"Becoming California, a series that brings the California Gold Rush alive with the people who lived it."

Three Ghosts, No Waiting

by Don Baumgart

The Stonehouse Brewery in Nevada City is the site of a new eatery, but some of the old ghosts are still hanging around.

Now home of the Stonehouse Restaurant, the building was put up in 1882 to brew beer for thirsty gold miners, on the site of a former temperance hall.

Mark Lyon researches local ghost stories for his Haunted Nevada City walking tour. The first Stonehouse ghost he heard about was known for its horrible odor, as opposed to being seen or heard.

"I talked to a former bartender who said at closing time the ghost would emerge from a room behind the bar on the street level. It had what he called a funky odor, a pungent smell similar to rotten garbage. He said even on the evenings when the smelly ghost didn't appear, he always felt rather unnerved when he was closing up."

A second ghost spotted by patrons was a man who looked like a miner, described as a scruffy looking guy who wore work pants and a work shirt. "He was seen one day sitting at the bar. They knew he was a ghost because he didn't have any legs to him," Lyon recounts. "Everything else was visible, but no legs."

Three different people have told Lyon stories about ghosts connected with the old cave, or mining tunnel, behind the Stonehouse. "The story I heard was that it was a mine shaft and there were some Chinese working underground when something went wrong." Perhaps a cave-in. Perhaps a pocket of gas exploded. Whatever the cause, the rock came tumbling down on the miners.

"Because it would have cost money to fix the problem and to rescue the Chinese, and because they were Chinese, it was decided to blow up the tunnel with the Chinese in it," Lyon says.

He reports stories of Chinese ghosts being seen in the Stonehouse. Rumor has it that the current owner of the building has seen the Chinese spirits.

This trio of Stonehouse ghosts kicks off a tour that touches on several spots around town where ghosts are believed to reside. It starts every Saturday evening at 8 p.m. in front of Cornerstone Realty at the intersection where Sacramento street meets Broad street, across from the Stonehouse. The tours run from June through August. The idea has been so successful, Lyon is now gathering information on Grass Valley ghosts to launch a Haunted Grass Valley walking tour there next summer. For more tour information he can be contacted at 530-265-6877.

Wear comfortable shoes and be sure to stay with the group...and check to be sure that old miner next to you has legs.


Copyright Don Baumgart, 2006

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