California Authors


California's Haunted Central Coast

By Evie Ybarra, Haunted America/The History Press

Book Review By Craig MacDonald

APPARITIONS—unusual or unexpected sightings (i.e., a ghost or a thing)

"California's Haunted Central Coast" is full of apparitions which will astonish you and perhaps cause you to shudder. For sure it will cause you to wonder and maybe cause you to check out these places scattered between Ventura and Monterey.

Writer and former teacher Evie Ybarra is still educating by making people think about possible supernatural happenings along the Central Coast. "This book weaves stories with local history," she explains. "Many come from oral traditions and have been passed down from generation to generation." Others are historical facts. Some are just plain hard to explain.

People sometimes assume the dead don't want to leave several of these spots. For instance, outlaws Jesse and Frank James reportedly have been seen running down the halls or sitting in the bar at the Paso Robles Inn. The James Brothers ran from the law back East and recuperated at their Uncle Drury's La Panza Ranch in Paso Robles. The legit rancher wasn't happy seeing them show up and was glad when they left. Ironically, some think they're back.

On Dec. 5, 1848, eleven people were brutally murdered with axes, swords and knifes by six men who stopped at Mission San Miguel to steal gold. Mountainman James Beckwourth happened on the scene right after the murders. He knew something was wrong when he first entered a building. Soon, he came across one brutally murdered body after another. He grabbed his guns and went on a room to room search for the killers but he had a premonition not to enter one particular room. That saved his life because the six killers, with weapons ready, were waiting for him to open the door. Beckwourth raced out to his horse and went off to report the atrocities. He then joined a posse and returned to track down the outlaws. All ended up dead except for one who was never found.

Mission visitors have reported seeing a man in a Navy pea coat stepping out of the wall. (William Reed, one of the dead, wore a Navy peacoat!) At night, others have heard footsteps and screams coming from the kitchen and additional rooms where innocent victims were slain.

At Heart Castle in San Simeon there have been reports of hearing people splashing inside the Roman Indoor Pool. But further examination revealed nobody in the pool. William Randolph Hearst was known for the lavish parties he threw in his castle (and elsewhere), with his actress girlfriend Marion Davies. They attracted many top Hollywood stars, some of whom, can occasionally be seen in the main rooms and bedrooms. "Ghosts tend to remain at their favorite places," said the author.

Mission La Purisima in Lompoc is haunted by several apparitions, inside and outside what's now a state historic park. Voices have been heard inside the walls of the main building and a Chumash man has been spotted inside the blacksmith's room.

At Mission Carmel, Father (now Saint) Serra was buried. He has been sighted wearing his brown robe and holding prayer beads, then disappearing in the garden.

In the Bell Tower of California State University Channel Islands, people have seen mysterious faces in the bathroom mirrors that disappear.

The author says the Point Sur Lighthouse is considered the most haunted lighthouse along California's coastline. "People assume the spirits of shipwrecked sailors, who lost their lives along the coastline of the lighthouses, haunt these places," she said.

In Monterey County, Jack Swann, who built California's first theatre using lumber he salvaged from a nearby shipwreck, still roams the structure (now part of Monterey State Historic Park).

In Cannery Row, the late "Doc" Ricketts, owner of the Pacific Biological Laboratories, inspired his friend--novelist John Steinbeck. To this day, he sometimes can be seen inside his lab, where lights mysteriously turn on and off by themselves.

Other tidbits the author reports: The La Playa Hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea is home to two resident ghosts who have been spotted in the gardens or on the terrace. Around 1867, the Cass House in Cayucos was built by English Sea Captain James Cass, who still may haunt the place and is sometimes heard playing music.

If you travel the Central Coast or love reading about mysterious happenings and apparitions, you'll find this book fascinating.

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