Meet the ghosts of Calaveras…
With a rich history dating back to the 1800’s, it’s no wonder Calaveras County has a few resident ghosts that have been known to haunt some popular visitor spots. Looking to have a paranormal experience? Following are the top haunts in Calaveras and a little bit about the spirits that people have reported to encounter at each location.
Murphys Historic Hotel
The Murphys Historic Hotel, which has been in continuous operation since 1856 and hosted well-known historical figures like Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, Susan B. Anthony, and even Charles Bolton (a.k.a. Black Bart), has another longtime guest that doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon—the ghost of Eleanor. A former maid at the hotel in the early 1860s, Eleanor most frequently haunts the kitchen and Mark Twain Ballroom by throwing things. Eleanor may not be alone though. Hotel staff and guests have also reported hearing children laughing, as well as seeing a gentleman ghost, which the staff refers to as John. You might not want to read the guest log in your room before bed unless you want to see what encounters previous guests have experienced in the room you’re staying in. For more on the Murphys Hotel’s haunted history, including a creepy recording taken by the American Paranormal Research Association at the hotel, check out this article from Forbes.com: “I Slept with Mark Twain’s Ghost.” Stay here: 457 Main Street, Murphys, CA | murphyshotel.com
The Hotel Leger
One of the most talked about haunted locations in the county has to be Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill, which has had reports of at least three ghostly figures, spotted on numerous occasions by visitors and staff over the years. The ghost of George Leger, who was assassinated in the hotel in 1879, has allegedly been seen wandering the saloon and many of the hotel’s rooms. Other sightings have included a woman crying for her child and a child playing. Guests have also reported odd occurrences with fireplaces in their rooms, moved shoes, and a former owner of the Hotel Leger has even described seeing smoke and fire in the bar area multiple times when no fire was present. Not a believer? Check out the clip above from the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible, when host Anthony Melchiorri turns to a professor of parapsychology to investigate whether there’s a ghostly presence at Hotel Leger. Stay here: 8304 Main St, Mokelumne Hill, CA | hotelleger.com
The Dorrington Hotel
The Dorrington Hotel closed for years, is now a beautifully restored inn used for groups–which may have pleased the ghost of Rebecca Dorrington Gardner who is said to walk the halls of the more than 160-year-old historic hotel that was completely closed for many years. Whether it was lights flashing on and off, shadowy figures being seen or furniture being moved, Rebecca’s presence was commonly reported by hotel guests and owners throughout the years. One personal story that’s been passed along by The Dorrington Hotel’s previous owner and operator, Marc Lanthier, involved two successive photos he took of the hotel’s Christmas lights one year. When he loaded the pictures onto his computer, one came out bright and clear, and the other showed a strange mist engulfing the hotel. We dug up this mysterious photo, which The Dorrington Hotel provided for a news article on Examiner.com about its haunted happenings. What do you think? Is it the ghost of Rebecca? Stay here or driving by, you might be able to spot Rebecca from the road peeking out from an upstairs window.
Twisted Oak Winery Tasting Room
Not all of the haunts in Calaveras have been reported at the old historic hotels though. In fact, it’s believed that the ghost of Norene Troski, a longtime Murphys resident, still resides in her former Main Street home where she was born and later passed away (1909-2001). After her passing, Jeff and Mary Stai purchased Norene’s property, which has since housed two of their businesses—initially The Enchanted Workshop, and currently a tasting room for the winery they own, Twisted Oak Winery. Mary Stai says that Norene’s ghost has been there since they purchased the property. “Every now and again, we’d have issues with her,” said Mary. “She wouldn’t like things we brought in the store.” In one instance, Mary remembers a 5-pound stained glass butterfly nightlight flying off a shelf. She thought she would repair it, but when she placed it on the kitchen counter to fix it, it went flying off there too. She ultimately threw it out. Staff members who’ve worked at both businesses have also reported strange encounters where they think they’ve seen or heard something. Some of them, including Mary, have gotten into the habit of saying good morning to her and thanking her for letting them be in her house. Visit: 363 Main Street, Murphys, CA | twistedoak.com
Other spooky places in Calaveras…
Historic Avery Hotel – Built in 1853, the Historic Avery Hotel was a place where, up until a few years ago when it closed its doors to the public, you could belly up to the bar and hear old-timers share haunted tales of the Captain, Miss Hazel Fischer and other ghostly guests that would frequent the hotel. (Now a privately owned venue that can be rented for parties and events.)
Gold Digger’s Saloon – Today, Gold Digger’s Saloon is a local watering hole in historic Angels Camp, but in the early 1850’s it served as the Central Park Hotel and included a brothel upstairs. It’s hard to say whether it’s a bartender who has whipped up a good story for its customers, or if there truly have been encounters, but upstairs where the brothel was located is rumored to be haunted. And according to the previous owner, Randy Claussen, who owned the historic property with his wife Betty, “The upstairs is dirty and spooky.” (1208 S. Main St., Angels Camp, CA)
Moaning Cavern – While it’s more of a legend than a ghost story, Miwok Native Americans who knew of Moaning Cavern used to tell their children that a rock monster name Yayali who lived in the cave was responsible for the mournful moaning sound (made by the cave) that could be heard across the undulating landscape. If the little ones went too close to the entrance, the monster would capture and devour them. This tall tale was intended to protect their children from falling to their death deep within the cavern. However, when the cave was later discovered by European settlers, the remains of approximately 100 early people were found at the bottom of the cavern. So maybe Moaning Cavern is haunted, after all? (caverntours.com/MoCavRt.htm)
What do you think about the ghosts of Calaveras? Skeptical? Guess you’ll have to schedule a trip to find out for yourself. Or maybe you’ve had your own paranormal experience in Calaveras County. Tell us your story below.