If you ever happen to be in Ione, California, you might stop and take a tour of the Preston School of Industry.
This giant building, shaped like a castle of old, sprawls over a vast courtyard in magisterial glory, belying its former status as a reform school.
Here, in addition to the revival of pre-Gothic Roman architecture (one notices the rounded arches in doorways, which is a dead ringer for the older style,) one can learn about the famous – and in some cases infamous – wards who passed or failed their way through.
Updated 9/19/2019 – You might not want to go at night, though.
Preston Castle History
Preston Castle, as it is sometimes called, has had its fair share of press over the years concerning all of the paranormal activity which seems to go in within its halls.
For instance, the ghost of Caryl Chessman, who was executed for murder in the 50’s, has been seen from time to time, haunting the alma mater of his criminal life.
By far the most frightening apparition indigenous to the school, however, is the one least talked about.
And this comes as small wonder, since she haunts the very top of the bell tower (assuming she is there at all, of course.)
Evil Lurks Within This California Castle
Her name is Emily, but don’t expect a lot of people to talk about her, especially on the grounds of Preston Castle – after all, she might be listening.
The odd thing about her is, as far as anyone can tell, she was never in any way affiliated with the school.
Rumors have circulated that she might have been connected to one of the wards there – a lover, a sister, perhaps a victim – but they do not pretend to explain why she stays in the bell tower.
Whatever the reason, witnesses say that of all the haunted spots in the castle, this is the most frightening.
“I’ve seen her once,” says an amateur ghost hunter, who goes around the country on spring and summer breaks looking for paranormal activity.
“I’ve seen a lot of ghosts and things, but I can tell you, she scared the shit out of me.
I went there planning to go on a haunted tour of the place, but I got one look up in that bell tower, and I turned right around, got back in the car, and got the hell out of Dodge.”
I ask him what he saw.
“It isn’t so much what I saw as what I felt, although what I saw was bad enough.
She came crawling out of one of the windows of the tower,” he says, “on her hands and knees, sideways.
Her hair was long and black and stringy, and it hung down over her face so that at first I couldn’t see it.
I was pretty jazzed about the whole thing – like I said, I’ve seen lots of these things before – but then she moved her head so that her hair fell away from her eyes, and she looked right at me.”
He shivers, pauses to light a cigarette; the flame dances a little as he recalls.
“I think she wanted to take me up there.
Take me up to the tower to live with her.
That’s what I felt.
Like she wanted to own me.”
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