Rose Hill Cemetery
Northern California’s vast landscape is scattered with ghost towns, an omen to past prosperous times. The Black Diamond Mines Preserve is one of these towns, which boomed due to coal mining from 1850 through to the early 1900s. The flourishing town’s success would ultimately come to end, as other means of energy were discovered and cheaper alternatives to California’s coal became accessible.
Though these towns are long forgotten, there are still some remnants that display the harsh reality of the lives their residents once lived. One of these remnants is the Rose Hill Cemetery, still existing in peaceful slumber upon the side of a steep, grassy hill. This small, but populous burial place shows how harsh living conditions and high fatality rates in town would have been. In addition to existing as a living looking glass into California’s past, Rose Hill Cemetery has also gained a scary reputation for being one of the most haunted places in the area.
Ghosts of the Rose Hill Cemetery
Being a place of death, with many lives cut short, the Rose Hill Cemetery is said to be teeming with ghostly beings. Some of these spirits are thought to be confused that their lives ended in tragic and often unforeseen circumstances. Typically these involved deaths related to disease or mining accidents from unsafe working conditions.
Although the cemetery is considered to be quite haunted, there is one ghost story which stands out from all others. This is the story of Sarah Norton and how she became known as Rose Hill Cemetery’s White Witch.
Sarah was an illustrious woman, known throughout the local community for her work as a midwife and for being married to an important government agent. Sarah’s life was tragically taken in October of 1879. Sarah was a victim to a freak road accident, being thrown from her horse buggy by the animal towing her, while traveling to meet with a patient.
During life, it is said that Sarah, not being a religious person, had expressed her wish to be buried without a funeral. This was a wish those in town planned not to honor, after all, Sarah was a much-respected pillar of the community. It is said that after Sarah’s body was transported to the town’s church, a funeral was arranged. However, an intense storm suddenly formed to foil these funeral plans. History was soon to repeat itself when the townsfolk attempted a second funeral. Yet, again, another freak and destructive storm rolled through the area, devastating plans. Not wanting to tempt fate and taking these storms as some kind of divine intervention, Sarah was then buried in Rose Hill Cemetery without a funeral.
Sarah’s apparition is said to be the most commonly sighted ghost at the cemetery. She is typically described as a beautiful woman, gliding through the graves, clothed completely in white and with a glowing aura surrounding her. These visions have spurred the creation of her many nicknames. These include the White Woman of Rose Hill Cemetery, White Witch and the Glowing or Gliding Woman.
Visiting California’s Rose Hill Cemetery
Rose Hill Cemetery exists a few hours outside of San Francisco in the East Bay. You’ll locate it in Contra Costa County, California within the Black Diamond Mines Preserve. To get to the cemetery, a short hike uphill from the bottom of the mines is necessary. Hiking shoes are advised if you’d like to explore the area.
If you’re interested in learning of other Californian haunts, I recommend checking out San Francisco’s haunted theater!
Thanks for reading!