Most Haunted California (Part 1)

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Most Haunted California (Part 1) - Photo

California’s expansive, rugged, and eccentric landscape holds many of the numerous haunted locations we often think about and is one of the most haunted states in the United States today. There are so many haunted locations in California that we can’t cover it all in one blog post!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Before we jump into California’s most haunted, it’s essential to understand how we got here.

Why is California so haunted?

California’s haunted history was created by settlers fighting amongst themselves over gold and the natives over land. The state’s size alone lends to its mystery. Remote and beautiful locations breed legends. California’s eccentric population, aided by their own drama, has helped perpetuate this spiritual legacy. 

California is a gold mine for the paranormal. Read more to discover where you can find the most haunted locations in the state. 

Take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures next time you are in California, with tours available in Los Angeles, Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Monica, San Diego and Sacramento.

25. The Glenn Tavern Inn (Santa Paula)

Built in 1911, The Glenn Tavern Inn has been deemed a hot spot by the Ventura Paranormal Society. Located in scenic Santa Paula, the paranormal society holds its annual convention at the English Tudor-style Inn, and for a good reason. It’s believed to be haunted by prohibition-era spirits and prostitutes. Its luxurious walls offer a step back in time. 

The hotel was designed to accommodate the large influx of investors coming to Ventura County, hoping to hit it big in the Oil and Citrus industry. Not long after, Hollywood celebrities such as Carol Lombard, John Wayne, Harry Houdini, and even the canine companion Rin Tin Tin began to flock here. 

The Evolution of California

It began to evolve into the place where films were shot and soon became a getaway for the rich and famous. As these industries monopolized and faded, the hotel went along with them, eventually becoming a flophouse until 2004, when it was renovated back to its former grandeur that we see today. 

During its time as a speakeasy, the 3rd floor included a gambling hall and brothel. The nefarious behavior in this area spawned much of the spiritual activity that continues to manifest today. The most famous spirit is a ghost named Calvin. He appears as a tall, thin cowboy. Sporting long hair and a goatee, he haunts room 307.   

Workers found a western-styled hat with two bullet holes on the third floor during renovations. Stories of a cowboy being shot and killed on the 3rd floor during the gambling hall days are well known by the staff. Of course, with a past like that of the Glenn Tavern Inn, Cowboy Calvin isn’t the only spirit that resides at the hotel.

More Hauntings at the Glenn Tavern Inn:

  • A murdered prostitute who was beheaded is said to haunt the building.
  • Reports include disembodied voices, sudden cold chills, unexplained knocks, and a strange mist.
  • The spirit of a young child has been spotted walking into room 205.
  • Sounds of young children laughing, running up and down the corridors, and knocking on doors have also been reported.

24. The Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, CA

The Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, CA, is another haunted hotel in the heart of California’s oil country. Considered the jewel of Bakersfield, the hotel was built in 1928 to the tune of $650,000 ($10 million in modern cash). Its 196 bedrooms host hundreds of guests every year and once was the scene of many gruesome deaths.

From 1954 until he died in 1999, the hotel was owned by controversial businessman/politician Milton “Spartacus” Miller. After running for Congress in 1970, being labeled a demagogue, and losing, the hotel fell into disrepair. It became a haven for squatters, with many meeting untimely ends in the hotel. 

Darkness Takes Over

Miller once pointed a fake missile at Bakersfield City Hall after refusing to update his sprinkler system. This arrogance led to a large fire that killed a family and claimed the lives of several children. Though the hotel was brought back to life in 2008, the spirits of the hotel’s past did not clear out with the bad air.

Several spirits inhabit the hotel, the most well-known being the spirit of a little girl. She has visited many guests in the hotel, and her handprint was found on the basement level during renovations. No matter how many times the workers painted over it, it reappeared. It’s also said that she liked to play tricks on the workers, moving their tools to different spots in the room. These hauntings, however, are the more innocent ones.

Death and Hauntings at The Padre Hotel

  • Several suicides have occurred at the hotel, with people jumping from the roof and a jilted cowboy killing himself in the bathtub of his hotel room.
  • The 1952 earthquake resulted in the death of several adults and children.
  • Squatters who passed away in the hotel during its vacant years.
  • Items move on their own in the kitchen.
  • Doors slam shut and very often frighten guests.
  • Cold spots are frequent throughout the building.
  • A woman claimed to have seen a sinister face staring at her from the ceiling.

23. Brookdale Lodge in Santa Cruz, CA

The tragic history of the Brookdale Lodge has made it one of the most haunted locations in the misty Santa Cruz mountains. Built in 1890, the Lodge has seen its fair share of death and is said to be the home of over 50 spirits.

The Lodge was once a glorified camping site for celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and former President Herbert Hoover in the 1950s. Though it once served the nation’s elite, the backstory of Brookdale Lodge is far less glamorous.

Why is Brookdale Lodge Haunted?

It’s believed that the Lodge was built on the land of the Ohlone Tribe, who believed the grounds were sacred. The desecration of hollowed grounds is a severe offense in Native American culture, possibly explaining the apparent curse that’s plagued the Lodge since its inception.

Several deaths have occurred at the Lodge, each more devastating than the last. None are more famous, however than Sarah Logan. In the early 1900s, the young girl was playing in the Brook Room, which offers the serene sounds of an actual running river right through the middle. 

She tripped and fell into it, drowning right there in the Brook Room. Since then, her spirit has been seen by many visitors, with the most chilling sige coming from a woman who catered an event at the Lodge in the 90s. Her son was playing in the Brook Room and had made a new friend, a little girl. He went to hug her, and the girl disappeared. He’s yet to return to the hotel. 

This experience, of course, is one of many.

Hauntings at the Brookdale Lodge 

  • Al Capone is said to have stayed on the property. It’s believed that his victims are buried on the grounds and haunt the Lodge.
  • A young girl drowned in the Mermaid Room and can still be seen standing by the windows soaking wet.
  • Men fighting and glass clanking can be heard in the Lodge.
  • Others have actually been harmed by the spirits, with one young boy being pushed down the stairs.

22. East 8 Mile Road (Stockton) 

In California, it is not just the haunted old hotel buildings. Roads, bridges, and pieces of land fall into the haunted category. In Stockton, California, there is the haunted East 8 mile road, a stretch of road that runs along the northern exterior of the city. 

It is haunted by several female spirits that endlessly wander the isolated stretch of highway. Multiple travelers have reported their presence, and their stories often end in spine-chilling conclusions. 

The Woman in White

There is the spirit of a woman in white who is often seen walking alongside the highway late at night. Some slow down to offer help. She stares back at them with large black eyes. Many are so frightened they crash their car off the side of the road. She is considered a dangerous and vicious spirit. But she is not alone. 

There is also the spirit of a young Native American. She died long ago in an accident, when and where no one can be certain, but her soul wails in eternal agony. Residents often hear her late into the night. Although she has appeared less often than the woman in white, she is well known to locals. 

Then there is a third spirit, another young Native American girl. Her ghost only appears during full moons and is known to be harmless. We cannot say if she is friendly, but she has done no harm to this day. East 8 mile road is not a place to travel if your soul is weary. Nor is it the only haunted road in the vast Golden State. 

21. Niles Canyon Road in Sunol, CA

Not far from the Central Valley metropolis of Stockton is the sleepy town of Sunol. This small valley town, pocketed between hills and forests, has many legends of its own. The most famous being that of “the white witch.” 

Her story is a classic found around many small towns. The story goes that there is a spirit along Highway 84, a small stretch of highway that leads to Interstate 680. Her ghost is wearing a dirty white dress and is often picked up by locals driving to and from San Francisco. When they do, she tells them she needs a ride to a specific address in San Francisco. 

The Drive Down Niles Canyon Road

She remains oddly quiet during the trip, despite any attempt to communicate. The legend states that she disappears once the driver reaches her home. If they are brave enough to knock on the door, they soon discover she died many years ago. 

Some stories claim it was in the 1920s, others in the 1940s. However the tale goes, her story is always the same. She was returning home from a dance, and her vehicle was run off the road. Her spirit now roams the small stretch of highway eternally, hoping to make it back home. 

It is a tale well-known around the quaint hill town of Sunol. As well known at the time, some teenagers dressed up as her were nearly shot off a bridge by the police in the 1950s. However, these are not all the secrets found in the Niles Canyon. Off Highway 84 lies an even more terrifying location. 

20. The Secret Sidewalk in Fremont, CA 

A concrete floor between brush. A large hole in the front of it. It is covered in graffiti

Source: Flickr

Along the winding Highway 84 lies a secret location known to many locals and locals alone. The Secret Sidewalk is a hotspot for paranormal activity, cults, UFO sightings, and more. What was once an aqueduct leading from the Calaveras Reservoir in the East Bay to San Francisco is now a destination for paranormal enthusiasts. 

The “sidewalk” is the top of an aqueduct built by the Spring Valley Water Company in the 1870s. Charlie Chaplin’s famous film “The Tramp” first brought attention to the area in 1915. Niles Canyon was a significant part of many of his silent films, and there is a museum today to honor that. 

The aqueduct was eventually put out of us when the Hetchy Hetch, which filtered water from Yosemite to the Bay Area, was built in the 1930s. The aqueduct then became obsolete. By the 1980s, it had become a popular spot for teenagers to hang out. Many strange occurrences have been reported since. 

The Unexplained

Everything from cult activity, UFO sightings, and the story of the White Witch have all been reported in the area. To get to the sidewalk, one must take a series of odd turns and side roads. But the journey is not over quite yet. You must cross an old raised railroad track, or what is now called “the gates of hell.” Turning left at a small hill brings you to a crumbling brick factory. 

After journeying past the decrepit buildings and silos, you will enter the sidewalk. But beware, for this area is private property. Many have been chased out at gunpoint by the owner. There are tales of a troll that lives under the bridge. There have also been stories of a man chasing people with a chainsaw and a mysterious boatman. 

19. Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, CA 

The Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena is a hot spot for both suicides and the spiritual activity they leave behind. The first suicide here was committed in 1919, only six years after its construction. Since then, the number of Los Angeles County citizens that have decided to end it all has reached 150. Many say that number is low. 

The Colorado Street Bridge was once part of Route 66 and is one of many haunted locations along the now-defunct route. Sitting at 150 feet tall, it was once the tallest cement bridge in the world. Not too far from it lies “The Devil’s Gate.” A sight of significant spiritual importance for the Native Tognva people and later on for occultists such as Jack Parsons, L. Ron Hubbard, and Alastair Crowley. Perhaps the lost souls of the “suicide bridge,” as it’s locally known, were pulled in by the enigmatic weight of “The Devil’s Gate.” 

Why is The Colorado Street Bridge Haunted?

In 1919, a man named Smith Osgood jumped off the bridge to his death. But not before passing a note to a stranger and paying him to take it to the police. During the Great Depression, over fifty men and women took their lives off the Colorado Street bridge. The hauntings began shortly afterward. 

Many people have seen a woman in a white dress jumping off, disappearing mid-air. Many hear a man with a gruff voice yelling, “It’s her fault,” from the bottom of the ravine below. Locks with personal notes line the bridge’s safety barrier put up by the city. They serve as a reminder of the catastrophic loss experienced when a loved one commits suicide. Please seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts. 

18. The Ghost Town of Cerro Gordo, CA

Cerro Gordo, a small ghost town 400 miles inland within the Inyo Mountains, is notorious for being one of California’s most haunted of its kind. Settled in 1865, its population slowly diminished in the late 1870s as the price of silver fell. The last inhabitants evacuated by 1938. 

“Fat Hill” functioned as a true wild west town during its short time as a mining settlement. Shootouts were common, and gambling and heavy drinking were daily activities. The population reached 5,000 at one point, but law enforcement hardly intervened. Its reputation preceded it. 

A miner named Billy Crapo shot and killed the local postmaster in 1892. The bullet holes remain on one of the 22 surviving buildings. In the late 1870s, over 30 miners were killed when a mine collapsed. Many residents died in the streets of either bullet wounds or Spanish Influenza. Death was everywhere and still is. 

The Ghostly Residents of Cerro Gordo

In March 2020, a man named Brent Underwood purchased the land for $1.4 million. Hoping to reconstruct it and make it a tourist destination, he has lived there ever since. Mr. Underwood has reported numerous odd and unexplainable occurrences in the ghost town. 

Lights turning on and off in unoccupied buildings. Things disappear and reappear in unusual places. Shadow figures are often seen in the old buildings. Recently the largest building in Cerro Gordo, the American Hotel, burned to the ground. On June 15th, 2020, its 149th anniversary, it burned down in a mysterious blaze. 

Underwood was awoken at 3 am by the flames. He was told by a caretaker that a shadow figure was seen in the building earlier in the afternoon. The spirits are very much still alive in Cerro Gordo. 

17. The Ghost Town of Bodie (Bodie) 

The ghost town of Bodie is named as such for more than just its lack of population. Spirits haunt the town, and a curse lays upon anyone who dares to remove anything from it. 

Bodie sits nestled deep in the recess of the Eastern Sierras near the California/Nevada border. The town was founded in 1859 after gold was discovered nearby. At its height, it was home to over 10,000 people and 200 buildings. 

Nearly $70 million has been pumped out of the surrounding mines, most of which occurred in 1879. But the mines eventually dried up, and by 1915 it was officially declared a ghost town. The final residents left in 1942 after the mine officially closed. 

Many of these former residents’ possessions and homes remain in the town today. In 1962, the National Parks purchased it, and the town now serves as a fascinating remote destination for tourists. 

Why is Bodie Haunted?

Be careful where your hand falls when you visit Bodie, as it’s believed a curse sits upon the town. Those who have taken items, both natural and artificial, have found themselves in the thralls of bad luck. 

Returned items and letters are received every year by the parks service. Many state that they regret taking anything from Bodie, no matter how big or small. In addition, it is haunted by the spirits of the many people who lost their lives here. 

In reference to the violent nature of the gold mining town, “a bad man from Bodie” was once a common phrase in late 1800s California. One of the last residents, Ed, haunts the town. He was murdered by three vigilantes, seeking vengeance for his abuse and murder of his wife. 

The story goes that his spirit visited the three men after his death. All three of them died untimely and grizzly deaths afterward. A young girl who died tragically when a pickaxe smashed her in haunts the old cemetery in Bodie. They are only one of many. 

16. Los Coches Adobe in Soledad, CA

Hints of the Wild West lay around California, in both physical and spiritual form. Los Coches Adobe in Soledad is haunted by the spirits of murdered miners from the state’s pioneer days. Los Coches Adobe was originally one of the many ranchos, large land grants given to early settlers by the Mexican government scattered about the state. 

Established in 1841, it consisted of 8,794 acres of land. In 1843 the now haunted Adobe home was built by Maria Josefa Sobernas, a member of a powerful Mexican family, and William Richardson, a tailor from Baltimore. Soledad, specifically Los Coches Adobe, became a major stop on the San Juan Batista-Soledad Railroad line. 

The growing town would eventually include a Wells Fargo, Post Office, and stagecoach stop. The Adobe became an inn to accolade many travelers passing through Soledad. During this period, the hauntings reported today developed. 

Terror at Los Coches Adobe

A dangerous-looking spirit, a woman in black, has been spotted by visitors to the building now owned by the state. Some say she is protecting the others haunting the Adobe, while others say she is the one that brought them there. 

One version of the story claims that 30 miners died in a nearby mine. The mineshaft opens up to a well near the Adobe. Their screams still emanate out of the well to this day. Others claim that the woman in black was once the owner of the Inn. 

It’s said she strangled miners in their sleep, stole their gold, and buried them near the well. In 2015 the TV show Ghost Adventures spent the night in the Adobe. Various members of the production reported feeling the hands of a woman pressing down on their chest while they slept. Some even saw the handprint of a woman marked into their clothing. 

15. Preston Castle (Ione)

Various chairs and benches sit inside a decrepit room. Black and white photo

The interior of Preston Castle
Source: Flickr

California’s violent history extends past collapsed mine shafts and abandoned boomtowns. The Preston Castle in Iona, about an hour outside of Sacramento, is a former Boys Reformatory haunted by its alums. 

The Preston Castle’s grand opening in 1894 included seven teenagers transferred from San Quentin, one of America’s most vicious prisons. Country singer Merle Haggard is the most well-known young man to have spent time here. From 1894 to 1960, some of California’s most dangerous adolescent men would serve time here. 

Why is The Preston Castle Haunted?

Many died here, either of illness or violence. The latter was the case with 20-year-old Samuel Goins. He arrived at Preston in 1918. Goins attempted to escape three times. During his final attempt, he was shot in the back by a guard named John Kelly. Twenty-three wards died during their stay here. He is only one spirit among many.

The young men detained here were not the only ones to meet untimely ends. Head housekeeper Anna Corbin was strangled to death in the basement in 1950. 

African-American Eugene Monroe was framed for the murder, and a loose case was put together against him. Corbin’s spirit is one of the most active spirits in the building. Ghost Adventures visited here in 2009, and host Zac Bagans claims Corbin possessed him briefly. Today the castle is a historical landmark, and overnight ghost experiences are offered. 

14. Chilnulna Falls Trail in Yosemite National Park

Chilnulna Falls Trail is the most haunted hiking trail in California. This 8.4-mile hike is among numerous other courses in Yosemite National Park, considered dangerous due to its rugged and often slippery terrain. Strange how the beauty of a place such as Yosemite can lead to death and danger. 

Yosemite was one of the first areas to be populated after Caucasian settlers discovered gold. The Mariposa Battalion entered the mountainous area shortly afterward to chase out the Native Ahwahneechee and Miwok people. They were successful, and numerous American settlers moved in.

They slowly developed the area as a major tourist destination. In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln granted the area protection under the state of California. In 1906 it became a national park under President Theodore Roosevelt. While the Native people of Yosemite were long gone, their stories and lore remained. 

Why is Chilnulna Falls Trail Haunted? 

Hikers find themselves at Grouse Lake on the way to one of the three beautiful cascades on the trail. There is a legend that a young boy haunts the lake. He drowned in the lake and is often seen at all times of the day.

Reports state that he appears to be drowning, luring unsuspecting victims into the water with him. Should you see him, beware; if anyone tries to rescue him, they will also meet a watery end. 

Haunted California

Stick around for our part 2 coverage if you are eager to learn more about mysterious and haunted locations in California. We will take you to the largest and most haunted mansions in California, such as the Winchester Mystery House, The Whaley House, and The Queen Mary.



Featured Image Source: Flickr,Bodie%20residents%20left%20the%20town.