Hotel del Coronado
Hotel del Coronado in 1898.
The story begins on Thanksgiving Day 1892 when a young woman checked into the hotel. She was traveling alone, had no luggage, and signed the register "Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard." She claimed that she was traveling with her brother, Dr. Anderson. They had been separated on the train and he had he the claim tickets for her luggage.
Every day, she would ask if he had arrived. The resulting no seemed to drain the life out Lottie Bernard. She transformed from vibrant woman to pale and sickly. Still, on the fourth day, she caught a streetcar into town where she purchased a pistol. The next morning, she was found dead on the back stairs of the hotel, a single bullet wound in her head.
An investigation into the death and identity of the woman commenced. Her sketch was wired to various police stations and newspapers around the country. She was dubbed the "beautiful stranger." Eventually, an anonymous identified the woman as “Kate Morgan” from Iowa. However, Kate's family never claimed the body.
Kate Morgan was born Catherine Farmer in 1864 in Hamburg, Iowa. She married Thomas Morgan on December 30, 1885. Together they had one son, also named Thomas, on October 31, 1886. Thomas Jr. lived only three days. Kate eventually ran off with Albert Allen, the stepson of her husband’s stepmother in 1890. In 1892, she took a hob working as a housemaid for the Grant family in Los Angeles. She told them she was married to a gambler and unhappy with him. Whether she was referring to Thomas Morgan or Albert Allen is uncertain, although it appears that Morgan was living in Nebraska at the time
According to the legend, Kate got tired of traveling the rails and living as a gambler, especially since she discovered she was pregnant. This resulted in an argument on a train in Orange County, California between Kate and this man. The man departed from the train and was supposed to meet Kate at the hotel on Thanksgiving. When he failed to appear, Kate became despondent and committed suicide.
Summary of the Haunting
Kate Morgan is most commonly reported in the room where she stayed, room 3502:
- Bedcovers have been ripped off them during the night.
- The ceiling fan and television turn off and on by themselves.
- "Soft rustling" footsteps are heard.
- Reports of a flowery smell similar to perfume that comes on strong before swiftly dissipating.
- Cold spots are experienced.
- The bed pillows move during the night.
- Make guests report hearing a female voice beckoning them to look out the keyhole and seeing a woman dressed in black standing outside the doorway.
In the gift shop, glassware will “fly off” their shelves and pictures refuse to stay on the walls. Most notably was memorabilia associated with Marilyn Monroe, sold in the gift shop because the movie Some Like It Hot was filmed at the hotel. The items located on the prominent shelf would not seem to stay put and often be located several feet from the shelf. Once it was moved to a less noticeable location, the movements stopped. It is believed that Kate’s ghost was jealous of the attention Monroe was getting.
An employee at the hotel reported seeing a woman in a black dress in the gift shop around 7 a.m., when the store is usually closed. When she later asked the manager about it, the manager was puzzled since no one had been let in the store at the time and because books located at the bottom of the counter appeared to have been leafed through. Several were pushed back on the shelf while others were left on the floor, yet the manager recalls leaving them neatly arranged the day before. Many have also reported seeing a woman dressed in a black lace dress walking in the hallway, the gardens, along the beach and in room 3505.
Books and Articles
- Dead Move: Kate Morgan and the Haunting Mystery of Coronado by John T. Cullen
- Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost Of Kate Morgan and The Hotel Del Coronado by the Hotel del Coronado Heritage Department
- The Legend of Kate Morgan: The Search for the Ghost of the Hotel del Coronado by Alan M. May
For More Information
Hotel del Coronado
1500 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA 92118
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