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Bay Area Ghost Stories To Tell During a Summer Campout

Updated: Jun 01, 2022 18:57
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These Bay Area ghost stories are perfect to tell over a campfire. Coming into Memorial Day weekend and Summer in The Bay, many of us will go camping or glamping at least once this season. Even if you choose to tell these over your fire pit or on your sofa, they will spook you and maybe even give you chills.

Bonus is that you learn a little Bay Area history with these as well!

old postcard of the Fireside Motel in 1946

Postcard of the Fireside Motel in 1946 – photo by Marin Magazine

Bay Area Ghost Stories To Tell during a Summer Campout

Fireside Motel, Mill Valley

Located just off 101, Fireside Motel is a landmark when exiting to head off to the beach or other Southwest Marin activities. But you may not know that it’s also haunted.

If you’re a lover of gin, this place may already be on your radar as it was one of the most prolific gin joints in The Bay Area during the prohibition. Way back in the 1950s tho, folks started to hear strange sounds. Other unexplained events happened including finding skeletons under the floorboards. Eventually folks at the motel felt as if the only answer was a seance.

Using 2 tequila bottles as a cross, the seance didn’t give them the answers they were looking for. However, when the building was renovated it was revealed that the ghostly sounds were due to the building being built right above a Miwok burial ground. Nowadays, it is believed that the skeleton they found under the floorboards was likely someone from the Miwok tribe but at the time folks believe no one really thought much about whether they were dancing on sacred ground.

With a sorted past, this historic location isn’t a place where you can rent a room for a night or two. It is now owned by Eden Housing and is home to seniors and folks with special needs.

Stow Lake 1903

Stow Lake 1903 – photo by SFGate

The White Lady of Stow Lake, San Francisco

Stow Lake is a popular day date spot where you can paddle around a rented boat while enjoying nature in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. But behind the beauty of the lake is a ghost who haunts the area to this day.

A few years before the 1906 quake, a woman went for a stroll in the park with her three kids; two older kids and one baby. Needing some rest, they all sat by Stow Lake. Distracted by a conversation with another passerby, the mother didn’t notice that the baby had rolled or crawled into the lake. The mother was unable to find the baby in the lake and it accidentally drowned. She felt so terrible about it that she ended up committing suicide. The woman now haunts the area, dressed all in white.

While her baby was eventually retrieved from the lake, the woman’s body was never found and still haunts Golden Gate park. You can find her ghost at the exit of Golden Gate Park, asking visitors to help find her baby. Some have noted you can also find her near the Pioneer Woman Statue.

For the full story of The White Lady of Stow Lake, click here.

This Pleasanton building is known for countless ghost sightings - photo from Diablo Magazine

This Pleasanton building is known for countless ghost sightings – photo from Diablo Magazine

Gay 90’s Pizza Co., Pleasanton

Well-known haunts in the East Bay include Berkeley’s Claremont Hotel and the USS Hornet in Alameda. A lesser-known city that is full of haunted structures is Pleasanton.
This sleepy town has dozens of spooky spots.

One of my favorites is the story of the Boo Mirror. The legend says that the manager of Gay 90’s Pizza Co was closing up shop one day when his dog started to bark towards the front of the shop and refused to budge. When the owner looked up, the word “BOO” had mysteriously been written on the mirror. While many have tried to clean the “Boo” off the mirror over the years (both front and back), no one has succeeded.

This restaurant is housed in the city’s 2nd oldest building which had once been used as a Wells Fargo Stop, Brothel, and below ground was used as a tunnel for Chinese laborers who had been working on the railroads. Folks have reported sounds of people talking below ground as well as reported seeing a woman in blue standing in one of the building’s windows.

Back in 2010, it was reported that “the manager of the restaurant encountered the lady when he was alone in the building. He heard a female voice say “Hi” to him.  He also heard knocking twice on the basement side of the door and knocking from inside the walk-in refrigerator in the kitchen and no one is there”

Ghostly collection of USS Hornet images by uss-hornet.org

Ghostly collection of images by uss-hornet.org

USS Hornet, Alameda

Likely one of the most well-known haunted spots in The Bay, the USS Hornet is docked in Alameda and houses thousands of ghost stories. While researching this story I came across a site which has dozens of great stories told by those who experienced them. My favorite is from a contributor named Andy.

Andy retells, “The Catapult room is considered one of the most dangerous places aboard an aircraft carrier because the wire used to hook in and catapult the plane has a tendency to snap. When it snaps, it spins around the room at 500 miles per hour, slicing through anything in its path. There were many such accidents aboard the Hornet. Several people have reported seeing a headless crewman pacing up and down in this area. Other times, only his footsteps can be heard walking across the floor. They believe it’s the ghost of a crewman whose head was decapitated by a snapped wire. People who have seen this decapitated soldier report it to be the most frightening and disturbing experience of their lives. A visiting psychic reported the presence of a male spirit of a particularly malevolent nature whose nature is to harm people near the catapult room. A former sailor reported an incident during the war when a sailor tried unsuccessfully to jump into an elevator near the catapult room, which severed his body in half. Near the catapult room, a snapping tow cable instantly killed a crew member on deck by decapitation. This occurrence was not uncommon, as many crew members reported casualties from whipping towlines.”

Photo of the USS Hornet in the 1940s

Known for its haunted stories, this photo of the USS Hornet is from the 1940s – photo from Wikipedia

Where can you find out about more ghost stories across the Bay Area?

While this map by Curbed was created for Halloween, you can explore haunted spots any time of year – and what better time than when you might wanna share a scary story over a campfire. It’s an interactive map which will allow you to find which ghostly spot is closest to where you live.

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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy is a professional smiling machine raised in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.

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