1126 Queens Highway,
Long Beach, California
Now the most haunted ship in the world, this tourist location and hotel is docked permanently in Long Beach Harbor. But originally, the RMS Queen Mary was once a giant and lavish British ocean liner that operated from 1936 until 1967, primarily sailing back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. It was part of the Cunard White Star, later Cunard Line and it was originally meant to provide an express service between Southampton and New York. She was the prize of the fleet and had oppulent cabins and ballrooms. For first class passengers it was as close to heaven as a ship could get.
Her maiden voyage was on May 27th, 1936 with her carrying 1,742 passengers. Soon after, she won the Blue Riband in August of 1936 for fastest average speed across the Atlantic Ocean. Although she lost the award in 1937 to the SS Normandie, she reclaimed it in August 1938 with the addition of a new propeller, and held onto it all the way until 1952, losing it to the SS United States.
But by late 1939, she was taken out of service and began getting retrofitted for war. Amazing furnishings were removed, and bunks were put in place for troops. Meanwhile the entire ship was repainted grey, and anti-aircraft guns were even installed on the decks. Dubbed the Grey Ghost, she was mostly used to ferry Allied soldiers, although also transported prisoners of war. During this time she set a maritime record for having 16,683 people on board. Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, often sailed on the Queen Mary during the war due to her speed, and even signed the D-Day orders while on the ship. The Queen Mary transported over 800,000 troops during her time in the war.
Post World War II, the Queen Mary returned to passenger service again bringing people back and forth across the Atlantic. This lasted until the mid 1960s when the Queen Mary, now getting on in years, was losing out to air travel and other forms of transportation. The Queen Mary was retired from service in 1967, auctioned off to the City of Long Beach, and left Southampton one last time on October 31st, 1967. She arrived in Long Beach on December 9th, 1967. Queen Mary carried over 2,112,000 passengers during her service, and had made a thousand crossings of the Atlantic.
Long Beach converted the grand ship into a floating hotel and museum. Many of the cabins were converted into hotel rooms, and other spaces of the ship were converted into areas more necessary on a hotel or a tourist attraction. She opened up on May 8th, 1971. Her life as a hotel and tourist attraction has been rocky, and she has passed through multiple different management companies, all with different ideas of how to make her profitable, none really succeeding.
No one is really sure how many people have passed away on the Queen Mary, but it is said that more than 150 ghosts now haunt her decks. The sightings are common and occur everywhere onboard. The ship capitalizes on this and offers haunted tours, haunted dinners, Halloween events, etc. She has often been listed in various top 10 most haunted lists and has been called the most haunted ship in the world.
The Lady in White
It's only fitting that amongst all the ghosts that haunt the Queen Mary that one of the more famous ones is a Lady in White. She has been seen ghostly gliding in several areas of the ship. She mostly appears in two different areas, although has made appearances in others. The first haunt of hers is the Queen's Salon which is a ballroom located on the ship. There she has been seen dancing to music from a different era that only she can hear. Her second location is in the lobby area, to the right of the front hotel desk, where she haunts the area near the piano. The piano is supposedly one of the original pianos from the former Main Lounge, which is now renamed and is the Queen's Salon. She has occasionally wandered from the piano and has been seen coming and going from the area using the main staircases nearby.
Additionally, she has been seen in the Isolation Ward, which is a main hot spot for ghostly activity. She seems to go to the Isolation Ward to comfort those who are there. There have been some stories that suggest she also watches out for the younger girl ghosts on board the ship. The Lady in White, like most of her type, wears a long white flowy evening gown, and slowly fades away when people approach her.
Door Number 13
It seems fitting that on a ship with so many spirits that Door Number 13 would be haunted. Door number 13 is one of the watertight doors that would close automatically when activated by the bridge if there was a water leak in the area. It is near the aft end of the engine room and located on the starboard side. Watertight doors were meant to keep water from spilling over from one section of the ship into another in an effort to keep the vessel from sinking.
The bridge would initiate drills often during voyages in order to test out the doors and keep the crew prepared. The crew, however, would instead play chicken with the closing doors, which took six seconds to close the three foot distance, trying to prove who could pass through the doors the latest as they slowly closed. In 1966, at the age of eighteen, John Pedder lost that contest when he wasn't fast enough, and ended up crushed by the door. This all happened at 4:00 AM on July 10th, 1966. Pedder was stuck in the door until the bridge was notified and released the door at 4:07 AM. He now haunts the area around the door and has even been given the nickname "The Shaft Alley Specter". He is said to occasionally be quite forward with women who are in the area, occasionally stroking their hair or touching their cheek. He has also been reported to tickle women's ears and a very few have reported him pinching their butts. Pedder rarely shows any attention to those male guests in the area.
A second ghost that may haunt the area is that of John McKenzie who was also crushed by the door in 1942. However, unlike Pedder, McKenzie was so despised by his fellow crewmates that the supposedly held him in place by his limbs straddling the doorway of the slowly closing door until he was crushed. His murdered body was later found by officers on board the ship, and he has haunted the area ever since.
The two ghosts have been seen in engineering outfits from their respective time periods. Additionally, this area of the ship has experienced ghostly sounds of chains and gears, weird knocking sounds, as well as strange shadows seen on the walls and walkways.
The First Class Pool
The Queen Mary originally had not one, but two indoor pools. The First Class Pool still remains and is very haunted. The pool area was decked out with Turkish baths and changing rooms. The main pool area is all art deco consisting of amazing tiled walls, floors and columns. When the Queen Mary first arrived in Long Beach the pool was originally used as the hotel pool. It eventually had issues holding water, and the pool was finally drained and closed in the 1980s, now only appearing on some of the tours that the Queen Mary offers.
When it was open, stories abounded of strangeness and apparitions. Swimmers would feel like there was someone else in the pool with them even though they were alone. A woman wearing a 1930s style bathing suit, appearing in her late twenties or early thirties, was often seen sometimes diving into the empty pool, and other times, leaving the pool and heading off into the changing area. She would even occasionally leave wet foot prints in the pool area. The wet foot prints persisted even after the pool was closed and drained.
In addition to the spectral bather, several other ghosts from the ship frequent the pool area. The aforementioned Lady in White is believed to have been heard singing in the pool area. The theory is that she is singing to the two ghost girls that are more often encountered in this area. These two girls are called Jackie and Sarah. Both are somewhere between five and eight, with Sarah probably being older than Jackie. It is believed that Jackie drowned in the second class pool area. The Lady in White has been known to sing to both girls, while Sarah has been known to try and protect Jackie. Sarah is believed to have either also drowned or been murdered by another ghost, a ghost known as Grumpy. Grumpy supposedly lives in the storage area under the stairs in the pool area. There is a theory that he killed a woman by accident and hid her body under the stairs. When the body was found, Grumpy committed suicide in order to avoid repercussions. When he is encountered he's usually accompanied by cigar or cigarette smoke, and makes strange growling noises.
Lastly, a ghost of a young attractive woman in a mini skirt has been seen walking down the stairs into the pool area, before disappearing behind a pillar.
The boilers of the Queen Mary were removed once she arrived in Long Beach. Originally the giant empty space was to be used for a museum, but that didn't work out. The open space was turned eventually into an exhibit hall as well as a stage area known as the Boiler Room Stage. A nearby former generator room became the stage's Green Room.
Beyond the Boiler Room Stage is a dark room with rickety walkways and water covering the floors. The entire area is foreboding and creepy, giving off a musty feeling, and causing anxiety about what lies submerged below the water. People in the area have heard strange sounds, whispers, knocking, and seen weird balls of light.
The Propeller Box
Part of the agreement when Cunard sold the Queen Mary to the City of Long Beach was that the grand vessel never be allowed to sail again. The Queen Mary originally had four giant propellers propelling it through the oceans. Long Beach had three of them removed, but kept one, and turned it into a tourist attraction. Two giant holes were cut out of the hull near the propeller and a watertight box was built around the propeller, allowing visitors to stroll along a walkway over the enormous propeller.
The new box contains about 200,000 gallons of water. The four propellers were made out of manganese bronze, weighed thirty five tons, and measured eighteen feet.
Although a whole host of ghosts have been witnessed in this area, some walking through, others playing in the area, the main one appears to be a ship captain who smokes cigars. Speculation is that the ghost is that of the Queen Mary's last captain, Captain John Treasure Jones, who sailed the great ship into Long Beach Harbor. He has often been seen standing in the corner of the room on the walkway.
Besides the propeller box, Captain Jones has also been seen on the bridge, often staring out the windows. He also haunts what's left of the former captain's quarters, has appeared in the wheelhouse, and been seen checking out the pool area. He always appears in full uniform, however, and has been known to fade away if approached.
Other ghosts that have supposedly been witnessed in the area include the Lady in White occasionally, although she seems to usually be there checking on the two ghost girls, Jackie and Sarah, who seem to like to play in this area. One of the ghosts from the Boiler Room seems to also occasionally frequent this area.
B-340 / B-474
In 1959, the story goes that a father murdered his wife, his two daughters, and then committed suicide in room B-474. He strangled his family and shot himself in the head in the bathroom. The two girls now haunt the room, as well as the nearby hallways on B deck.
Now where does room B-340 come into the story. Back long ago, the story of the family murder made for a great and chilling tale to tell while on the new ghost tour. The only problem was that B-474 was an actual hotel room, so the tour would be unable to stop by it. The then managers of the boat instead chose room B-340 which was available, but had always been a storage room ever since the restoration, and added it to the tour with a tale very similar to what actually happened in 1959 in B-474. While B-474 has an enormous amount of spiritual activity, B-340 has the same amount of much of the rest of the ship, which is to say considerable still.
In October 2, 1942, a C-class light cruiser converted into an anti-aircraft cruiser in the Royal Navy named the Curacoa was in an accident with the Queen Mary. Both ships thought they had the right of way and when it appeared that they were going to collide, it was too late for either ship to correct. The Queen Mary collided into the Curacoa at full speed, and cut the cruiser in half. Both halves sunk, the aft end sinking immediately, while the rest of the ship taking a few minutes to submerge. The Queen Mary was under orders to not stop and not risk an attack by any U-boats that might be in the area, and thus they didn't rescue any of those on the Curacoa. 337 men onboard Curacoa were lost and only 101 survivors were recovered hours later.
Now, in the forward cargo hold, the sounds of rushing water accompanied by the screams of terrified men have been heard. Phantom voices is English, German, and Italian have also been heard in this area, probably because this is where the prisoners of war were held while being transported. Strange balls of light and odd electrical sparks have been encountered here as well. The entire area is now closed, and does not appear on any tours anymore, supposedly due to insurance concerns.
The hallways of the ship, especially at night, are eerie, quiet and give a feeling of dread and foreboding. Spectral people have been seen in them from time to time. Not only does the Lady in White make appearances on the Promenade Deck, but there are multiple reports of people seeing shadowy figures lurking on it. A ghost boy known as the Blue Boy has also been seen on the Promenade Deck. A ghost in a top hat and tails has been seen in the main restaurant. A former senior second officer died from drinking cleaning solvent instead of gin. He has been seen both in the captain's quarters and on the Promenade Deck. The spirits of doctors have been seen working in the former isolation ward, as has a nurse. Supposedly, there are over 150 ghosts aboard the Queen Mary, and they have been experienced literally everywhere on board.
Today, the ship supports several different tours, some based on the hauntings, others based on the history. All the time, more visitors report strange and supernatural occurrences on board, and the boat most definitely supports this. If you've been on board and experienced anything out of the ordinary, please leave a comment or drop us a line. We'd love to hear about your encounter with the ghosts of the Queen Mary!
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- Anonymous of Ca on 2011-10-08 said:
- About 6 years ago I was in Long beach harbor. (Where all the ships come in) it was about 1-2am, when I notice these red lights flying around the water. It was 15 feet out so I could not get a closers look. I watch these fireflys light up bright and move fast. I looked as if the fish were poping out of the water trying to eat them. The fireflys did not care and looked like they were taunting the fish by swooping down close enough the fish then flying back up. After a while I took off back home. I tryed to go to the same spot but secirty told me to leave. I always wonded what it was out there. It never look like the fireflys I saw before or after
- The Field Guide to North American Hauntings (1998) by Blackman, W. Haden, p: 61 - 63
- California's Historic Haunts (2014) by Clune, Brian with Bob Davis, p: 43 - 54
- Ghosts of the Queen Mary (2014) by Clune, Brian with Bob Davis
- Ghost Hunter's Guide to Los Angeles (2007) by Dwyer, Jeff, p: 105 - 108
- Weird California (2006) by Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle, Mike Marinacci, p: 216 - 217
- Haunted Places: The National Directory (2002) by Hauck, Dennis, p: 52
- Visiting Haunted Southern California (2005) by Hilber H. Graf, p: 49 - 56
- Mysterious California (1988) by Marinacci, Mike, p: 101 - 102
- Haunted Houses of California (1993) by May, Antoinette, p: 190 - 193
- Ghosthunting Southern California (2012) by Richards, Sally, p: 220 - 229
- Southern California Curiosities (2004) by Rubin, Saul, p: 64 - 66
- Ghost Stalker's Guide To Haunted California (1998) by Senate, Richard, p: 23 - 27
- The Haunted Southland (1993) by Senate, Richard, p: 22 - 26
- Ghost Stories of California (2000) by Smith, Barbara, p: 148 - 159
- Haunted Southern California (2009) by Stansfield Jr., Charles A., p: 30-32
- California Hauntspitality (2002) by Wlodarski, Robert and Anne, p: 102 - 106
- The Haunted Queen Mary (2000) by Wlodarski, Robert James and Wlodarski, Anne Powell
- Coastal Ghosts of Southern California (2009) by Yasuda, Anita, p: 120 - 123
Last Edited: 2020-09-21