Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Oscar the Ghost

During the Gold Rush days the American River Inn, built in 1853, was known as the American Hotel. This historical landmark, located in Georgetown, California, is known for its hospitality and loneliness...and its ghost. A gruff old miner haunts Room 5. He abruptly makes his presence known on a whim, but despite his disheveled appearance, he rarely frightens the guests. A man of tender nature, he loves three things – honeymooners or happy lovers, Room 5 of the Inn, and his long-dead girlfriend for whom he’s still pining. Rumor is that he last saw her in Room 5.

The American Hotel was constructed over a productive lode known as the Woodside Mine. It’s been told at one point as much as $90,000 worth of gold was pulled from the earth within a two-week period. Then, as if in retribution the mine claimed the lives of many of the hardworking men by trapping them within its confines. The ground slowly sucked the air out of the trapped miners, but did not spit them out. A basement wall hides their grim story.

Oscar, the ghost, survived the disaster. He was a hearty soul of the 1800’s. He must have made an impact on the townsfolk as his name is synonymous with Georgetown even to this day. He is remembered by stories passed down through generations as a gruff old poke, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, ambitious and anxious to find his fortune. If there was a gold strike, he was the first to pick up a shovel. He was fearless in the rickety mine shafts and tapped off river channels.

Oscar had a romantic heart and foolishly lost it to a nameless “woman of the evening.” Many years her senior, he was smitten enough to dream of making her his wife. They had long talks before and after lovemaking. She told of missing her family in the east and of making enough money to return there.

Just above the Woodside Mine that he’d once worked, his death came quickly. When he wasn’t searching for gold, he worked as a carpenter on the hotel property to be near his love. History shows he was quite jealous of her. A heckler, who was a former client of his girlfriend, insisted on belittling her name. After words were spoken between the two men, a scuffle prevailed and in the heated moments that followed, the aggressor shot Oscar dead on the steps of the American Hotel. His body died, but his spirit remained.

The ghostly activity seems to center around the top of the stairs and in Room 5. When new owners started renovating Room 5,
they felt very uncomfortable in the room. On a hot day they felt chilled when something would brush past them. They could physically feel it, but no one was there. What’s interesting to note is that none of the guests have been terrified of Oscar. Even though he is gruff looking, he’s a friendly ghost and smiles at the lovers as he walks through the rooms as if he belongs there. He especially takes pride in appearing to honeymooners as if he wants to be a part of their happiness.

A statesman and his wife checked into Room 5. At 3:00 a.m. a man dressed in old, tattered clothes walked through the closed door. (Oscar always enters through the door that opens onto the balcony and leaves through the door at the top of the stairs. It makes no difference if the door is open or shut, he doesn’t take time to fiddle with it.) Their light switched on for no reason and the ghost smiled as he continued walking through the closed door to the hall. They both heard Oscar’s footsteps seemingly go down the stairs to the main part of the house, but admitted neither of them got out of bed to check. Their light then went off. When the statesman turned the light knob, it went back on because the lamp had been turned off the entire time. Electricians were brought to check out the problem, but found no possible electrical reason for the annoying fiasco.

Because a woman’s voice is sometimes heard from the depths of the unknown inside the Inn, it’s interesting to learn that soon after Oscar’s death a beautiful woman of the evening attired herself in her finest negligee and, with liquor in hand, leaped to her death from the balcony of the American Hotel. The doctor noted that her neck was broken instantly. Could it have been preceded by a broken heart?


Kristin-Marie said...

Real ghost stories are so thrilling, and are worth retelling. I know some professional ghosthunters who'd love to visit...

Anonymous said...

You know, Marlene, I think we should have a Victorian get together in a haunted house. :) We could have high tea AND ghost stories.

Marlene said...

I agree Christine. A get together in a haunted house would be great. Kristin-Marie could bring along her ghosthunter friends and we could talk to the ghosts. Lots of haunted houses in my area.

Veronica Hill said...

This was fun to read. We just stayed at the inn two weeks ago. I was too scared to read the ghost story book in the lobby before we went to bed, but i definitely felt a ghostly presence. Strange thing is that is was exciting, not scary as I had anticipated. We were in the room at the top of the stairs on the right. I can't remember what room though.