Brushes with the Paranormal—Ghosts Part 2

This post concerns an encounter my brother had while helping a friend who owned a Ski Lodge in Cisco Grove, near the Yuba River and Donner Pass.

According to my brother, he was helping his friend close up the lodge for the night, and he went upstairs and began checking to make sure the windows and doors were secure. He went from one end of the hallway to the other and at some point in his progress from one end to the other, he passed through a cold spot. He noticed it but didn’t really think anything of it, and kept going. He finally reached the other end of the hallway and turned around and noticed that the first door he closed at the other end of the hall was open. He went back and closed it, again passing through the cold spot. His room was across the hall and down a door or two, and he slipped into his room to take a shower. After his shower, he came out of his room and again noticed that the same door was again open.

This time he examined the door knob, the latch, the wood of the door jamb, anything that might have explained the door opening. Finding nothing wrong, he closed the door again, and went to bed. In the morning, the door was again open, and my brother mentioned it to his friend who said “oh thats Mary’s room.” The friend (his name was Jim) related the story of this woman Mary who apparently favored that room, and allegedly used it for trysts with a lover (Mary was married). Legend has it that Mary’s husband found out about the affair, and shot both Mary and her lover dead.

My brother had one other strange occurrence, this time on the stone stairwell the led down to the basement gambling room. Apparently, during prohibition, this room was used as a speakeasy, and booze and gambling were common pastimes there. My brother related that the stairs were made of stone and they were approximately 6 feet wide, quite roomy. At some point during his stay there, he had to go down these stairs and again noticed a cold spot partway down. This time he stayed in the cold spot until it went away. My brother mentioned the cold spot to Jim who related that that particular spot is allegedly where a gambler was shot dead after being accused of cheating.

Before I wrote this piece I verified the name of the town, the Lodge and the basic facts of the events as they happened to him. He was careful to state that he put no particular store by the recounting of the legends, reminding himself that folks have a tendency to embellish a story, and that we may never really know the whole truth. I assured him I would present it as it happened to him and let folks make up their own minds.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if I could corroborate any of the particulars of my brother’s experience, and lo and behold, right at the top of the search results was this story:

The Spirits Play Host at Rainbow Lodge by Robert Frohlich

Rainbow Lodge has been a popular way station for trans- Sierra travelers since 1892. And if certain rumors are to be believed, it has also been a frequent stop for travelers of the spirit world for almost as long.

Rumors aside, the 33-room inn of burnished, hand-hewn timber and native granite remains a delightful combination of pioneer history and contemporary comforts. Built in 1930, the warm and rustic lodge has an intimate restaurant, pine log furniture, walls lined with historic photos and even the original spittoon at the base of the bar, all of which hark back to another time. Overlooking a bend of the Yuba River near Cisco Grove, eight miles west of Donner Pass, Rainbow Lodge’s beautiful building and level of service have made it a well-known landmark in the Tahoe region, especially with Nordic enthusiasts. Part of Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort, Rainbow Lodge is a 22-kilometer, 1,200-foot vertical drop from the resort’s main Summit Station via the Rainbow Interconnect Trail.

The roadhouse rests along a section of the historic Emigrant Trail, on the site of a former nineteenth century stage stop for weary yet determined travelers crossing Donner Pass. Legend has it that a young woman named Mary was shot to death by her husband there after he found her in bed with another man. That structure burnt down, but some timbers were supposedly used to build the Rainbow Lodge.

Today’s guests need not worry about stray bullets. But mysterious lights, water taps left running in rooms, the sound of someone crying and occasional sightings of a man who quickly disappears can provide visitors with great stories to share around the lodge’s inviting fireplaces.

“There are two ghosts at Rainbow, one man and one woman,” claims former inn manager Elisa Sarona. “Legend has it that both were killed on the property. The woman ghost, Mary, is said to inhabit room 23. People have booked that room on purpose in hopes of recognizing her presence. Neither ghost has ever been known to be mean or malicious, just mischievous.”

During the 1920s, the lodge’s basement doubled as a gambling hall. One card player was shot and killed for cheating; his loot, said to be as much as $40,000, was allegedly buried somewhere around the property. Some say his spirit lingers at Rainbow Lodge to protect his money.

“One time, we had just opened the restaurant for dinner,” says Lynn Markley, who waited tables for 12 years at Rainbow Lodge’s Engandine Café. “I glanced from the hostess station and noticed an elderly man at a table. His head was down, so I really couldn’t see him. I grabbed a menu, turned around, and there was no one there.” Another time, housekeeper Monica Roth was cleaning a room and happened to turn around to see an elderly man sitting on the bed watching her. She blinked, and he was gone.

Others claim to have felt the presence of Mary. No one can specifi cally recall why the spirit chooses to occupy room 23, but many stories abound, indicating that is where she rests. When John Slouber, founder of Royal Gorge Resort, purchased the building in 1987, it had been closed for over a year due to bankruptcy. As one would expect, its rooms were very dusty and musty—all except room 23, which was absolutely, clean, fresh and preserved.

Mysterious lights, crying sounds and sightings of a man who disappears have all been reported.

Jennifer Ferris, a Donner Lake resident, once managed the bar at Rainbow Lodge. “Mary has been known to knock glasses off trays, touch clothing and pinch legs,” says Ferris. “During the April Fool’s blizzard in 1983, the building was evacuated over our guests’ safety because of the intensity of the storm. The building was locked. No one had been in the building, but upon our return, we discovered the windows in room 23 wide open, curtains flapping and snow on the floor.”

Connie Jackson, a former restaurateur in Soda Springs, had a close encounter of the paranormal kind during a séance conducted by two parapsychologists who appeared at the lodge in the early 1980s. “I used to hear noises of a woman crying and felt a strong presence near the back stairs of the building,” recalls Jackson. “During this séance, I guess things got pretty wild. I don’t really remember a thing except I woke up crying. My girlfriends who were there said Mary spoke through me. They said I cried while telling the story, in my own voice, of how Mary died by the hand of a male fi gure.”

“It’s hard not to dismiss the ghosts as hoodoo,” says Slouber, who sold his 3,000-acre Royal Gorge Resort, including Rainbow Lodge, in 2005 to Bay Area developers Todd Foster and Kirk Syme. “But the stories sure are a lot of fun, and I wish I could have located the buried treasure.”

The spirits may have already spooked Royal Gorge’s new owners. In the midst of a project that includes the construction of a 10,500 square foot day lodge and private real estate development, they’ve placed Rainbow Lodge on the market. Asking price is $7 million.

Whoever purchases the property may eventually agree with others about the inn’s spirited guests. “The ghosts have only added to the charm of the place,” says Lynn Markley. “I think they get lonely and, from time to time, want to be recognized. They do something as if to say, ‘Hey, we’re here.’ It’s almost reassuring, a feeling sometimes like a friend calling. If nothing else, Rainbow Lodges’s bar remains a great place to tell a ghost story.”

Robert Frohlich is a TQ contributing editor and occasional ghostwriter. He ghostwrote Magic Yosemite Winters for Coldstream Press under the name Gene Rose. LINK
I cant say how much of the legends or folklore is true, however I will say that I know my brother to be a very honest person and that the experiences he says he had, he had. Apparently many others have had them too. Part 3 coming up.

~ by irishgrl on September 4, 2008.

One Response to “Brushes with the Paranormal—Ghosts Part 2”

  1. A couple years ago my family and I stayed in the “family room” the one with the bunk beds. I got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. I didn’t have water or cup so I put my mouth down to the faucet and drank. All lights were out I didn’t want to wake my family. When I stood upright there was a woman standing next to me in the mirror. She was darkish hair and wearing Victorian clothes. I immediately closed my eyes and open closed them till I got back in the bed with my husband. Heart pounding. I knew she wasn’t of this world I wasn’t scared she would hurt me just scared I saw her. I didn’t really sleep after that. Next morning I told my husband as we drove away. I googled it and sure enough I read about Mary. This was 4 years ago. I still occasionally think about that experience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: