Deep in the hills of the Santa Cruz mountains, sits a historic hotel at the base of towering redwoods. The Brookdale Lodge, in its heyday, was one of the most popular upscale resorts in California. Hosting celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and James Dean. President Herbert Hoover stayed a number of times. And even the infamous gangster, Al Capone checked in before being sentenced to Alcatraz Prison. The property was known for its beautiful scenery and entertainment. But the Brookdale Lodge isn’t only famous for its history with the Hollywood elite. It’s also believed to be haunted by at least 49 spirits.
Brookdale Lodge – The Brook Room
Built on top of a natural creek, the fine dining Brook Room is spectacular. Though at night, it can be an eerie sight. The waters of Clear Creek emerge from a black abyss at the far end of the massive room. It winds its way through the room’s center, cooling the air. As it cascades around natural boulders and living greenery, visitors are lulled by the soothing sounds. Eventually, the waters disappear on the other side. As mysterious as the dark entrance of the water seems, the room is enchanting all the same.
With seating on either side of the stream, patrons can dine while looking at the flowing water below. It’s truly a fantastic sight, and my husband and I were lucky to be seated at a table that directly overlooked the rushing water. All through dinner both of us kept our eye out, wondering if we would glimpse the spirit of little Sarah.
Reportedly, in the early 1900’s, Judge J. Harvey Logan (a partner of the Grover Family, who began development of the lodge), had a niece who drowned in the creek. Apparently the little girl tripped while playing and fell in to the water. Though the building that now houses the Brook Room was not yet built, the spirit of Sarah has been seen playing in the water ever since.
Witnesses who see Sarah say she can be seen playing by the water’s edge inside the Brook Room. There are even stories of her befriending children, appearing to them and playing with the living.
In 1922, the lodge was sold to Dr. F. K. Camp, who constructed the famous Brook Room and turned the lodge into the popular destination that it became.
A report of a lady in a white dress has been seen over the years, some speculate that she is the mother of little Sarah Logan, and has returned to Brookdale in search of her daughter.
The Mermaid Room
A more ominous haunting presence seems to be in the pool area. Named the Mermaid Room, the indoor pool was constructed with a glass enclosure at the bottom level of the building. Visitors spent their time wining and dining while enjoying the Mermaid Shows. However, it’s believed that the spirit of a young girl who drowned in the pool in 1972, has never left.
After the drowning, the pool was drained, but the bar area in the Mermaid Room in the lower level remained in operation. Reports of a girl floating in the empty pool began to circulate. She has even made her presence known inside of the Mermaid Room, where she has been seen standing near the glass windows of the pool, dripping wet.
Residual Sounds & Sinister Haunting?
Music is also heard regularly in the empty building. Chatter, men fighting, and glass clanking echo within the walls. Construction workers have even fled the property without explanation. And one encounter with a worker left her terrified when she was pushed into the pavement and left with a broken nose and a hand print on her back. Another incident that harmed the living involved a young boy who was pushed into the stairs where the guest rooms are located, and was left with bloody nose.
Many believe that the lodge was built on ancient Native American land. The Ohlone tribe believed the land and the waters of Clear Creek were sacred and that is the reason for Brookdale Lodge’s difficult past.
The property has been devastated by numerous fires throughout its time. The first took place in the Brook Room in 1956. The room was completely destroyed and had to be reconstructed. The most recent fire took place in 2009. Twenty rooms were destroyed. And as recently as 2020, the lodge was threatened by wildfires that scorched the area. Thankfully, the lodge escaped unharmed.
In 2010, a man died when he fell through an unmarked opening while construction was taking place. And, there are rumors that when Al Capone stayed on the property, he ordered his men to commit murders, and some believe that his victims were buried on the grounds.
It’s not hard to imagine that the potentially murdered victims have stayed behind and now call Brookdale their home. But are they the dark and sinister spirits wreaking havoc among the living? Or, are they the spirits of the Ohlone Native Americans tribe, angry that their land has been disturbed?
What Is Fueling the Energy?
It has long been a theory that natural sources of water are a conduit for paranormal activity. Over the years, the Brookdale lodge has seen its fair share of the paranormal. Perhaps the water source is what makes it a magnet for mysterious occurrences—fueling the spirits and providing them a means to manifest. Or maybe, the seemingly disembodied sounds are those of the past that have imprinted on the walls.
Are workers hearing the fights from Al Capone’s murdered victims? Is the playback of celebrities sipping their drinks at the bar on a continuous loop, and every now and again the sounds are picked up by a few lucky passersby?
The lodge is currently undergoing a substantial phased renovation. The Brook Room was closed in November 2021 and work to restore the room has begun. The Mermaid Room, pool area and a number of other locations on the property are all slated for renovations. The lodge’s hotel rooms are currently open, and visitors can still stay on property during the construction phase. Live music performances are regularly hosted in the outdoor bar and garden area. Anyone interested can follow the renovation updates on the lodge’s Facebook page and website.
It seems the spirits roaming around the Brookdale lodge have made themselves right at home. Throughout the years, a number of spiritual mediums have visited the location, and it’s reported that it is haunted by 49 spirits. Whether you believe in the hauntings or not, the location is truly beautiful. And though we may never know the true details surrounding the stories of Brookdale, the magnificent redwoods do. You can spend the day hiking through forests where many of the native redwood trees tower over 250 feet, and are well over 1,000 years old.