Reportedly haunted locations in the San Francisco Bay Area

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Winchester House, a museum

There are many reportedly haunted locations in San Francisco, California. Over 100 sites in the San Francisco Bay Area are reported to be haunted.[1] The Bay Area's nine counties, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma are home to places such as Alcatraz, Angel Island, Jack London State Historic Park, San Rafael Mission, and Winchester Mystery House.[2]

San Francisco[edit]

San Francisco Art Institute
Russian Hill

Manrow’s House, located at the corner of Larkin and Chestnut streets has the nickname "the House of the Demons". Resembling Swiss Cottage, it was built in 1851 by J.P. Marrow, a successful civil engineer and also a judge advocate of a vigilance committee with high reputation in the city. He reported paranormal activities at his house in the form of “visitations, table tapping, rapping and so forth” . The house was jointly investigated by two young men along with Marrow and his wife and two relatives in September–October 1856. The entire group was subject to both violent and peaceful paranormal incidents in the form of; sugar emptied into salt bowls and vice- versa; knocking in different areas of the house; unfeathering of a bonnet placed on a table; sofa cushions thrown in all directions; witnesses pinched and their hair pulled; books thrown at a lady; a negro servant appearing as an apparition in a horrible goblin form at the kitchen window; a chair thrown at one of the ladies; the front door shut with raised steps to prevent escape; hands moving around the table; at times the ghosts even caressed the investigators and tried to cure some ailment, and many more. These accounts were published in newspapers of San Francisco.[3]

San Francisco Art Institute, built on the site of a cemetery, is said to be haunted, as is Trinity Episcopal Church. A ghostly gray figure is said to disappear through the bathroom wall and numerous explained sounds and cold spots have been reported in the church.

The Richmond

The Neptune Society Columbarium, at One Loraine Court, was originally part of the Odd Fellows Cemetery. Room 410 at the Queen Anne Hotel is said to be haunted by the namesake of the Miss Mary Lake's School for Girls.[4]

San Francisco Peninsula

Presidio Officers' Club, previously part of the Army's garrison, is currently used by the National Park Service as a Visitor Centre and is reportedly haunted. Visions of ghosts of Army men in old uniforms knocking loudly at the empty rooms are reported.[5]

Union Square

At the Curran Theater, an attendant at the ticket booth was murdered in 1922. It is reported that his ghost is seen in the mirror that hangs in the lobby.[5] Room 207 at the Hotel Union Square is said to be haunted.[6]


Every door in Cameron House contains a red and gold charm to seal in the spirits of the immigrants hidden in the basement who perished when the original building was burned down. It is said to be haunted by their spirits.[7]

San Francisco Bay[edit]

Alcatraz Island

Located in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island and Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary are rumored to be haunted. The Huffington Post included it in a Halloween article list of "spooky places".[8]

Golden Gate Bridge

Over 1000 people have committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, resulting in claims of it being haunted.[9]

Angel Island

Angel Island, and also at the "Ellis Island" in San Francisco Bay is connected to tales of ghosts.[5]

Alameda County[edit]

Hayward Plunge

Four locations in the city of Alameda are reportedly haunted. These include the USS Hornet, the Alameda Park Asylum, Kofman Auditorium, and Washington Elementary School. Sailor ghosts have been documented on board the ship. Several strange occurrences have been noted at the abandoned asylum: blinds open and close by themselves, screams have been heard inside the building, and orbs show up in photos. A female ghost has been seen backstage at the Kofman, while a 13 year old boy has been seen walking the school halls. Chabot Theater in Castro Valley has had unexplained shadow movement and laughter, while the town's Redwood Road has a haunted preschool where swings move by themselves. The Hayward Plunge in Hayward has unexplained cold spots, dark shadows, and children's footsteps. Flashing lights and chiming bells have been reported at the Lone Tree Cemetery in Fairview, adjacent to Hayward.[citation needed] In Livermore, constant screams are heard at the historical sanitarium, while there are unexplained fingerprints on cars at Marker 157 of Paterson’s Pass.[10]

Contra Costa County[edit]

Two location in Antioch have reported strange occurrences: the Black Diamond Mines and the Rosehill Cemetery. A nanny from the 1800s is said to appear as an all white entity at the mines. A midwife who died after her carriage fell over has been seen floating around the tombstones in the graveyard. In Brentood, Gravity Hill, St. James Presbyterian Church, and Vasco Road are reportedly haunted, as well three locations at Empire Mine Road (Gates of Hell, Rail Road Mine, and the old Slaughterhouse). In Clayton, ghost sightings have occurred at the Clayton Club Saloon, Keller Mansion, La Croquett Restaurant, and Morgan Territory Road. Both Clayton Valley Charter High School and Mount Diablo High School in Concord have unexplained cold spots, voices and noises.[10]

Napa County[edit]

Greenwood Mansion, between Napa and American Canyon, is reputedly haunted by its former owner John Greenwood and his wife who were murdered there in 1891. His wife was strangled and he was shot by intruders but survived but spent his last years in mourning over his wife.[11] Carl Schmidt and William Roe were apprehended, Schmidt was sent to San Quentin and Roe hung at Napa County Courthouse, the last public hanging in California on January 15, 1897.[11] Today it is used as administration offices for Napa County Airport. Cold spots are frequently reported, and moaning heard on the second floor and apparitions of a lady seen on the landing.[11]

San Mateo County[edit]

The ghost of Waterdog Lake in Belmont is said to have killed a 12 year old boy.[10]

South San Francisco

The Orchard Supply Hardware warehouse in South San Francisco is said to be haunted by the ghost of a girl who was raped and murdered there, one year prior to it being a storehouse. The sounds of high heels running, screaming, laughing, boxes moving on their own accord and blowing in ears and hair pulling have been reported by the workers. One worker in the warehouse reported having tightly shrunk wrapped a pallet after which the power briefly went out. When the generator turned the power back on, the pallet had been completely unwrapped.[5]

Santa Clara County[edit]

Santa Cruz Mountains

Gilroy has several reportedly haunted areas: Gilroy Gardens, Chitactac-Adams County Park, California State Route 152, Mount Madonna County Park, Old Gilroy Hotel, and the South Valley Middle School. There are unexplained hallway footsteps in the school, two ghosts in the hotel, and stage coach and horse sounds on the Highway 152. The Mt. Madonna Park is haunted by a former owner, Henry Miller, and his daughter. Cars on the asphalt parking lot of the Chitactac-Adams Park, which covers an Indian burial grounds, have had cold blasts of air conditioning suddenly occur. Los Gatos, California has had odd occurrences, such as the sighting of a ghost with a trench coat; the reportedly haunted locations include Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad & Bill Mason Carousel, Hicks Road, and the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains.[10]

Solano County[edit]

The ground of an old village where the Spanish forces had killed many American Indians is part of the Rockville Park, a location near crossing of Suisun Valley Road near Solano Community College and where in 1869 the Martin Family had built a stone house. This park area is now conjectured to be a burial ground on the basis of investigations conducted by ghost hunters. A Buckeye (tree) near the road here is where the Chief of American Indians, Francisco Solano was buried and also many other American Indians over the last few centuries. In 1810, Spanish forces had killed many Indians at this place. Solano, who was 10 years old then was converted to Christianity by Mission Dolores and was renamed Francisco Solano. When he returned to his native village, Solano (he was 6 ft 7 inches tall), was made the Chief of Suisun Indian Villages. In 1860, he died of Pneumonia and was buried close to their land near the Buckeye tree under a pile of stones but this site was forgotten. When the Martins built their house on this property, they did not report of any burial remains; it is conjectured that his body must have been removed to some other location in the old village. This place near the Buckeye tree came into prominence since many local people, as they drove past the burial ground in the evenings, reported citing of a “partial apparition of Chief Solano standing” next to this tree as if telling them not to trample through the grave yard. Another resident of Rockville also reported of seeing a ghost at the same location who looked very tall and slim with feathers tied to his hair raising his hand indicating not to enter the ground. Ghost hunters who examined this entire park area suspect that the location could be the place where the Spanish forces under Lieutenant Moraga had set fire to the Indian village and killed all the people in the huts from where the local chief Malica and other Indians had tried to defend their village. This is deduced from the chilly feeling felt near the grindstones where they also experienced other strange atmospheric changes such as “a profound sense of sadness and terror.”[12]

In fiction[edit]

Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce had set their ghost stories in San Francisco in the 19th century. The ghost incidents narrated are of the 1850s to 1950’s set here are in the genre of stories, journalistic articles or based on investigations into the incidents. Some of the references have been sourced to books in the San Francisco Public Library, books such as “Haunted Houses of California” and the story of San Francisco Art Institute by Antoinette May, the "Vanishing Hitchhiker" by Rose Robinson, and “Foot Steps in the Fog : Alfred Hitchcocks San Francisco” authored by Jeff Craft and Aaron Leventhol.[13]

Kearny Street

In a story published by Mark Twain, a ghost appeared in the house of Albert Krum in Kearny Street, in the darkness of the night. The maid of the house is subject to grabbing and bouncing on the floor, throwing of old boots, boot jacks, old furniture, washbowls, hair oil, tooth brushes and other odds and things without heeding to the girl’s shrieking, and the ghosts tramped around the house throughout the night till a light was turned on they disappeared. The lady of the house when lying down on the bed after turning down the gas low, a ghost appeared next to her bed and placed nine bloodied cats next to her pillow and moaned continuously of sorrow and then moved away; when the room’s lights were turned on, the kittens were found with blood stained on their fur with their mother, next to the pillow. [14]

Paranormal organizations[edit]

There are numerous organizations and tours operating in San Francisco dedicated to documenting its ghosts and to "ghost hunting". The San Francisco Ghost Society, founded by Tommy Netzband, is generally seen as the most authoritative organization in San Francisco with a team of paranormal investigators. Tours of the Haight Street area are conducted by the Haunted Haight Walking Tour and includes stories about the ghosts, witches, and macabre history of the area.[15]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Dwyer 2005, pp. Back cover.
  2. ^ Richards 2004, pp. 178.
  3. ^ Richards 2004, pp. 4-17.
  4. ^ Krist, p. 36
  5. ^ a b c d "Haunted San Francisco". Haunted America Tours. Retrieved 1 September 2002. 
  6. ^ Antoinette May (October 31, 2004). "Is there a spirit here tonight?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 17, 2008. 
  7. ^ 'CNBC The 10 Most Haunted Cities in America'
  8. ^ "America's Most Haunted Places". Huffington Post. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Hauck, Dennis William (1 September 2002). Haunted Places: The National Directory : Ghostly Abodes, Sacred Sites, Ufo Landings, and Other Supernatural Locations. Penguin. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-0-14-200234-6. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Haunted Bay Area". CBS. September 1, 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c Dwyer 2005, pp. 51-3.
  12. ^ Richards 2004, pp. 142-143.
  13. ^ Richards 2004, pp. ix-xii.
  14. ^ Richards 2004, pp. 2-3.
  15. ^ Krist, Josh (1 October 2005). San Francisco: The Unknown City. Arsenal Pulp Press/Josh Krist. p. 274. ISBN 978-1-55152-188-6. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 

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