Weird California
Weird California
Weird California - By Joe Parzanese

Ghosts of Lake Elsinore

Map Ortega Highway, Lake Elsinore, California 92530

Map The Chimes Building
201 West Graham Avenue, Lake Elsinore, California 92530

Map Chamber of Commerce
132 West Graham Avenue, Lake Elsinore, California 92530

Map Ambassador Hotel
164 South Main Street, Lake Elsinore, California 92530

The Chimes Building has multiple ghosts
The Chimes Building has multiple ghosts

You might have heard about Lake Elsinore in regards to the lake monster, Elsie, that might live within its depths. But did you know that Lake Elsinore is apparently extremely haunted too! Since writing here about Elsie, I have additionally received many, many comments and stories about ghosts in the town. The legends are varied from Satanists in the hills to mysterious underground tunnels leading all over town to even a sighting of some sort of stingray / mothman monster that was supposedly seen in 2000!

Lake Elsinore harbors a Lake Monster
Lake Elsinore harbors a Lake Monster

Many people reported having ghosts disturb them in their houses ranging from full on ghostly people watching them in their house to white cloudy figures moving past windows, to multiple reports of weird unusual small shadows. One resident report mysterious gunshots and booms occurring every night in their area of town. Multiple residents speculate that the entire town may be built on some sort of burial ground. Whatever the real reason, there does appear to be a high amount of ghostly activity being reported in the community.

Ortega Highway

Let's start with the twisty, treacherous Ortega Highway, also known as Highway 74, which gives its travelers excellent views of Elsie's home. The road was made famous for being a dumping ground for serial killers. It has had three different serial killers hide victims along it. Randy Kraft, Patrick Kearney aka the Trash Bag Killer, and William Bonin aka the Freeway Killer have all left victims behind hidden along the Ortega Highway's curves. Bonin supposedly left four victims hidden here. Some less famous murderers have also gotten in on the stashing bodies on the road act, including two brothers who left the headless, handless corpse of their mother along the road at mile post 14. She now haunts the road, of course.

In addition to her ghost, a ghostly terrifying clown stand on the side of the road only to disappear as you get to him, crazed gnomes have been reported, some strange skeletal thing climbs poles and watches cars go by, and even the Grim Reaper, himself, standing nine feet tall has been witnessed on the road.

The Chimes Building

Crescent Bathhouse
Crescent Bathhouse

If a midnight drive along a haunted road isn't enough for you, there's the Chimes Building. Built in 1887 by Franklin Heald as the Crescent Bath House, it is now an antique store. The bath house closed in the mid to late forties, and was replaced with an interior decorating place. It is then that it acquired its name, the Chimes Building, due to all the wind chimes that were hung on it during this period.

People have experienced mysterious noises, echoing footsteps, and strange cries within the building. Cold spots have been felt, and there's stories of a ghost lurking in the basement. The two main ghosts include a young boy and a young girl. The boy, supposedly then the Mayor's son, jumped the fence, sneaking into the place, and unfortunately drowned on site in 1939. He now wanders the building's halls. The girl was eight when she was run over in 1898 by a horse and carriage. Back then there was a doctor's office also in the building, and the little girl died on a table inside the building. She has haunted the place ever since. She has a little doll that people have seen her leave in various spots around the building. Porcelain dolls in the store have also been reported being moved by her. Lastly the town founder is rumored to also haunt the location. President Grove Cleveland is said to have visited the location when it was a bath house.

Phantom Train Whistle

Lake Elsinore's Chamber of Commerce use to be the train station in town. Built in 1896, the Chamber has been in the building since 1987. It's been generations since the train came through, however, and the train tracks are also long gone. And yet, multiple people have and continue to report hearing a train whistle, nightly. Sometime near midnight, from between 11pm to 1am, several witnesses have stated that they often hear a train whistle in town. The sounds of a train have also occasionally been reported. A few witnesses have even reported seeing a light in the direction of the train whistle, as if the headlight of a train that was driving through. So it seems that even though the track and the train depot are long gone, the train still shows up every night.

The Ambassador Hotel

Along Main Street in downtown Lake Elsinore, sits the long abandoned Ambassador Hotel. The building is over 130 years old, built in 1888, and at four stories, is the tallest building in Lake Elsinore. And every night around 1am, a mysterious ghostly janitor appears on the roof, four floors up, and looks down on those in the street below.

Aimee Castle

Aimee's Castle 1930
Aimee's Castle 1930

Are you surprised that there's a castle in Lake Elsinore? You probably shouldn't be. Aimee Semple McPherson a celebrity from Los Angeles who was a preacher on the radio in the twenties and thirties, had the 4,400 square foot, five bedroom, and six bathroom castle built in 1929. She sold the house in 1939, but it still is referred to as her castle. The house is gorgeous and offers up amazing views of the surrounding area.

It is said to be very haunted, but I haven't been able to figure out what the ghost story is. If anyone knows what type of ghost or haunting is occurring there, please let me know. But as a special bonus, there are supposed to be underground secret tunnels running under it, including one from the house to the lake!

Other Suspected Hauntings

Naval Academy
Naval Academy

There's a lot of belief that the abandoned Naval Academy is haunted. Built in the 1920's, it became the Elsinore Naval Academy in 1933, and was a school for both boys and girls from 1st grade to 12th grade. Supposedly the son of actor Bela Lugosi went there. It has been closed and abandoned since 1977.

An old adobe on Santa Rosa Plateau is haunted by a fleeing cowboy who runs away from the building, pleading for help. A neighborhood known as The Avenues is haunted by a Lady in White. Additionally I've heard mentioned that the following places are haunted, but I haven't heard what the story is: Machado House (an adobe that recently burned down in 2017), Lakeside Hotel, Tarzan House, the House of Siloam, and the water tower up on the hill. Now if there are actual stories of hauntings at these locations of if the general reason people think they are haunted is because they are creepy and abandoned, I'm not sure.

Whatever the story, with multiple ghosts, phantom sounds, creepy spirits in private residences, a lake monster, and a host of other strange phenomenon, it certainly seems like Lake Elsinore is one very, very haunted town.

Check out the comments on the Elsie article just to see some of the stories people have told about the various hauntings, and feel free to leave your own comment here and let us know more about them!


Last Edited: 2020-06-27


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