The Haunted Rose Hill Cemetery of Black Diamond Mines Preserve, California

The Haunted Rose Hill Cemetery of Black Diamond Mines Preserve, California

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.

Trail to Black Diamond Mine's cemetery in Northern California.
Walking up to the Rose Hill Cemetery from California’s Blak Diamond Mines Preserve.

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.

Haunted Rose Hill Cemetery in California.
The entry to California’s haunted Rose Hill Cemetery.

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.

Haunted cemetery in NorCal.
Graves scattered across a hill that makes up one of the most haunted places in Northern California.

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 Norton's grave at Rose Hill Cemetery.
Sarah Norton’s (also known as the White Witch) grave.

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.

Ghost town cemetery graves.
Graves of a once-thriving town now left abandoned.

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.

Rows of graves in the haunted Rose Hill Cemetery.
The many graves of Rose Hill Cemetery lined up in unison.

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.

Thick tree shading graves in Rose Hill Cemetery.
Tombstones resting under the shade of a thick tree.

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.

View from haunted cemetery.
View from Rose Hill Cemetery.

If you’re interested in learning of other Californian haunts, I recommend checking out San Francisco’s haunted theater!

Thanks for reading!


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About Amy

Amy is a world traveller and explorer of creepy locations. She has visited some of the most famously haunted places around the world in search of evidence of the paranormal. Follow Amy's Journey:

Comments (2)

  • Arthur Garcia

    Posted by Arthur Garcia on September 1, 2019

    If you’re in the U.S. check out the numerous ghost lights, I’m sure you’ll find something spooky/interesting.


      Posted by Amy on September 3, 2019

      Hi Arthur! Thanks so much for reading my article. I’m not currently in the States but will keep this in mind for next time I am around!

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