Located near the current site of California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo’s so-called “Scary Dairy” was built with the best of intentions. Of course, you know what they say about good intentions. The road to Hell is paved with them.
Visitors from out of the area may not know the sordid history of the beautiful CSUCI campus. Until the end of the 20th century, the rural location served a very different purpose.
Nestled amongst the hiking trails and campsites above the Conejo Valley was not a place of learning, but one of pain and suffering.
The Camarillo State Mental Hospital, as the location was known then, was meant to be a place of healing, where the mentally disturbed could rest, recuperate, and receive treatment.
Like many such institutions that were open before recent advances in medicine, though, it often caused more harm and pain than good.
Shock treatments and lobotomies were performed there.
The staff, though wonderfully kind and caring in later years, was not always so.
The facility was finally closed in 1997, and reopened a few short years later as Cal State Channel Islands.
The Scary Dairy, although of course it did not hold that name during its years of operation, is today an abandoned building just adjacent to the main campus.
Abandoned, that is, other than the scores of malevolent spirits still hanging around from days past.
The University itself is plenty haunted, even with thousands of students and staff tramping through its halls day and night.
A creepy, abandoned old dairy building within striking distance of the old Asylum?
It’s a no brainer for any paranormal creature.
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What is the Scary Dairy of Camarillo?
In the 1960s heyday of the Camarillo State Mental Hospital, what we now know as the Scary Dairy actually was a functional dairy farm.
It was owned and operated by the Hospital, as a work experience program for the patients.
Mental patients would milk the cows and do other farm tasks in exchange for, well, nothing.
The Hospital, for their part, enjoyed the additional income brought in by their free, if a bit disturbed, labor.
It’s said that the Scary Dairy was also the site of several murders, both during and after its closing.
More than one unfortunate patient met their end at the Mental Hospital, and although little has been proven, legend has it that the orderlies were sometimes to blame.
Of course, fighting amongst the patients themselves also occurred now and again, and the heavy machinery present at the Dairy combined with the looser security there to create the perfect scene for a crime.
Any death under such stressful circumstances is likely to result in a haunting, and that’s on top of the psychic volatility already created by so much mental anguish in such a small area.
Today, the Scary Dairy is open as part of a hiking trail through the foothills. It’s a bit overgrown, a bit graffiti-strewn, and a frequent party spot for local teenagers.
Sheriff’s deputies patrol the area throughout the day and night to ensure things don’t get too out of hand.
How effective could they be against the supernatural horrors that infest the area, though?
Haunted Activity at the Scary Dairy
For the serious ghost hunter or paranormal investigator, the Scary Dairy of Camarillo is a bit of a jackpot.
It’s home to numerous cold spots, especially around the tanks that still stand just outside the main building.
Small objects left lying out, especially keys, are almost invariably found moved or missing when their owner returns.
A few people have even reported seeing them move on their own.
One team used a thermal camera and spotted what appeared to be a tendril of mist forming around an antique handcuff key that they left out as bait.
In the morning when they returned, the key had fallen to the ground. They were unable to see on the camera footage when exactly this occurred.
Spirits able to exert a physical influence on the mortal world are exceedingly rare, and their presence points to a very strong concentration of paranormal energy.
Ghosts tend to wax and wane in power depending on where they are found, more than the circumstances of their own death.
Some experts postulate that the land upon which the Mental Hospital and the Scary Dairy were built has a deeper, darker past.
Camarillo was home to several American Indian tribes, including the Chumash.
It is not known whether the site of the Dairy held any particular significance to them, but the Chumash were victims of a particularly vicious war with the Spanish Missionaries.
The Chumash Revolt of 1824 claimed the lives of over 2,000 Native Americans, many of whom would have been from the region now known as Camarillo.
EVPs are quite easily captured there, given one has the right equipment, and an unusual variety of noises have been reported.
The screams, laughter, and crying are normal, if such a word can be applied to such a place.
Footsteps and the rattling of chains? The zapping sounds of electric shock therapy?
Unpleasant, but certainly not out of place given the history.
It’s the tormented animalistic shrieks and wails that are unusual.
Animal Ghosts at the Scary Dairy
One wonders if perhaps the cows and other dairy animals are still present in a spectral form.
A haunting by an animal is unusual, though not entirely unheard of.
At various times around the country, the spirits of domesticated animals such as horses and dogs have been spotted by intrepid ghost hunters.
At the Scary Dairy, it seems entirely possible that the tight clustering of animals combined with the psychic activity already present.
Such a confluence of ghostly energy could potentially allow for at least a few of them to remain on the scene, albeit in a diminished form.
Most likely, these poor creatures are confused and entirely unaware of their surroundings.
Unlike the human victims of the Scary Dairy, these spectral cows and other creatures are almost certainly harmless.
If you should visit the site, please spare a moment to think of their sad fate.
These innocent creatures may no longer be truly conscious, but they certainly still feel pain and confusion, and likely will for some time to come. It can take many, many years for spiritual remnants to fully dissipate.
Visiting the Scary Dairy
Today, the Scary Dairy is still entirely accessible, and responsible exploration is encouraged.
As mentioned, local police frequently patrol the area.
However, they are more on the lookout for rowdy kids with spray paint and booze than hikers with EVP recorders and night vision cameras.
Hiking through the site and right through the Dairy itself is legal and permitted, as long as visitors don’t stay past sunset.
Local paranormal experts sometimes host tours or specially allowed overnight stays at the site, which can be a great way to delve further into this particularly creepy piece of Southern California’s history.
The turn-off to the trail’s parking area is not the most easily visible, and the Dairy itself is not visible until one has hiked a fair distance in.
The best path to this haunted location is, as always, to get our directions here.
While you’re at the Scary Dairy, be sure to take a tour through the main Cal State Channel Islands campus. The campus was famously converted from the old Camarillo State Mental Hospital itself.
Many of the buildings date back to those dark days, and the ghosts that haunt the school are closely tied to the ones at the Dairy.
And at the end of your haunted, but hopefully not too haunted, day, enjoy a cool glass of milk.
Maybe a cheese sandwich.
After all, what harm could possibly come from a delicious dairy product?
Directions to the Scary Dairy
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