AUBURN (CBS13) – Gold Country is full of historic tales and spooky stops. But there’s a difference between searching for scary stories and looking for danger.
Dyer Lane, right on the Sacramento and Placer County Line, is rumored to be haunted. According to Placer County Sheriff’s Office, deputies keep an eye on the street where abandoned cars and other small crimes frequently occur.
Underneath the creaking wooden walkways of Old Town Auburn, lies the darker history of town: literally.
“There was a mortician’s place,” said Ralph Gibson, Placer County Museum Administrator. “You know if you died, that’s where your body went.”
Gibson has worked in Placer County for 14 years and he tells tale after tale about the Placer County Courthouse.
“It is very small,” he said, describing the old women’s jail. “I don’t think at most it could have more than two prisoners in here.”
One of the most famous inmates: Alma Bell.
“She told [her alleged lover] she was pregnant, he agreed to marry her and when he found out she wasn’t pregnant, he dropped her like a hot rock,” Gibson explained.
After failed attempts at reconciliation with the rancher’s son, Bell committed murder.
“She shot him through the heart with his own gun,” Gibson said.
And outside of the Courthouse was the site of Auburn’s first cemetery.
“They supposedly moved the bodies to the E street cemetery but I don’t know how they knew exactly where every single body was,” Gibson told CBS13. “There were at least three hangings that we know of.”
One of the men held in the jail and later executed was Adolf Weber, who killed his whole family and burned the house down to cover up the deed.
“I said out loud, “Adolf, why did you do it’ and the moment I said that, there was a loud crash in my office,” Gibson said.
But perhaps the spookiest story for Gibson is that of the jailer’s son Leroy Coan and the Courthouse Dome.
“He brought him up and he put him on the top and he went down to help someone else up and he told his son to stay but he didn’t,” he explained. “He fell all the way down and landed on his head.”
The three year old tried to climb down this shaky staircase now deemed too dangerous for the public. But he fell to his death in 1899.
But two years before Gibson learned that story, he found two small handprints on a glass case in the museum that he had just cleaned.
“And I couldn’t figure out why the alarm went off cause there was nothing that should have triggered it going off,” Gibson said.
But these spooky tidbits are exactly what draw people like Kathy Thompson all the way from Sacramento.
“We’re all into the paranormal and the Gold Rush!” she said. “It’s just an old town. And it’s fun!”
For years, Hawver Cave in El Dorado County has attracted visitors. It’s a dark space with uneven ground where remains were found years ago. And difficult for the public to access for a reason.
Gibson told CBS13 says many people seek out dark historic tales because it connects them to the past.
“If you believe in ghosts, well history is where they happen,” Gibson said.