What started as an ordinary day would prove fateful. This particular cloudy winter morning the owner of Rivendell Books in Placerville, CA, stepped from his car as he always did, and walked the few steps to the front door of his business. It was there he crossed the threshold to the unknown. As he fumbled to put the key in the lock to open the store for the day, he heard voices. Startled, he carefully and silently removed the key and listened intently. Just as he suspected, the voices were coming from inside.
There were people laughing and glasses clinking. He was about to phone the police when the noise stopped. The silence was baffling. He regained his composure and entered the bookstore, leaving the door open. He feared not a ghost but a burglar. All was quiet inside and nothing seemed disturbed.
The mystery continued as a string of strange things happened over the next month. Footsteps were heard when no one was there. The smell of stale cigarettes and old hay permeated the air. Plants would turn in their containers as if unseen hands were turning them to face the sun. When least expected, books were flung from the shelves onto the floor, landing about two feet away from the shelf. More voices were heard and angry and impatient tapping became commonplace. Unnerving as it was the owner and his employees continued as always. As things got more and more bizarre, they wanted an explanation. Nancy Bradley, a local psychic was called in.
She said, “There is a spirit here who calls himself a hangman. He just loves to come and go down Main Street. He hung many men at the site of the Hangman’s Tree Bar across the street and also the area that is now the Chamber of Commerce Building located on the same street. He says he is just making the rounds.”
Nancy Bradley said there were other spirits who were anxious to make their presence known. William and Agnes Grant worked in a lounge and store which in the 1800’s was near this site. Samuel Gordon, who calls himself Little Sammy, dressed in farm-like attire, appears to need a bath. He loves a good joke and having friends near. He is a social cat and talks a lot. He does not know how to read so when he is aggravated by this fact, he removes the books from the shelves and throws them to the floor. Sherry is a prostitute and comes in the back door which leads to the mine. She is confused with everyone coming and going the other ways these days. She is not aware of the front door. The owner confirmed this to be true because the back of the building was the front of the store at one time.
The ghostly atmosphere is rowdy. A bar (saloon) stood there at one time as well as a tent (probably part of a tent city). The psychic saw a general store and people eating as well. At that moment a book was thrown from a shelf on the other side of the store. No ‘living’ person was on that side of the room. Bradley made contact with a short, hefty man dressed in a dark suit. He had a matching vest and white shirt. His face was round and he was somewhat bald on top. The man had a watch in his pocket which was attached to a gold chain that he took out from time to time to examine. It appeared time was of the essence to him. He identified himself as Stan and that he worked at the hotel. He finished a shot glass of amber liquid and left through the back door. Not opening it, but through it. The smell of cigar smoke filled the room.
NOTE : The Rivendell Book Store is supposedly one of the most haunted places in all the Gold Rush Country. Stan worked at the Carey House Hotel and died after being shot by a jealous boyfriend. When he was drinking Stan had an eye for the ladies. It is thought that he rides the hotel elevator up and down every night and checks all the doors to make sure they are locked at night. One day while I was doing research at the hotel, Stan wouldn’t let us on the elevator when we needed to go upstairs. The door would not open. We took the stairs to the third floor and when we wanted to leave, Stan let us come down in the elevator. I made a point to thank him for the ride.
Taken from “GOLD RUSH GHOSTS” written by Nancy Bradley and Robert Reppert