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Herb Chase: Ghost at the Del Coronado
the Hotel Del Coronado
The Hotel del Coronado is located on 28 oceanfront acres,
just across the bay from downtown San Diego.

Courtesy: Hotel del Coronado

Search of the Ghost
at the Del Coronado

by Herb Chase

he Silver Strand off Coronado, California, is rated Number #3 among the "most romantic beaches," according to, one of's rival Internet sites. rates the Silver Strand second only to the beautiful beaches of Santa Monica, where celebrities strut and the beaches are crowded with sun lovers from all over Southern California and the world.

The Hotel del Coronado is an American treasure with more than 115 years of fascinating stories to tell.

the Hotel Del Coronado in the 19th Century
Courtesy: Hotel del Coronado

The Hotel Del Coronado, which was built in 1888, is the main attraction on the Silver Strand a few miles from the Coronado Bay Bridge. The bridge replaced the classic ferry ride which visitors enjoyed years ago when the pace was slower.

The Hotel Del was once owned by San Diego billionaire, John Dietrich Spreckels, the oldest son of sugar magnet Claus Spreckels. The Spreckels once owned the Del Coronado and at one time controlled all but five parcels of Coronado Island.

Spreckels built his own glamorous five acre mansion overlooking Glorietta Bay across Orange Avenue from the historic Del Coronado. His estate is now a very peaceful, comfortable, attractive and exclusive hotel where visitors take refuge from the constant hustle and bustle of
the milling crowds which fill every passageway in the sprawling Del.

The Spreckels' mansion is now known as the very popular Glorietta Bay Inn. The Glorietta Bay is a welcome island in a bustling vacation arena.

the beach at the Del Coronado
The Hotel del Coronado is rated the #1 Best Beach in Southern California by The Travel Channel Courtesy: Hotel del Coronado

While the Del is far more famous as one of the world's most greatest watering spots, the Glorietta Bay wins the blue ribbon for peace and comfort.

Celebrities have flooded the Del for many years. We once saw former President Ronald Reagan courting Nancy before they were married and before he became president. To name just a few others, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Al Jolson and Humphrey Bogart were frequent visitors.

Marilyn Monroe at the Del
The Del was the backdrop for the comedy classic "Some Like It Hot," starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Courtesy: Hotel del Coronado

In 1958, Marilyn Monroe filmed her classic comedy, 'Some Like It Hot' at the Del. The film was recently named the best comedy of all time by the American Film Institute.

Many visitors have been gripped by the rumored ghost, which allegedly haunts the old wooden structure, the Hotel Del Coronado. In 1882, a beautiful young woman named Kate Morgan checked in and committed suicide five days later.

California newspapers played up the Morgan suicide which they attributed to her estranged husband's failure to show up as promised. Hotel guests over the years have reported mysterious sounds, flickering lights and flying objects...all attributed to the ghost of Kate Morgan.

If you take your children on a Coronado vacation you might want to encourage them to search for the famous Hotel Del ghost.

Our recommendation: 'Play at the Del but Stay at the Glorietta Bay.' They were both inspired and owned by the Spreckels, who were the patron saints of Coronado.

Hi Herb! Loved the article you wrote! It made me wish I could have come too! Thank you for the inspiring tour through your delightful descriptions.

Yoka, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, CA

Enjoyed all the trivia about Hotel Del Coronado. Some Like it Hot is one of my all time favorite films. I always wondered where it was filmed. Wish you had more pictures of the insides.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

Great article, Lt. Chase. I am a big WW2 Pacific campaign buff, and must say that I have never read a story such as yours. You focused on a personal story that rarely gets much coverage.

Sempre Fi! Thanks for your service to our country.

Paul Harper
Edmonds, WA

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Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix

Troldhaugen Villa in Bergen, Norway
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts of Europe.

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Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch #20)

Irish sunset

The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.

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John Clayton's travel blog/review
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places in Europe. Here's Why.

Culzean Castle, Scotland
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium. Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

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Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

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Deb Roskamp's travel photo blog
Tahiti and Her Islands


Just their names (pronounce each vowel!) conjure up romantic images: Tahiti Nui, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra'iatea, Taha'a. Her people are gentle; the air, tiare-perfumed. Warm lagoons, majestic peaks, tropical fruits from the land and bounty from the sea all tantalize the senses. Paradise! As near as can be found on planet earth. And, in my experience, the finest way to explore her is on a ship designed for that single purpose.

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Gary Singh's travel blog/review
Monte Verità: In the Footsteps of Anarchy

Chiara's Rainbow, Monte Verita, Switzerland
Just as I reach the end of a squiggling, multicolored path, an acorn plummets from an oak tree above me. It lands at my feet, just as the path culminates at a mandala of Venetian glass, eight feet in diameter. On the worn-out front lawn of Monte Verità, the Mountain of Truth, this path, Chiara's Rainbow, evolves through the colors of the spectrum – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and finally violet – before arriving at the mosaic mandala where psychic energies supposedly prevail. The falling acorn brings me to the present moment.

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