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Real Ghost Stories

The Ione Hotel


After our trip to Brookdale Lodge, I ran into an advertisement online about a spending a night in Preston Castle in Ione, a boys reformatory / prison of days past near Sacramento. Saturday night, August 16th was not only open, it was a full moon. Oh yeah. And my David, the original skeptic, wants to go?  Add a booking into the haunted Ione Hotel on Friday night and I am wondering if I can wait almost two months.

August 15th finally rolls around, and I am packed, ready to go. Actually, I have been packed since Wednesday. Julie D is headed out with us, a British nurse, a good old common sense person.

We are cheerfully checked us into rooms 13 and 7. Perfect numbers, heh? We joke about the extra fees for entertainment, be it the drunks in the bar or the ghosts in the rooms.

The hotel is truly rich in history and polished wood. The main staircase is right out of a Hitchcock movie, while ancient secrets float quietly from the transoms that line the long dark hallways. (It was a dark, dreary night... Listen my children and you shall hear...) Ok, ok. Back to the rooms. Our room, 13, is reportedly one of the most active. While David is making final room arrangements, I scamper up to the room, stand in front of the room, mentally say hello, and put a hand, palm out, within the door frame, close to but not touching the door. Energy. Almost static electricity. We open the door, I take a deep breath and walk in. It is a tiny room, clean, neat, but the air is heavy, uncomfortable, my chest is tight.

In my room, I am preparing to join Julie to go snooping. The room door is open, my hand with the drink is in the doorway as I turn to talk to David relaxing with his book. Julie tugs a gently, "C'mon" on my hand in the doorway. I am listening to David as it dawns on me that he is not looking past me as he would had Julie walked up behind me. I turn to the hallway. No Julie. Cool. I found her unpacking in her room.

Julie retires as I spot two of Ione's finest in the lobby, chatting with the barkeep. I asked for a minute, inquired as to any activity in either the castle or the hotel and got  a great story. Officer Jeffrey Arnold was recently in the basement with several others. When they distinctly heard, "Help me!" he immediately searched for the person calling, to no avail. He offers no explanation for the voice, but will admit he is not as devoted a skeptic as he was before that day.

On the cooling back veranda, I take a quiet moment to absorb the spirit of the hotel. Normal, soothing night sounds are interrupted after a few minutes by a brightening of the entire hotel. Very difficult to describe. It wasn't an actual light, it was more like a smile, a perking up, a brightening. I sat for a minute or two trying to place the 'aura' into words. I had an idea and walked back to our room. The clock read 12:03 and I laughed. The haunting hour?

After a heavy and long, undisturbed sleep, cup of fresh coffee in hand, I leave our room quietly with the noisy door closed but not latched to keep from waking David. The hotel is perfectly still and silent. I am on the windless back veranda to await the wakenings of my partners in crime.  The veranda door is also left unlatched from a small fear of being locked out and having to appear at the hotel front door in skimpy clothing at this hour. Been there, done that.

The veranda door opens. Fully. I look over, and it closes. I get up, approach the door, and ask, "What's up?" Silence. I head back to my table and coffee. Might as well get another cup since I am up. Going through that door is like walking past someone intentionally ignoring you. Our room is wide open, and there is David on the bed, fast asleep. The bedroom window is open, and if there had been a breeze, it would have only served to shut the door, not open it. A fresh cup and back outside to sit, again, leaving both doors unlatched again. The veranda door creaks and opens a few inches. I look back and it freezes. Repeat. I am reminded of a sneaky, playful child who stops their bad behaviour once you pay attention to them. David has got to see this. Back to the room, and our room is wide open. Again, there is David, sound asleep. I laugh and decide to wait it out on the veranda.

David wakes and joins me, he laughs and says the activity stopped since he was there. We consume most of the coffee when I wandered down to Julie's room to gently tap on her door. A groggy reply. Julie is barely awake. I sit on her bed while she tells me of her night. At five in the morning, she is awaken by a band practising in the saloon. Distinct trumpet. Getting dressed, she leaves her room, peers down the stairs to see a man in a tank top sitting in the lobby. "Do they always do this at this hour?" she asks. He replies, "They will be wrapping it up soon..." Julie returns to her room, back to bed, thankful when they stop playing and focuses on returning to sleep.

Alas, at seven o'clock, music blares out again. A song she knows and likes, but not at this hour. Julie again dresses, but there is no one in the lobby. She pounds on the locked saloon doors, windows, even stomps on the floor of her room to no avail. Suddenly, at the end of the song, the music ceases. Tired and headachy, she returns once more to bed.

Now it is morning and standing on the top landing, we talk to the clerk on duty, Jennifer, who is sweeping the stairs. The manager appears down in the lobby, apologizes repeatedly to Julie and assures her he will talk to the saloon manager. He insists there is no band in the saloon, but Julie is clear about what she heard. Julie describes the man in the lobby at five o'clock but Jennifer, who knows all the locals, is stymied. I remember how the veranda doors were all locked up tight this morning as I went out for my coffee. Julie walks to her room as I remain at the top of the stairs to hear the manager whisper under his breath, "Here we go again..." We check into the haunted room but Julie gets the haunting! 

Before we left, I had a chance to talk to Jennifer again, who had several interesting, hair raising stories to share. She was truly confused about who Julie could have seen. Jennifer was on duty all night, in her room quite close to Julie's and never heard a sound. When I asked about door problems, she assured me room 13 is famous for doors opening and closing. Gee.

(This is a shortened version of our weekend. For the full story and pictures please visit

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, ladyannne, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

girlie (15 stories) (426 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-22)
Hey thank ladyanne, I never though that the haunteding hour could be anytime. I think my haunteding hour (s) are in the afternoon.
ChrisB (6 stories) (1515 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-22)
This was a great story. I realy enjoyed reading it. It was realy well written. I hope you share other adventures with us soon. I hope to hear from you soon and take care
Brownie09 (6 stories) (293 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-21)
Thanks for sharing your story with us, at least you got to hear some chilling good stories. Please post some more if you have any. 😊
ladyannne (11 stories) (91 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-21)
Hi, Girlie and Tonith!
I think the haunting hour is any time, truly. It's we alive beings who like the midnight magical hour for such ghostly stirrings. The 'midnight hour' probably came from a hundred places, including the medieval Druids who believed the shift between day to day (midnight), and equinox to equinox included a thin veil spirits could easily pass through.
Julie went along quite ready for an experience. She is 'sensitive' and sensible all at the same time, a good companion for such a trip. The appearance was pleasing for her after it dawned on her what had happened, just the timing was not so welcome. I was just happy it happened, regardless of to whom. Besides, I got more than I wanted the next day.
Tonith (1136 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-21)
Great story. Nothing like exchanging words with someone who isn't supposed to be there. So from what I gather there was no band in the place that night. There was no man in a tank top assuring Julie that the session was about over. No one else heard the music or complained about it. Poor Julie. She didn't ask for this but got it anyway. Maybe ghosts get a bigger kick from someone who is not much a believer. You got the little stuff happening she had the big experience. Oh well lol.
girlie (15 stories) (426 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-21)
HI, cool story. I though the haunteding hour was 3:00am. Please some one tell me when the haunteding time is so then I know how along I can stay up.
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-21)
That was a great story told in the most entertaining way-I trully enjoyed it!

Isn't it irritating when the most interesting encounters happen to the ones who weren't asking for it?

Thanks for sharing your experience.
ladyannne (11 stories) (91 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-21)
Thanks Bella and Frawin, for such kind comments. Obviously I enjoy writing AND experiencing. I have about a dozen old stories left, and a new one, and will post them as soon as I can.
FRAWIN (guest)
14 years ago (2008-08-21)
Thanks ladyanne for sharing another great story with us, it was really interesting. Isn't that the way it always go- you go hunting for spooks and someone else finds them. Take Care and Happy Ghost Hunting.

Bellissima (12 stories) (792 posts)
14 years ago (2008-08-21)
ladyannne, I just love your accounts of your hunting adventures, you make it so interesting. Your style is really great, you certainly do have a way with words and I always enjoy reading. That was nice that David joined you on this trip but I guess he wasn't given any reason to change his mind about things, not this time anyway! It sounds to me like you had a great time. You had an enjoyable encounter, amusing at the very least.Julie, on the other hand, ended up with an irritating experience, I bet she loved it!I'm really looking forward to more stories of your investigations, thank you for sharing your experiences and your sense of humor!

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