Gold Rush Ghost Town’s Haunted Hotel Jeffery in Coulterville, CA


If you are one of THEM–those people who would like to experience ghosts but are too level-headed to let your logical thinking down for a moment, join the club. They say some hotels and historic museums in California are haunted. Yet, when I visit them, often only a friend will be able to walk into a room and feel a sensation.

For example, when I travel with one friend, she can tell where people have died. Though you can explain away her abilities and I have tried, she’ll walk into a place and say, “Who died in this spot?” The tour guide or hotel keeper sometimes will respond in an unanticipated way but always with an affirmative nod. The unexpected happened in a little shop in San Juan Capistrano’s Los Rios district when my friend stepped into the door of a shop that was previously a house and said, “Who died here?” The new owner rushed over with a crazy look in her eyes and frantically replied in whispers so the other guests wouldn’t hear, “We had the placed cleansed by a priest before we opened! It should have taken care of this.”

I have spent at least 17 years investigating the unexplained and am constantly looking for logical solutions as to why something happens. Being a researcher and traveling with other journalists, we like to believe we’re a level headed bunch, and we try our best to find logic in situations. That said, I’ve visited some of the “haunted” places in California and have shared and corroborated anomalies with other writers in several spots considered haunted. What surprises me most is that I come with bias against the ghost hypothesis, but then something strange happens that I can’t explain.

I had such an experience at the historic Hotel Jeffery in a little Gold Rush town of Coulterville not far from Yosemite National Park. The hotel recently reopened with new owners who strived to create an authentic experience that guests might have felt over 160 years ago when the hotel was built in 1851.

Odd things happen in the hotel–vacuums frizzle and electrical components break down in rapid order. My experience was a little less dramatic. I woke up one morning and quietly assembled my belongings, planning for my departure. I placed my little, black leather backpack smack dab in the center of my bed as it contained a small camera I always cradle and protect. I wandered over to the window to soak up the morning views–the highway intersection, museum, closed General Store and romantic fog-bank creeping over the hills. Suddenly, I heard a thud. I turned around puzzled by the sound, and saw that my back pack somehow got from the center of my bed to the floor. There was no earthquake, no one in my room, no pets, and nothing to cause this to happen, as far as I could see. If a ghost did it, the spirit was playing with me.


When you go: Be sure to ask about the rooms and amenities. The new owners have renovated the property and now have a pet friendly policy. Call: (209) 878-0461.

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