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Death Walks the Nipomo Rancho

This October, the DANA Adobe Cultural Center will host three evenings of ghost tours featuring chilling reenactments of tragic, terrifying, and true events that took place on Rancho Nipomo during the 19th century. These popular fall tours have been offered for the past two years and remain a favorite with DANA’s volunteers and staff as well as visitors.

This year, Death itself will lead the tours in the guise of the Mexican trickster from 1960s Academy-Award nominated film Macario, based on a short story by B. Traven.  The movie based on the novel of the same name by B. Traven was the first Mexican film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Costumed interpreters stationed throughout the property will also meet those brave enough to take the tour and relate the stories of their own, often grisly, ends.

“Our lives are all connected by stories,” said DANA board member, Helen Daurio, “some light and happy, and others dark and sinister. “

Visitors are invited to come early and gather around a campfire outside the new Visitor Center (opened May 2018) and listen to reports of ghostly sightings from staff and visitors. Considering the nature of some of the stories, the DANA recommends attendees be 7-years or older. Visitors should wear warm clothing and good walking shoes.

In 2016, one of DANA’s school docents, Colleen Beck, had the idea of putting a program together for Halloween that would take advantage of the Dana Adobe’s unique stories without disrespecting the Dana family’s history explained Daurio.  The tales are historically accurate, but also because of murders and deaths that occurred at the Adobe, or to people connected to the Adobe, they fit the macabre aspects of Halloween.   Daurio said that staff did not know how popular the tours would be, but stated that the turnout was “spectacular” with approximately 300 people coming out for the spooky event.

Tour dates are Saturday and Sundays, October 20, 21, and 28 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Each tour lasts 40-minutes with groups leaving every 15 minutes from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. Tour will take place at the DANA Adobe Cultural Center is located at 671 S. Oak Glen Avenue, Nipomo. Price of admission is $15 for the general public and $10 DANA Members. Group discounts available and reservations are strongly suggested. To purchase tickets in advance go to:

Established in 1999, the non-profit began with the initial focus to save the crumbling historic Dana Adobe and gain for its state and national recognition.

Over its 16 year history, the organization has acquired 30 acres of surrounding land as well as 100 acres east of the Adobe that is permanently protected. Phase One of the park plan is now under construction with funding from a secured state grant. In addition, the Dana Adobe is now a California State Historic Landmark and is on the Federal Registry of Historic Places, according to the non-profit’s website.


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