Cary House | Placerville, El Dorado County | Photo courtesy of Tom Phipps

Gold Country Ghosts: Top haunts for spotting spirits in El Dorado County

Since its Gold Rush days, El Dorado County has always welcomed spirited characters. Despite having departed long ago, many remain. Some are unsettled, a few lovelorn, and others continue to enjoy a ghoulishly good poker game.

While there’s no shortage of spirited places in the region, we’ve highlighted our top 7 spots for spooky history.

    1. Cary House – Located on Placerville’s Main Street, this historic hotel is home to Stan, a flirty front desk clerk who loved his liquor and had a penchant for pinching the bottoms of hotel guests. Stan loved gossip and checking people out, and was known to be a bit mouthy and insulting when under the influence of the sauce. History indicates Stan, while on the stairs of the hotel, made a pass at one man who did not find him amusing. The man took out a knife and stabbed poor Stan twice in the chest, leading him to tumble down and fall to his death.  The lobby and rooms 208 and 406 are said to have the most spirited activity. Reported sightings include piano music that’s only heard when in a particular location at the top of the first level of the stairs, a phantom cat and an attractive young lady at the bottom of the stairs.
    2. El Dorado Chamber of Commerce – The current chamber building sits on what was once a hangman’s site. In 1852 the Old Vet’s Building was constructed there, and later it became the Kossuth House (Hotel) for Gold Rush miners. There are numerous reports of sightings, including that of Darrel, a bearded man dressed in black peering over the staircase, who stares down into the street at night. Other sightings include a man in green overalls accompanied by cold spots, pictures falling off walls, and toilets flushing when there’s nobody there. Paranormal searches have recorded voices speaking French, Russian, and English with a Scottish accent.
    3. The Sequoia Mansion – Formerly known as the Bee-Bennett House, this mansion was built in 1853 by Judge Marcus Bennett. It’s currently a site for weddings, and the cellar is also the home of the Nello Olivo Wine Tasting Room. Spirits that reside here include the judge himself, along with his young son, Marcus Jr. (who passed away at the age of 4 from a childhood illness). There’s also a cook with no legs, numerous children, along with unexplainable occurrences such as noises, lights turning on and off, and water running from faucets.
    4. The Diamond Springs Hotel – This hotel was built in 1916 by Anton Meyer, on the site of a Miwok tribal crematorium. Reported sightings include a little girl in a yellow sundress, a woman peering out of the upstairs window, children giggling and running around upstairs, noises in the restroom, and the apparition of a man in the building’s back booth.
    5. The American River Inn – Located in Georgetown, this hotel was built near a mine shaft where a few folks met their demise. Its best-known apparition is Oscar, a gold miner who fell for a woman who was a ‘lady of the evening.’ He was shot to death on the steps of the hotel when he got into an argument with one of his lover’s other clients. He’s known to favor Room 5.
    6. Coloma Pioneer Cemetery – This historic cemetery, founded in 1848, is home to a woman in a flowing burgundy skirt, unhappy that her grave is so far away from her loved ones. Just north on the same highway, there have been reports of a tall, bearded man in ragged clothes wandering along the road, who is thought to be a gold miner protecting his claims.

Looking for more ghostly history? The book Gold Rush Ghosts of Placerville, Coloma & Georgetown, by Linda J. Bottjer, provides a fascinating take on El Dorado County’s mysterious past.

Sources: El Dorado County Adventures, Mt. Democrat

Photo: Cary House by Tom Phipps

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Olde Coloma Theater Presents
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