Ghost and specters abound in California, according to Evie Ybarra’s latest book, “California’s Haunted Central Coast.” From outlaws to movies stars from murders to wailing women, the area is littered with ghost stories and goosebumps. For her book, Ybarra delved into the area’s rich lore to discover the best of the ghoulish tales.
The collection of stories covers legends and sightings from Ventura to Monterey and everything in between. Ybarra said that she had several favorites, but one of the first ones that came to her mind was the reported sightings of notorious outlaws Jesse and Frank James at the Paso Robles Inn and the stories of resident spirits that haunt the halls of Hearst Castle. On gathering information on the castle, Ybarra said that the park service does not acknowledge ghosts, however she did speak to some retired personnel who shared their supernatural experiences of the lavish structure.
“It had to be a happy place,” said Ybarra commenting on the Hearst property, “because they say that residual ghosts go back and visit places they liked.” And they would have reason to be happy considering the lavish parties William Hearst threw for his Hollywood friends that included Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant.
Not all the tales Ybarra gleaned were of happy spirits revisiting passed joys. One of the most chilling tales is the account of the Reed Family Murders that occurred at the San Miguel Mission in 1848 where bandits killed an entire family and their servants in search of gold that was rumored to be hidden on the property. People have claimed to see a ghost wearing a navy pea coat materializing from a wall. Some speculated the specter is William Reed, the father of the doomed family who was beheaded on that bloody night. Ybarra gathered reports of sightings of a woman wearing a long white dressed drenched in blood or Native American children with blood.
Ybarra said that she that she believes there are a lot more people who have had supernatural experiences, however, they do not share for fear of what others would think. Ybarra’s research allowed these people to share tells their tales without fear of being labeled as crazy.
The book of collected lore makes for an easy read with the most extended stories being only a few pages long and many being only a paragraph or two describing the legends of the site. It makes for perfect reading during the Halloween season for supernatural enthusiasts just before they make sure the closet door is closed and turn off the lights.
This is the fifth book Ybarra has authored and the third of a collection of California ghost stories. She is also interviewed in the movie “Haunted Routes – Route 666” available on Amazon Prime and participated in the podcast Never 30 entitled, “Ghosts.”
By Mark A. Diaz