2 Water St, Jackson, CA 95642
In the late 18th century, when Jamestown was a bustling enclave in the affluent heart of the Gold Country, a striking young woman stepped off the train and checked into a cozy room at the Historic National Hotel. Time has erased her last name, but “old-timers” remembered hearing her first name, “Flora,” and estimated her age to be about 19 years old.
Flora, later known as “Flo,” mentioned to other hotel guests that she was raised by her grandmother, a wealthy woman on the East Coast. After her grandmother's death, she left New York and traveled to visit a relative in San Francisco. On the train ride west, she met a dark-haired, handsome young lawyer named Henry who was working for a group of mining investors in San Francisco. It was love at first sight, and by the time they reached California, Henry had already proposed. Knowing that their relatives would be outraged, they planned to meet six weeks later in Jamestown, where Henry often traveled on business, to be married. He had come to love the area and had a particular fondness for the National Hotel, founded in 1859.
After a brief stay with her relatives, Flo secretly boarded the train and headed east into the rolling foothills of the mountains. She arrived in Jamestown in a state of joyful anticipation and stayed again at the National Hotel. Details of her stay are unclear, but we do know that a few days before Christmas, the bride-to-be joyfully embraced her future husband at the train depot and immediately commissioned a local seamstress to sew a beautiful, lace-trimmed wedding dress. Of course, they lived in separate rooms and met every morning for breakfast to plan their wedding, and on Christmas Day, Henry gave Flo a beautiful diamond ring. The day after Christmas, Flo was waiting for Henry to come down when she heard a gunshot.
According to some reports, what happened next was a crime, although no one was ever caught or prosecuted; in other cases it appears to be a tragic accident involving a city drunk. The reports are sketchy, but everyone agrees on one point: in the sometimes noisy streets of Jamestown, a drunken young man stumbled into the front door of the National Hotel and shot Henry as he descended the stairs from the rooms above. In the cold air of that December morning, Flo ran and found Henry lying at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of blood by the open door. The hotel staff heard uncontrollable sobbing that sad day and that sad night and the next night and the next. Then, on New Year's Eve... silence. Alarmed by Flo's sudden silence, the hotel staff entered her room and inside they found the young woman, dressed in the lace-trimmed wedding dress, with no breath coming from her lips, sitting neatly on a chair by the open window. The cause of death was given as heart failure, but those who witnessed her loss knew that the heart had not failed - it had broken. Revelers later said they saw a floating "woman in white" in an upstairs window as they staggered past the hotel that night.
As sad as these long-ago events were, tragedy does not seem to be a part of Flo's personality today. However, she is a bit of a troublemaker.
Some of our visitors, whom we invited to share their thoughts in the journals kept in each room, have reported slamming doors, flickering lights, and discarded items from suitcases and shelves.
Our employees also witnessed the otherworldly machinations. Cooks have reported pans falling off shelves and spoons and ladles suddenly swinging wildly from wall hooks. Guests say that when they entered their room, they suddenly turned on the heater and found the room warm, but still felt a blast of icy air rushing past them into the hallway.
For the most part, however, Flo is a cheerful presence who seems intent on a long and happy stay - a fate we wish for all of our guests.
As for what keeps her here, we can only assume that she is here with her memories of her beloved Henry. Maybe the National Hotel and the beautiful plans of that long-ago Christmas season are just too expensive for Flo to leave behind.
Maybe some loves are too strong to fade over the course of a century.
If you see Flo, please say hello and wish her well. Interestingly, she seems to prefer the second floor rooms, but has occasionally been seen downstairs in the early hours of the morning - floating through the dining room walls.