California State University Channel Islands
1 University Drive,
All you wanted was an education at a four year college. Somewhere you could get some higher learning, pick a profession, make something of yourself. You were thrilled to get accepted into California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo. You moved into the dorms there, enrolled in classes there, and began studying to build yourself a great future. Only to find out that your dorm hall, your classrooms, and probably every building on campus is horribly haunted!
I'm assuming that the brochure the campus hands out to potential Freshmen doesn't include the ghosts that reside on campus nor does it detail the fact that for over sixty years the location of the college was formerly the Camarillo State Mental Hospital. I'm sure it leaves out the countless people who have probably passed away on campus and the list of atrocities that may have happened during the location's hospital days.
Before Cal State Channel Islands opened, the campus was built to house the Camarillo State Mental Hospital. It was originally built in a co-partnership between the State of California and the Federal Public Works Administration, which had been founded by President Roosevelt's New Deal program. The ground breaking took place on August 15th, 1933, and the insane asylum, err I mean mental institute opened just over three years later on October 12th, 1936. Although it started with only 410 patients that year, it grew to over 7000 by 1957 and was considered to be the largest psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi.
The asylum helped people who were developmentally disabled as well as those with mental illness, schizophrenia, autism, tuberculosis, or drug or alcohol addiction. Violent and sexually violent patients were not house here and instead sent to Atascadero State Hospital. There were men's, women's and children's wards, and eventually even, a half mile away, an entire area for staff and their families to live.
Patients were rumored to have undergone electroshock therapy as well as other abuse such as immersion in tubs of hot water followed by being wrapped in icy towels. Lobotomies were also suppose to have occurred, along with other rampant patient abuse and even negligent deaths. Patients were also often left alone in restraints, heavily drugged alone in isolation rooms.
By the 1970s, the hospital came under a lot of criticism for its practices and came under investigation for some of the past actions. They were ordered to stop doing several of their procedures. Patient numbers began to dwindle slowly over the years until finally on June 30th, 1997, over sixty years after first opening, the hospital closed its doors.
Although the state flirted with turning the campus into a prison, neighbors objected and just five short years later the site became the 23rd campus in the California State University system, as CSU Channel Islands. The first classes were offered in the Fall of 2002. Although a lot of the campus is now used by the university, several buildings on campus still sit unoccupied and unused, long abandoned, deteriorating, haunted.
But the scars of the more than sixty years as an insane asylum took its toll on the location, as although the university likes to keep things quiet, the students and other visitors to campus tell a different story. Ghostly children have been heard laughing. Items have been said to disappear in one location only to reappear in other rooms. Poltergeist like activity such as having objects mysteriously be thrown at people have occurred. Doors have slammed shut, sometimes on people, and also mysteriously opened. Phantom mists that ignore the wind have been seen moving around campus at night. And residents have reported smelling odors that could only be that of a hospital. And if ghost children laughing isn't enough, the sounds of scratching on the walls in some of the buildings has also been heard. People have even reported taking pictures of windows into abandoned buildings and seeing "faces" staring back at them from the long unoccupied rooms.
This phenomenon is nothing recent. Legend states that back in November 1962, the entire night staff was fired by the hospital. Their management believed that the employees were playing a trick on them by overturning beds, slamming doors, screwing with televisions, tampering with the lights. So to make it stop they fired all the night staff. Of course, the strange phenomenon didn't stop after the staff was fired, so management eventually blamed the incidents on an ex-patient who had apparently been breaking back into the hospital at night!
And then there are the ghosts. Numerous phantoms have been seen particularly around or in the bell tower. There is the ghost of a man who appears in the stalls of one of the women's restrooms, you can see his legs, only to disappear when you open the door. A woman around the bell tower asks for directions to the chapel before disappearing. In some of the abandoned buildings, students have reported running into a woman in a hospital gown who silently screams at them before vanishing. A ghostly janitor haunts the school; the sound of his phantom keys jingling alerting those to his presence. The bus stop near the bell tower is also haunted by a ghost. And with all these ghosts so far, it comes as no surprise that there's a woman in white. She is assumed to be a nurse who roams the bell tower's hallways only to disappear when approached.
Perhaps the most famous of the phantoms is possibly jazz musician, Charlie "Bird" Parker who stayed as a resident for six months in 1946 / 1947. Parker had a big drug and alcohol problem and in June 1946 entered the lobby of Hollywood's Civic Hotel completely naked, playing his saxophone. He was sent back to his hotel room, where he lit a cigarette, fell asleep and subsequently then set his bed on fire. The judge sent him to the Mental Hospital. And upon his release, he recorded the famous song "Relaxin' at Camarillo". But Charlie Parker might be back, roaming the halls of the campus for it is said that people still here him play, late at night on the school campus, the haunting sounds of his saxophone.
Other minor rumors include the possibility that either the library is where the former morgue was located, the morgue having been torn down to make way for the eventual library, or there is an actual morgue located underneath the building still! How about doing research right above a morgue?
Hollywood has used the location multiple times over the decades as a filming location. Several members of the crews have quit over the years due to the strange occurrences that have happened to them while being on set.
A dairy was built next to the hospital in order to allow some of the patients to grow vegetables and / or work with the animals as a form of therapy. This is now mostly ruined, heavily vandalized, and very unsafe. It has become known as the Scary Dairy!
Lastly the location has been rumored to be that of the Hotel California of which the Eagles wrote and sang about in their famous song. The Eagles, of course, have supposedly denied this. "You can check out any time you'd like, but you can never leave."
Please note that the university does not like to talk about the spirits and ghosts that may be inhabiting the campus. They actively discourage it amongst the student population. Rumor also has it that they will suspend and possibly expel any student investigating the abandoned buildings on campus. So if you're a student, look into this at your own risk.
1.43 Miles Away
(Point Mugu State Park)
5.28 Miles Away
6.8 Miles Away
- Nancy Mauthe of Camarillo, California on 2021-04-10 said:
- Regarding this University Channel Island, it is haunted. My son went there and
I would drive him day and night. Night was the worse. Screams when the fog would come in, coyotes
running in the parking lot. Figures that you could see dark winged on the bridge and at the highest
point of the rocks facing the University. Any one will tell you its haunted and screams can be
heard. It has been vacant for over a year, due to the Virus all on line. No one is allowed there,
but some Ghost Hunters have got onto the campus door close, owls fly over. I saw a winged figure on
the bridge one night when it was raining so hard off Camarillo Road, I almost went of the bridge. I
never took that road again. There is a tree with all the names of the patients that they know died
there, are they buried there? The trees seem to take on a different shape at night. Anyone will
tell you that its so haunted, Portero road is another road you do not want to take, I saw a dead cow
there one time and the lights at the University were shaking and there was NO WIND THAT DAY. The
library is really weird in the back the morgue was there and they build the library over the morgue
no one knows if the morgue is still there? So many rooms are broken glass broken smells come from
the building and you can feel someone always watching you. At my son's graduation, I feel so many
were watching us, even a women in front of me said this place feels weird, yea right. 2 years ago
they started digging the main qued where the fountain is why? It took them 2 years it was all
covered up with green tarps where you could not see what they were doing? So answer me this what
were you doing in the fountain quad? No one is allowed to talk about Haunts or Ghost they are told
this before they start working there and they have to sign a paper. They don't want anyone knowing
that this place and it will always be a horrible haunt. Layers to the land. Horrible stuff
happened there in the 1930's surgeries of kids, people experience's to people brain. This crape
does not go away. It stays cause its evil. There are violent ghost there that will knock you over.
There have been 3 fires in the past several years and the school has never burned down or touched.
Flooded in early years many patients lost there lives to the flood being throw to the ocean out off
Point Mugu State Beach. if you ever have to go there make sure you take a protection amulet with
you, cause whatever is out there will follow you home unless you are protected. The greenhouse has
been seen with dark figures walking in back of it at night near El Dorado Hall. When the fog comes
it its time to leave. Howls are every where bats are seen flying around the area, the lighting is
horrible on the streets and when the fog hits you cannot see in front of your face. The lights do
go out and sometimes you can hear screams coming from the wash area where you have to walk at night
to get your car. No lights. Or they are out or broken, they flicker on and off, shake in the moon
light. The pump station on the way into the University has been seen with an evil fire person,
coming out of the building. Black fire person. I would assume it lives in that pumping station. Or
its a well, there is a well on the hill near the Bell Tower of which was in the movie "The Well"
Many occult items have been found there and it is crazy cause they have classes on the occult at
that school, how crazy is that! But remember its a Hospital and it will always be one. It will
never change its mode. Vines connect to people and they cannot go there anymore, especially living
in the dorms. They don't want anyone to address this issue because it called "BAD FOR BUSINESS".
But do something about all the vaccant buildings, they hold the evil and they will never go away
until its torn down, and even then. When the constrution crew was there in 2015 building the
buildings some left, could not handle what they would see there. So just remember if you have to
travel out there go during the day. The winged shape-shifter will be awaiting for you if you go at
- Rick Christensen of San Antonio, Texas on 2020-06-16 said:
I noticed with interest the assertion that the morgue had been torn down to build the library at the former CSH, now CSU Channel Islands, but perhaps the morgue actually still is downstairs?
I haven't been back for many, many years,--certainly not in its present incarnation as a university, but in the hospital's proverbial heyday--it topped out at 7,500 patients--I actually worked a summer lab job there after my junior year his high school (Hueneme High in Oxnard).
This was in 1961, and the morgue was most definitely in the dank basement, where it bore a fair resemblance to something out of Frankenstein. The corridor leading to the rusted steel double morgue doors (with "Morgue" in old script over them) actually dripped and were moldy.
How do I know this? Because I had occasion to go to the morgue, having been invited to witness an autopsy (with an average of 3.5 deaths a week, the hospital had a staff pathologist).
The interior of the morgue really was something out of an old horror movie, beginning with the old-fashioned stonework dissection tables, ancient counters with a litter of lab stuff and instruments, a bank of refrigerated containments for the subjects, and some equipment that had no possible relevance, such as a huge console with big knobs, dials, and buttons, maybe five feet wide by five or more feet tall, thick cables running out the bottom. Maybe someone did shoot part of a movie there. I was afraid to ask what was going on.
I won't describe the autopsy but will say only that any thoughts I might have had about entering the medical field died on the spot. As soon as possible after the procedure, I got out of there, the door being opened by Igor--yes, this is what they called him--the morgue assistant, who limped, was bent over, had a buzz haircut, and featured a big scar across his scalp.
If Christopher Lee had turned up and they had told me that they were casting for a Hammer Films production of Dracula, I would not have been surprised at all.
- California's Historic Haunts (2014) by Clune, Brian with Bob Davis, p: 17 - 23
- Weird California (2006) by Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle, Mike Marinacci, p: 228 - 229
- Haunted Places: The National Directory (2002) by Hauck, Dennis, p: 38
- Haunted Southern California (2009) by Stansfield Jr., Charles A., p: 10-12
First Created: 2016-09-09
Last Edited: 2016-09-16