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Haunted houses of the Napa Valley

The spirits of Napa Valley are growing increasingly restless. Their stirrings have created quite the fright for mortals with their ghostly glowing eyes, chilling touch, transparent forms and other unsettling paranormal attributes.

The first of this season’s ghost stories is about:

‘The Disapproving Carpenter’

About 10 years ago, a couple purchased a mid-Napa Valley farm with a quaint cottage and rundown workshop. They planned to extensively remodel and upgrade the buildings, but even before they could unpack their boxes, the carpenter expressed his disapproval and the haunting began.

At first it was subtle, such as every night phantom sounds of sawing and hammering emanated from the workshop. Small hand and kitchen tools disappeared every time the couple would set them down. Then objects began to mysteriously fly off shelves.

Hoping the remodel would rid the property and their lives of the spirit, the couple accelerated the project timeline. That was a big mistake.

In retaliation, the ghost carpenter increased his efforts of ridding himself of the mortal squatters. For months, every morning and evening the water pressure would drop to a trickle and prohibit laundry, bathing, etc. This continued even after the completion of a full upgrade of the system.

And if that was not bad enough, the carpenter turned up the scare, too. Appearing as a partial male apparition, he would suddenly and quickly materialize at the foot of the couple’s bed, in closets, mirrors and windows. And as his form faded, his gray eyes glowed more intensely. Often times those glowing gray eyes laid in wait to at least startle anyone who dared to open a closet or linger in front of a mirror.

As if being ambushed by the ghost was not unnerving enough, his appearances were accompanied by a greater sensory assault. He emitted a noxious stench of musty old cologne laced with putrefied garlic.

That was the last straw. After five years of enduring all of his ghostly assaults, the couple hired what would become a succession of paranormal specialists. At first they wanted the carpenter irradiated, but it quickly became apparent the only option was to reason with him. During that process, some of the carpenter’s background was discovered. His name was Walter, he had lived on the property for more than 20 years, and made a living as a carpenter.

Ultimately, the couple surrendered by leaving Walter’s workshop alone. They built a garage elsewhere on the property. With that, a serenity settled over the farm. On Walter’s part, he returned all the missing tools and has remained invisible and odorless.

Although on occasion, Walter does straighten up pillows, furniture and other household objects. And, on some days, he can be heard working on carpentry projects in his workshop.

‘The Family Guardian’

Not all local paranormal encounters are as contentious as the previous account. In fact, some local ghosts or spirits are gentle, kind or even benevolent, like “The Family Guardian.”

In the 1950s, a man built his own retirement home among the walnut grove his father had planted decades earlier in the Old Sonoma Road area. The house builder and his wife lived out their golden years in that home.

After their passing, their house was rented out. On many occasions the tenants heard a disembodied man and woman talking in the dining room. While initially surprised, those tenants felt no peril. In fact, those tenants felt the source of those voices were the kind-hearted house builder and his wife.

Eventually, the house builder’s daughter and her husband moved into the Old Sonoma Road area house. At one point during their residency, the husband became ill and wheelchair-bound. His home-care nurses frequently took him for rides outside.

During two of those rides they saw a male apparition looking outside from an upstairs window. The daughter and family feel that apparition was her father the house builder. They believe he was, and is, keeping a watchful eye on his beloved home and family.

‘The Spirited Modern House’

While far from gruesome or malevolent, the next local ghost story, “The Spirited Modern House,” offers a more unsettling paranormal account.

In the 1980s, a young family moved into a relatively new north Napa house. From the moment they set foot into their new home, weird things started to happen in that house.

The interior doors opened and then slammed shut for no logical reason. The front door also opened and remained opened as some invisible entity loudly ran up the stairs, back down the stairs and then out the front door, which it closed with a thunderous slam.

Then, once all the mortals were in their beds, the bathroom toilets alternately flushed every half-hour every night. Also at night, a disembodied entity could be heard stomping around the upstairs area. Its heavy foot-fall sounded as if it was wearing boots.

With the house being relatively new, the family decided all this activity was somehow associated with the property, or land, beneath their home.

‘The Greedy and Malevolent Miner’

The final ghost story of this haunting season’s edition, “The Greedy & Malevolent Miner,” relates to paranormal land beneath a house, too.

Nestled in the western hills between Calistoga and St. Helena is a modest-size house with an interesting history. Purportedly, an old hermit buried his gold mining fortune beneath the original house. Those stories also claim he met his demise while defending that fortune, and this is the genesis of the haunting.

According to the tellers of this story, when mortals would start working on a specific area of the house and its foundation, the miner would scare them away by whatever means necessary.

One of his favorite tricks was to suddenly appear next to the mortal and grab the mortal by the throat with his icy cold hands. At the same time, with a demonic voice, the miner would utter a warning to the mortal of a terrible fate if the mortal ever dared to work on and in that spot ever again. The miner would then finish the terror with devilish laughter.

Eventually that all ended when the dilapidated old cabin burned down and the current house replaced it. Since then there has only been minimal paranormal activity on the property.

And so ends another edition of Napa Valley ghost stories. May the spirits and beings you encounter this haunting season be friendly and benevolent. Happy Halloween.

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