Anza-Borrego
Desert
State
Park

Unmarked grave of the White Lady of Vallecito.

Photo by Kent Duryee

Click here for the poem, "The Ghost of Vallecito".

Pictured above is the unmarked grave of the "White Lady of Vallecito".  The legend goes that one night in the early 1850's, the stage pulled into Vallecito Station, and on board was a young woman who was frail and had taken ill.  (In a well written but fictitious story in her book The Gold Seekers;  Gold, Ghosts and Legends from Carolina to California, Nancy Roberts states that The White Lady's name was Eileen O'Conner.  She goes on to provide a plausible sequence of events which could have transpired on the Overland route, but Roberts attributes this story only to local legend.  I am in the process of researching San Diego County death records and Butterfield passenger manifests.  If I find any hard evidence of her name or even of her existence, I will post it here.) 

The person we know today as The White Lady of Vallecito was put in the back bedroom of the station, and over the next two days, despite the best care available, her condition worsened until she "ended her journey".   The folks who ran the station found themselves in the position of having to go through her belongings, and in her traveling trunk they found a white wedding dress, and letters from her fiancÚ in Sacramento telling of the gold he had found in the Sierras.  She had confided before she died that she was on her way to get married.  She was buried in the white dress in an unmarked grave.  On many occasions over the next 150 years, she has been seen on full moon nights walking around the station, and many people have become enamored by her legend.  Some have written poetry, others have left flowers on her grave, still others have stayed at the campground in hopes of catching a glimpse of the White Lady. 

Dennis William Hauck, in his book Haunted Places;  The National Directory, mentions four other ghost legends in the Anza-Borrego region.  They are as follow: 

Borrego Badlands.  A tall skeleton has been sighted on numerous occasions, and chased but never caught. The interesting fact about the skeleton is that there has been a green light reported burning in its chest.  This is also one of the sites purported to have been the location of Peg Leg Smith's gold mine. 

In the Borrego Sink area, just south east of Borrego Springs, campers in 1938, and again in 1967, were harrassed by many white-furred, "ape-like creatures with reddish eyes".  On these occasions, the assaulted campers used torches and guns to keep the apparitions at bay. (The author would like to take this opportunity to apologize now for the actions of some of his friends). 

In the Carrizo Wash area, south of Vallecito Station, The phantom stagecoach mentioned in the poem above makes another appearance.   Seen several times over the past hundred years, this along with the White Lady, are the most enduring of ghost stories in the region. 

On Oriflamme Mountain above Mason Valley, just north of Vallecito, strange balls of light have been noted.  This is perhaps the reason behind the name "Oriflamme", which in French means "golden flame".  Lou Stine, in his book San Diego County Place Names, states that there is no direct information concerning this place name, but that there was a sidewheel steam ship named "Oriflamme" that made stops at San Diego Harbor during the mid-1800's.  Hauck's book makes mention of the phenomenon of "golden lights" which supposedly mark gold deposits.  Another mystery for those inclined toward research.

L E G E N D S

 

Of course, ghosts and apparitions aside for the moment, the most endearing and enduring legend in the Anza-Borrego is that of Pegleg Smith and the Liars' Contest named for him.  A new addition to the site shows a brief glimpse of the legend of Pegleg and how the contest came to be.  

P E G L E G  S M I T H  L I A R S  C O N T E S T

There is a page on Desert USA's site about the ghosts of the Anza-Borrego. You can see it here