It all started back in 1870, when a German fellow sent away for a mail-order bride from Massachusetts. Shortly after she arrived, they got married and settled down in the stone cottage on Ocean Street Extension in Santa Cruz.
Legend has it that the old lush got drunk nightly and forced his bride to wear her wedding dress, and then would beat her ruthlessly. When she decided to leave her husband, he found out about her plan and made sure she didn’t follow through with it ... by beating her to death.
-Of course, there are different versions on how the White Lady was killed: Some say she was decapitated with an axe, that she has been seen holding. Another story was that he trapped her inside the house, then set it ablaze. Others say after she was brutally beaten to death, her drunk husband set their house on fire. Or the version where he buried her body underneath the small cement slab that still remains on the side of the property.
The White Lady's House in 1959, Santa Cruz, courtesy of the Graham Hill Water Treatment Plant
Soon after the bride’s disappearance, “hordes of people,” as stated in a Santa Cruz Sentinel article, began reporting seeing a glowing ghost wearing a wedding gown floating around the property and down the road.
Some locals claim to have seen the White Lady in a blood-soaked wedding dress with her head tucked underneath her arm.
A Photoshoped image of the White Lady of Santa Cruz
Her gown is bloody and her hair is wool-looking, and she has been heard mumbling, ‘Get out of here before I kill you.’ My father told me the story as a young boy and I of course did not believe it, until I saw her myself.
- J Crowder
The White Lady's House in 1999
"I’ve seen some weird shit out there. My friends and I used to park right there and hang out in the middle of the night. One time we saw a bright, flickering white light floating slowly through the overgrowth towards the truck we were sitting in. We got out of there super fast after that. I don’t think we ever went back."
- P. Kutsch
Myself at the White Lady's House in 1999
In 2010, someone bought the property and demolished the remains (the four stone walls) that stood.
One dark night in April 2011, I went by the deserted lot to take photos. I was standing in the middle of the road on Ocean Street Extension facing the property. It was so dark I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. It was dead silent except for the crickets that chirped in sequence. All of a sudden, the temperature dropped and I could hear footsteps walking toward me on the gravel. The footsteps sounded as if they were only a foot or so away when they stopped. I spun around and took off running to the car.
I returned to the vicinity near White Lady’s months later with local sensitive Mel U. and our friend, Sara. When we first arrived, we sat in the car and I read aloud the legend of the White Lady from my first book, Supernatural Santa Cruz to get into the mood and to let Sara in on the story behind it.
We began asking if anyone was there that would like to speak with us. Mel and I both felt a strong female presence come toward us. We sat the flashlight down and within a minute or so it turned on and off by itself. We asked the White Lady to turn it off for us and she did each time we asked.
The following are some questions we asked using the flashlight when the White Lady’s answers were Yes.:
Mel: Were you murdered?
Mel: Did your husband murder you? If your husband murdered you, can you turn the light on?
Just to verify, Mel repeated the question.
Mel: Is that a yes? If your husband murdered you, can you turn the light on really bright?
The light got brighter a moment later.
Mel: If your husband used to beat you, can you turn the light on?
Mel started to feel a cold spot near her.
Sara: Maybe you need a new flashlight. Maybe something is wrong with this flashlight. (Sara is a certified electrician)
Mel and I laughed.
Me: All right. We have a skeptic here. Can you please turn on the light and make it flash on and off for us?
It did as I asked.
Mel: Can you do that again for us, please?
It flashed twice more.
Mel: Can you turn the light on really bright if your husband killed you in your wedding dress?
The light got extremely bright and wouldn’t turn off.
After the White Lady turned off the flashlight, we began asking more questions.:
Mel: Did your husband beat you to death?
- Right then the Ghost Radar picked up the word, “Entirely,” and the flashlight came on immediately afterward.
- We heard noises around us in the woods and asked the White Lady to verify that it was just animals.
The light came on.
Me: Are you stuck on this property?
Me: Do you want us to help you? Do you need help?
The Ghost Radar picked up the word, “Writing.”
Mel: Did you used to be a writer?
Me: Maybe she’s referring to the story I wrote in my book about her.
The flashlight turned on, literally, a second later.
Me: Are you happy I wrote about it, making you famous?
The light came on bright for three seconds and then turned off.
Mel got out her pendulum and started using it to communicate with the White Lady (You can use one to communicate with spirits by letting them move the weight and swing it horizontally or vertically.)
“Does your name start with the letters A, or B?” Mel asked.
The pendulum started swaying vertically for, “No.”
“Does your name start with the letter C?”
It then started swaying horizontally for, “Yes.”
Just then a car drove by, their stereo blasting Nekromantix, (a Psychobilly band Mel and I both love.) As I enthusiastically pointed it out, the spirit tugged on the pendulum while Mel was holding it. (It can actually be seen on the video footage; - the pendulum being pulled down by an unseen force and then springing back up.)
“Wow!” Mel exclaimed. “She just tugged on my pendulum!”
“Do you not like that music?” I asked. “Can you turn the flashlight on if you didn’t like that music?”
The flashlight quickly turned on.
“We like it. Sorry.”
“So, your name begins with the letter C?” Mel asked.
The pendulum started swaying horizontally once again.
“Can you turn on the flashlight if your name starts with a C?” I asked.
The flashlight turned on immediately.
It was getting late and soon it would be time to go.
“Would you like us to come visit you again sometime?” I asked.
The flashlight turned on and shined very brightly for about six seconds and then slowly turned off.
All we saw was a clear like cloud figure holding an axe that kept following us.
–B. Powers, Santa Cruz local
Photoshoped image of the White Lady, by Aubrey Graves
In 2015, while a local was driving down Ocean Street Extension late one night, a strange woman appeared out of nowhere approaching his car. His window was down and the woman grabbed onto his door as he drove, begging him to stop. At that moment he noticed that the woman was actually floating and keeping up with his car. She held on for several seconds after he hit the gas completely terrified, and then she was gone. When I first heard this story I was a little skeptical, especially because it wasn’t told to me directly from the source. But then, about a year later in 2016, someone else (from a completely different age group) had a very similar encounter, which made me believe that their stories could be true.
In 2017, a gentleman in his 60s who recently moved into town and onto Ocean Street Extension, had a frightening experience while walking his dog one dark evening. He was passing the White Lady’s former estate (where a new house now stands) when he began to feel as if something was watching him. He looked over to see a ghost of a woman in a white dress standing on the side of the road, staring at him. He stopped and froze with fear, and with a blink of an eye, the woman in white vanished. After sharing his story with some of his new local friends, they told him that he probably saw the White Lady, who he had never heard of until just then. -- I guess that answers the question on whether or not the White Lady continues to haunt the road, even after a new house was built on her old property.
Dude may have demolished the old building, but I've been there, and experienced White Lady's presence for myself, and I'll tell you something.... her presence was STRONG. I would be willing to bet money that she is still there on that same sight…
–M. Tapiz, Santa Cruz local
Anyone who thinks that the White Lady of Santa Cruz is an old folk tale, obviously has never encountered her spirit, because she's definitely real, and her energy is strong.
Though no one has been able to pin down who the White Lady once was, or how she died, doesn’t mean she doesn't exist.
Ocean Street Extension at Quail Crossing Road
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
** NOTE: A NEW HOUSE WAS BUILT ON THE PROPERTY IN 2012, AND IS NOW A PRIVATE RESIDENCE (OF SOME VERY BRAVE SOULS), SO NO TRESPASSING!
- The White Lady of Santa Cruz isn’t the only “White Lady” in the area. – (A White Lady is just a spirit of a woman, glowing white.) She’s just the most well-known. There seems to be a lot disagreement and confusion by locals on what area of Santa Cruz “the White Lady” haunts. Some say Graham Hill, others say Highway 9, or Evergreen Cemetery and Harvey West … well, they’re all correct. – There can be more than one!:
-Another unnerving woman in white has been seen for over a century walking near the beginning of Highway 9 in Santa Cruz.
-Then, there are the White Ladies (plural) who were said to haunt the woods near Henry Cowell. (See White Ladies Trail on the page titled “Santa Cruz-Part 4” on this website.)
-And finally, a White Lady who haunts Evergreen (Harvey West) Cemetery. (See Santa Cruz-Part 1)