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A view of the Pacific Ocean at dawn, from inside a dark tunnel below San Francisco. Sruti Mamidanna/KQED
A view of the Pacific Ocean at dawn, from inside a dark tunnel below San Francisco. (Sruti Mamidanna/KQED)

Ghost Stories and Macabre Tales to Binge This Halloween

Ghost Stories and Macabre Tales to Binge This Halloween

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Today, Bay Curious is releasing a special Halloween episode — and it delves deep into a few of the Bay Area’s local legends and supernatural stories.

You can listen to our Bay Area Ghost Stories episode by hitting the play button above, or wherever you get your podcasts. The episode features stories from Wes Leslie of The Haunt Ghost Tours, Tommy Netzband of the Haunted Haight Walking Tour and Bay Area storyteller JP Frary.

If this audio special has got you in the mood for more macabre tales, read on for our seven suggestions on how to get into the Halloween spirit this week.

Livestream our Chilling Histories of California storytelling night

On Thursday, October 28, KQED is holding a live storytelling night of haunting and curious California tales, with a lineup that includes Glynn Washington (Spooked, Snap Judgment), Ying Liu (The Haunted Bay) and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Kevin Fagan, as well as several KQED storytellers. Bay Curious’s Olivia Allen-Price will also be making an appearance. (Proof of vaccination and masking will be requested from all attendees.)

But if you can’t make the event in person, or aren’t ready to attend an event like this right now during the pandemic, you can livestream the night for free. Just make sure to turn your lights down low.

Test your trivia knowledge of the Bay Area’s haunted history

Fog hovers over the Golden Gate Bridge at twilight. (Eric Carlson/Unsplash)

From the San Francisco mansion that inspired horror writer Shirley Jackson to the secret buried under the Legion of Honor, the Bay Area has no shortage of macabre legends.

Test your knowledge of the darker side of local history with this trivia set compiled by our friends at KQED Arts.


Learn why your mind plays tricks on you deep in the Santa Cruz redwoods

A large yellow-and-black sign reads "Welcome to Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz, California U.S.A."
The iconic yellow-and-black sign welcomes visitors to the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California. (Amanda Font/KQED)

Nestled under the trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains lies one of the greater Bay Area’s most beloved attractions: the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. And if you haven’t visited yet, you’ve almost certainly seen those ubiquitous bumper stickers.

In this place, your eyes and brain will play tricks on you, and make games of your powers of perception. But why does this happen? We dived into (some of) the possible answers.

From rumrunning to ghosts and speakeasies, uncover the many lives of Pacifica’s castle

A blue sky and ocean behind a castle like building.
The Sam Mazza Castle sits high on a hill in Pacifica’s Sharp Pointe neighborhood. It has been here since 1908 and has had many lives. (Robert Azzaro/Courtesy Sam Mazza Foundation)

Ever driven Highway 1 through the city of Pacifica and wondered what that great stone castle is? You’re not alone: Many Bay Curious listeners wanted to know, too.

This is the tale of how that castle first came to have a reputation, how foggy Pacifica became a smuggler’s paradise, and why the castle’s historian is convinced these stones are haunted.

Uncover the famous dead of Colma

In many parts of Colma, neat rows of gravestones are visible as far as the eye can see. (Olivia Allen-Price/KQED)

In the early 1920s the land in the city of Colma, just south of San Francisco, was set aside specifically for cemeteries. Over 100,000 bodies were exhumed and moved there after SF evicted their dead to make room for more housing.

But who, exactly, is buried in Colma? It turns out there are more household names there than you might first think.

Descend into the dark tunnels below San Francisco

Megan Abadie in the San Francisco sewers. (Sruti Mamidanna/KQED)

The myth of the underground — a silent world hidden under our feet — continues to fascinate people, not least because there are very real labyrinths under major world cities — like the infamous catacombs of Paris, lined with the bones of the city’s dead, or the terrifying catacombs under Odessa, in Ukraine.

Bay Curious listeners told us they’d heard stories of secret passageways running under San Francisco, so we investigated — and what we found led us into the darkest stretches of the subterranean sewer network. Come with us if you dare.

Discover a ‘haunted’ lighthouse on the Big Sur coast

The Point Sur Lighthouse has been operating since 1889. It's one of California's oldest and most remote light stations.
The Point Sur Lighthouse has been operating since 1889. It’s one of California’s oldest and most remote light stations. (Sasha Khokha/KQED)

Perched on the rocky coastline between Carmel and Big Sur, Point Sur Lighthouse has been guiding ships into the Pacific Coast since 1889. But the treacherous landscape and rough weather have meant the lighthouse also has seen many shipwrecks — and up to 11 ships have been lost near its coast.

People claim the lighthouse is haunted by the ghosts of people who died in those shipwrecks, as well as the ghosts of the former lighthouse keepers who lived and worked on the isolated station. KQED’s California Report Magazine went to investigate.

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