Arana Gulch, The Asti, Boardwalk Bowl, Bocci’s Cellar, The Branciforte Plaza, Callahan’s Pub, The Carmelita Cottages, The Catalyst, The Chaminade Resort, Cliff Crest Bed and Breakfast, Coffeetopia, DeLaveaga Park, Del Mar Theatre, Dominican Hospital, Evergreen Cemetery, Highway 17, Holy Cross Cemetery, Jeffery’s Restaurant, The Jury Room, Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse
Nestled in the heart of Santa Cruz is the stunning Arana Gulch. It has been known to be haunted for decades by the Ghost of Jack Sloan (Andrew Jackson Sloan), who was shot and killed by Jose Rodriquez and Faustino Lorenzana on the evening of February 11, 1865 along the old Arana Bridge (located on Soquel Avenue, next to Jeffery’s).
According to local historian Phil Reader, the spirit of the 38-year-old has been seen on many occasions wearing a long, dark overcoat and a wide-brimmed hat, in or near the north end of the gulch. A member of the coroner’s jury who investigated the killing said that this is what Sloan was wearing when he died. Sloan is known to appear on the anniversary of his death and has been reported by several eyewitnesses who spoke to S.C. Sentinel reporters regarding their encounters.
On July 25, 1895, 30 years after his death, a woman and her daughter were riding to town in their buggy when an apparition ran right out in front of them, and then vanished into thin air. Their description of the spirit and how it was dressed made the woman and her daughter believe that it was the ghost of Jack Sloan.
The second reported sighting was in 1913, by a large family who was living at the gulch at the time. The children came home to tell their mother about the new friend they had met in the gulch that day. They gave their Mother an exact description of Sloan. When he was 90 years old, one of these children verified the ghost story, also mentioning that his sister had seen Jack Sloan on several other occasions.
In 1932, the next sighting was reported. A family from out of town broke down on the side of the road when their car overheated. They claimed that a tall, thin stranger dressed in a dark overcoat came out from the bushes of the gulch and poured water in their radiator from the creek. To the driver’s surprise, when he started cranking the automobile, he noticed that the stranger had faded back into the bushes.
In 1953, a group of five boys also encountered the spirit late one night. The Boy Scouts observed the apparition “gliding as it merged with the woods.”
The last Jack Sloan sighting was recently, when a couple that lives along the gulch came forward with their story. They said they often saw Sloan crossing their deck at night in front of their sliding glass door, generally accompanied with a low-lying fog.
Andrew "Jack" Sloan was laid to rest at the haunted Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz, where he is also said to make occasional visits.
Grave rubbing of Sloan’s headstone, Evergreen Cemetery, by Aubrey Graves, 2015
Entrance at: Agnes Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
This aged bar located on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz was built around 1920. The structure was once used as a speakeasy called the Crossroads until 1937, when it became the Asti Café. It is believed that several uncanny events happened on the property before 1937, creating paranormal activity.
Over the years, employees have experienced the unexplained at the Asti Café, particularly in the basement where it once looked as if splatters of blood stained the walls. The basement was once connected to all of the underground tunnels of downtown Santa Cruz, where several homeless people, criminals, and bootleggers are said to have lived or passed through.
Employee Brian Carey stated that the basement creeped him and other staff out so much, they literally just run in and out when they need to go down there. I spoke with a former employee who verified he would do it, too, and he’s a big burly guy covered with tattoos.
“The ghost down there does not like me,” the former employee stated.
A former janitor claimed to have heard disembodied voices near the bar and pool room where a light hanging from the ceiling has been seen unexplainably swinging.
Over the years owner Tara Gulielmo Muccilli had felt an unseen presence in the building, and never felt quite alone. “I felt uncomfortable in the early mornings by myself,” Tara explained. She said the feeling died down after the large windows were put in on the side of the building.
Sensitive Mel U. and I investigated the Asti’s basement in 2012. It was by far one of the creepiest places I had ever investigated. As soon as we entered the cold, dark, damp basement we both sensed a strong male presence in the back corner, near the old door that lead to the old underground tunnels beneath Pacific Avenue. It gave off a really dark and freaky vibe, to the point where I didn’t even want to take one step toward its vicinity. Mel said she felt something touch her hair and the side of her cheek. We were both had the sense that something was standing right there with us just staring, and we actually got a little scared. Right then, the Ghost Radar said, “Afraid.” -It knew we were.
We set up two flashlights for the spirit to manipulate. One mini Maglite was for “yes” answers, and another for, “no.” Below is the information we received after asking the entity a number of questions: The spirit we spoke with was a male, who claims that he died in the basement of the Asti due to an accident. When asked if he was stuck in the basement, he turned on the light for “Yes.”
Mel then got a spike on her Mel Meter of a 24.9, which is the highest reading she had ever seen.
In the basement at the Asti, Santa Cruz, CA, photo by Aubrey Graves
Year built: Circa 1920
715 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
It is believed by some employees that the bowling alley is haunted by spirits who are said to make their presence known. Bowling pins are said to be knocked down on their own after hours, as well as manual toilets flushing on their own.
Around 2005 while the back patio was being renovated, human remains were found beneath the concrete. An employee shared with me that they were told the area was once an old graveyard hundreds of years ago… but who knows.
Year built: Circa 1960s
115 Cliff Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
The restaurant, bar, and bocci ball court was opened in 1925 by the Urbanis. The Italian immigrant family built the structure in 1885, and during their stay they lifted the house and built a large wine cellar. Bocci’s Cellar’s dining room and bar is located in this cellar, where astonishing paranormal activity is said to occur. Over the years, employees have seen ghosts, as well as witnessed objects moving on their own.
One employee has seen the ghost of an old woman in the restaurant on more than one occasion, sitting in the back corner admiring a picture. The first time the staff member had this encounter, the ghost-woman’s back was turned so he was unable to see who it was. It was after hours, so the employee figured it was a manager, or one of the owners. The staff member approached the ghost and when he tried putting his hand on her shoulder, his hand went right through her body. It was at this moment that he realized this entity was no longer living. The mysterious, long gray-haired ghost, clothed in a Victorian dress, turned around and looked at him. “She didn’t have a face,” he explained to me. The staff member saw her on a few other occasions always sitting in the same seat, admiring the Urbani Family photograph on the wall.
On a few occasions, the Urbani Family photograph was moved to another location in the cellar, and whenever it was, the paranormal activity would start up again.
Photograph of the Urbanis at Bocci’s Cellar, Santa Cruz, CA
A former bartender shared with me that she been hit repeatedly by glasses that will literally just fly off shelves whenever the picture was moved. The phenomenon was obviously linked to this particular picture. When staff would put the aged photo back in its original spot, the ghostly activity would die down.
I was invited to investigate Bocci’s Cellar after hours, so on October 13, 2012, at 2:13 am, local psychic medium Jena Reece and I began our investigation. Within minutes there was paranormal activity. The Mel Meter, which measures EMF, began to spike randomly in the middle of the Bocci Ballroom. We noticed the EMF increased as we walked toward the women’s restroom. We stood in the middle of the restroom and asked the entity if they could please come closer to the device to make the numbers increase. Immediately, the meter started going up from 0.1 to 0.4 and then back down to 0.1 again.
Using the flashlight method (where the spirits turn the lights on and off) with two mini Maglites, (one for “yes” answers and one for “no” answers) we were able to communicate with at least three different spirits. One was an old woman who was waiting for her loved ones to come home from the war, another was male, and the third was the little girl on roller skates in the old Urbani family photo. The spirits confirmed that the little girl still roller skates throughout the restaurant, and that some others are still playing bocci ball at the venue.
While researching more history of the venue, I came across one death that was reported happening in 1951. Giuseppi Urbani, died in his home (which is the apartment above the restaurant) at 62 years of age. The cause of his death is unknown.
The Branciforte Plaza
The three-story, aged structure was built in 1929, and was used as the Santa Cruz Hospital, also known as the Sisters’ Hospital from 1949 to 1967. Over the years, some have claimed to experience paranormal encounters on the property.
In the early 1990s, a friend of mine claimed to see a white, translucent apparition of a woman float by the front doors of the entryway while standing near the fountain late one evening.
I spoke with another local who said that when he passes the steps of the front entrance, he feels and hears what seems to be a crowd of people, although there is no one else in sight. He believes there is a good probability that the hauntings at the plaza have much to do with the fact that it was once a hospital.
THE BRANCIFORTE PLAZA
(Once the old Santa Cruz Hospital)
Year built: 1929
555 Soquel Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Callahan’s, the biker-friendly bar, opened its doors in the early 80s. The building, located on Water Street, was previously used as a bar and lounge called the Fireside Lounge. Over the years, the owner, employees, and guests have all experienced unexplainable phenomenon and believe with certainty that the pub is inhabited by spirits of old patrons and friends. Since memorials have been held in this establishment, it would make sense.
Strong spiritual forces and energy are felt throughout the pub. Ghosts have been sighted, and objects moved on their own. A coffee maker turned on after it was unquestionably turned off minutes prior.
I spoke with bartender Lete Goodwin who has been working at the bar since 2001. She and several others feel the energy of their past friends, customers, and acquaintances on a normal basis.
“This isn’t a normal bar. This isn’t a place where people just pop in; this becomes a second home for a lot of people. Some have infinite connections to this place, so when they do pass, the pub becomes an emotional tie for them. I have lost some good friends who would come here frequently, and I know they still do. I definitely feel taken care of at the end of the night,” Lete stated.
One night when Lete went into the walk-in refrigerator, a customer saw the ghost of a man follow her in. As she came out and was closing the door, she said the customer told her to wait for the guy that was still inside.
“Honey, we’re the only people here,” Lete said to the patron.
At that moment, the customer realized that he had just seen a ghost.
“He got so freaked out, he just said, ‘I got to go!’ and took off,” she exclaimed.
A former bartender has seen male spirits within Callahan’s sitting at the bar and just standing around. And, on one particular occasion, she was followed half way home by one of them.
Year originated: Circa 1980
507 Water Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
The Carmelita Cottages
The six historical Carmelita Cottages nestled on Beach Hill were built in the 1870s and owned by prominent local seaman, Captain Timothy Dame. There, he lived and spent his last years until he passed away on May 19, 1886 of apoplexy. The retired sailor died at his work, which was the former IXL Lime Works in Fall Creek, Felton. The funeral proceeded from his Beach Hill property, to the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Santa Cruz.
Captain Timothy Dame, mid 1800s
It was then passed down to the Sea Captain’s step-daughter, Lottie Sly, who rented out the cottages until her death in 1955. The property was given to the City of Santa Cruz, who took possession after the last tenant died in 1977. The cottages remained unoccupied until they were turned into a hostel in 1984, and are still used and owned by Hosteling International today.
The seaman is said to haunt his former residence at the “Captain Dame Cottage" (shown above). Over the years, (particularly in the 90s) several guests have claimed to have actually witnessed Timothy Dame’s ghost dressed in a dark pea coat walk through a window that was once a door.
Once used as a little bowling alley until 1976, the Catalyst holds lots of history, memories, and energies. Santa Cruz local John Manley and his wife both have had several encounters when working at the Cat from 2005 to 2010.
“I have heard, seen, and felt things that I could not ignore,” he began. “There's a part in the main hall where both sides are lined with mirrors all the way down to the stage. Often after the club would close, and we'd be getting ready to walk out through the back door (because all the employees would leave through the back at night), you couldn't help but feel like you were being watched (through the mirrors) as you left,” John shared with me.
“There was one night when my wife was working at the Rockers Pizza portion inside the Catalyst. It was about 2 o'clock in the morning and I was waiting for her to finish shutting down the pizza kitchen. I swear that I could hear music coming only from the main hall. It was like bluegrass music, and it was faint, but you could make out guitars playing. I immediately went and told my wife, - she is what we would consider a sort of medium, so she believed me, but she didn't stop doing her cleaning duties. I went back and sat on the counter and waited for her, but I didn't hear the music any longer. As I stared forward into the atrium, that's when I saw it. – A dark shadow of a thin man with long hair, who walked from the right to the left in my line of vision. How do I know it was a man? It's like when you're experiencing spiritual activity a part of you just turns into it. It's like sometimes you're around spirits and you know that they're bad because you feel uneasy; but in this instance I didn't feel that at all. Actually it felt like he was a guest who is just there to enjoy himself. But at the same time he felt like that was his place to be. Like he was always there. And then he was gone.”
“It wasn't more than a week before I experienced something else, but it definitely wasn't that same energy. As I'm walking through the hall towards the back door I got this uneasy feeling like they (the ghosts) were rushing me. The whole time I'm walking through the center of the hall, I felt like they were staring at me from both sides through the mirrors on each side of me, so I started walking faster. I was like, ‘okay, I'm leaving, don't trip.’ But as I got closer to the door the energy increased, and by the time I reach the stage I could feel shivers up my spine; the energy just wasn't happy. As soon as I was outside, the door slammed behind me, and hard. In that very instance I obviously turned around to look at the door. In the window on the door I can see only what I can interpret as a white smoke-like radiance of some sort of face that I could not quite make out the details of. Even though it freaked me out, it didn't feel evil,” John said.
The Chaminade Resort and Spa
Built in 1930 as a Catholic boarding school for boys, the Chaminade was named after a French priest by the name of William Joseph Chaminade, who founded the society of Mary (a Catholic teaching order) in the 1700s. For a short time in the ‘40s, the property was used as a boarding school for children with mental illness.
While it was a Catholic school, both priests and students died on the property, mostly due to illness. At least two of the priests who passed away were buried in the Chaminade’s very own miniature cemetery, located behind the main building. The graves were allegedly moved to San Jose in 1985 when the Chaminade was repurposed as a hotel.
Over the years several workers and some guests are completely convinced that the Chaminade is haunted. “You can just feel it.” Not only have staff members seen apparitions and heard unexplained sounds, they have actually seen objects move on their own.
In the summer of 2020, the ghost of a woman in black was seen and captured on video in the lobby. An employee saw the full-body apparition, and began filming her on his phone until she completely disappeared into thin air. This same phantom has also been seen over the years in the upstairs dining hall.
Molly, a Chaminade staff member, claimed to have witnessed a closet door in one of the offices opening and closing on its own. She explained to me in great detail how she watched as the doorknob turned eerily by an unseen force.
Brandon, another employee, and his co-worker had a terrifying experience in 2019, when they witnessed a chair flip over with great force while they were working in the Conference Room, located in the main building on the property. Other paranormal activity has allegedly occurred in this room, and is believed to be one of the more haunted places at the resort.
Earlier in 2019, one of the resort’s handymen claimed to have been pushed down a flight of stairs by an unseen entity.
While a couple was staying at the Chaminade in 2011, they had a very strange and uncanny encounter. :
“Did the normal quadruple check of the doors (front and back sliding door) to ensure they were shut and locked. Felt pretty comfy with that knowledge as we secured the room well.
When we returned however, found that NOT to be the case. The front door was slightly cracked open and the back sliding door was now unlocked.”
Nothing was moved or taken. They called the front desk to see if a housekeeper had come through, but they were assured that no one had gone into their room while they were away – no one alive anyway.
Some of the Chaminade employees wonder who is haunting the resort. It is believed by some that a former guest who passed away in his room years back never checked out, and that this is the cause of most of the paranormal activity. Others have wondered if it had something to do with it once being a Catholic school with its very own graveyard; not to mention the giant cemetery just down the road.
As for the woman in black, it remains a mystery.
-While visiting the resort in September of 2020, I used my Ghost Radar app and received several words; some of significance:
Cliff Crest Bed and Breakfast
The quarters were built in 1887 for the governor William Jeter and his wife, Jennie who both lived and died in the house.
The ghost of Jennie Jeter has been experienced by many guests and employees for decades at the Cliff Crest Bed and Breakfast, particularly in her room, known as “Jennie’s Room”. Several witnesses have heard the sounds of footsteps, and of furniture being moved in her bedroom, along with finding pillows that had been rearranged and put in disarray.
No one knows who truly haunts the building but some folks have theories. Within the last six months, the activity increased immensely after two customers named Steve and Nancy, who visited the shop daily, both passed away within a few months of each other. Steve was said to help set up in the mornings and pull out chairs. Amy, a staff member, said that since Steve’s death chairs have been pulled out and moved on their own. Within the last few months she and Eli, another employee, have also witnessed “dishes flying off shelves” right before their very eyes. Recently, they heard the disembodied voice of former patron Nancy say, “Heelllooo.”
Both Johanna and Amy have heard eerie sounds come from the attic and both agreed that one noise they both hear on occasion sounds like someone bouncing a ball on the floor. They also feel as if they are being watched and followed around the shop on almost a daily basis. Johanna said that the radio has turned on all by itself and the volume is known to be turned up and down randomly.
Several years back, a former employee saw the ghost of an old woman in a Victorian dress inside Coffeetopia while unlocking the front doors one morning.
In the 1887, Jose Vicente DeLaveaga, a deaf native from Mexico purchased 565 acres of land in Santa Cruz. There, the Spanish millionaire began creating trails, vineyards, and planting trees and plants from around the world, producing the beautiful and enchanting DeLaveaga Park. Jose’s biggest passions were both nature and animals, and he was often seen riding his black stallion, Duke. Living a lonely, quiet life, Jose passed away at 50 years of age on August 14, 1894 due to sickness. “His will left $775,000 of his $900,000 estate to charity, with bequests to his servants, friends, Protestant and Jewish hospitals and orphanages, the needy of Spain, Mexico and Switzerland, local societies protecting animals and children, and Golden Gate Park. His Santa Cruz estate, straddling the city line, was given to the city and county for a park. Fifty acres of the park were to be set aside for a large facility to serve the deaf, blind, lame, paralytic and aged of restricted means. Rentals of several San Francisco properties would pay for its operation,” www.santacruzpl.org
In 1919, a small zoo was created overlooking Prospect Heights and Pacheco Avenue, on part of the park’s property. It contained two bears, several buffalo, elk, monkeys, and more. The zoo was run until 1933, until it was closed down due to funding. Some of the zoo’s structure, such as some of the cages, stone retaining walls, and a few pillars still remains to this day, abandoned and decrepit. A memorial plaque made in DeLaveaga’s honor stands within the ruins, since 1912; now completely vandalized and almost hidden from overgrown shrubbery.
Over the years there have been claims of Jose Vicente DeLaveaga haunting his beloved land within the vicinity of the abandoned zoo.
Year established: Circa 1908
(At the abandoned zoo)
(Between Pacheco Avenue and Elk Street)
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
The Del Mar Theatre
Both residual and intelligent energy lingers within the historical landmark, built in 1936. Former employees have heard unexplainable voices in the old dressing rooms, as well as seen dark shadow apparitions out of the corners of their eyes. The upper-level theater, where horror movies are usually played, also exudes abnormal energy at times. Two employees told me that that is where a lot of paranormal activity is said to occur.
An old employee named Barney is said to haunt the Del Mar since his fatal heart attack while on the job in the projection room. Some staff members believe that the former projectionist causes all of the paranormal occurrences within the building. During the days of 35 mm film, the projectors at the theater were known to jam, the lights in the projection room would flicker, and seats in the auditorium are said to have flipped down by an unseen force.
The 17-acre facility was opened in 1967 by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, assisting mass amounts of people every year, providing several different types of services. There have been thousands of deaths and births that have taken place at this hospital on the east side of Santa Cruz on Soquel Drive. The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) alone holds more than one thousand patients per year.
Not only is there residual energy that lingers from the births of babies, people passing, and even people who are in pain, there are ghosts who inhabit Dominican Hospital as well. Over the years there have been stories of employees sighting ghosts of old nurses around the hospital.
Some employees talk about the mysterious “Phantom baby cry” that’s been allegedly heard by several Dominican engineers. Some claim to have heard the disembodied cries of a baby at random times around the hospital when there are no babies in the vicinity.
I spoke with a former employee that I will call Jane. Jane has worked in the ICU for years and has seen and heard an abundance of spirits, mostly those who have just passed away in the prior Catholic Hospital. “Within the first year of working in the ICU I began to have paranormal experiences. At first I didn’t really accept or believe what was going on . . . until I had an experience of my own,” Jane shared.
“A patient had died and it was one of the first deaths I witnessed at the hospital. I remember when he had just passed away, he was in the room to the left of me, and I was standing at the sink washing my hands. I thought to myself, ‘Where is this person now?’ Where is his spirit now?’ And all of a sudden I felt something, like an energy just move through me. It walked through me from left to right . . . and it was him. It was one of the first forms of verification that I got,” she stated.
“At the hospital I’ve seen shadows in the hallway and in the utility room, which was once used as a trauma room. For a long time, I couldn’t be in there with the door closed because it was just really creepy, but after a while I started being more open to it. “As far as full-body apparitions go at the hospital, I haven’t seen any, but I have seen auras fade away to nothing from people who have just died, and I have felt some of them leave their body while I’m sitting next to them. I also receive images and messages in my head from former patients who recently passed,” she explained.
Every time local psychic Shelly Crowley visits the hospital, she sees a huge crowd of spirits standing behind the main building. Dressed in both hospital gowns and everyday attire, they seem to just be "waiting" for something.
Year built: 1967
1555 Soquel Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
Established in 1850, the Evergreen Cemetery is the oldest graveyard in Santa Cruz County. It is one of the very first pioneer cemeteries in California and is known to have paranormal phenomena at all hours of the night, and even in broad daylight. For decades, there have been claims of paranormal activity at Evergreen; apparitions and multi-colored orbs have been observed by visitors, high EMF (electro-magnetic fields) have been detected as well as rapid temperature fluctuations.
The ghost of an elderly woman has been observed in the Evergreen Cemetery on many occasions. Some allege to have observed her sweeping the top of the stairs in the back of the cemetery. One transient said that he saw her clear as day in front of an old shack on top of the stairs, yelling obscenities and telling him to leave. When the traveler went back years later, he didn’t see the old lady or the rustic shack. Apparently, there never was such a shack, others told him later.
21-year old Marie Holmes rests at Evergreen Cemetery ever since she took her life in 1898. Some claim her spirit haunts the cemetery and many have tried to make contact with her.
Marie Holmes’ temporary grave marker, Evergreen Cemetery, Santa Cruz, CA. (Her original head stone was recently found miles from the cemetery after being lost for over 50 years.)
Below: Grave rubbing of Marie Holmes’ original headstone, Evergreen Cemetery, Santa Cruz, CA,
by Aubrey Graves, 2015
Rubbing of plaque dedicated to Marie Holmes which reads:
‘LADY OF THE NIGHT'
'Here lie the remains of Marie Holmes, a lady of the night, who on the evening of May 5, 1898, met a lonely and untimely end with the quaffing of Carbolic Acid. Born in England, she resided in San Francisco, Salinas and Watsonville before spending her last few months in Santa Cruz, where she died in the streets outside the Merrill Brothers Saloon.
Dedicated September 13, 1997 By:
The Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz
El Viceroy Marques De Branciforte
E campus vitus’
"Years ago I visited Evergreen one night, and I saw this tall figure, a woman in a huge flowing white gown maybe 8 feet tall, in the top left corner of the cemetery. That same night a bit later, a man who was coming to sleep in the park and I struck up a conversation, he brought up that he wasn’t afraid because of the “Lady in White” in the cemetery looked after them at night. I had not mentioned seeing her about 30 min before."
- F. Grimmson
In 2012, after investigating Evergreen Cemetery, I was actually followed home by a spirit. She was by my side for weeks, until two psychics helped her cross-over and re-unite with her twin boys, which are also buried at the cemetery.
–For MUCH more information on my haunting, I suggest you check out my book:
ATTACHMENT: A Santa Cruz Ghost Story, available on Amazon.com.
-Years back, a woman claimed to have been grabbed by an unseen force through the bars of the crypt. She said the spirit would not let go.
Year established: 1850
Santa Cruz, CA 95067
Highway 17 is known to be one of the most dangerous roads in California. The twenty-six-mile, winding route makes its way through the mountains from Scotts Valley to Los Gatos, California. For generations, many drivers and passengers have reported seeing apparitions walking and/or standing along the highway, and some have even seen them sitting in the back seats of cars. Others have alleged seeing white vaporous clouds floating over the lanes. Some have claimed to see the ghost of a 17-or 18-year-old girl walking along the road at twilight. Along with seeing spirits wandering the area, visitors driving through sharp turns have heard sounds of collisions and tires screeching to a halt, and upon inspection, and no reckless drivers at the scene.
The apparition of an Ohlone Indian man has been seen for centuries walking on the side of the highway. Legend has it he causes all the accidents on Highway 17.
Year established: 1930s
(The freeway that runs through Santa Cruz and Santa Clara)
Holy Cross Cemetery
In 1885, six wagons carrying human remains were moved from Holy Cross Church on the Westside of Santa Cruz to the old Holy Cross Cemetery. The remains consisted of mostly Ohlone Indians, and some Spanish soldiers, Yankee loggers, and European immigrants. Half of them were children under the age of 12. The 2,436 bodies were all buried together in one unmarked mass grave in a corner of the north side of the cemetery, and still reside there today.
In 2012, while visiting the old, eerie cemetery, I spoke with a spirit from the large, unmarked burial plot. After asking them several questions and received answers with my ghost hunting equipment and my intuition, I had learned that many of the spirits were unable to rest due to the way their corpses were mistreated and not re-buried properly.
Recently, in November of 2016, the county FINALLY decided to show some respect to the dead, and gave them a memorial plaque, with all their names listed, as well as planting seven redwood trees around the memorial. It’s definitely a start … honestly, they should all have been re-buried properly, I think. I was appalled when I first read of such disrespect while researching the cemetery back in 2011. I pray that some of the restless spirits will now find peace.
A few hundred yards away at 2271 7th Avenue, sits the most recent addition to the cemetery, where the deceased have also been moved from one section to another. Some believe that the moving of remains can disturb the dead and lead to paranormal activity, such as hauntings.
The cemetery‘s most well-known phantom that passes through the old careworn grave yard, is the ghost of Jack Sloan (See Arana Gulch story). Since the 1950s, Sloan has been seen by multiple witnesses floating through the cemetery.
Other spirits have been sighted in and in front of both the Holy Cross cemeteries, particularly at night.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the spirit of 123-year-old Justiniano Rojas, a Santa Cruz Mission Indian who died in 1875, that is buried at the Old Holy Cross Cemetery. I have communicated with him on more than one occasion, using a pendulum, flashlight, and Ghost Radar, and like always, my senses. The first time I tried communicating with Justiniano in 2013, I asked him if he’d like an offering. (I like to bring offerings to the dead, such as fruit, money, or trinkets of some kind.) My Ghost Radar immediately said the words, “tobacco” and “favorite.” Luckily I had a cigarette and put one on his grave … he was stoked.
Grave Rubbing of Justiniano Rojas’ headstone, Old Holy Cross Cemetery, Santa Cruz, CA,
by Aubrey Graves 2015
Santa Cruz Mission Indian
Baptized in 1792 at age of 40 yrs
Died Mar 10, 1875
Aged 123 yrs
Roxas Tribe 136
IMP order of red man’
Spirits of the cemetery are known to venture out and around, and sometimes make a visit to Rossi’s Body Shop and Towing Company across the street from the old Holy Cross Cemetery, and in front of the additional graveyard. Over the years, employees have had unnerving and unexplainable paranormal experiences, and consider that the activity is due to the fact that the shop lies between two cemeteries.
Years ago, one employee heard what sounded like footsteps in the gravel past the door while he was working on a car late one night. Thinking it was an intruder, he got up suddenly but didn’t see anyone.
Another employee heard a disembodied voice coming from the side of the building one night and upon inspection didn’t find anyone there.
One tow truck driver claims that for years he has seen a dark shadow figure on the property periodically. Sometimes he’ll see them walking through the yard, or standing near the front gate. Even with a bright porch light on, they’ll allegedly show themselves on occasion. “Sometimes when I’m backing into the shop and I look into my rearview mirror, I’ll see a shadow figure standing there near the gate.”
(OLD) HOLY CROSS CEMETERY
Year established: 1873
Capitola Road Extension
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
A ghost of an old waitress has been seen on occasion by at least two employees. She was said to have worked at the restaurant long before it was renamed Jeffery’s, until the time of her death. Her full-body apparition has said to be seen around the diner, usually standing in front of a table with a pen and paper in hand. She has also been sighted walking through the swinging doors near the bathrooms.
Year built: 1979
2050 Soquel Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
The Jury Room
One of the ghosts who makes his presence known frequently is said to be the spirit of a former owner who occasionally still sits in the same place that he did while he was alive at the end of the bar. Former employee Brian Carey and other bartenders have not only seen the foggy apparition from the corner of their eyes, but straight on as well.
Over the years, the atmosphere began to feel more eerie, and the hauntings increased, becoming more intense, especially after the early 1970s when the demented, local serial killer and necrophiliac, Edmund Kemper, visited the bar regularly. It is claimed Kemper would sometimes bring his deceased victims with him and keep them in the trunk of his car while he chatted with local police officers over beers. No one had any idea Kemper was capable of such ghastly behavior, putting behind them the fact that he murdered his grandparents when he was 15 years old. He secretly hoped that some of the officers he spoke with at the bar would figure him out, and when after his 10th nauseating murder they still hadn’t, he turned himself in. His victims, the young, innocent female hitchhikers from around the county, are believed to haunt The Jury Room property. Sensations of sadness are felt at times, as well as the strong presence of one or more young female spirits.
The bar is also believed to be haunted by old patrons, whose ashes have been scattered on the roof of the Jury Room. Glasses are said to move on the bar, and doors open and slam close on their own, even when they are locked. Unexplainable drafts within the building cause objects to move on their own, too, such as an American flag, and dollar bills tacked to the ceiling. Individual voices and disembodied conversations have been heard, and unseen entities felt. Spirit orbs have also been sighted in the bar after hours by several former employees.
In 2013, I was offered to investigate the Jury Room, but I never did. Honestly I was scared to after a couple psychics warned me about investigating there. They both felt something dark and almost evil lingering there. One told me to not go alone, and make sure I have someone spiritually powerful with me, due to a dark entity they sensed in the back.
THE JURY ROOM
Year built: Circa early 1960s
712 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse
On February 28, 1965 a local 18-year-old surfer by the name of Mark Abbott tragically went out to catch his last wave. In memorial of his death, his parents Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Abbott donated a new lighthouse at Lighthouse Point, to the city that same year. Mark’s ashes are said to be laid in an alcove at the lighthouse.
Local legend has it that the cute, quaint, brick nautical museum overlooking the Santa Cruz Bay is haunted by Mark Abbott’s ghost.
“I never feel his presence, but you know he’s here,” said Jesse Shank, a surf museum worker. Santa Cruz Sentinel, 2001.
"My friends and I saw a ghost at the lighthouse in '69, maybe 1970. All these years I didn't believe my own eyes until I read about Mark Abbott. I'm still having trouble believing in ghosts, but I KNOW what we saw... We tried to blame it on a wisp of fog but, it looked like a human figure that darted back around the lighthouse to hide from us when we screamed."
- P. Hinckley, Santa Cruz local
MARK ABBOTT MEMORIAL LIGHTHOUSE
(AKA SANTA CRUZ SURFING MUSEUM)
(Santa Cruz Lighthouse)
Year built: 1967
701 W Cliff Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060