"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

It’s Mystery Fires time!  The “Reno Gazette-Journal,” August 14, 1985:

JAMESTOWN, Calif. (UPI) - A historic hotel with a colorful Gold Rush past keeps bursting into flames. Its owners blame an arsonist--one that's been dead 100 years or so. Ghost experts say it could be the work of a grudge-bearing, bald-headed, pajama-clad spirit who may have caused the great Jamestown mining disaster in the 1850s that killed 23 people. In the past decade, the 123-year-old Willow Hotel has been struck by mysterious fires five times.

Flames nearly burned it to the ground in 1975 and the most recent blaze, on July 20, destroyed the former two-story hotel-restaurant's 80-year-old annex. "I said to myself, 'Oh no, not the ghosts again,' " said Deanna Mooney, who bought the hotel with her husband, Sean, in 1972. Former bartender Mike Cusentino, 55, said he first saw the apparition in 1973.

"I woke up one night in one of the eight hotel rooms upstairs and there's this little gray guy right at the door, about 6 feet away from me," he said. "He was in his 60s, bald-headed with a fringe of hair around the top wearing pajamas and a bathrobe. "I stared at him and in a matter of seconds he was gone." 

The Willows was once the pride of the "Gateway to the Mother Lode," as the Sierra foothills town of Jamestown was known during its wild mining days, and boasted gunslingers such as Bat Masterson among its guests. Parapsychologists called in to "exorcize" any spirits said they got rid of three of nine or more ghosts pervading the hotel. Ghostbuster Frank Nocerino said the arsonist could be one of several vengeful ghostly suspects, including the bald-headed spirit who may have also caused the cave-in of a gold mine shaft that runs underneath the hotel in the 1850s.

But he also believes the series of blazes could have been set by several people who died in a fire that burned nine buildings in 1896. The town didn't have water for firefighting, so dynamite was used to put out the flames. "The rest of the town was blown up to save the Willow," Nocerino said. "I guess the people who were killed in the fire resented that."


  1. Fire-victims setting fires... That's a new one on me.

  2. Another interesting post I knew nothing about to I read this

  3. Strange, the Gazette-Journal article fails to mention the Willow Hotel burnt in 1982.


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