Graveyard Shift 13 Creepy Stories and Urban Legends from California  

Laura Allan
871.4k views 15 items

When you think of California, you probably don't think of creepiness. Hippies, surfers, beaches, Hollywood... it's all pretty weird, sure, but not scary or spooky, right? Well, believe it or not, creepy California does exist, if you know where to look. The state has ghosts murders, legends, and monsters, and you might be surprised to see that some of them are about as scary as you can get.

Between ghosts and creepy serial killers, California has a genuinely bloody history, dating back to its formation. It could be the home of Big Foot, and old west ghosts are around, shooting it out in some of the nation's finest ghost towns. If you're all about the weird and paranormal, look no further than the Golden State.

You don't have to read this at night, and you don't have to turn off your lights. But with the scary stories and terrifying urban legends in California that we're about to delve into, we definitely recommend it. 

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The Zodiac Killer Has Never Been Found

The Zodiac Killer Has Never Be... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 13 Creepy Stories and Urban Legends from California
Photo: San Francisco Police Department/Public Domain

The Zodiac Killer is one of the most notorious murderers in United States history, and northern California was his hunting ground. In the late '60s, the bodies of two teenagers were discovered in Vallejo, shot to death. Then police received a threatening letter and a coded message. At least five murders have been attributed to the so-called Zodiac Killer. Notes continued to arrive, with weird, unknown codes even the experts couldn't crack, and no amount of investigation produced enough clues to charge anyone. 

Many people have been accused of being the Zodiac Killer over the years, but he has never been identified, and some of his mysterious coded messages have never been recorded. While he stopped killing long ago, there's no promise he's done for good, which might make you reconsider walking alone at night in the Bay Area hills. 

Dark Watchers Haunt the Santa Lucia Mountains

Dark Watchers Haunt the Santa ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 13 Creepy Stories and Urban Legends from California
Photo:  Roger469/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Santa Lucia Mountains were home to the Chumash Indians, and their lore tells us of a creepy phenomena people still report today called the Dark Watchers. In cave paintings, you can see dark shapes on the mountains looking down. Throughout history, many, including author John Steinbeck, have reported seeing real life counterparts on the mountains. Some say they have dark hats and capes, others say they are ghostly phantoms and only show up at twilight.

No matter how the story changes, one thing remains the same: the figures stay still, watching, until vanishing. No one knows why, but they've been there for centuries, so it's unlikely they're going to stop anytime soon. 

Bodie is Awash in Ghost Stories

Bodie is Awash in Ghost Storie... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 13 Creepy Stories and Urban Legends from California
Photo:  leehuzysberg/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

Where to even begin with Bodie? This ghost town is one of the best-preserved Old West outposts, a historic land mark and museum. Because so much of it is preserved, Bodie has plenty of legends and ghosts who call the place home. There's the Angel of Bodie, a little girl who haunts her grave site. Ghostly miners protect their claims or visit the prospecting office. And just about every building in town has a ghostly tale of its own.

To top it all off, the place is supposedly cursed. If you take anything out of Bodie as a souvenir (which is illegal, by the way), you will be cursed with bad luck in everything you try to do. There's even a book in the museum office of letters from people who have returned items in the hopes of lifting the curse. 

There's a Burning Creature Stalking Camp Comfort County Park

There's a Burning Creature... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 13 Creepy Stories and Urban Legends from California
Photo: Interpretive Arson/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

The legend of the Char Man is one of the darker and more well known in California lore. Camp Comfort County Park hardly seems like a scene for horror and violence, but that Ventura County park has numerous ghosts, the king of which is The Char Man. The story goes, in the woods you can sometimes see a horrifying shape, not quite beast, not quite man. If you stop your car near those woods, this burning, disfigured thing may charge out to try to kill you, roaring like a raging inferno. People who have gotten away report ash marks and dents on their vehicle. 

No one knows where he/it came from. Some say he was a child, burned in a fire. Others say he was a bus driver who went mad and crashed, killing all his passengers. Some say he is a beast or a demon. No matter what he is, you can be sure you don't want to mess with him.