Get a Taste of Ghostly Flavor at These 6 Haunted Monterey Bay Locations
The ghosts in Monterey Bay may leave you sleeping with your lights on.
There’s a time and place to be scared, and October brings out everyone’s desire for the strange and unexplained. If you love Halloween and good ghost stories, what better place to enjoy some haunted history than the famous Monterey Bay? A lot of people — including those who have lived here all their lives — haven’t the faintest idea what the history of the bay is like, nor about the ghosts said to hang around the streets after dark. It would take a book the size of a dictionary to discuss every ghostly sighting in Monterey’s 250-year history, but in preparation of our upcoming Haunted Monterey Food Tour, we wanted to highlight a few places (especially some we’re not physically visiting) that are said to occasionally go bump in the night.
Ghost Tree in Pebble Beach
First up, let’s talk about the Lady in Lace. Her real name was Maria del Carmen Barreto Garcia Madariaga, and she was granted three different plots of land by California’s governor in the early 1800s. She grew tired of living on her own at Pescadero Point (which is where the tree in question we’re about to discuss is), and traded her plots of land for a mansion outside the Presidio. She eventually grew to regret her decision, and her ghost is said to frequent a particular tree now known as the “ghost tree.” Sightings of her have been abundant throughout the years — so much so that there’s a sign to let you know you’ve come to the right place along the famed 17-mile-drive.
Stokes Adobe in Old Monterey
If you’ve spent any time in Monterey, you’ve probably heard of the Stokes Adobe. If that name doesn’t strike a bell, it may sound a little more familiar as either Restaurant 1833 or Gallatin’s. While the building itself has primarily run as a restaurant since 1950, there are ghostly presences and a haunted history so deep within these adobe’s walls that it even found itself on a 2003 segment of America’s Most Haunted Places.
The primary owner, James Stokes, came to Monterey with a stolen doctor’s bag in the 1830’s from England. His patients had a knack for dying under his care, and he was surprisingly successful for someone whose patients frequently wound up dead — patients that included the husband of the woman he went on to marry and the Mexican governor of Alta California. Rumor has it James killed himself in the house, in front of his children, after an animalistic act with his daughter.
Hear more about this adobe (and the wide range of spirits in it) on our Haunted Monterey Food Tour.
Robert Louis Stevenson House in Old Monterey
The Robert Louis Stevenson House, also known as the French Hotel, is another of Old Monterey’s most haunted buildings. This one may not have gotten a segment on America’s Most Haunted Places, but it did land a 1970 story in the New York Times about the mysterious Lady in Black who appeared in the former nursery. Rumor has it that lady is none other than Madame Manuela Perez Girardin, who started renting out the rooms in the house after the death of her husband in 1879. It was that same year when Stevenson — of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Treasure Island fame — arrived, and the brief time he spent in Monterey had the reputation of the hotel renamed after the author.
You can also hear more about this house (and its ghosts) on our Haunted Monterey Food Tour.
Hotel Del Monte in Monterey
Depending on who you talk to and what story you get, this could very well be the scariest and most haunted place in all of Monterey. Nowadays, the building is owned and operated by the Naval Postgraduate School and is more affectionately known as Hermann Hall. Travelers (and locals) can still rent out the rooms, but keep an eye out for the mysterious Man in Gray said to lurk about there. That man is thought to be one Charles Crocker, who was a railroad executive and is partially responsible for the Central Pacific Railroad. His characteristics are marked by a long, white beard and, of course, all gray (thus the name). His apparition is one of the most reported in all of the buildings, and even though he isn’t necessarily dangerous, he is thought to be a bit of a nuisance.
Fort Ord in Seaside
I’m going to come at you from a personal note real quick and state this with conviction — Fort Ord is haunted. How do I know, you may ask? Well, ask some of my fellow classmates and alumni from California State University Monterey Bay, especially those who attended the school before they started tearing down the abandoned buildings surrounding the premises. Those buildings, some of which still stand (although clinging to their last days), used to be stomping grounds for students in a ritual known as “ording.” Although that mostly consisted of exploring the abandoned buildings at night, more than one student throughout the years has reported presences that remind them they are not alone.
My most personal experience with that happened in my dorm room. There were times when music from the 40’s would come from underneath my bed (I lived on the first floor and physically got under my bed to find the source of it — the carpet.) There were times my bathroom door would slam shut on its own. One night I was awoken by a voice telling me, “There’s someone at the door.” I sat up in bed, looked around, and two minutes later some drunk friends showed up. Another night, I woke to the sound of drumming fingers, and when I looked at the foot of my bed, I saw a shadow with a tophat sitting at my desk as the source of the tapping fingers while it watched me sleep.
So, I reiterate: Fort Ord is haunted.
Carmel Mission in Carmel
Rumors tend to circulate about the haunting of all of California’s missions, and the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in Carmel is no exception. In fact, as it’s considered one of the most haunted, perhaps it’s because of this particular mission that all of them get their reputation. This mission, too, was founded and built by Father Junipero Serra, who was responsible for naming Monterey with Captain Don Gaspar de Portola in 1770. While we visit another of Father Serra’s missions, the Royal Presidio Chapel, on our Haunted Monterey Food Tour, the mission in Carmel is one of the most recommended locations for ghost hunters to experience for themselves. People who come and spend a little time here after the sun goes down have reported shadowy figures, fog that takes the form of humanly shapes, even as far as the touch of invisible hands from inside these walls. Some even think that Father Junipero Serra himself still pays this particular mission a visit, so if you’re looking to thank him for helping create the civilized Monterey that we know today, that’s the place to do it.
A Last Thought
Please be aware that this, in no way, even begins to graze the surface of ghostly reports in the Monterey area. A simple search of “Haunted Monterey” at the local library will bring up at least six books alone on the subject matter, and the tales cover Old Monterey, New Monterey, Cannery Row, Pacific Grove, Seaside, Carmel, Pebble Beach, and even Big Sur. Monterey has such a rich history, full of pirates, treasure, murder, and scandal. Outside of the potential “supernatural” happenings, the natural history of the bay is so engrossing that it’s no wonder people travel from all over the world to get a glimpse of it for themselves.
In the meantime, we hope to see you on the Haunted Monterey Food Tour!