Could Nevada City be California’s Most Haunted Town?

When I moved to Nevada City 10 years ago, I had no idea that it was haunted. And as much as I love ghosts (and Bigfoot), I’ve never actually seen either. But I’ve definitely had the hair on the back of my neck stand up a few times in the woods.

Seems like a lot of folks from the gold rush days liked it here so much that they’ve stuck around.

One guy who would agree is Mark Lyon our local ghost tour guide. Yes, every Saturday night in October, Mark takes guests on a walk through town, highlighting the most haunted spots (and yes, there are a bunch).

Sporting an old black suit, top hat and a ghostly white complexion, one wonders if Mark is a ghost himself. I gotta say he’s the creepiest fellow I’ve ever met. I think he spends the rest of the year in an old coat closet but when it comes to ghosts, he knows his stuff.

Every hotel and bed and breakfast here has at least one ghost floating around waiting to scare some poor guest. The Red Castle Inn has some great stories of a former nanny named Laura Jean who used to look after the owner’s 11 children. She likes to come and sit on the end of guest’s beds or hover over them while they sleep, often smoothing their foreheads.

Other guests have seen the “lady in gray” walking around in the courtyard outside at night. 

The National Hotel, located downtown, creeps me out every time I walk in. I don’t think they’ve updated anything since it first opened and it’s known as one of California’s oldest hotels. It smells like really old people in there and it’s eerily dark inside. The crew from TV’s Ghost Adventures got pretty scared when they poked around. It’s one of those places that make you feel uneasy, like your skin is crawling. Can’t imagine spending the night there!

Many of the businesses here have tunnels beneath them and each business has some super creepy story of what used to happen in those tunnels. The Old Stonehouse Brewery’s tunnels ended in disaster for a bunch of Chinese immigrants who are still buried there due to a collapse. They say you can still hear them screaming sometimes.

If you decide to run, make sure you don’t run over to the shed nearby because you’re likely to hear more screaming. Apparently a distressed waitress hung herself in there. She still seems to be hanging around.

Ghosts aren’t all scary and some of them are downright funny. There’s the ghost who steals guest’s underwear, the ghost mirror where many witnesses say they’ve seen see-through people in 1800’s dress admiring themselves.

Then there’s the story of the old miner who sometimes appears at the bar. He’s a bit shocking but it’s not because of his old scruffy clothes, it’s because he has no legs.

My favorite of all is the stinky ghost who appears from a room behind the bar. Apparently after being seen, the bar clears out because of the horrendous “garbage-like” odor that comes with him. Never a dull moment around here!