Buy any "Haunted Spots in California" book and there will inevitably be a chapter on the old , built in 1864 and home to the area's most famous dead prostitute.
The woman, whose name is unknown, was allegedly stabbed to death on the second floor of the hotel in 1870 during the town's crazier times, said Brent Schwager, general manager of , the restaurant that has operated inside the hotel since August.
Throughout the years, people have told stories of seeing her — especially in the days before Halloween, when the creepy quotient is expected to go up and town historians drag out dusty tales about the area's haunted hotspots.
Main Street in the 1850s was home to brothels, gambling halls and all sorts of outlaws, according to local lore. Below downtown, there's an old (now closed off) tunnel that was meant for moving goods, but was also apparently a way for the town's muckety mucks to get, without being seen, from City Hall to the area's favorite house of ill repute — the Pleasanton Hotel.
Schwager said that as the restaurant area was being remodled this summer, he got to work around 8 a.m. one day to find two construction workers outside talking about a lady inside waving at them.
But the place was locked. No one was inside.
"So we all came in and looked around and sure enough, no one was here," Schwager said.
"It creeped us all out for a few days."
Schwager said he believes the long-talked-about haunting is for real.
"Too many things have happened," he said.
"I've closed here at 1 and 2 a.m. and there's just a heavy, eerie feeling. Personally, I get the heck out of here as fast as I can and I tell the managers to do that too."
He said that since opening, patrons have told of doors behind held shut as they were trying to get out of the women's bathroom; they've talked of cold spots on the second floor where the woman is rumored to have died. Lights flicker in the bar for no reason, and the list goes on.
"One woman told me that when Farmer Restaurant was here, she got stuck in the bathroom and had to yell for someone to let her out," he said.
"There was no reason for that door to be stuck."
Erin Ritterbush, director of sales and special events at the restaurant, said her first day was the day those construction workers saw the lady through the window.
"It creeped me out," she said.
"I hate being here late at night by myself. I will always go turn off the lights in the back earlier than later so I don't have to go back there when no one is around.
"It just sort of makes your hair stand up."
Schwager said it's tough to know what is real.
"It's an old building with old bones, so you think maybe it's just settling or something. But you just don't know."
Schwager took this Patch reporter into the basement, which is nothing more than a hole in the ground with a rickety ladder that goes straight down into uncertain darkness. On this day, the lights wouldn't work, which is almost better when ghost-hunting. It was creepy and cold, though probably no colder than any other basement in late October.
But add in the skeleton of a dog or rodent that died years ago down there, and the scary factor suddenly rises.
The tunnel, though sealed up, is still visible, surrounded by all the original foundation and stone. Local lore says ghosts inhabit the tunnel itself, but there's no longer a way to get inside.
So, we'll just have to decide for ourselves whether these spooky tales are for real or just a way to rankle our nerves for fun before Halloween.
To celebrate the building's unholy past, the restaurant will host a Halloween party from 9 p.m. to midnight on Saturday.
There will be a DJ, a costume contest and spook-themed drinks like pumkin beer and other creative cocktails, along with food. Anyone is welcome.
To see a menu or to learn about the restaurant, click here.