Address: 11175 Washington St, Columbia, CA, 95310
Nestled in the lush Sierra Nevada foothills, Fallon Hotel was built in 1852, and as the rumor goes, it's been haunted by a mischievous little boy, believed to be the son of the original owner. Several paranormal activities have been reported by both staff and hotel guests. Many claimed to have seen the boy's ghost in the hallway and/or their rooms, and oftentimes, he would be holding his favorite green ball as if looking for a playmate. Some were woken up in the middle of the night, feeling as though an uninvited bedfellow had laid down beside them or feeling their foot being yanked by an invisible hand. There have also been guests who got so spooked they couldn't even last a night there; one couple packed their bags and left before sunrise claiming, "Something truly evil resides here." Most people who had supernatural experiences at this hotel didn't mind it too much, though. In fact, they sounded more amused than horrified.
With this notorious information in mind, I booked a room at Fallon Hotel for one night and hoped my ghostly experience (if any) would be of non-malicious nature. My husband and I arrived there at around two in the afternoon. The receptionist, schoolmarmish and clad in 1850s costume, took us to our room on the second floor. The small wallpapered boudoir received us warmly. Everything about it was quaintly charming, and in many ways, befitted its reputation as a haunted hotel. The plank wood floor creaked softly every time we walked. The toilet had a high tank and an old-fashioned pull chain, which I, a horror movie enthusiast, couldn't help but imagine to be oscillating and jangling by itself at night. The antique bed frame squeaked ferociously whenever we made the slightest movement. An old rocking chair sat solemn in the farthest, dingiest corner of the room. Above it hung some black-and-white photos from the Gold Rush era.
That night, my husband slept soundly while I dozed in and out all through the dark hours. I guess it was partly because of my lingering anticipation for a ghost to tickle my feet or sing me a lullaby. The real culprit for my discomfort, though, was probably the darn squeaky bed. Around midnight, half-asleep, I heard some heavy footsteps coming up the stairs, then indistinct chattering of two or three men in the hallway. It lasted a good few minutes, ended abruptly and happened again about half an hour later. Exact same thing. Footsteps and chattering. It was a bit strange since all the stores, restaurants and saloons in this historic town were closed by ten. The place was completely dead then. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No vending machines anywhere. No 24-hour business center. Why should people be walking around and talking outside of their rooms? But well, midnight strolls weren't that unheard of, or perhaps they just checked in very late, I thought to myself and went back to sleep.
Besides that, nothing out of ordinary happened that night. The chair didn't rock by itself. The toilet didn't mysteriously flush. The infamous boy's ghost didn't pull my hair, coo into my ear or make his presence known in any way. Obviously, I wasn't cool enough to be his playmate, and yes, I felt somewhat rejected. It wasn't until the following day after I got home when I noticed something odd in one of my photos.
This is a picture of the corridor leading to room 15, said to once have been the boy's nursery. What piques my curiosity, though, isn't the corridor itself but that glorious shaft of light on the stair landing. I don't remember seeing it when I was there taking the photo and walking down those very steps. One could assume it is some kind of light reflection, and that might be exactly what it is. But I honestly can't think of an object, window or anything that could give off such a luminous beam right there on that particular spot.
Could it come from the wall lamp above it? Very unlikely. Or could it come from the French door on the first floor? Possibly, but judging from the angle, that doesn't seem right. Also, no vehicles, except horse-drawn carriages, are allowed on the street the French door faces, so it can't be a light from a car passing by, either. And if you look at the landing carefully, you'll see that this mysterious ray of light even has its own hazy reflection.
I shot this photo with my lame iPhone, not a film camera. The lens was clean, and the photos taken right before and after this look perfectly normal. And no, I didn't photoshop it. (With my Photoshop skills, I could have created something much more fascinating and eerie than this!) So I don't know. Maybe, just maybe, the spectral boy did play a little prank on me after all.