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California's Haunted Route 66: An Interview with author Brian Clune
From the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert to the haunted Santa Monica Pier, California’s Route 66 is the guideline for a truly spirited road trip. The road is lined with ghost towns such as Ludlow, a town that lived and died twice, and Goffs, now a dusty museum where the shades of the past walk the streets. In Barstow, a hundred-year-old rail station hosts long-dead passengers still waiting for their trains, and in Monrovia, the Aztec Hotel entertains spirits from a bygone era, as does the Pasadena Playhouse, the official state theater of California. Join author and paranormal historian Brian Clune as he explores the haunted history of the mother road.
A historian for Planet Paranormal and The Full Spectrum Project, Brian travels California researching haunted hot spots. He has been involved with many TV shows and was in a companion documentary for the movie Paranormal Asylum. He gives lectures and has appeared on numerous radio programs. Clune is also the cohost for the radio program The Full Spectrum Project. He lives in Southern California with his loving wife, Terri; his three wonderful children; and, of course, Wandering Wyatt!
Brian, thank you so much for joining us on crime capsule. Before we get started, I just want to let our listeners in on a little secret that you are recording from a most unusual location. Would you tell us where exactly you are right now?
[00:00:19.460] - Brian
I am in the CPO lounge directly under the helicopter landing pad of the battleship USS. Iowa, and here in the los angeles harbor.
[00:00:33.350] - Ben
That is amazing.
[00:00:35.570] - Brian
Yeah, I've been here for ten years, and I don't plan on going anywhere. I mean, let's face it, I retired, and there's no better way to spend a day than walking around on a historic battleship, especially one that just happens to have a little bit of ghostly activity as well.
[00:00:52.610] - Ben
Well, my father was a navy man, so you're making him proud for sure right now. But you are our first guest to actually come to us from a known hotspot for paranormal activity. What kind of hauntings Are we talking about aboard the iowa?
[00:01:12.930] - Brian
We don't really talk much about it, although, to be honest, I have a whole chapter about the iowa in my haunted san pedro book. But I worked really closely with the ship, and one of the reasons we don't talk a whole lot about it is we still have volunteer crew members on board who were on the ship in 1989 when turret II exploded. So we're very careful about dredging up old, painful subjects. But a couple of the odd experiences I've had, even though I'm a volunteer, I work what's called camp battleship, and for that, I'm paid fire watch. So I actually work from 10:00 at night to 630 in the morning, and I basically control the ship. And I was up in the forward plot, which is just behind the bridge of the ship. And I won't go into the whole story, but I was a little on the tired side. From having to go up and down the ladders like 20 or 30 times. And I'm sitting in the captain's ready room, which is all red lighting. The forward plot, however, is regular lighting. As I'm sitting there, I'm noticing a bunch of shadows moving on the wall, and I was kind of like, okay, so I apparently missed some guests.
[00:02:47.290] - Brian
And I go out there, and there's nobody in plot, literally nobody in there. And I turn, look at the wall where the shadows were, and the shadows are still there. And the shadows themselves Were obvious as human figures, and the only place they could have been coming from was where I was standing. But to be honest with you, at that point, I was so tired, I just kind of looked around and said, you know what, guys? I'm too tired, but thanks for scaring the you know what out of me. And I just went back and sat down on the couch in the captain's ready room. And it's things like that that happened on the ship when they were getting the Iowa prepared to come down to San Pedro to be towed down here. The ship was up in Richmond, California, which is the San Francisco Bay area, and we had a crew member up there who was in the sale locker, and he was coming up the vertical ladder and went to slip off of the rung, and he felt somebody push him back up onto the ladder. As he turned to thank whoever it was, he realized, oh, wait a minute, I'm too high up for there to be anybody pushing me up, and I'm by myself.
[00:04:09.330] - Brian
So the spirits on the ship are anything but frightening. Most of them are just extremely helpful. And I think you'll find that with a few of the haunted Navy ships. It's the same with the USS hornet, which I'm going to be writing about in one of my new books, haunted Northern California and a couple of the other ships, the museum ships that we have here.
[00:04:35.010] - Ben
Well, if during the course of this next hour, you see anything unusual, hear anything unusual or need to go check something out, we will understand, and we will be right here when you'll know.
[00:04:48.940] - Brian
In advance because I'm going to let out a terrifying scream.
[00:04:52.830] - Ben
Okay. All right, that's fair. Kidding. Well, Brian, tell us about yourself. You have a long career in paranormal research, and you are the author already of at least six books on the topic by my account. I'm sure there are probably a couple more in there that I missed. How did you get your start, and do you, in fact, sleep?
[00:05:16.650] - Brian
I sleep every once in a while when needed or when I just sort of pass out because I've been going too far. But I got my start a long time ago, probably when I was about eleven or twelve, we started to realize that my father was hanging around the house. He had passed away when I was just turning three. And there had always been these weird things that went on. And we started to realize when I was like ten or eleven years old that it was my father. And we found out that he was basically just waiting around for my mother to pass away. And once she passed, everything in the house stopped. It was like the on off switch was clicked off. But I hate to use the word professionally, but professionally I've been doing it since about five when my oldest son aged out of the Boy Scouts, and we were kind of drifting apart, and I was looking for something to sort of reconnect with him. And I asked him, is there something we could do? And he goes, let's go ghost hunting. I said, how about if I take you to a psychiatrist?
[00:06:37.750] - Brian
Because at that time I was like, okay, yeah, ghost hunting. Really? Even though I had grown up in a haunted house, it was mildly haunted. Anyway, he convinced me. I found planet Paranormal, and the rest is history. I was having so much fun with my team. It was basically just the four of us, and we clicked to the point where we were almost like family. And from there it just kind of progressed. I started keeping notes on our investigations, mainly just our home cases. And somebody was looking at what I was writing and said, have you ever thought about putting that in the book form? And I was kind of like, I've wanted to be an author for a while, but I just don't have the patience for it. Then my wife kind of pushed me. My buddy Bob kind of pushed me. And from there I wrote one book. And it's kind of funny. It took me a year to get my first manuscript sold. I had gotten a call from the History press to turn down the book that I had sent them. Okay. And while I was talking to the acquisitions editor, he started talking to me about the Queen Mary.
[00:08:00.350] - Brian
And he said that he was standing across the way from the Queen Mary. And one thing led to another, and he goes, you wouldn't happen to be able to write a book about the Queen Mary, would you? And I went, actually, I already had started. So I got that contract, basically. And about 15 minutes later, I got another call from another publisher who will not be named, who had accepted the book that history press had turned out. You got it too? Yeah. I waited a year and within 15 minutes had sold two manuscripts. So I was rather happy about that.
[00:08:38.220] - Ben
Feast or famine? Feast or famine? We'll take feast.
[00:08:40.520] - Brian
[00:08:42.710] - Ben
And Planet Paranormal was founded. Was that exactly?
[00:08:47.510] - Brian
Well, we actually started off as Pacific Ghost Hunting Society, and then our founder and lead had done something that we could not stomach. He actually took money from a client. And that's something we will never do. We do not charge period. Never have, never will. So as soon as we found out about that, my buddy Bob, who had just purchased Planet Paranormal Radio, which is a radio hub for internet radio, he said, well, why don't we start another team? And since I own Planet Paranormal Radio, why don't we just call it Planet Paranormal? And we're like, you know what? That's a great idea. And so that's how that started. And that was back in late seven or early eight. I can't remember exactly which, but that's close enough.
[00:09:45.760] - Ben
Okay, so you've been in the business about 15 or so years.
[00:09:50.450] - Brian
Full or take? Yeah.
[00:09:51.520] - Ben
Okay. So we have had some discussions about a topic very near and dear to the paranormal heart on our recent series. And that topic is, of course, skepticism. You can't talk about one without the other. We have had our first guest in our paranormal series, darren Edwards claim that he is a skeptic, but he's an openminded skeptic.
[00:10:19.610] - Brian
That means he is a true skeptic.
[00:10:21.920] - Ben
I like to think so.
[00:10:26.550] - Brian
A true skeptic always keeps an open mind.
[00:10:30.390] - Ben
Our most recent guest, Alison Chase in Brooklyn, says that she does not like ghosts at all and she would prefer not to believe in them, but that her needle moved after a very bizarre, unexplainable encounter at the Stanley hotel not too long ago. I'll let our listeners tune back into that episode to hear her tell the story in her own words. But you, Brian, I think it's probably safe to say you're on the side of there's something out there. Correct me if I'm wrong.
[00:11:06.870] - Brian
So personally, personally, I 100% believe that spirits exist. I have had way too many things happen to me to deny it. However, and this is going to sound a little odd, I am very skeptical about what others tell me, about what others say. Being in the paranormal for as long as I have, I do know how when people want to believe so badly, their mind can actually create things happening. Whether they're actually physically happening or not, their mind is telling them that it is. It's one of these things where I hear folks, especially like on Facebook, in the paranormal community, on Saturday they go to a haunted location, and on Sunday they're saying that they have never been to a more haunted location. Oh my god, so much stuff happened. This is the most haunted location on the planet until next Saturday, when the next place they go is the most haunted place ever. Again, when that starts happening, you have to start thinking to yourself, okay, yeah, it's not that prevalent, I do believe, but it is nowhere near as to use the word again, prevalent as most people try and put forth.
[00:12:45.350] - Ben
Sure. And that's probably an argument as well to be made about the rise in exaggeration in the digital age, which is kind of a separate topic, but you see the influence of people always trying to intensify their experiences in order to get the views or the likes or the attention or what have you, and that's feeding in as well. Yet the reason I ask is, as I read through California's haunted route 66, I was very taken by the balance that you struck between historical documentation of these particular events and your own investigations. And so what I'd like to do is to engage that balance. I want to ask first of all about the origins of the book. After all your other volumes, how did this particular one come to be?
[00:13:45.450] - Brian
This one is rather interesting. A friend of mine, Debbie Branning, who also writes for history press, had been working on Arizona's haunted route 66. Now, if I remember correctly, that was the third in a series that the history press has put out. They've put out haunted or Illinois haunted route 66 and I believe Missouri's haunted route 66.
[00:14:15.860] - Ben
[00:14:16.840] - Brian
And because I'm California based, my acquisitions editor who I believe you've had on the show, laurie Crill. Hi. Laurie had contacted me about possibly writing a book about route 66 for California. And what I thought was so interesting about that is my wife and I were driving back from Texas. I had a speaking engagement in Jefferson, Texas, and we had decided to come back on route 66. And I was actually driving down route 66 just east of Saligman, Arizona, when I got the call about writing a book about California's route 66. So I sort of figured, okay, this was meant to be, and immediately accepted. And I had so much fun with the book. It's incredible.
[00:15:14.930] - Ben
You have a lot of cases you have a really high number of cases in this book. How did you find them all?
[00:15:22.770] - Brian
Basically driving a lot. My wife and I love road trips. Being an author, especially of nonfiction, gives me a lot of advantages to take road trips. And the best thing about them is if I'm writing about them, I can also deduct these road trips off of my taxes. So that's one of the advantages. But I sometimes embarrass my wife will be in a location and I'll be walking in. I'll just be kind of looking around and someone come up and say, can I help you? And I'll say, is the place haunted? And my wife will be like, oh, dear God, he did it again. Yeah. And it's gotten to the point where she won't even walk into a location with me. At the same time, she either goes in first or waits until I'm deep in conversations so she can slip past and doesn't have to admit that she knows me. It's fair.
[00:16:32.150] - Ben
Every long term relationship like that, you got to give the other they're to leave way in those sorts of circumstances. Let me ask you this. You've been in the paranormal investigation business, as you said, for about 15 or so years in this particular volume. I'm sure you have been collecting notes and bits and pieces kind of all along the way. But how long did it take you to compile the cases in California? Santa for six days.
[00:17:01.730] - Brian
Well, I had actually worked with Calico. I had already written about Calico in a previous book, ghost and legends of Calico. So that one was actually pretty easy. I already had all of the historical data I needed, so basically that one was already done. All I had to do was rewrite it for the new book. Where? The Aztec Hotel. My wife and I and a buddy of mine, we went out to the Aztec like four or five times. Now the hotel is not open, but the bar and grill is. So we had the added pleasure of talking to the manager while having some good food and some cocktails.
[00:17:48.630] - Ben
[00:17:48.820] - Brian
Of course, with Ol grande, the town is so small that it really didn't take a lot to do the personal research. As far as that goes, there's only like five or six places that are still open there now. The two antique stores. My wife and I had actually been going in there just about every time we drove route 66. The first time that my wife and I drove route 66, we were on a trip with my daughter. She was on break from college, and we thought, yeah, let's just take a 66 trip. So they stopped at a couple of different places, and naturally, me being me, I had to ask if they were haunted. So I already knew the location, or at least some of the locations that had some paranormal activity. So when doing research for the book, I would actually just stop in and talk to the people, get their number. I would go home and give them calls or just say, hey, can you send me a story on the internet through email or whatever? And I'm one of those people who prefer talking rather than just email or text. Sure. I like the personal connection rather than the, I'll say medicinal.
[00:19:18.690] - Ben
It can be a little stilted. Sure.
[00:19:20.810] - Brian
Yeah. So that goes back to need more road trips. Like with golf. We could barely find golfs. Most of it is now nonexistent. There's very few buildings there. And we just happened to stop in and went, oh my god, we found it. And so I was talking to the owner of the museum there, and that's where I got a lot of the stories as far as the cemetery, things like that. Ludlow was another one where we stopped in and we would eat at the ludlow cafe because we like to bring business to these locations that need them. If you'll notice, that my books, the more well known historic locations in there that everybody has read about. But I also put more of the smaller locations that people wouldn't even think about stopping at. And one of the reasons for that is you get some great stories, especially about the paranormal from these locations, and it makes people aware that, hey, maybe we should stop in because they have some cool stuff. So it helps the location, it helps the readers, and it makes for a good story.
[00:20:51.470] - Ben
Well, let's get on the road together then. Earlier this summer, we did speak to Lisa Livingston Martin, who wrote the book on Missouri's wicked route 66, and she's in the paranormal field as well. In our conversation with Lisa, one of the things that came up was that tension between the road as the place of escape to safety and the road as the place itself of danger. They're sort of always toggling back and forth between the two. Right. And I think of this because you open your book by saying that route 66 entry into California comes at one of the deadliest places in all of the high desert, which is needles. Why was needles so perilous for travelers passing through.
[00:21:51.570] - Brian
Now, when you're in Arizona, coming from Oakland, which it would basically be one of the last towns that people would have to drive through on their way to Santa Monica, you just now enter into, let's say, the depths of the Mojave Desert. Now, the Mojave Desert has been classified as the hottest place on the planet. Now, the reason for that is because the Death Valley is in the Mojave Desert. Folks driving through, especially in the early days, like picture of Model A, because folks were driving Model A into California looking for a better life. And they would be like, okay, we just got over the Seat Graves Pass, which a lot of times they had to drive up backwards because it had a lower gear. And we've just crossed to Colorado. We're in California, the land of milk and honey. We're safe. And all of a sudden they hit 110 degree temperatures with no air conditioning, sometimes no roof over them because they're in convertibles. And back then, let's face it, the cars were not exactly the most dependable. So if you overheated your engine, you're probably going to overheat yourself. And back then you did not have highway patrol, you did not have AAA, you did not have any recourse other than to try and walk to get safety, and a lot of folks didn't make it.
[00:23:38.250] - Brian
And that's what I meant. As far as one of the deadliest places on the planet, it's funny you.
[00:23:45.490] - Ben
Should mention Model A-S-I have a good friend here in town here in New Orleans who owns one, and about six months ago, I got to take a ride in his Model A. We took it out on Saturday morning and it is beautiful, lovingly restored, sort of a pet project of his family over the years. But Lord is at a hot box. And you're right, there is no escaping the elements. When you're in there, you are being cooked in an oven whether you like it or not. And I can see the danger there. Now, one of the earliest stops on your tour as we enter California, we're going to travel from east to west. Here is amboy. And you say that Amboy is named because it was one of the very first in a series of towns that as the railroad worked itself west, they sort of gained their names alphabetically. And on the surface you write Amboy seems like a sleepy little sort of peaceful, not a huge settlement, but very sort of quiet and genteel. But not all is as it seems, in Envoy, is it?
[00:24:55.490] - Brian
No, it's one of the things that I found really odd. My wife and I had stopped in the Amboy, I'd say, four or five times now just as an FYI. Amboy right now is extremely hard to get to. The bridges on either side on Route 66 have been washed out. So the only way to get to Amboy now if you're traveling on Route 66 would be to get off of the 40 freeway because at one point as you pass golf, it will take you around to the 40 freeway because you cannot go any further on Route 66 because the bridges are washed out. So you have to get on to Interstate 40, get off at Kell Baker Road, drive 13 miles down to Route 66, and then 11 miles west to Amboy. And then you have to reverse yourself if you want to go back. So you can also get to 29 Palms the same way, although most people don't do that unless you're part of the military. Now, I don't know if it's an urban myth. I'm not really sure what to call it, to be honest with you. Has sprung up around Amboy as far as people like Satanic cults coming to the area and waylaying people to use in rituals and things like that.
[00:26:38.110] - Brian
I really couldn't find a whole lot as far as what these rituals were used for or whether they were like human sacrifice rituals. But there are a bunch of stories about people disappearing in the Amboy area. And the one story I have in there is about a marine who was basically ambushed, although he had used his military skills to realize something was wrong and they actually missed catching this gentleman.
[00:27:17.570] - Ben
You spoke to first hand. This is an account you had directly from the individual.
[00:27:23.210] - Brian
It's not directly from the individual, but I found about 15 different things written by him.
[00:27:32.010] - Ben
[00:27:32.500] - Brian
So I was pretty sure that it wasn't just an internet hoax. And that's one of the things that I am very careful of. If I think that it is an internet hoax, I will actually put it in there that this could be just an internet story. And then I'll put something like that. It's an interesting story, which is why I put it in the book. I do not want to ever mislead my readers.
[00:27:58.350] - Ben
Right. There's enough of that going around. And it's useful to keep the whole salt shaker actually not just a grain of salt, but the whole salt shaker at hand at all times. I mean, your account includes some other kind of suspicious activity in the area. You have a church where some strange things were recorded. You have a school and some swing sets that seem to move independently on a windless days, which is unusual. Even an area where photos of blood were found on the walls that was not immediately visible to the naked eye, but if they were in a photograph, it seems like Amboy is fairly well populated with unusual occurrences.
[00:28:39.750] - Brian
It does seem so. I was trying to get a hold of the rural, if I remember correctly, but he never contacted me because I just wanted to double check some of the stories. And then a lot of the stories actually come from the folks who actually work at Roy's motel now. There's not much left of Amboy. Basically, the only thing that's open is Roy's Motel, although the motel itself is not functioning as a motel, if that makes sense.
[00:29:17.240] - Ben
[00:29:17.750] - Brian
It's just sort of a tourist attraction. Exactly. And I'm pretty sure most everybody, if they see the Royce Motel sign and go, oh, I've seen that before. It's one of the most iconic along Route 66, even though it only came into existence in the 1940s. But the swings, I have actually seen that myself.
[00:29:43.780] - Ben
[00:29:44.970] - Brian
My wife and I were there, and I was kind of walking around. She was in the little gift store, which is now well, it's the gas station, but it's now a gift store. And I was just kind of walking around and I went over to the school and I was noticing that the swings are moving. And I'm thinking, well, that's kind of weird. It's the middle of summer. It's about 106. There's not a drop of wind anywhere, and yet the swings were just going just going back and forth. So I didn't immediately think paranormal, but it was kind of like one of those weird things. It's like, all right, I don't know why they're doing that.
[00:30:27.190] - Ben
Any chance you're able to grab a little video of it and kind of submit it to analysis, or were we not that long?
[00:30:33.830] - Brian
No, unfortunately. I wish I could. I'm one of those people who don't really think about grabbing my phone when I see stuff like that. I'm too busy with my mouth open going, I really need to get better at doing that, though.
[00:30:53.210] - Ben
Well, there's always room for innovations in our methods, isn't there?
[00:30:58.220] - Brian
[00:30:59.070] - Ben
One of the next stops on the tour is actually a fairly significant stop, and we'll spend a minute here is Calico. And you have actually written an entire book on Calico already. You included some of the accounts in this particular volume, but it is the remarkable story of a largely dead town brought back to life, but whose primary occupants still seem to be the dead. Tell us, what is the story of Calico? I was really taken by it.
[00:31:35.750] - Brian
Okay, so Calico actually sprung up by this is going to sound kind of weird. Walter Knott, founder of Knots Berry Farm, of course and cocreator of the Boys and Berry by his uncle, Sheriff John King. He put the first grub steak for Calico, and Calico to this day is second only to Sarah Gordo in producing the most silver in California. And it was actually dubbed the Official Silver Rush Ghost Town of California, whereas Bodie is the Official Gold Rush Ghost Town of California.
[00:32:24.920] - Ben
[00:32:26.630] - Brian
And the funny thing about Calico is when folks started to come to look for their fortunes, they didn't necessarily build the town. They would literally dig holes in the side of hills, and that's where they would live. There's a story of the Hyena House, which actually had an ad in one of the papers as the most modern hotel in Calico. And this would have been say around 1887, I would assume, sometimes around there. And it also advertised that once you arrived in town, transportation would be provided to the hotel. Well, it turns out that when you showed up in Calico and you had booked the Hyena House Hotel, your transportation was a wheelbarrow. And they would literally put you up in the wheelbarrow and they would wheel you up to this hillside where your room was a hole dug in the side of a hill with canvas hanging over the hole as your privacy. And that was the most modern hotel in Calico.
[00:33:47.360] - Ben
Well, some folks might protest, but it works, doesn't it?
[00:33:52.430] - Brian
It did, apparently, because they actually did build a whole town out in one of the most inhospitable areas that you could build a town. They literally had to have all of their water shipped in. Now in the early days, Lake Mojave still had water in it, but it was drying up quick, so water was at a premium. They really didn't sell the water to make money. They just wanted people to stay in town. So they basically made a small profit off of it. And then people would use the desert coolers, if I remember correctly, which was basically ice melting down into a bucket and that would help keep things cool, like provisions and things like that.
[00:34:47.330] - Ben
How long did the silver rush last?
[00:34:51.830] - Brian
Well, the rush itself started to dissipate in the early 1890s when we went off to silver standard and the price of silver just dropped in. Ghostly Legends Of Calico I talked about one of the presidential elections and how 90 some percent of the people in Calico voted for one candidate over the other because the candidate, that one, unfortunately, is the one that put us onto the gold standard, which basically started to decimate Calico. And there was one person that they knew that voted for the other guy and they ran him out of town.
[00:35:36.710] - Ben
Well, what can you say? Back the wrong horse. I mean, that's going to be a problem. So at that moment you write that the residents began to pick up their stakes and start heading to other settlements in southern and Central California because they knew that the writing was on the wall and the veins themselves were more or less tapped out by that point as well, weren't they?
[00:36:05.810] - Brian
They were. Now some of the miners moved over to the town of Boron and then I'm having a metal block on the other town that's very close to Calico where a lot of the borax was coming from because Borax at that time was on the rise and people were just making money hand over fist off of the Borax mining. And even today, people still know what the 20 mule team Borax is. But that couldn't sustain, especially when they started to find larger. Deposits of boron out in the Tonipai area of Death Valley and Nevada. So then that started to wane. Now, she's an amazing woman. I got a lot of my historical info from her book, was a woman by the name of Lucy Lane. She had come to Calico in, if I remember correctly, and lived there until 1967.
[00:37:22.480] - Ben
[00:37:23.970] - Brian
Until then, she moved up to the Virginia City area and finally passed away. But through the entire time that the town was thriving, then as it was starting to decline, that when it was completely dead. She was there keeping an eye on the town. When Walter Knott finally bought Calico and started to refurbish it, she was still there. He made sure that if she wanted to stay there, she was perfectly welcome. She became the town's greeter, just an amazing woman. Her writing is kind of hard to get through. It's a little bit dry, but historically, it's just fantastic. And Lucy and her husband John, from what I understand, are still there looking after the town.
[00:38:18.880] - Ben
Well, that's useful. Next time we go, we will be sure to pay our respects. Now, that leads us, of course, to the question of why Calico earns such a coveted spot in your account. Because the miners who passed away there, some of them never moved on. It was dangerous conditions, of course, and we have to respect the precariousness of any of that activity all up and down California. But you're right that there are a couple of locations throughout town that just they never really shed those presences. And that if I remember I'm going to try to quote you here, you say that nearly every restaurant and storefront has a ghost, including the historic popcorn carts.
[00:39:12.950] - Brian
I've wondered about those. Popcorn popcorn carts. I do not know why the popcorn carts would be so haunted. Now, the one that's kind of in the middle of town, right in the middle of Main Street, it's kind of up against a historic building, the blacksmith shop. So I'm kind of wondering whether one of the blacksmiths and the blacksmith shop is not one of the original buildings, but it was rebuilt to look exactly like the one that was at Calico. It kind of makes me wonder whether one of the blacksmith isn't there at that cart, just kind of messing with people for something to do. I'm not really sure. And then the other one, which is up at the bridge, it could be any number of people from Calico's original days. There was a young child that was said to have passed away there from, I believe it was a typhoid epidemic. The bridge itself was a mobile brothel, and it would show up during the summer and then leave during the winter just in case there was a flood in the wash.
[00:40:33.190] - Ben
Seasonal activity. Makes sense.
[00:40:35.010] - Brian
Seasonal activity, exactly. Okay. So, yeah, the popcorn cards, I always got a kick out. I was like, okay, why are the popcorn? Of course, it could just be a ghost who just loves popcorn.
[00:40:47.750] - Ben
I mean, that's the kind of ghost I think I would be. My dentist and I have had some very adult conversations about my love for popcorn, and I have been well, sufficed to say, we're at an impasse. But I've started clossing more. Now, what kind of activity do we actually see up and down, sort of the main drag or in these different shop fronts, what are these spirits said to be doing?
[00:41:12.350] - Brian
Okay, so one of the stories and it's one that I love to tell, which I find so amusing, that when the woman was telling me about it, I was finding it very hard not to laugh at her. So I had gone into the old undertakers shop. That sounds weird. It's a shop now, but it was the old undertakers building, and I had asked the lady if there was any paranormal activity within the building, and she got all upset and looked me right in the face and went, why do people think that just because this is in Calico and this is an undertaker's building, it has to be haunted? Look, just because we have things that slide across the counter with nobody pushing it doesn't mean it's a ghost doing it. And just because we have things that float from that shelf to the next one doesn't mean there's a ghost in here. And I'm over here going, yeah, I can see how that's just that's normal. Yeah, right.
[00:42:20.950] - Ben
You're sort of thinking you're sitting there, and you're like, okay, 1880s Calico. Definitely. Center for innovation in magnetism, no?
[00:42:29.520] - Brian
Yeah, exactly. And when it was all done, I just kind of looked at her. I had this little grin on my face and just said, well, thank you very much for your time. I walked outside and just started cracking up. I just could not help myself. That was the one that I will never forget. Lil's saloon was repurposed to become Lill's. It was Dr. Ria's pharmacy and job. I keep saying shop office, doctor's office. It is now a place where you can get beer, pizza, hot dogs, things like that. And it is also where the reenactors who do the shootouts in town and things like that will go at the end of the day to kind of relax and talk about the fun things that they did during the day or the things that bothered them.
[00:43:28.090] - Ben
Thirsty work. Reenactment.
[00:43:30.250] - Brian
[00:43:31.080] - Ben
You got to watch your whistle.
[00:43:32.780] - Brian
It actually is. I actually do that myself, believe it or not. But the folks who work in Lille have heard people in there after they've closed, just sitting around talking, sounding like they're drinking. So they'll go out there to see who's there, thinking that it's one of the some of the reenactors that came in who didn't realize what time it was. And they'll find that the noise is there, but there's nobody there. So that's one that I've often found a little bit interesting. The Calico print is a gift shop and they sell books and magnets and all kinds of tourist stuff. They have a cowboy in there that seems to like children and girls but not men too much. So if you're ever in there, beware of him. The R amp d fossil and Gem shop. They believe that it is actually share of John King himself that haunts that location and he is very protective of the folks who work there. And he also hates Elvis Presley. Apparently. They were telling me that anytime Elvis Presley comes on the radio, if they are not quick enough to get to the radio and turn the dial, it will be turned to country music before they can even get there or the radio will just be switched off.
[00:45:12.840] - Ben
Now that is a testable hypothesis.
[00:45:16.890] - Brian
It is. In one of these days I would love to go up there and give it a shot, to be honest with you.
[00:45:24.100] - Ben
Absolutely. Now, the queen of the mall in town of course is the Maggie Mine. And I'll admit I was a little tiny bit spooked by some of the things that you said were recorded in the Maggie Mine. Did you get a chance to go down in it yourself when you were last there?
[00:45:45.510] - Brian
Yeah, I've been in the Maggie mind quite a few times and I did maybe two or three years ago. It was a few months before the deadline for the book. My wife and I had gone out there and I had gone on one of the ghost walks through the Maggie Mine. Didn't really come up with any kind of hard evidence myself, but it was definitely interesting to hear a lot of the tales that they were saying that confirmed some of the things that I had already written. Now, to be honest with you, a lot of what I had heard about the Maggie mind came from the gentleman who wrote the forward, Bill Cook. He had been at Calico for I'd say a good 35 40 years before he retired. So he is well known for knowing what is going on there. He wrote a small book about the Calico ghosts and he was such a big help when I was writing about the ghost stories and things. And as an FYI, every one of the ghost stories in the Calico book does come from one of the employees. The one that I would assume might have creeped you out the most is these zombie looking minors.
[00:47:15.490] - Ben
How did you know?
[00:47:16.770] - Brian
I just took a wild guess, but yeah, that was really creepy. I had originally heard that during the ghost walk of the mine. Now that is one of the stories to me that I was like yeah, I'm sure. I don't think this happened. It's just too kind of far fetched. But then I started to talk to people there in Barstow and in Daggett, Barstow is only 7 miles. Dagger is only like two and a half to 3 miles away from Calico. And the people who have worked at Calico, who have worked in the Maggie Mine at Calico, and they said, oh, yeah, we've had people come running out of there screaming because they've seen them. And according to these people, they were just folks that were just there visiting from Germany or something. So it was one of those things where I was like, okay, I think it's a little far fetched, but there's so many different stories about it from so many different people that are not involved with the paranormal that, okay, I think I'll throw that in there because it's cool.
[00:48:34.150] - Ben
Yeah, I mean, when you start to get these multiple independent attestations, it does lead you to wonder a little bit. And as you say, it is still accessible. So our listeners who are feeling brave and feeling curious have every opportunity to go and see for themselves. Now, before we wrap up for the week, you write several times throughout your book as an avid road tripper yourself that nearly every single one of these venues, in all of your cases, you can still, for the most part, go and take a tour or be shown around and so forth. So is there any one particular method that you would recommend for our listeners to employ or one agency that takes them? Or do you just say, throw your stuff in the car and get your ghostbuster suit ready just in case?
[00:49:32.890] - Brian
Yeah, I just say start either at Needles or in Santa Monica and just drive. There's really no reason to have to take a tour. Now, there are some locations that do have ghost tours. The Aztec Hotel in Monrovia, they do intermittently have a ghost walk where they will walk you through the hotel, which is not open as a hotel yet. And then, of course, Calico, they do have a town ghostwalk where they walk you down Main Street. They have the cemetery ghostwalk, and then they have the Maggie mine ghost walk. Those are a lot of fun. So if you see those, I would highly recommend giving it a shot just for the fun of it. But most of the locations just drive, go take a look and have fun.
[00:50:34.630] - Ben
Just out of curiosity, I mean, I'm going to put my cards on the table here. I would be very curious to know whether sightings are more commonly observed by solo travelers or by groups of travelers. It seems to me that groups of travelers, maybe it's a little less likely, right? Maybe with solo travelers, maybe it's a little more likely, but that's just a hunch just to shoot from the hip.
[00:50:57.070] - Brian
Well, you're correct. It generally is easier as a solo traveler. Although as a paranormal investigator, you never want to be alone. You always want to have at least a partner with you. And that does serve two purposes. One, you tend not to freak out when there's somebody with you, but it also gives you somebody for validation.
[00:51:24.450] - Ben
Which can make a small difference as far as credibility goes. Just a small difference. Well, everybody out there in TV land, if you go to any one of these spots and you see something or hear something, we want to hear about it. Now. Next week, we're going to pick right back up here with Brian clooney and resume our tour of California's haunted route 66. Thank you so much, Brian, for joining us this week.