It doesn’t have to be dark out to see the scary sites of Wilmgton, California.
Wilmington, California, is located off San Pedro Bay near Los Angeles. It is connected to its much larger neighbor by the Harbor Gateway, a long strip of land that runs parallel to Highway 110. As with most places in California, Wilmington’s weather is nice, its scenery is lovely and its activities many. But there are a few places where it might be wise not to go alone.
Banning Residence Museum
Phineas Banning was a Civil War general and one of the founders of Wilmington. In 1864, he built a mansion in Wilmington. Today, it’s a museum that offers a large collection of Victorian furnishings and decorative artwork.
While current tours of the mansion allow you to visit its 23 rooms, all restored to their Victorian era elegance, you might want to pay particular attention to the general’s office. It is there that Banning and some of his colleagues have been “seen,” still plotting their battles. There’s also talk that other former residents of the home still wander its rooms. Then again, you might run into them in the one-room schoolhouse or stagecoach barn that occupy the same 20-acre area where the mansion is located.
For more information, call (310) 548-7777.
Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
Another scary Wilmington location with roots in the Civil War is the barracks that originally housed five companies of Union soldiers. It was built in 1862 with the name Camp San Pedro, but that was changed a year later to Camp Drum (shortly thereafter referred to as Drum Barracks) for Richard Drum, a lieutenant colonel. During the war, about 17,000 Californians stopped at the barracks on their way east.
Many of the on-site buildings fell apart over the years, and by 1962 only the powder magazine and an officer’s quarters remained intact. Those would have been torn down as well except for the efforts of local preservationists.
In 1987, the barracks building was restored and opened to the public as a museum. Since then, there have been many “sightings” and sounds that might keep the timid away. Staff and visitors have said they’ve heard unusual noises, such as someone walking through the barracks or dragging a chain along the floors. There’s also the “appearance” of a woman named Maria who wears a hoop skirt and gives off a lavender and violet perfume scent. Another smell, that of a pipe, might mean the spirit of a man dressed in his Civil War uniform is making an appearance.
The scary nature of the Drum Barracks was featured on the television series “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Most Haunted.”
For information, call (310) 548-7509.
Queen Mary Hotel
There might be many things to keep you on your toes at the Queen Mary Hotel, a former ocean liner from 1936 that made more than 1,000 ocean crossings and is now docked in the Port of Long Beach. Today, it serves as a hotel, but its guests–perhaps the unwelcome kind–supposedly include those who make rapping sounds, speak from empty rooms and appear out of nowhere. There have been more than 50 “sightings,” including:
Two women who drowned in the first-class swimming pool and one who died in the tourist-class pool come back for dips.
A beautiful woman in a white dress stops into the Queens Salon.
A boy who fell from the ship has been reported revisiting its hallways.
The laughter of children at play has been heard in the ship’s archives room.
A thief who was murdered visits a cabin on the third level. This room is no longer rented to guests.
These are all scary enough, but the one “visitor” the hotel is known for is John Pedder, an 18-year-old crew member who was killed on July 10, 1966, during a watertight drill. Pedder didn’t make it through an automatic door in time. The door was No. 13. Many guests have reported seeing this youngster’s return to the ship.
For more information, call (310) 435-3511.