Real Haunted Houses

Real Haunted House

Hotel del Coronado

San Diego, California
By Shannon Reinbold-Gee

For a hotel as grand and large as the Hotel Del Coronado in California, it seems a pity it hosts only one ghost. But once youâ??ve heard the tale of this tragic young woman, perhaps youâ??ll understand why in some cases one is enough.

The Hotel Del Coronado, affectionately called â??The Del,â? sits overlooking the San Francisco Bay, dominating the beach with its brick colored roofs and sharp white walls. A true American beauty, it remains a stunning and sprawling example of the traditional wooden Victorian seaside resort. Opening in 1888, the Del has hosted such famous folks as â??Lucky Lindyâ? (Charles Lindbergh), Thomas Edison, Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Brad Pitt, L. Frank Baum, Babe Ruth, President Benjamin Harrison, Madonna and King Edward VIII (at the time only the Prince of Wales). The Del was also used as a backdrop to Marilyn Monroeâ??s 1958 movie â??Some Like It Hot.â?

But one of the Delâ??s most famous guests has never checked out and rumors still circulate about her identity. Kate Morgan was supposedly a grifter working the rails in the late 1800s with her husband, Thomas. The two set up poker games on trains all across the country, pretending to be brother and sister so that Kate could use her wiles to help blindside the playing men. They were gifted cheats, but it seems (according to somewhat reluctant eyewitness testimony) they got into a loverâ??s spat and Kate drifted into the Del, signing in under the name of Lottie Bernard (a passenger on the same train she had recently ridden). Logging in to the Del just before Thanksgiving of 1892, â??Lottie Bernardâ? carried no luggage and looked to be in poor health and a poorer state of mind. She essentially told the staff not to worry about herâ??she claimed her brother (a Dr. M. C. Anderson) would arrive shortly with her luggage. He would take care of her.

And perhaps â??Lottieâ? truly believed her partner in crime would come to her rescue, but even after several days, he had not appeared. Lottie just got sicker. Distraught, she got transportation into San Diego where she made the biggest decision of her life. She returned to the Del. Returned to room number 3327 (then room 302). The next morning she was found dead on the stairs outside the Del, shot by the pistol she had purchased the day before in town. Nicknamed â??the beautiful strangerâ? by the papers, her identity was finally revealed. But why did she and Thomas quarrel? Why the sudden separation? Police found quinine when they searched her possessions, leading some to believe she had been pregnant, and realizing her life could not continue in the same manner once her condition showed, she decided to try a home abortion. Or perhaps Kate wanted to settle down with a family and Thomas had other plans… Either way, the story seems to end the same wayâ??in tragedy.

Recently, a medium located in San Diego claimed to have contact with this famous ghost and said that the ghost is truly Lottie Bernard and not Kate Morgan at all. Supposedly Lottie stays on at the Del waiting for her real story to be told.

Regardless of who haunts the Del, several odd things are often reported. People have claimed to see a woman dressed in the proper period and style as Kate paging through books and walking the halls. Lights flicker on and off in Kateâ??s room and the sheets and blankets are played with. In the gift shop, the Marilyn Monroe merchandise used to literally jump off the shelves when it had a prominent place, but stopped its crazy behavior when it was moved to a less visible location. Was Kate angry with sharing the spotlight or might she have had a jealous streak because of some anonymous blonde bombshell making things difficult while she was still alive and with Thomas? Unfortunately we will probably never know, and it seems the more research done into Kateâ??s story only raises more questionsâ??not more answers.

78 comments on this haunted house. Share your story »


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Kimberly says:

January 25, 2009, 10:16 pm

The Hotel del Coronado is indeed a beautiful old hotel, looking out over the ocean. However, it looks out onto the San Diego bay and NOT San Francisco!

Spooked! says:

March 25, 2009, 6:02 pm

My husband and I stayed at “The Del” last January for our sixth anniversary. I didn’t see the ghost but I did have creepy vibes and felt as if someone was watching me from the window of the top floor when I was walking out on the beach. I was unable to sleep both nights because the door of our room kept moving and shaking. My husband wasn’t bothered by this, he slept like a baby. We heard a child crying in the room next door and when we called the concierge to complain he said that we were the only guests staying on our floor. That totally bugged me out!
We also got into a crazy fight because my husband went into a fit of jealous rage and it actually scared me a bit. This had NEVER happened before! I blame it on the ghost.
Overall it was an awesome trip. The hotel is very beautiful and old. You can explore the entire resort at your leisure. The coolest spot is the third floor where Kate Morgan stayed before committing suicide due to a broken heart. The hallway is extra wide, which makes the third floor super creepy. You feel like you’re in a scene of The Shining!
I highly recommend visiting the Hotel Del Coronado. You can relax of the beach, have an amazing gourmet brunch, get a massage and possibly see a ghost!

lick-a-dick says:

June 22, 2009, 2:37 pm

i stayed there for 109 days. the first day i was there,i felt a tug on my man-gina hair;so i stayed there another week…
the next week i felt a hand rubbing my butt,when i turned around though,nobody was there…
i took a shower 5 weeks later.i reached down to get my coconut shampoo and when i looked up i saw her face.
she had a mustache,a beard, she had no boobs,her hair was shaved off.she looked like brittany spears!then she turned into dust and i found that it was GUNPOWDER!i looked around the room and found 4 bra’s lying on the floor.later that night i put them on and masterbated with them.

Jimmy says:

July 3, 2009, 8:47 pm

In the 2nd paragraph it says that the hotel overlooks San Francisco bay, IT should say San Diego Bay.

Charles Haycox says:

September 28, 2009, 9:36 pm

My wife and I went to the Hotel Del Coronado to meet friends for a wedding. My wife and I arrived to the Hotel early Friday monring around 1:30 am. Our reservation was messed up due to the computers down. The Hotel was quite and reminded me of the Shinning. It was a very nice Hotel. We went to sleep that morning and I felt very weird as if someone was in our room. No big deal, I chalked it up to being in a new place. I did not know of any of these stories until the next evening when we met our group. They only said a women was died in the hotel by suicide in the 1800’s. I thought, I am from Vegas and people die in hotels all the time. My wife and I went back to our room around midnite and found our room’s bed not made and a message on the phone with flowers and a card thanking “Gail”. I could not retreve the message on the phone. At 4:00 am I woke up for not reason and loooked at my wife who woke also, kinda weird we both just opened our eyes and looked at each other. I said that was weird why did you what up, she said I don’t know. The celin fan was slowly turning and I got up to and checked my watch. it was exactly 4:00 am. We were in room 3324. After about 10 minutes trying to go back to sleep we heard a crying/laughing and a loud bang. We went back to bed and checked out the next day. My if went into the gift shop as I was waiting in velet. She opened the book on the drive home. I asked her to look up incidents about 4am and she said oh my God there are several. So that’s my short true story. The hotel made a beliver out of me “goose bumps” nice hotel though.

sue says:

September 30, 2009, 4:44 pm

the hotel del does not overlook san fransico bay!!!! it is on coronado island nin san diego

SunnySDGirl says:

October 29, 2009, 3:36 pm

My absolute favorite place in San Diego. I grew up staying here with my family every Christmas Eve. Amazing experience every year. I am trying to get my office to have its Christmas Party here this year, teehee =)

I most certainly believe of its hauntings though. I had formed a very good relationship with some of the storekeepers…amazing things they had to say.

joey says:

February 23, 2010, 7:47 pm

Why is that no one can spell correctly when they leave their comments? Spell check people!

John Streiff says:

April 28, 2010, 7:10 pm

I did the research referenced by Bonnie Vent. I spoke with 20 subject matter experts in 10 different areas of expertise, none of whom had ever been asked about this story before. From that work I was able to determine that, while the case for Kate Morgan being the Beautiful Stranger is compellign circumstantially, it falls apart when the history is carefully examined. I have discussed this with the Morgan family historian, and we have agreed to disagree.

Several clues suggest that the young woman was not a housemaid born and raised in Iowa, as Kate Farmer Morgan was.

First, she had three pieces of luggage for which Kate Morgan had no need.
This luggage had come through Omaha, Nebraska and Denver, Colorado. The Beautiful Stranger said he had come from Detroit, Michigan. As there was no baggage tag for Chicago (which would have been on the route from Detroit to Omaha) this suggests a stopover at Chicago.

The Beautiful Stranger had a letter in her possession signed by two famous actresses of the time. It has come to light that this letter was not an advertisement as originally believed, but was in fact a personal correspondence to her. Kate Morgan had no such connections. Both women who signed the letter resided in Chicago, Illinois in 1892. The Beautiful Stranger likely received this letter during her stopover in Chicago.

The real Beautiful Stranger did know a man named George L. Allen who resided at Hamburg, Iowa located in Fremont County. This man was sent a telegram by the Hotel at the young woman’s request. He would have known Kate Morgan and her husband Thomas since they resided in Fremont County up through 1890. The response from Mr. Allen to the Hotel in 1892 said that Mr. Allen DID NOT KNOW THE WOMAN, but did know her husband, having gone to school with him. The 1860 U.S. Census shows that Mr. Allen was in school in Sangamon County, Illinois in that year. The Morgan family lived a short distance away, although Thomas Morgan was not yet born. About the same distance away in the other direction lived a Barnard family. I believe Mr. Allen was referring to a member of this family in 1892. Because of the nature of the various families’ migrations West from Illinois to Iowa in the intervening years, it is very possible Mr. Allen would have known of Mrs. Barnard by 1892. He was helping Mrs. Barnard, not Kate Morgan.
The reason the name is spelled ‘Bernard’ on the Hotel Register rather than ‘Barnard’ is that it was written by the on-duty desk clerk and not the guest, according to the Hotel’s Chief Clerk, Mr. Gomer. Immediately after her name, the name of the next guest to check in was Mr. Joseph A. Jones. His story is the clincher.

The real smoking gun though has to do with an identification made by Joseph A. Jones in a conversation with the Beautiful Stranger’s bell man at the Hotel the Thursday after the body was discovered. Mr. Jones told the bellman that he had ridden West on the train with the young woman and her well-dressed gentleman companion. Jones first saw the woman at Denver, Colorado, next took note of the couple at Orange, California when they had a violent argument causing the travelling companion apparently to leave the train, and finally at the Hotel the Saturday after their arrival in San Diego. This is important, because it places the Beautiful Stranger at Denver a few days’ before Thanksgiving Day when the Beautiful Stranger and Mr. Jones checked into the Hotel.

That same week, it is known that Kate Morgan was working as as a housekeeper in Los Angeles, 1000 miles West of Denver, Colorado. She could not have been on that train and could not have been the Beautiful Stranger.

Prior to my research, no one had correctly identified Mr. Jones. He was in fact born and raised in Boston. In 1892 he was living in India, working as an export broker for an old family friend named Albert Cheney. Cheney was a Harvard graduate and had bought the export business from a Mr. Arnold who had retired to the San Diego area in 1890. Mr. Jones was appointed a U.S. Consular Officer by President Benajmin Henry Harrison according to records at the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C. Jones told the bellman that his next destination was the Arnold Ranch at Alpine, California (25 miles East of the Hotel) and that after that he would return to his bungalow in India.

Although others failed to find Mr. Jones, instead identifying him variously as Thomas Morgan, Albert Allen and others, he was in fact a real person. We have his photograph, travel documents and even his passport number. He was wealthy, competent, and likely had good faculties and an excellent memory. His story is quite believable. And that is the smoking gun which, despite all other anecdotal evidence, clearly shows that Kate Morgan could not have been the Beautiful Stranger.

There is much, much more, but I hope this gives you some insight into the depth of the research and the nature of the findings. Much of it was hard documentary work, but it was indeed inspired by messages from the Beautiful Stranger herself through medium Bonnie Vent.

Bonnie was brought to this project by me with little advance warning. She had no time to prepare a story by early 2006 when she first spoke with the Beautiful Stranger at the Hotel Del Coronado. And remember that at that time all that was available anywhere regarding the Legend was the story that has been told in this forum earlier. A story which we now see is completely wrong. And wrong not based on assumption or legend, but wrong based on historical fact. No one was more surprised at the accuracy of the communications than Bonnie herself. Her presumptions about what had happened at the Hotel were entirely different than the story which emerged. And aside from myself, Bonnie was amazed as fact after fact checked out historically and the real story eventually emerged.

There is much more we could do, but we may have run out of historical evidence. We have information as to how and why the young woman truly died but, to date, there is an insufficient amount of historical data to validate this part of the story. The work continues.

But I honestly do believe that this is the closest telling of the story to the actual truth.

hannah says:

May 1, 2010, 4:38 pm

Wow! I do believe that all of you people need lessons in grammar!

Rodney R. Byrd says:

July 28, 2010, 12:26 pm

I hate to burst your bubbles but that is not the San Francisco Bay.That is the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean right behind the hotel

What!?? says:

July 30, 2010, 12:02 am

What!??? “overlooking the San Francisco Bay”???? Since when did the San Francisco Bay move to San Diego?????? Thanks Shannon Reinbold-Gee for confusing your readers. Are you negligent on facts? Or did you forget to proof read your story?

Marylou says:

October 20, 2010, 11:33 am

Hotel Del Coronado is NOT over looking the San Fransisco Bay. Correct this, it is in San Diego County and it over looks The Coronado Beach, Uh Duh! That’s why it’s called Hotel Del Coronado. I’ve been there many times, I know because I live in the area, and have lived here since I was 7 yrs old, I am now 40 yrs old. Anybody from San Diego will tell you that, but don’t take my word for it go to the Website of Hotel Del Coronado. You’ll see it is in San Diego over looking the Coronado Beach and just Northwest of the Beach is The Coronado Bridge, Not the San Fransisco Bridge. Again correct this for your books and readers, bacause it is just untrue. Sincerely, Marylou

Marylou says:

October 20, 2010, 11:45 am

On the other hand The Hotel Del Coronado is facing the San Diego Bay. A beautiful Marina and Parks near by. Have you been? Or did you have to get to San Fransisco to get to it? Another Ah Duh on your part! You are sadly mistaken. Sincerely, Marylou

barbara morrison says:

November 28, 2010, 7:58 pm

My husband, my 13 year old daughter and I stayed at the hotel in 1989. We went to the pool and my daughter dived in. She jumped out of the pool almost immediately. She looked scared! We asked her why and she said she could hear someone screaming when she was underwater. No amount of coaxing would make her get back in the pool.
We also had a weird experience in our room. We were trying to get dressed for dinner when we all got very tired. Soon we all asleep. I awoke and it seemed as if the room was spinning. Dark shadows seemed to move up the walls and across the ceiling. When we fully woke up my husband had a similar story about seeing shadows moving across the walls.

meowrie says:

March 22, 2011, 3:57 pm

Hotel Del Coronado. I stayed in room 3519, March 16 2011.
We left an orange on the counter above the refrigerator before we went to bed. It was in the refrigerator in the morning.
I had two small bottles of water next to the bed. In the middle of the night I briefly smelt a sweet scent passing by the bed. In the morning one of the bottles was missing…never to be found.
I have balance problems. In the morning I was standing next to bed and had a sensation as if someone was passing too near and I fell into the bed.
When I stood near the closet I had strange, wavy vibrations in my head.

Barbara says:

April 5, 2011, 3:44 pm

Beautiful hotel and beach. If I were a ghost that is where I would hang out. Neither saw nor felt anything. Would love to go back. Visit it is worth the trip.

Susie Q says:

May 19, 2011, 12:40 am

Lang, don’t be racist. Yes Jose Ruiz is a total idiot for the vulgar things he is ranting about in Spanish. His ignorance doesn’t make us all stupid! Your racist comment in unacceptable.

Susie Q says:

May 19, 2011, 12:44 am

Lang, easy with the racist remarks. Yes Jose Ruiz is a total idiot for ranting vulgar and idiotic comments. Your comments however are unacceptable. His stupidity doesn’t represent Mexicans. Just because he writes in Spanish doesn’t say anywhere he’s Mexican, but Hispanic.

shel says:

October 2, 2011, 11:58 pm

The Del does NOT overlook the san francisco bay. It overlooks the PACIFIC OCEAN and is near the SAN DIEGO/CORONADO BAY. Last I checked the san francisco bay is in fact in san FRANCISCO. Just sayin.

star says:

November 5, 2012, 10:39 pm

i blive she is there. me and my friends went there. i went with my fiance. i always sat by her room. feeling her pain. i talked to her. it was wonderful,except for the fact that i talked to a ghost..but i know what she is going throw.

Agnes de leon says:

January 21, 2013, 2:41 pm

will my parent stay that hotel .My dad saw her after see her
he said he’s never coming there .Mark his word .Well they stay in that room
were lady haunt it . It scared **** out of my father

becky says:

October 9, 2013, 11:15 am

I think she was murdered. I looked her up on wikipedia

Evidence for the alleged homicide was a passing statement (or misstatement), during the coroner’s inquest, that the bullet found in her head did not match that of her own gun.

If the coroner actually said it was not a match, that tells me something is wrong.

SD Native says:

January 20, 2014, 9:30 pm

To the writer of this Haunted Hotel Del Coronado (that is actually on Coronado Island in the San Diego Bay connecting to the silver strand and Imperial Beach near the Mexico border) article or whoever typed it out…in the second paragraph you state that the Hotel Del sits overlooking the San Francisco Bay….hmmm last I checked San Diego and San Francisco were not the same city and 8 hours apart. Please proof read before you post or you will be confusing anyone who lives out of state and wants to visit the area and the beautiful Haunted Hotel and Kate Morgan ghost.

John T. Cullen says:

March 2, 2014, 1:15 pm

See: The dead woman was actually Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Wyllie, the first police I.D. on the body in 1892. Kate Morgan was the ruthless grifter who put a pregnant (out of wedlock; “ruined”) Lizzie up to an ill-conceived blackmail attempt that went horribly wrong. The target: mega wealthy John Spreckels, owner of the hotel. He was in the White House with Pres. Benjamin Harrison at that moment, negotiating the fate of Hawai’i where his father’s cane sugar plantations were. Lots of good info on the site, plus a double-header book: Dead Move and Lethal Journey. One of the great stories of San Diego history, explained truthfully for the first time.

michael says:

April 14, 2015, 12:34 am

First of all….this article is not accurate…..the Del does not overlook San Francisco Bay…..San Fran Bay is like an 8 hour drive from San Diego….the San Diego bay is near the Del…..she should have done a little more homework

Bruce Miller says:

May 19, 2015, 3:35 pm

I was once staying at the Hotel Del Coronado and I was coming in from the beach and I stopped into the gift shop and I was browsing through the Marilyn Monroe items and I noticed a tugging on my swim trunks. The next thing I knew they were pulled down to my ankles. So embarassing. The girl in the gift shop said it happens all the time. I was really embarassed because I was dealing with a shrinkage issue also after coming in from the cold ocean water.

Denise says:

February 1, 2016, 3:56 pm


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