The Hotel del Coronado, which opened in 1888, is one of San Diego’s most famous and iconic structures. It has hosted all manner of royalty, both foreign and domestic. Marilyn Monroe lived on site during the filming of the 1959 comedy classic, Some Like It Hot. The late, great Richard Matheson’s stunning time travel novel, Bid Time Return (later filmed as Somewhere in Time) took place there.
But above all else the Hotel Del—as most refer to it—is haunted.
The story begins only a few years after the opening of the Hotel del Coronado and involves a young woman from Iowa named Kate Morgan. Apparently Kate and her
husband, Tom Morgan, were con artists. Their scam involved riding trains all over the west and having the attractive Kate lure unsuspecting passengers into card games with Tom, who she introduced as her brother.
Tom, a skilled gambler and shyster, always did a number on the poor saps. Late in 1892, while on a train bound for San Diego, it seems that Kate and Tom had a fight. It might have been that Kate was pregnant and wanted to settle down somewhere; or perhaps it involved her, uh, indiscretions. (Kate was known to mess around.) Whatever; Tom got off the train while Kate continued on, though he did say that he would meet her in San Diego for Thanksgiving.
Kate checked into room 302 of the relatively new Hotel del Coronado as “Lottie Bernard” after buying a gun. Thanksgiving came and went, but no Tom. During her four- or five-day stay she made friends with some of the staff, who would later say that she appeared ill and rather depressed. There was speculation that she self-aborted her unborn baby.
Early on November 29th the twenty-eight-year-old Kate Morgan’s body was found on the steps leading down to the beach, just outside the Hotel Del. She had been shot in the head the night before. The San Diego County Coroner deemed it a suicide. Since that time there has been speculation that Kate was actually murdered, possibly by Tom Morgan. He might have also murdered a maid who had befriended Kate. The maid, who may have known something, disappeared off the face of the Earth a couple of days later.
Subsequently, weird stuff began occurring in Kate’s room 302, since then renumbered 3312, and also in room 3502—the room in which the maid was staying before she disappeared. Lights have turned on and off in both rooms, which at times have turned icy cold for no reason. Low voices have been heard; curtains have fluttered.
There have been reports of a face on the television screen—when the TV was turned off. Kate’s ghostly image has been seen gliding along the hotel corridors and standing at windows. Objects have been reported moving around. The bulbs in a socket over the steps where Kate’s body was found are constantly replaced, as they sputter out. If Kate Morgan—and the maid—are still around, they must surely be trying to tell us something.
Paranormal researchers have used just about everything at their disposal to document the strange occurrences at the Hotel del Coronado. Worldwide interest in the ghost of Kate Morgan continues to this day.
A number of books document this fascinating story. Check out the one published by the Hotel del Coronado Heritage Dept., titled, Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado.
Here is another early review on my new thriller, Freedom’s Hand, which I think nails it:
Powerful, thought-provoking and a bit frightening. Although the subject matter of a modern-day concentration camp is painful to read, I could not put this book down. It serves as both a reminder of the past and a warning to remember “never again” to let something like this happen to anyone.
SOME FREE SWAG
The third and fourth books in my Ro-lan adventure-fantasy series can be downloaded for free on Kindle this weekend. The Sorcerer of Mesharra (Ro-lan: Book Three) is available for one day only on Saturday, August 31st. The final book in the series, The Beasts of Zammar (Ro-lan: Book Four) can be downloaded free for the first time on Sunday, September 1st. Enjoy—and have a great Labor Day weekend!