Monday, May 4, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Ione, Preston Castle


Preston Castle  900 Palm Dr., in Ione, (209) 256-3623.  Tour Sat 10-1, Apr-Sept.  $10, 6-12 $5.  Built atop a hill in 1894 in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture, and using hand-carved Ione sandstone and bricks from Folsom, this massive building was a boy’s reform school until 1960.  Owls and bats live here now.  One of the oldest reform schools in the country, it saved delinquents as young as 8 from being sent to prisons such as Alcatraz and Folsom.  Celebrity inmates include Beatnik Neal Cassidy, country-music singer Merle Haggard, and actor Eddie Anderson (he played Rochester on Jack Bennie’s show).  But infamous killer Caryl Chessman was also confined here.  The tour includes seeing a massive dormitory room and a vertical circular “waterslide” on the second floor, and hearing the story of the female staff member who was killed in the kitchen pantry in 1950 (the killer was never found).  Not surprisingly, many people think the place is haunted.  Though the inside has been ravaged, the plan is to restore it and perhaps even  eventually turn it into a restaurant and lodging.  “Ghost Hunters”, and “The Great Escape” TV shows have filmed here.  Special events include ghost-hunting nights--when participants bring their own sleeping bags--and an annual Halloween haunt. 

exterior of Preston Castle in Ione, California

interior of Preston Castle in Ione, California

More things to do in nearby Sutter Creek.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

14 comments:

  1. Wow, imagine the residual energy in that place! Creepo-rama! How frightening to be a young boy and realize this is where you're going to be for an indefinite period. No wonder the ghost shows have been there.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Didn't know this existed in Folsom? I'll have to visit some day

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not in Folsom. Near Sutter Creek in the Gold Rush Countyr. Ione is a teeny, tiny town.

      Delete
  3. Preston Caste looks forbidding and downright creepy so I can see its appeal for ghost hunting shows and events. Still, there must have been a lot of frightened, unloved and abused boys housed within its walls...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ooh, creepy! It'll be a shame if they go too far with renovating it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is one spooky place! Not sure I could manage Halloween there.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Arrgh - it makes me nuts when I write a comment then see the way I have to authenticate it and doing so wipes out my comment and I have to do it again! This place sounds sad and creepy. If they redo it as a restaurant I hope they avoid some really bad pun names for menu timely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a google thing. Drives me nuts, too. I've learned to always do a save of my comment, just in case, so that I have it to add back in if need be.

      Delete
  7. A beautiful building from the outside - it's such a shame that structures like this don't receive more protection.

    ReplyDelete
  8. That's a long and varied history - it must be a fascinating place to explore.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Love to visit..... after it's restored!

    ReplyDelete