Given the long and rich history of Sacramento, there are bound to be countless legends, mysteries and even some ghost stories. Buildings that date back to before the Gold Rush, an entire network of streets buried beneath the city’s core and a confluence of rivers that drew people from all over the world – there is a folklore that exists about the spirits and other-worldly beings that inhabit businesses and residences throughout the region. Paranormal experts, amateur ghost hunters and tourists alike are all drawn to the capital city trying to dispel myths or have their own paranormal experience. As Halloween approaches, now is a great time to explore the city and visit some of the places that are believed to be haunted. Even if you don’t have your own ghostly encounter, it is sure to be a good time.
Sacramento Theater Company
1419 H St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Sacramento Theater Company was formed in 1942 – then called the Sacramento Civic Repertory Theatre – and settled into its current location in 1949. The theater is reported to be one of the most haunted places in Sacramento because at least five ghosts have been known to inhabit the building. The most famous is Pinky, a glowing pink aura or orb that is frequently seen around the dressing rooms. Some reports say Pinky is a former theater manager while one paranormal investigator reports she was an actress. Other reported ghosts include a stagehand, an opera singer and two Hungarian lovers. Reports of disturbances include flickering lights, buttons popping off costumes, footsteps and whispers and apparitions appearing in mirrors.
In the early days of Sacramento, flooding of the Sacramento and American Rivers commonly threatened the economic and political success of the city and the livelihood of its residents. City leaders decided to physically raise the street level 20 feet above the flood plain, leaving a network of tunnels below the new streets and sidewalks. The dark, eerie tunnels have become the topic of city folklore, with stories of them being used for everything from opium dens to a means for smuggling goods and Chinese slaves. Business owners with access to the tunnels have reported disturbances, including a menacing energy and strange noises. The Records on K Street (the shop has since moved to a new location) is reportedly home to several ghosts, including a woman in Victorian clothing and a young man who may have been murdered in the basement. The city offers guided tours of the underground tunnels, including adult-only evening tours ending at the River City Saloon.
Old City Cemetery
Sacramento, CA 95818
The Sacramento Historic City Cemetery has been the final resting place for numerous residents dating back to 1849. As the oldest existing cemetery in Sacramento, it’s not hard to believe there could be some lingering spirits. There have been reports of several ghosts, including a young girl playing near the headstone of a deceased child, a couple dressed in black and even a dog that follows visitors around the cemetery. During the month of October, the City Cemetery offers guided evening lantern tours when visitors can hear stories about some of the spirits that are believed to haunt the grounds.
1000 Front St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
The historic Delta King riverboat was christened in 1927 and was used to shuttle passengers from Sacramento to San Francisco, until it was put of out business when the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges were built. After being used by the Navy during World War II, it was abandoned and left to decompose. The current owners bought and restored the Delta King in 1984 and it is now the gem of the city, with a hotel, world-class restaurant and theater. The theater is believed to be haunted by the original captain with employee reports of him sitting in the balcony during performances, footsteps and water glasses being spilled inexplicably. There are also reports of a young giggling girl who leaves mysterious footprints on the deck and is often bouncing a ball.
The Sacramento Room – Central Library
828 I St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
The self-proclaimed “Jewel in the Crown” of Sacramento’s Central Library, The Sacramento Room is home to the special collections of the Sacramento Public Library. Originally the reference room, The Sacramento Room includes city and county histories, directories, yearbooks, maps, photographs, books by local authors, library records and fine press and book arts. There are numerous accounts from library staff of strange occurrences and sightings of apparitions, most notably a lady in red. Other disturbances include unexplained noises, doors closing and books not being where they are supposed to be upon first (or second or third) glance and then suddenly appearing. The Sacramento Room is open to the public during regular library hours.
Karen Boruff is a freelance writer living in Sacramento. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.