed mansion known to be haunted by its builder, Kenneth Kitchen. Built only at night, the estate was abandoned by Kitchen in 1957. 

There has been little or no evidence as to his whereabouts since then. But many believe they have seen his spirit roaming around the building late at night. Built sometime in the late 1930s, the exact date seemingly as mysterious as the home itself, the Court of Mysteries has been an enigma for much of its existence. 

Brothers Kenneth and Raymond were masons that built numerous homes around the Santa Cruz area. Eventually, Kenneth bought his plot of land on the seaside town’s outskirts and began constructing his Yogi-inspired building. 

The Mystery Grows

One of its more interesting architectural aspects is what the locals know as “The Gates of Prophesy.” Two towers connected by an archway once housed a glass window between them. They would light up at night, adding more mystery to the “Court of Mysteries.”

Kenneth, who also went by Claire, Clarke, and Clarence, grew paranoid during WW2. He built a working “submarine stopping device” in fear of a very realistic Japanese submarine attack. It worked so well that the US Navy had to get involved at a certain point. 

Kenneth disappeared sometime in 1957. Many say he got into a heated argument with his brother, an all too common occurrence between the two. His whereabouts to this day are unknown. For a while, the home operated as “The Unorthodox Church” before being abandoned in the 1990s. 

In 2016, a couple involved in the occult purchased the home with plans to turn it into a creative space. Along with many others, the couple claim to see shadowy figures along the walls. Many believe it’s one of the Kitchen brothers roaming the home. 

6. The Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, CA

The Roosevelt Hotel is one of Los Angeles’s most iconic buildings and one of its most haunted. The spirit of Marilyn Monroe is said to haunt Suite 1200, where she often stayed before her untimely demise. 

Built in 1927 at $2.1 million, the hotel was built for the stars. Financed by Sid Grauman, the man who created the iconic Chinese Theatre, it quickly became a favorite for the elites of Hollywood. In 1929 the first-ever Academy Awards were held here. 

It fell into disrepair in the 1950s and was almost torn down in the 1980s. But thanks to a recent $15 million renovation, it has been restored to its former glory. Stars like Prince, Matthew McConaughey, and many others have stayed here. Many, including McConaughey, have experienced odd occurrences. 

Spirits of The Roosevelt

Most of the activity centers around suite 1200, Marilyn Monroe’s favorite room. McConaughey reported strange noises in the room. A maid of the hotel once saw Monroe’s face in the mirror. She ran out of the room as quickly as she could and refused to go back in. Monroe is not the only spirit haunting the Roosevelt Hotel. 

Room 928 holds the spirit of Montgomery Clift, three-time academy award nominee and good friend of Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Taylor. He is known to brush up on maids, practice his trumpet and even wake guests up. There is also “Little Caroline,” the spirit of a little girl searching for her mother. Often found in tears, she roams the hallways looking for her mom. 

5. The Dark Watchers of Big Sur

Sometimes the spiritual world can be tangible. We can put a name tag on the apparitions. Then, there are those too mysterious to do so, such as the Dark Watchers of Big Sur. These mysterious figures have been watching visitors to the scenic Big Sur area since Europeans first arrived in 1542. 

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his men reported seeing large shadowy figures watching them from the mountains. As more and more Spanish settlers came into the area, they, too, documented these strange beings. 

Sightings of beings over ten feet tall watching people from the high ridges of the Santa Lucia Mountains became a regular part of life in Big Sur. In fact, John Steinbeck immortalized them in his short story “Flight” in 1938.

Who Are the Dark Watchers?

Hikers today have witnessed them as well. The feeling of being watched from the high part of the mountains becomes overwhelming enough for them to look, only to notice ten-foot-tall beings watching them from the cliffs. 

There are scientific explanations for these beings. The most interesting is they’re a result of “Infrasound.” The low sounds of ocean waves register at 20hz, below our ear’s ability to hear, causing anxiety and even distorted hallucinations. 

There is also the theory of “Broken Spectre.” A natural phenomenon occurs when a low sun casts a shadow of someone looking downwards through fog or mist. It enlarges their shadow to unworldly proportions. 

It could also be “Pareidolia,” our brains’ natural tendency to look for human-shaped patterns in our natural environment. The Dark Watchers have been reported on various mountain ranges across North America for centuries. Is it a scientific mishap, or perhaps something from another world? Take a hike in Big Sur to find out for yourself.

4. Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, CA

A row of cells along a corridor

Source: Pixabay

Alcatraz Island, located off the coast of San Francisco, is one of the most notorious and haunted jails in United States history. Alcatraz was known as an evil place even before European colonization of the San Francisco Bay. It was a place where the Native Yelamu people would send the most violent of their people. 

It was already known then as a place where evil spirits congregated. Spanish explorers reported a strange light emanating from the island. In 1848 the Mexican government ceded the island to the United States. 

It then became a place where army deserters and those accused of treason were sent. They lived in tiny cells in the jail basement and were given one meal a day, tormenting these already wretched souls. 

The jail we know today was opened in 1933 and quickly housed the worst criminals in American history, with Al Capone being the most well-known. All of their tormented souls remain behind. 

The Tortured Souls of Alcatraz

Nearly every single prison guard that worked there until its closure in the 1960s experienced something unusual. The most haunted area is Cell Block D, a section of the prison where prisoners were sent for punishment. It is permanently 20-30 degrees colder than the rest of the prisoners, and many visitors today feel an odd sense of paranoia standing in it. 

Doors often slam after they are locked up, and whispering can be heard in the hallway. Al Capone’s spirit is said to haunt the shower room. He spent much of his time here, fearing violence in the main yard when not in his cell. 

In his later days, he picked up the banjo. The sounds of a banjo twanging can still be heard from the area. In addition, there are numerous reports of “The Thing,” a strange Red-eyed spirit that visitors and employees have seen. 

3. The Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, CA

Permanently docked off the coast of Long Beach is The Queen Mary, an ocean liner that is now one of the most haunted hotels in the world. Construction of the ship was completed in 1936, and it soon became famous for being the fastest ship to cross the North Atlantic in the world. 

She served as a troop ship during World War 2, participating in D-Day and carrying 800,000 troops across the Atlantic. After the war, she carried some of her most famous passengers across the Atlantic, including then-future Queen Elizabeth II and her mother, “The Queen Mother” Elizabeth. 

By 1966 was put up for sale and was soon bought by Long Beach resident H.E Ridings. It was opened as a hotel in 1972 and has been functioning as a floating hotel on and off since. While its elegance and class are enough to entice most guests, many came for the paranormal aspect of the grand ocean liner. 

Why is The Queen Mary Haunted?

A devastating event happened aboard the Queen Mary during World War 2. A head-on collision occurred with her escort vessel. Three hundred men drowned in the process. The Queen Mary was not permitted to stop due to tight orders. 

Many believe it created a paranormal atmosphere not seen anywhere else. In addition, over 49 people have died aboard the Queen Mary since it became a floating hotel. There are believed to be over 150 individual spirits haunting the vessel. 

The engine room seems to be a major hotbed of activity. In this room, located at the bottom of the ship, is the infamous “Door 13.” This door has crushed two men to death. One of those, a young 18-year-old wearing blue overalls at the time, has been reported walking near it and disappearing into the door. 

Room B340 is one of the 360 rooms where activity is most commonly reported. Sheets get pulled off beds, and doors slam at an alarming rate. These are just two of the many hauntings aboard The Queen Mary.

2. The Whaley House in San Diego, CA

Known as the most haunted house in California, some even say the United States, the Whaley House in San Diego is a truly terrifying experience for all that visit. The house was built in 1857 by Thomas Whaley, an educated New Yorker who had boarded one of the first ships to set sail to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. 

He arrived in San Diego in 1851 and immediately took an interest in the young city. One plot of land intrigued him the most. He first saw his future home in 1852 when a local criminal named “Yankee Jim” Robinson was hung there. 

Whaley purchased the land shortly after the hanging, stating that “the hanging didn’t bother him.” He built a general goods store and home upon it. It later became a theatre and a courthouse, where more executions occurred. 

Death at The Whaley House

As time passed, it appeared that a curse was set upon the Whaley family. Nearly every single member of the family died in or around the house due to a tragic mishap. Their spirits, along with those of Yankee Jim, haunt the building to this day. 

The sight of Yankee Jim’s ghost is common in the area between the parlor and the study. His death was a slow and painful one, taking 45 minutes for him to succumb to his hanging. Even while the Whaleys lived there, they often heard and saw his spirit. 

The first Whaley to die in the house was Thomas Whaley, Jr. He died at 18 months due to scarlet fever. In 1882, after living in San Francisco for some years and returning to the home, the second Whaley died. Violet Whaley committed suicide after a failed marriage to a con artist. Another Whaley, the granddaughter of second-generation Anna Whaley, ingested poison in the kitchen. 

The house is full of activity today. Windows have been sealed shut to prevent them from opening on their own. Imprints of bodies appear in beds that tourists are not allowed to enter. Music can be heard coming from the music room, and an iron chain swings on its own in the courthouse. 

1. The Winchester Mansion in San Jose, CA

The Winchester House in San Jose is one of California’s most unique and interesting homes if not the entire world. It is haunted by the spirit of Sarah Lockwood Winchester and the numerous souls that her husband’s invention, the Winchester rifle, claimed. 

The 24,000-square-foot home was first constructed in 1886. The Winchesters were a wealthy family. William Wirt Winchester had invented “the gun that one the west,” the Winchester Rifle. In 1881 he passed of tuberculosis. Heartbroken, Sarah contacted a medium. 

She was told that her family had to pay for their blood money. It was the reason her husband and her 6-week-old daughter died tragically. The medium instructed her to build a home for herself and all the angry spirits who lost their lives at the hands of her husband’s invention.

The Legacy of The Winchester Mansion

Black and white photo of a large mansion. A fountain and large palm tree are in the forefront

Source: Picryl

She went west and, in 1886, began construction of her new home in San Jose. Construction continued until September 5th, 1922, when Sarah Winchester died of heart failure. When it was all said and done, there were doors that led to nowhere, secret passages, trap doors, and all the staircases with 13 steps.

The number of exact rooms remains unknown today. The 1906 earthquake destroyed four floors of the seven-story building. Since 1922 it has been owned by the same family, whose identity remains another mystery.

Spiritual activity is at a high here. Footsteps are often heard in the labyrinth-like hallways. Disembodied voices whisper to tour guides throughout the building. Spirits were a common occurrence even while it was being constructed. Seances were often held to get in contact with the good spirits in order to learn how to appease the bad.

The list of mysteries and oddities in the home goes on and on. Out of 13 bathrooms, only one was ever working. Sarah would sleep in different rooms every night. It is said her spirit still does the same today.

Haunted California

Looking for something to do in California other than visit the beaches? California is alive with the dead. Haunted mansions, amusement parks, ghost towns, and even haunted roadways fill the state abundantly. The state’s violent past and greed play a large part in creating this epic spiritual environment. 

Next time you visit California, take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures. With tours available in Los Angeles, MontereySan FranciscoSanta MonicaSan Diego, and Sacramento

Missed part 1 of our California’s Most Haunted series? Check out our blog to discover more of California’s most haunted locations.



Featured Image Source: Photo property of US Ghost Adventures