He's Spending Quarantine in a Ghost Town

Brent Underwood describes strange encounters in Cerro Gordo
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2020 12:54 PM CDT
He's Spending Quarantine in a Ghost Town
This 2014 photo shows the abandoned town of Cerro Gordo, Calif.   (Wikimedia/QKC)

There's perhaps no better place to ride out a pandemic than in a ghost town, so long as you don't mind the ghosts. And Brent Underwood, co-owner of a historic California mining town abandoned in the 1880s, insists they're present. "There have been too many incidents of mischief and things that I can't explain" in the two months he's been shut away in Cerro Gordo, some 200 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The town with about 20 buildings "is well-known for being a ghost town, but prior to this I didn't believe it much," Underwood tells the San Antonio Express-News. However, he swears he's seen the face of a miner in the town's saloon, which features a blood stain beneath a bullet hole in the wall. Atlas Obscura reports he saw another face in the window of a house before the curtain suddenly closed.

Weirder still, he says he switched the home's light off then padlocked its door—and says he found the light on again the next night. Underwood sometimes gets an odd feeling when in a building, but in one bunkhouse, the feeling is "like needles in my skin." There's no leaving. Underwood (who hopes to fix up the buildings and make the town a tourist destination) drove 22 hours from his home in Austin to relieve the town's caretaker on March 18. He was then trapped as a storm blanketed Cerro Gordo in several feet of snow. But Underwood isn't complaining, even with a dwindling food supply and his closest neighbors 20 miles away, down a dirt road next to a cliff. "Every day that I'm up here, I fall more in love with it," he tells Atlas Obscura. As for the ghosts, "I haven't had any negative interactions," Underwood tells the Express-News. "I think they are more curious." (More ghost town stories.)

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