There’ve been a few ghostly rumors about the county Administration building in Markleeville. Today’s parking lot once was the site of an old house, built by Alvin Grover around 1899. Even back then Grover’s house wasn’t exactly new; it was constructed from lumber from an old schoolhouse that used to sit in the abandoned mining town of Monitor.
Although Grover’s house is long gone, according to several folks who’ve worked in the new Admin building, something never quite left. Some employees claim a mysterious “cold chill” occasionally swept through their offices. Others say they’ve heard footsteps late in the evening when the building should be empty, or saw doors close all by themselves. Most eyebrow-raising of all: after one long weekend, workers returned to find the date on the postage machine had somehow managed to reset itself — back to 1929.
If there is a ghost, it apparently resided in the old Grover home long before demolition made way for today’s modern structure in the 1970s. One Markleeville native who remembers visiting the old Grover house as a child recalled seeing the ghostly image of a woman sitting on an upstairs bed, hair tied up in a bun, and wearing an old-fashioned high-collared blouse and long skirt.
Some speculate that the County’s ghostly resident was a lady known as Mary Gray, a diligent public servant for many years. Born in 1874, Mary served as the county’s Clerk/Auditor/Recorder, and owned and lived in the old Grover home in the 1920s. Although she sold the house to another Markleeville family long before it was demolished, it still belonged to Gray in that magical year of 1929.
If this eerie Victorian doesn’t have a ghost, it should. Now tantalizingly rundown, this hauntingly beautiful Gothic Revival home was built in the gold rush town of Fiddletown around 1861.
No one seems to know who originally owned the house, but in later years it belonged to miner Isaac Cooper — a man with a Midas touch. Cooper first came to California with other eager gold-seekers in 1849 and, unlike many of his fellow prospectors, actually did quite well. Also unlike his compatriots, Cooper took his profits and ran — right back to Iowa, where he invested in real estate and soon became a Polk County civic leader.
But mining was still in Cooper’s blood. In 1875 he returned to Gold Country and purchased this amazing Victorian home. He also invested money in a mine located just outside of town, which proved to be yet another smart move: this mine reportedly produced a quick $3,000 in the 1890s with just a few days’ work.
Eerily, the glorious old house caught fire in 1975, exactly a century after Cooper purchased it. Although the home was partially destroyed, it has since been rebuilt.
You can find this beautiful and ghostly old home in Fiddletown at the corner of Main Street and American Flat Road, still looking as if it has secrets to tell.
Our journey into vineyard-dom began just a week ago. A dozen baby grapevines finally made it out of the greenhouse and into the soil. And boy, were they ready!
So were the bunny rabbits, unfortunately. Most of the lower leaves disappeared that very first night as bunny salad. A quick trip to the hardware store for rabbit fence put an end to the Chez Cottontail Deli. But losing so many tender sprouts was depressing nonetheless.
Fast-forward just one week to more encouraging news: several of the newly-planted twigs have already grown an amazing six inches and managed to wrap their tendrils neatly around the horizontal wire! One week. Go figure!
Pretty soon we’ll have grapes in earnest, as we already do in the mature arbor. Bunnies, eat your heart out.