Surrounded by the giant coastal mountain redwoods of Santa Cruz, you'll find the historic Brookdale lodge. The Brookdale Lodge opened its doors in 1870 as the headquarters of the Grover Lumber Mill. A bridge over nearby Clear Creek led to the small dining hall, which overlooked Minnehaha Falls. You can visit our photo gallery to see how the Brookdale Lodge has changed over the years.
As headquarters for the Grover Lumber Mill, the building was a meca for the early lumber industry. After that era was coming to a close, the mill was sold to H.J. Logan, of which the loganberry is named, in 1900 and was converted into campgrounds and a hotel. The top photo to the right shows the main lodge, which still stands today, although the front porch is no longer part of the structure and the original log structure is now connected to gingerbread structure most of think of as the Brookdale Lodge. (See the bottom photo which houses the famous restaurant with the creek running through it. The log structure is just to the right of the gingerbread structure.)
Between 1922 and 1945, the lodge was operated by Dr. F. K. Camp, a Seventh-day Adventist physician with a strict penchant for prohibition. It was Camp that built the magnificent Brookroom dining room that encloses a natural stream flowing down its center. After Dr. F.K. Camp purchased the site, the river changed course in 1922, cutting a channel through hotel grounds. Embankments were needed to keep the creek in its place, but Camp felt they shouldn't detract from the stream bed's natural appearance. The resulting terraces, designed by architect and landscaper Horace Cotton, lined with granite boulders suggested a marvelous setting for dining, and Camp envisioned a dining hall straddling the fern-lined creek. Trees, ferns and other foliage grew under the large atrium skylight. The round window was lit at night to look like moonlight through the trees. Trees growing through the roof formed a natural canopy. Horseshoes from the old mill were welded into lanterns. A wishing well near the entrance collected coins for crippled children. The stream was lit at night with underwater lights. Bird cages are also visible in many postcards from this era, and even today there are still live birds caged near the lodge's current bar area. This was indeed the Brookdale Lodge's heyday.
In it's day, the Brookdale Lodge was the second most popular resort in California and hosted the rich and famous ... Hollywood stars, prominent families, foreign diplomats, and even President Herbert Hoover visited the scenic lodge. Famous persons passing through Brookdale Lodge included: Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Tyrone Power, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr, and President Herbert Hoover. Shirley Temple and Johnny Weissmuller had homes nearby. Herbert Hoover visited often, and enjoyed fishing off the dining room bridge. And during the San Francisco conference establishing the United Nations, world leaders and diplomats came to the lodge to relax. The lodge was also famous for its first rate entertainment, attracting the best big band and swing groups of the era. There are at least three swing era songs written about the Brookdale including, My Brookdale Hideaway, A Place known as Brookdale, and Beautiful Brookdale Lodge.
The decline of the lodge is marked in 1945, when Dr. Camp sold the Brookdale Lodge to A. T. Cook and W. G. Smith. It sold again in 1951, to a group of San Francisco businessmen and then to Barney Marrow, who also owned the Brookdale Inn across the street; now highway 9.
During the 1940's and 1950's the lodge entered its most notorious period, becoming a home for gangsters and other shady characters, which would continue to influence the lodge on into current times. Secret passageways and hidden rooms were installed throughout the lodge and rumors of buried bodies under the floorboards began to circulate. The passage under the road is now sealed off, as is the famous haunted meat locker where it's said (by psychics) that gangsters murdered their victums so screams couldn't be heard.
In the 1956, a fire destroyed the Brookroom dining area, and the whole lodge was remodeled in more of a Hansel & Gretel theme, matching the Santa's Village theme. During this time, much of the campground was paved for a massive parking lot and the hotel's expansion.
The most famous ghost sightings at the Brookdale Lodge are of six year old Sarah Logan, the niece of the lodge's owner H.J. Logan. Sarah drowned in the dining room's creek. It's reported that she was playing along the creek, slipped and fell on the rocks hitting her head. It's Sarah's ghost that is most often seen at the Brookdale Lodge. But, Sarah wasn't the only watery death of a young girl at the lodge. In 1972, a 13 year old girl drowned in the kidney shaped pool above the mermaid room forcing its closure.
Over the years there have been many sightings of little Sarah Logan. She is often seen in a white and blue Sunday dress walking through the lobby or near the fireplace between the lounge and Brookroom. She has also been seen playing on the balcony of the Brookroom, an area off limits to visitors and guests, and sitting beside the fire in the Fireside Room.
Some have even been approached by the crying Sarah asking if they could help her find her mother. As they turn to look for the little girl's mother, Sarah vanishes. The sightings aren't limited to visitors. The owners of Brookdale Lodge have also seen Sarah running about the lodges' lobby. From their description, Sarah was, "very clear, like a whole person" and wore a 1940's style formal dress. She ran silently across the lobby for about five seconds before disappearing through the office window. The owners must have been quite "spooked" because soon after the they hired several priests and psychics to try and rid the lodge of its spirits.
Visit our hauntings ghost watcher website
The niece isn't the only paranormal activity visitors to the lodge have experienced. In the Mermaid Room visitors have experienced hearing voices, the clinking of glasses, and soft music when the room was empty. The jukebox located here has been known to turn itself on and off when nobody is near it.
When the Brookroom is empty you can sometimes hear glasses and plates clinking and people talking as if dozens of ghostly diners are having a meal. A ghostly woman, has been seen walking over the brook as if supported by a bridge removed long ago. Psychics speculate that she is the mother of Sarah Logan returned to find her daughter. The smell of gardenias often permeates the room at night although there are no gardenias in the Brookroom or the lodge. Could this be the perfume of Sarah's mother?
Big band music has been heard playing faintly in the Fireside Room and in the Pool Room. People have also reported cold spots, presences, and even being touched by unseen forces in the Pool Room.
Late at night doors slam and footsteps are often heard in empty rooms. They are particularly loud from the second floor conference room. Many have reported strange smells and having a sense that the room is full of people when it is empty. Psychics have identified one of the conference room spirits as a man by the name of George. He is a lumberjack and has also been encountered behind the lodge at a place where in the lodge's early years they chopped wood for its many fireplaces.
In the 1970's a wing of motel rooms was built over the spot where once stood the lodge's camping cabins. Room 46 of the motel wing is reported to be very haunted. A woman who worked at the lodge in exchange for lodging has reported that at night objects and shapes would fly across the room. Ghostly ballroom dancers would swirl around leering at her as they floated by. Ghosts would materialize around her bed, their faces sometimes vague and sometimes very very clear. One of the ghosts was a little boy, perhaps 12 or 13 years old, another was a man with his eye hanging loose on his cheek, and still another was a man with a knife wound across his face. Not all of her experiences in room 46 were visual. She also reports that once she felt somebody sit on the edge of her bed and stroke her arm.
The current owners have been told by psychics that, in all, there are 49 spirits in residence at the Brookdale. Enough to make it more than worth a visit.
The Brookdale Lodge has a sordid and long history. The original lodge is across the street, now in ruins from a fire that took place many years ago. The access to the clerk's desk from the lodge ran under the street. However, depending on whom you ask, it was used for gun runner's, booze dealers and/or patrons walking to their rooms after checking in. Every employee has a story, whether it's a story they've heard or one they experienced themselves, each employee will probably tell you that the Brookdale Lodge is haunted.
Our Visit to the Brookdale Lodge
We visited the lodge in the summer of 2005 with a few psychic friends, who didn't want to be named. Our experiences varied. We all agree there's a tremedous sadness, a heaviness, there that dampened the spirit.
One person said she interacted with a spirit of a man who had been killed. That encounter happened in the oldest part of the lodge, the remaining log cabin part of the lodge was opened to us for the first time in 60 years after renovation and that's where the encounter occurred.
Another enounter happened in the Mermaid room which used to be the bar and dance floor with the wall that viewed the lodge's swimming pool. One member briefly saw an apparition up on a small balcony. There was disagreement about this area though with one member feeling very sadly and another feeling very happy. So, we don't have an conclusive evidence at all other than our own impressions, which is pretty much all any psychic can offer. We'd sure love to see the Ghost Hunters get in there and research the place, but it's questionable as to whether the current owner would allow that.
Brookdale Lodge Accounts from Ghost.org
My experience with the Brookdale Lodge happened about 1990 or so. I grew up in San Jose and spent most summer vacations up in Boulder Creek - one of 4 small towns that sit along Hiway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I've read a lot of articles about Brookdale being in Boulder Creek, but actually Brookdale is the next town going south - about 3 miles from Boulder Creek. Anyway, the place has a real interesting history going back to the early 1900's ( I won't elaborate since there is a complete history that you can read at brookdalelodge.com) and has changed owners several times, as well as being closed & re-opened many times. During the early 1980's, we used to go there and explore. I used to take dates there. *grin*. The Lodge was closed at the time and we would sneak in and explore the old dining rooms, find hidden passageways that would come out near the cavernous inside pool area or end in blank walls, and generally have a great time. We never saw anything ghostly, but used to get gooseflesh, particularly in the old Pool area - it was definitely a weird place. One night in the summer of 1990 (I think, might have been '91) a friend and I stopped by to have a drink at the bar there, about 1:30am. We both lived in Boulder Creek at the time and were bored. As you walk into the lobby area, you have the bar on the right, which can be seen through the large fireplace, and on the left is the lobby proper with glass display cases with merchandise and newspaper clippings & history of the Lodge.
As we walked in, my friend went left into the lobby and I went right towards the bar, where I sat in a chair, still in the lobby area, that faced towards the 4-way open fireplace that looked into the bar. I sat there for a minute or so, checking out the little girl who was sitting on the bar-side of the fireplace; she was looking off towards the left side of the room. She had shoulder-length blonde hair, pretty face, pale complexion, a blue & white knee-length dress tied about the waist with a coth belt or sash, and looked to be about 5 or 6 years old. I was thinking that I didn't think it was very cool for parents to be bringing a little girl to a smoky bar at almost 2am in the morning. About this time, my friend began reading aloud from one of the display cases about the ghost of a little girl that was supposed to wander around the Brookdale Lodge. I think the legend is that she drowned in the creek that runs through the building. I turned and looked at him and forgot, for a moment, completely about the little girl and walked over to him. All the hair on the back of my neck was standing straight up. I walked over and took a quick look at the newsclipping and then looked back at the fireplace where the girl had now disappeared. My friend, seeing the look on my face and the gooseflesh all over my arms and neck, was more freaked out than I was when I told him I had just been looking at a little girl sitting in the bar on the fireplace hearth. About 20 seconds had passed since I looked away from her, and nobody had come out into the lobby to leave - the only way out at that moment. Both of us went into the bar and there was no little girl. I asked the bartender where "she" went and said that nobody else had been in there, especially not a child. She said I was one of the few people who have seen the ghost of the little girl.
I live in Colorado now and returned to the Bay Area for a business trip about two months ago. I spent most of my free time in Boulder Creek during that week and on my last night I got a room and stayed at the Brookdale Lodge. (definitely run-down, but neat). I spent a few hours at the bar then wandered the grounds for a while; I couldn't really explore anything since it's all locked up now. Never saw anything, never even got weird feelings, and didn't see any ghosts. But I know what I saw that one night - a little girl as real as you and me. She had substance, depth...she did not look you would think a ghost would be. I must've been looking at her, and looking her way, for at least two to three minutes and she was real, although in retrospect I don't think I ever saw her move which should have tipped me off. And then she was gone.
I was talking about ghosts with my friend the other day and how spooky The Brookdale Lodge is, so I decided to look it up. I have lived in Boulder Creek all my life, born and raised... The Brookdale Lodge is like 5 min away if you drive to it. In order to get where I wanna go I have to drive by the Brookdale Lodge, so I drive by it about every day and knowing all the stories and the history I have always been spooked. I have known about Brookdale lodge being haunted and how the little girl had drowned and so on.
Well my friend had always invited me to go swimming in the indoor pool there. I barely even knew what ghosts were at the time, I was probably around the age 8 or 9 but I knew that the Brookdale Lodge was haunted. I went swimming there probably about twice a week, an indoor pool to an 8 year old is like the coolest thing. One day I was swimming and in the deep end of the pool there is a window that's underwater that you can look into a dance room and it leads into the dining room. So I thought it would be fun if my friend went in the room and wave or whatever.
Before she had even left to go down to the room I had went underwater and looked around down there. But when I went under I saw a little girl just standing there looking at me blankly. She was small like around the age 5 I'm guessing and had a blue and white dress on. I was a little confused at why there was a girl down there. So I went back to the top of the water to catch my breath and went back under and she was gone.
Shortly after that, my friend showed up in the room and I started to yell at her to come back up to the pool. I was really scared, I told her what happened and how the girl wasn't there when my friend went in the room. The scary thing is when she was in the room she said she had felt a sudden breeze of cold air, and all her arm hairs had stood up and had many goosebumps. I have never been back to the Brookdale Lodge since then... the fact that the little girl made eye contact with me creeps me out till this day.
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