The rumors have spread about the ghosts of the California Missions and I had the opportunity to go to the “Queen of the Missions” located at 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA. If you didn’t go to elementary school in California, you may not know what the California Missions are. Just as us New Yorkers will usually learn about The Oregon Trail, Californians will learn about the 21 Missions.
The 21 California Missions sparked around the turn of the 16th century when Europe was emerging into the Reinassaince and there was renewed energy and spirit to discovering what lay beyond the Ocean shore. Europe and Asia had started a trade route but it was grueling travel, and Spain wanted to expand their country. With these facts, the King of Europe, realizing there was a large population in Europe decided to expand and colonize Spain while moving their citizens to other parts of the New World. A man named Juan Cabrillo was the one to explore what we know today as California and began to rename different harbors. Since then a few other explorers took after Cabrillo when he passed on from the grueling 6 months of travel and injuries he sustained along the way. Along with conquering a whole area, these colonizers wanted to make the indigenous people of the land into Spanish Citizens. Spain was a Catholic country and so the King decided to start what is known as the 21 Missions, each one marked by a church built by the indigenous people to protect from wild animals, provide warmth, and living and working courters. The missions ended in 1810 with the revolt of Spain in conquest to be their own independent people.
The Mission of Santa Barbra was founded December 4th, 1786 by Fray Fermin Lasuen as the 10th mission in California. The magnificent building was built by the hands of the indigenous people. The peace which was originally establish was swept away by the bloody revolt that attacked this mission and two others. The remains of 4,000 indigenous people are buried underneath this church and the graveyard may show much more. Signs of hauntings are said to populate this area which is still used today as a modern Catholic church.
One can choose from three different tours of this building. I chose the self-guided tour which is open 7 days a week from 9:00 A.M. to 4:15 P.M. ($9.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and military personnel, $4.00 for youth, and free for children). Another option is to go with a guided group tour which is first come first serve ($13.00 for adults, $11.00 for seniors and military personnel, $8.00 for youth, and free for children). Last but not least there is the option of a private tour which has to be reserved 2 weeks in advance and has the same prices as the guided group tour.
There have been many ghostly experiences from workers and civilians which can all be read about in Richard Senate’s Ghosts of the California Missions and El Camino Real. As for myself I can guarantee, as beautiful as the grounds are there is a strong history and a sad feeling as you walk through the silent courtyard all the way to the graveyard. The missions are worth some exploring if you find yourself in California.
To read about our previous Haunted Tour, please check out The Winchester Mystery House.