Ghoulish sights of the Golden State

Trisha Phan, Lifestyle Editor

October is that time of year marked by jack-o’-lanterns, Halloween costumes on sale, and horror movies. In other words, the quintessential time for stories of the supernatural! California is filled with locations that have charmed their way into urban legends. In the spirit of the season, put aside rationality and skepticism, and cozy up to read about the state’s spookiest stories.


Winchester Mystery House

Once the residence of Sarah Winchester, the eccentric Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, enchants every visitor with its architectural curiosities and oddities. Offering estate tours, the house makes for a haunting experience. Featuring bewitching spider motifs, a peculiar door that opens to a two-story drop, and mesmerizing stained glass (often oddly placed in dark, hidden corners) the true nature of the dwelling is far more intriguing — and terrifying. 

After the death of her husband — founder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company — Sarah sought a psychic for consolation. During a séance, a spirit urged her to build a never-ending home to escape the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. With 160 rooms, 40 staircases (some leading to ceilings), and 2,000 doors (many revealing blank walls), the house’s illogical additions have bewildered visitors and spirits alike. 


The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary, a grand and luxurious ocean liner, embarked on its maiden voyage in 1936, catering to the rich and famous. During World War II, the ship was stripped of its amenities and used to ferry troops before resuming passenger services in 1947. Two decades later, the Queen Mary was docked in Long Beach as a hotel and remains there today, available for overnight stays and ghost tours. 

With its lengthy history inspiring endless stories, the boat has had reports of over 150 ghosts on the ship. In particular, the now-defunct first-class pool is known for its abundant paranormal activity; a girl in a blue dress disappears in a blink, and unexplainable wet footprints are found nearby. Laughter, knocking, and creaking doors from empty rooms leave passengers with eerie premonitions of being watched.


Bodie State Historic Park

A former gold-mining town known for its lawlessness, violence, and robberies, many believe this ghost town truly is ghostly. With an isolated, uncanny atmosphere, Bodie State Historic Park (located in Mono County, California) is filled with deserted streets and buildings seemingly frozen in time. The well-preserved homes with their residents’ untouched belongings suggest the inhabitants only recently departed — or maybe they never did.

Supposedly, all the inhabitants’ original possessions are cursed, unable to ever leave Bodie. Displayed at the Bodie museum, a shocking amount of letters detail thieves’ tragedies after stealing from the town. Stories range from ghostly disturbances to mundane misfortunes: car accidents (often leaving from Bodie), broken relationships, and terminal illnesses. In a desperate attempt to reverse their fortune, many mail back the cursed items, though it’s a mystery whether the curse remains. 


Urban legends and superstitions have always encouraged people’s imaginations to run wild, adding an air of mystery to everyday life. Take advantage of the chilling Halloween season to embrace all things paranormal and frightening!