When asking friends what they want to know about Evergreen, they wanted to know about old haunted places around town. When I started looking, I found lots of haunting in Evergreen. Whether it had been a tragic event on a campus or a scary old house, Evergreen has plenty of scary stories to accompany its beautiful tales. Here’s what I found out and investigated myself.
First of all, I should say I have a fair amount of physical, experiential research on this topic. When we were kids, and my older brother’s friend got the first license in the bunch, we did this. I found kids still doing this and chronicling it on youtube. Ghost hunting in Evergreen is a teenage rite of passage that is alive and well. Let’s talk about some of the ghostbusting.
San Felipe Road appears to have the concentration of spirits in Evergreen. I’ll explain what the sensation is and then why. I would do my own paranormal investigation, with buddies, in high school 1999-2003 when we didn’t care who’s house it was and we didn’t know why we felt strange things in certain places. The first time, we ended up at the Smith’s residences thinking it was the school house. Back then, too, many of the new homes weren’t there yet and this stretch of road was fairly heavily wooded along Thompson Creek. The Smith family homes are still privated by orange groves today. It once looked like this with San Felipe Road running through these front yards today.
That connection is Katherine Smith and the school house is across the street from her house. These Victorian houses are occupied today, so don’t sneak up at night, okay? What everyone thought was the haunted schoolhouse back in the day was not. It’s the right spot, but across the street, renovated some time ago and totally not haunted. The two story schoolhouse still stands, and is also inhibited. The old one story school was torn down in the 1890’s. Reports from San Felipe Road long time residents would also confirm the absences of a haunted schoolhouse, and the lack of any known massacres, murders or suicides that result in spirits. We, Evergreenians, do, however, have an unusual number of haunted school rumors, just none on San Felipe Road. Unfortunately, I won’t be disclosing them here either, because students still attend school there today.
The looking haunted house on White Road and Stevens Lane isn’t haunted. I would be too chicken to Treat or Treat here as a child, though I can see its jagged oak tree from my own backyard. I’ve come to find that it is owned by the nicest, long time Evergreen family. Again, don’t sneak up on these guys – there are no paranormal activities here. The family purchased it generations ago directly from H. L. Stephens, its original owner, orchardist and flour mill operator. The mill would be near Millbrook School today on Quimby Creek. Again, not haunted. Very original in its construction and preservation, very discrete owners, spooky oak tree and daunting gate. What you don’t get to see if the stunning wisteria and wrap around porch. The only spirits here are warm and friendly.
Headed south on San Felipe, beyond Farnsworth, the road gets scary and dark. It’s a beautiful daytime bike ride, not for novice riders, but a nighttime fright. You will see old, rundown barns appear out of black oak trees and abyss. This can seems scary. Your cell reception will drop at the top of the hill. Don’t worry. Evergreen’s reception in general is spotty, but especially toward Metcalf Road. You can either turn around or go straight until you hit Highway 101 or Monterey Road. The only need to worry is if your car breaks down. There are too many reports of phantom cars and haunting along the roadway itself, so maybe we should spend a moment on that.
Historian’s note: Keep in mind that the invention of the printing press and its rapid improvement through the 1800’s means tragedies and crime would be recorded in newspapers at the very least. These have not been streaming in from Evergreen or San Felipe Road or San Jose. I’ve looked everywhere I can thing of. I’m obsessed, too. I can track every local news article, person, property development, purchase, division, dispute, etc. Evergreen was downright peaceful after land disputes.
Though no haunted schoolhouse exists there, San Felipe Road may in fact be haunted. Plenty of car accidents occur here every year, whether ordinary or foolhardy. The haunting I like to speculate about is much older. San Felipe Road itself can be dated back 200 years.
Don Pedro Chaboya, Antonio Chaboya’s brother, would drive a band of cattle ranchers from Santa Clara and Monterey Ranchos after Native American horse bandits and most likely took the trip over San Felipe Road, furthest East and most central to the gang of ranchers. The thieves would steal 600 head of horses, slaughter some of the animals senselessly and take flight towards Merced County. The Bay Area ranchers would finally catch up with the bandits in Tehachapi, so probably not Ohlone Natives. Laguna Tachi, where the capture occurred, here shown to the left, is on the border of Tulare County, Southern California. The ranchers would return home with their horses and captured thieves. I speculate this southeastern route is haunted because of the horses and natives who lost their lives in this event. As a result, phantom cars can be felt. Not phantom cars – phantom horses. People also report hands appearing on the windshield while driving down San Felipe Road. That’s probably our Native Americans being brought back for their punishment.
Or there’s a totally logical explanation. Something like the coastal winds combining with low pressure systems to the South driving a wind Northward. If you catch a gust of wind, could feel like phantom cars or horses. If you can’t see the trees also fluctuating with the headwind, you’d be psychologically misguided and therefore spooked. Your hands I can’t explain away. This may be strong contrasts in heat in very specific places on your windshield from such a strong, cold headwind so sporadic in occurrence.
Also on San Felipe Road but further towards Metcalf Road, you can get another scare. If you didn’t know these awesome rusted pieces of antique farming equipment was out here, you might be frightened by their sight and traveling shadows. With the lights on, or rather in the daytime, this old pieces of equipment are brilliant relics and roadway decorations. At night, this looks like a creepy crawly nightmare. Now, it your car won’t start for some reason on San Felipe Road, then you’re in trouble.
When I was a kid, there were so many more barns and abandoned structures. I say kid. About 15-20 years ago. I’ve been on this ride several times throughout the research of this project. Things I intimately remember creeping into at night and being spooked by are gone. They’re not there. These structures have been documented, torn down and made room for more homes. I find them again in archives and records.
Somewhere we would enjoy screams before it was enveloped by home development is a place others also report as having been haunted. I can’t find much of this online, but the experiential data yielded positive results. I know I was spooked enough once or twice to bolt out of there. Today, it’s a historical landmark that needs some love. Reminds me of the Wehner Mansion, also with historic designation but no preservation. (There were no reports of spirits from Wehner Mansion except wine.) This is how I remembered the relic.
Today, the Metzger Barn still gets haunting reports but serves a dual purpose as a quasi-park. Though secreted away, it’s open to the public. The complex even has picnic tables and a volleyball court. At night, there are reports of phantom rattling chains and ghostly crying observed. I’ve also read about an experience with hanging animals from the rafters. I’ve personally observed the heeby geebies. I’ll not spoil this haunted tale for you. Since I’ve ruined other perfectly good ghost stories, I won’t ruin anymore for you.
Joseph D. Grant Park, very nearby Evergreen in neighboring Ranch Canada de la Pala, has a historical complex of structures and gives tours of the haunted main house. If you want a frightful experience, you’ll have to sweet talk rangers or historians into coming back to work on their time off but it’s been done before. Built in 1882, ghosts can be witnessed in mirrors, along with loud noises and footsteps were observed. Other strange paranormal feelings would be reported by guests and park rangers alike. Ghost hunters have enough evidence to confirm their own superstitions.
Evergreen has haunts you can see and some you can pass up on. Metzger Farm and Joseph Grant Park seem to be your best bet for spirits. A night drive over San Felipe Road and a misadventure up Las Animas Road are certainly spooky if that’s your thing.