This is part one of my two-part story on the ghosts of Benicia. In this first part I'll talk about a ghost walk my aunt and I went on, and in part two I'll talk about a scary personal experience I had the night after the ghost walk.
This happened in August 2011. I was in Benicia (near San Francisco, California) visiting my aunt. I'd never seen Benicia before as my aunt hadn't been living there for long, so she was excited to show me around the beautiful bay town. To my surprise, she bought us tickets to go on a nighttime ghost walk. I say to my surprise because it's unlike her; she has never shown any sort of interest in the paranormal world. But oh, well. The tour sounded like fun so we went. It began really late at night (around ten, perhaps), at the swamp near the old railway station.
Now, I'm a firm believer in ghosts and other entities (been seeing them for years), but I'm also a firm skeptic when it comes to ghost tours, walks, whatever you want to call them. I'm also a firm skeptic of people who wander around calling themselves "ghost hunters" or "sensitives" or whatnot. Well, in this tour we had two guides who were just that: ghost hunters. They brought along a few "ghost hunting" devices. It all looked like good fun - but nothing more than that. So I didn't really expect to see or feel any ghostly activity while on this walk.
We were a total of about 15 people in the group, along with the two guides. The tour was actually very interesting because, of course, the guides really dug into the history of the town. Being a bay town with a railroad station, Benicia was in the past a hotspot for sailors... And sailors meant brothels. Turns out Benicia is crowded with the ghosts of many, many prostitutes and abandoned children or babies. The very swamp where the tour began was a well-known location for depositing unwanted babies (and letting them die a grisly death).
We walked down the main street (Benicia is a very small town) and stopped at several places, checked the readings on the EMF meters, and learned about the different ghosts who supposedly occupy the different buildings. It was all turning out to be good fun, though I hadn't sensed even the slightest ghostly agitation - and I usually get REALLY agitated when I feel something paranormal.
Then we reached that house...
Near the Union Hotel, there was an old house that had been bought in another town, lifted from its foundations, and brought to Benicia. The house was still empty and the foundations visible. The owner was working on it, but progress was slow as it was clear "something" didn't want to house to be there. The guides suggested the old owner of the house haunted the place and was really unhappy with his current location. Then they urged us to go up to the fence and see if anything strange happened.
So up I went, thinking "Yeah, sure, whatever." I stood right by the fence and tilted my head. Then this sickening feeling washed over me. I started to hear barking... It was distant at first, and I could tell it wasn't a real outdoor sound. This was something different. The barking grew louder and angrier. I could almost envision the dog: a large dark creature, maybe a Labrador or a German shepherd, running round the side of the house to me. The dog's barks kept to the background, and in the foreground I could feel a man's presence telling me to get out, to leave NOW! There weren't actual uttered words, but the message was clear. There was much vehemence in the man and the whole area had a negative feeling, like I really, really wasn't welcome there. Other people on the tour said they didn't hear or feel anything. Oh well, just me I guess!
That was really the highlight of the tour, in my opinion. I honestly don't think it was my imagination because, as mentioned above, I'm always highly skeptical of these commercial ghost tours. My gut feeling tells me there really is someone in that house, and that someone is pissed!
One of the tour guides, maybe her name was Donna, hosts a sort of paranormal chat session in Benicia where guests can talk about their experiences, and then go on a mini ghost hunt in one of the buildings. I decided to sign up for it, as it was the following night. I don't regret going to the session, though I have to admit I had a couple terrifying moments. I'll submit a new story with those events: Benicia II: Cloud of Whispers.