Rancho Los Amigos: Is the “Downey Hospital” Haunted?

Posted: August 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

Marsha and I (Kirsten) wandered into the Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center in broad daylight. All these pictures are from that first visit, when I didn’t have my camera and had to make do with the Hipstamatic program on my iPhone. Later that night, the Paranormal Housewives conducted their official investigation. First, however, Marsha and I wanted to get the lay of the land and see what awaited us that evening. We first walked into what appeared to be classrooms and then a farm area. The Rancho, as the name implies, was a ranch that served the needs of the poor residents (the first name was the County Poor Farm). Somewhere on the property, in addition to a fully functioning farm, was a cemetery. Apparently, many of the headstones and the bodies themselves were washed away by a huge flood in the 1930s.

There is something unnerving about an entire ranch and hospital utterly abandoned and boarded up. We found out later that asbestos was found in most of the buildings, prompting staff members to flee the property and leave everything behind. I’m still not convinced by this explanation–why not house the old patient records in the new facility? Why leave behind all of your lab equipment, books, magazines, and slides? Other buildings in the older section (dating to 1880) are obviously so dilapidated that nothing will bring them back to code. Yet, the fear of asbestos and other contaminants keeps them standing, now as graves.

Marsha and I had the impression of a city lost when we first walked onto the property. You can’t appreciate the vastness of the place unless you see it in the light. As we walked down the street, we both felt as if hundreds of eyes were upon us, watching our every move. It was beyond eerie–it felt almost threatening.

We entered one of the original buildings, something I do not recommend. This particular building is missing several stairs and one could easily fall through the floorboards. Now that we know this, we won’t be returning. Notice the turn-of-the-century architectural details. Entering this upper floor almost created such a panic in me that I was sure I would faint. The entire place feels . . . occupied.

The further we walked, the darker the hallways became. Soon it was impossible to see anything without a flashlight. We were vulnerable and exposed to whoever or whatever was inside.

As we left, we noticed plates of cat food which feeds an abundant population of cats, skunks, raccoons, and other assorted critters that have taken over the buildings. I was relieved to be on my way, back out to the street and to reality. When you’re inside RLA, you feel as though you are in another world, one that does not belong to you and whose inhabitants don’t necessarily welcome you. Yes, there is the fascination of history there–but there may have been other reasons besides practical ones for the mass exodus of staff and patients in the 1980s. At least, that is how it feels when you realize how alone you are there . . . and how not alone, at the same time.

  1. mluvese says:

    I would like to join a group like yours however,I am not a housewife.

  2. klaudia says:

    nice!!! i’ve gone myself but during night time very difficult 2 explore….i would like to go during day time but with permission cause i broke the rules by traspassing lol…im so intrested by this place..

    • parawife says:

      It is impossible to legally investigate there, so the PHW stay away! If we can manage to secure permission at some point in the future, we will let people know!

  3. yosselin says:

    I went to rancgo los amigo because my mom had a stroke and they took her that hospital and the 3 time i went there someone touched me and scratched me and still i have the marks in my back and the 4th time i went there someone pushed me and i got the hand marks in my back that hospital is freaky!!!!-.-+.+:(‘(:(:)

  4. Richard Humphrey says:

    As a chid in the 1960s i often visited my older brother who had muscular dystrophy…at the time he was confined to an IRON LUNG ..the room he was in was a large dark barracks type room filled with these hideious breathing machines…some of the patients had been there since the polio outbreak in the late 30s and early 40s…the curtains were closed most of the time…this place gave me the creeps…it was haunted back then…i used to explore the place..what an experiance….

    • parawife says:

      Hi Richard,
      I read both your comments, here and on soulbank, and I would love to hear more about your experiences at the hospital. Did you have any experiences there? How long were people hooked up to the breathing machines? Did your brother have to stay there for years? That just seems inhumane and impossible. I’m sorry he had to endure that.
      Thank you for writing. Hope to hear more from you soon!

      • Richard Humphrey says:

        Hi Kirsten….sorry I took so long to reply…My older brother was at that facility for a few months he caught a real bad cold and they had him in this iron lung…they gave us one to take home…wow..these things looked like a mini sub…seven feet long .tube…with huge bellows uuderneith…diles..pot holes..buttons OMG..tthe only place it would fit was in our living room…the only wierd experiances I remember was the feeling you had in the elevators…like you were not alone..I would always be turning around to see if anyone was behind me….this was acreepy place i would go from floor to floor and just check out the sights….the technoligy has improved so much allthe equipment

    • Judy Ballard says:

      read your post, I lived there for 4 years, during the polio outbreak in the late fifties , one year in a iron lung, rest of the time in rehab, I could tell you some stories!

  5. ceejay says:

    I visited this place with my friends its creepy ass hell but the bad thing is thats its patrolled by cops but investegating that place would be awesome but creppy at the same time.

  6. Chris says:

    Ive always been intrigued by rancho my grandmother worked there till she retired basically that was her only job ever. She used2take me2the old post office get her stamps n stuff. Ill try2make it short i said ill try! Ive always been interested in ghosts the paranormal but4some reason i felt like this hospital draws me2it! Weird i know i would always pass through jst2c. Well i had recently moved across from their on imperial my brothers n i had planned2go there@night so after watching ghost videos we go@exactley12pm with1flash light in hand@first we c a shit load of skunks@least 50if not more as we walk more4some strange reason my gf looks2her left n does not stop looking that way1of my brothers is w her n another is w me out of nowhere this huge white orb comes out of the ground right in front of our eyes my brother who is w my gf crosses her2c it mean while she saod4some strange reason her focuse was on the old folks home that is there mean while while this is happening the orb acted as if it was intellige

    • parawife says:

      Yes, that place is very strange. I wish we could investigate it formally, and see what is really happening there. Unfortunately, it’s a dangerous place and the sheriffs keep it under lock and key.

      • Cesar Rivera says:

        I’ve been there at night with 5 of my friends ….we split up in groups of two only four of us got to go in…. two of my friends got cought by security and got kicked out….the four of us made it inside the buildings with our flashlights we were not there long because we were too chicken lol….. I’m down to go again though…I know an entrence to the building were u won’t get cought by security 🙂

      • parawife says:

        Cesar–so tempting–but we can’t trespass. We have to find a way to get permission. I’m working on it!!

  7. Chris garcia says:

    I still cant believe till this day what my brothers and I saw there I always been drawn to place ever since a kid my grandmother worked n retired from there so I know the place well. But as my brothers my girfriend n I went@12midnight as we walked through there,there was literally 100 skunks out as we walked a white ball of light came out of the ground when it went back in the ground it turned a bright orange almost fire looking felt as if I was in space as I looking at it I still cant believe it. Pls explain anyone pls I had another experience after that ,it was weird cause all I cld think about was that place.

    • parawife says:

      Hi Chris, I’m not sure what that could have been–sounds like spirit energy attached to the earth, maybe Native American, but I don’t know. I’ll ask the other ladies to see what they might think!
      –Parawife Kirsten

  8. Matt C says:

    Great description of the place. I suspect that safety is a reason they do not open this place up to the public. Kirsten, do you know of any legal haunted sites near the area that can be investigated late at night and are either free or cheap?

  9. Sandra says:

    I work here and you just gotta learn to live with an occasional haunting. I work at a wonderful place with a long history

  10. Katie mateos says:

    Wow I just found this. I’m so interested in this. I am going tomorrow. I’m 15 and I’ve had some experiences too! I hope I can go with a paranormal investigator one day!

    • parawife says:

      Hi Katie, if you do go, be very careful. There is a Los Angeles Sheriff’s substation there, and they WILL cite you for trespassing. Stay on the outside, go during the day, and take pictures. They will ask you what you are doing, so make sure to just say your taking pictures for a school assignment, or your a journalist, or something plausible and preferably true. Again, don’t go inside. If they find you–and they will–you will have a court date.

  11. Kristen Kindell says:

    I believe my aunt was placed here. She had polio and was in an iron lung. I’m going to talk to my Grandma and see. I would love to see it, especially if she did live there.

    • parawife says:

      It is an amazing place, and meaningful for those who had family stay there. But be warned, the LA County Sheriffs WILL arrest anyone who walks around there. They mean business.

    • Christy says:

      Hi Kirsten,

      I would be interested in what you find out. My grandparents lived on the grounds in a little bungalow during the 50’s and 60’s. My grandfather was an x-Ray tech and my grandmother the head dietician. I spent a lot of time there and used to go on rounds with my grandfather went to the children’s ward. I have been trying to find pictures of the bungalows but don’t see any. They lived n an apartment on the grounds with my aunt in the early 60’s before moving into the bungalow. I have a picture of that.

  12. Will P says:

    I am planning on going there soon. Anyone have any suggestions to get in? Around how big is it?

    • parawife says:

      BE VERY CAREFUL. There is a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office ON THE SITE. They will bust you for trespassing, guaranteed. We were unaware of this when we went to take photos and wander around. They came very close to arresting us. So no, I don’t recommend it at all, unless you get permission from the Sheriff’s office and tell them you are there to walk around the outside and take photos.

  13. Petrescu says:

    my dad is from french and had 2 two friends ho live in los angeles

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