By day, Golden Gate Park is a serene landscape with people strolling about, ducks and geese swimming around in the lakes and ponds and the wind sighing through the tree-tops.
But by night, the park turns into a more frightening scene with potential danger lurking in the shadows of trees and bushes, odd sounds echoing through the foggy air and restless spirits taking reign.
As Halloween draws near, our thoughts often turn to things that go bump in the night. Ghosts are typically on top of that list and San Francisco, a city rich with history and lore, certainly has no shortage of haunted places. I found two ghostly tales that take place in Golden Gate Park.
The first tale is about the ghost of a police officer that patrols Golden Gate Park for nocturnal lead-foots. As the story goes, people have been pulled over while driving through the park late at night, issued a ticket and given a stern warning. But when they go into the police station to file their ticket, they find out the issuing officer has been dead for years. So, as the legend goes, if you are pursued by a cop in Golden Gate Park, you should drive out of the park, and if the cop disappears…
The second story is of the Lady of Stow Lake. I found a couple versions surrounding this distraught apparition. One legend, from the late 1800s, tells of a woman whose toddler fell from a boat while on the lake. In a panic, the mother dove in to rescue her child, only to lose her own life. The other legend is about a young woman, in the 1920s or 1930s, who threw herself into the lake in order to hide her pregnancy from her parents.
Either way, people have reported spotting the ghost of a woman with long dark hair, wearing a soiled white dress, searching frantically along the edge of the lake and on Strawberry Hill, the island in the center, for her lost child.
So if you are searching for a nighttime fright, you might check this out. And in the spirit of this spooky holiday, I’ve planned a series of articles about a few other haunted places around San Francisco. So check back next week to find out where a the spirit of a little girl stands watch over her ashy remains.