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Famous Haunted Places: The Many Ghosts of Downieville, California

Updated on December 30, 2013
Mine Shaft Door... Downieville, CA
Mine Shaft Door... Downieville, CA | Source
South and North Yuba Rivers merge in Downieville, CA
South and North Yuba Rivers merge in Downieville, CA | Source

by Christine B.

When I lived in California (1996-2009) I often drove north to the quaint town of Downieville. Surrounded by the beauty of the Tahoe National Forest and the site where the North Yuba and the South Yuba Rivers merge, Downieville is the perfect place for a ghost or spirit to take up eternal residence.

The Downieville River Inn is likely the most haunted area in town. Many guests report that the former owner of the Inn or one of the former borders (from during the Inn’s border house era) climbs into bed with them at night, especially in Room #1, which is reportedly the room that is the most active.

Another phantom resident is the “Mine Shaft Woman Ghost.” She has been seen often in different areas within the Inn. The legend is that she is the wife of a former owner of the Inn, Era Gertrude Peckwith, who was pushed or fell

to her death down a local mine shaft. Other unexplained events also occur in the Inn, including water faucets and lights turning on and off by themselves, the doorknobs in room #1 are either freezing cold in the summer or red hot in the winter, pets shy away from entering the room, and voices are heard behind the closed doors of rooms that are known to be vacant.

On Nevada Street there is a reproduction of the Sierra County Sheriff’s Gallows, where in November 41885 James O’Neill was hung for killing a local man. Many people have reported not only seeing James’ spirit throughout town, but have actually spoken to him, and while doing so have noticed the rope burns still visible around the man’s neck.

Another infamous claim to fame of Downieville is it was the site of the only pregnant woman who was hanged in California history. To be fair to California’s judicial system, Josefa Segovia was lynched by a mob in 1851 and not executed by a court of law. She was accused of killing a while man while he was assaulting her after breaking into her home. It’s no wonder her ghost/spirit is still walking the streets of Downieville, especially near the Jersey bridge where she was hung. In penance for the wrongful deed of the lynching, the city has erected a plaque in Josefa’s memory on a small building at the end of the bridge.

Another reason there are so many hauntings in the area is that the miners moved many buried bodies when they were searching for gold. Not a good thing to be doing for greed and there are many disembodied spirits letting the city residents know it.


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