Old Dairy Road, Camarillo, California (Off Camarillo Street)
On October 12th, 1936, the Camarillo State Mental Hospital opened its doors taking in the sick and mentally ill. Not just a single building, but an entire campus of buildings, the hospital was very successful and by 1957 had grown to over 7000 patients!
Of course there are tales that the hospital participated in lots of extreme therapy such as electroshock therapy and lobotomies, amongst other therapies that might now be considered a form of torture. But, one form of therapy that was definitely practiced which had no semblance of torture and in fact was meant to help provide rehabilitation, involved the establishment of a dairy nearby the hospital. Patients that were able participated in working at this dairy, taking care of the animals, and growing vegetables. The food produced from the therapy programs at this dairy went directly to feeding the inmates and staff at the hospital.
Sadly in the 1960s the hospital closed the dairy, simply abandoning the buildings. By 1997, the hospital also closed, and was left slowly falling apart until fall of 2002 when the campus reopened as California State University Channel Islands. In 2009 the college added on the 367 acre piece of land that contained the dairy and incorporated it into its holdings setting it up currently as a park with hiking trails and other amenities.
For something like fifty years the buildings that made up the working dairy have been left in some sort of state of arrested decay. Now due to extreme vandalism and tagging, the two main structures are behind fences and the park is heavily patrolled by people on horseback. One structure is clearly a barn like building although it has a skeleton appearance to it now. The second main building had several rooms, all of them heavily gratified. Ceilings and walls have collapsed, but still the structure is very much a maze of vandalized rooms and graffiti painted passageways. The third structure appeared more like a coral like structure possibly also with areas necessary for milking cows.
Of course, urban legends and ghost stories abound about the place. Some state that patients were forced to slaughter animals in the dairy. Others say murders happened there. In some stories it's patients murdering people and in others it's staff murdering patients. Another story states that the building was heavily damaged by a fire. All of these are probably just colorful stories mostly.
Still, the location was an actual working dairy for a very large mental institution that is now abandoned, heavily collapsed, thoroughly vandalized, and extremely gratified. The entire site can give off a very creepy feel, and I'm sure at night it can be positively terrifying. Some of the graffiti also was designed to add to the creepy vibe, and when I was there, a ghost story was even printed out and taped up on one of the walls.
To get to the Scary Dairy, take Lewis Road out of town, and turn left onto Camarillo Street, before you reach University Drive. Make a left onto Old Dairy Road which is part of the park. There is a place to pay for parking, which is $6. Veer to the right. Drive as far as you can and then park in the parking lot on the left. Continue walking down the road. On your left will be the large skeleton of the barn. Further past that will be the dilapidated structure of the dairy itself, and then further down the road and on the right will be a coral like structure. Be mindful of the park hours, and it is possible to get your car locked inside. The park is roughly open from sunrise to sunset and is patrolled a lot by people on horseback. The barn and main structure are surrounded by fences although from outside the fence you still have an extremely good view of the structures within. There are no trespassing signs posted on the fences.
After checking out the site, on our way back to our cars we ran across a group of Ghost Hunters heading out to the dairy to investigate and look for ghosts. Note, this location is NOT to be confused with the Billiwhack Dairy, home to the Billiwhack Monster over in the Santa Paula area. The two dairies are two entirely different locations.
Last Edited: 2016-10-24