Apparently, the Firehouse No. 1 Museum in Nevada City has been haunted. There were reports of unnatural patches of cold air, cabinet doors that repeatedly flew open until told to stay shut, at least two reports of disembodied footsteps, a photograph that shows a boy who wasn’t present when it was taken, and even a story of a Jesuit priest and two grad students seeing (and presumably hearing) a “red-haired woman wearing finery from another time” playing a piano that originally came from “a Gold Rush era whorehouse.”
What drew my attention to this museum, though, was its connection to the history of Chinese temples in California. The museum’s website informs us that it “houses the altar and other artifacts from the Hou Wang Temple and the Kuan Yin Temple, which were located in Grass Valley from 1877 to 1938.” There were multiple reports of strange things happening near the altar:
Viewers of a thousand-year-old [sic*] Taoist shrine, taken from a Grass Valley joss house, were being shoved by unseen forces. Some said they were tripped by something they couldn’t see. A psychic was called in and said he had contacted two Chinese spirits who admitted tripping pagans [sic**] who got too close to the sacred altar. The psychic performed an exorcism to rid the museum of the ghostly “trippers” and the museum director put up a rail to keep viewers back from the shrine. Hard to tell which one it was, but one of the remedies worked. No more shoving and other rude behaviors from Gold Rush spirits at Nevada City’s Firehouse No. 1 Museum.
*It is possible that the altar was brought from China and was indeed 1000 years old, but I haven’t seen any documentation that this was the case.
**Presumably, for the spirits, “pagans” meant those who were not of their religion.
Image Credit: Nevada County Historical Society.