Vallecito Stage Station


The story of Vallecito stage station.

Vallecito Stage Station is a small valley on the West side of the Colorado Desert that serves as a landmark of San Francisco. The valley is lush with green grass and even has its own springs, which is how it had come to be known as a true lifesaver to explorers that had crossed the unforgiving desert, which was also known as the “Journey of Death.” The valley had one road and that was the only road that entered into southern California so it became a welcome rest stop for travelers as they used it to rehydrate and rejuvenate themselves and the animals that they were travelling with.

In 1851, a traveler with a keen entrepreneurial spirit, by the name of James R. Lassiter opened a shop in the valley, where he profited selling needed items to the many explorers making their way through. He built a store and a campsite out of the salt grass that was plentiful in the area and soon, many people followed his lead and homes and businesses were constructed in the valley. In 1854, the valley became a stop on the regular mail route as two men, Samuel Warnock and Joseph Swycaffer invented the first mail going through to southern California. The mail was delivered on horseback from San Diego and Yuma, Arizona, and stopped in Vallecito along the way.

Along with the new postal service, Vallecito was also becoming a place for those serving in the Army to stop and rest while they travelled back and forth from California. Although it provided much rest and refreshment for those travelling through it, the stage station also saw its fair share of deaths and robberies and it is from these stories that the landmark gets its rumors of hauntings occurring there today.

One of the most famous stories of this place is that of a stage robbery that happened a long time ago. The stage was just about to reach Vallecito Station when four robbers approached the stage coach with their guns drawn. The driver volunteered to give them a box that contained $65,000 in cash and the bandits took it and ran. As the bandits ran from the coach, the driver shot one of them but when he approached the man he had shot, he was shocked to find that two of the men, not just the one he had shot, were dead. The driver assumed that one of the bandits had shot the other to preserve more of the money for themselves. The two bandits who had run away had escaped into Vallecito Station to bury the money they had stolen.

After arriving in Vallecito Station, the two escaped bandits stopped for something to eat and got into a heated argument. The bandit leader then left, saying that he wanted to resume the discussion when he returned. When he arrived, it was on the back of his grand white stallion and shot the other bandit. The bandit that had been shot, drew his pistol before taking his last breath and shot the bandit leader off the stallion’s back. The bandit leader dropped to his death and the stallion, scared by the gun shot, headed for the hills. It’s said that the ghost of the White Horse still wanders around the area where the money was buried. The grand stallion seems to come out of nowhere and then it runs through the sand, back into the hills.

Another very famous ghost that haunts the station is that of the Eileen O’Connor, the “White Lady of Vallecito.” Her fiancÚ had found gold in the Sierra goldfields and she was travelling to Sacramento to be with him. Just before reaching the station, she became very sick and needed to be carried into the station. Although she was laid in a bed at the back of the station and very well cared for over the next two days, Eileen died. After her death, the station staff went through her luggage and found the wedding dress that she was to be married in. They dressed her in it and buried her in the Valley in an unmarked grave. It’s said that she still wanders around the abandoned station site today, and waits for the train that will take her to Sacramento.

Although the original station is no longer standing, a reconstruction was built in 1934. It still welcomes visitors who want to picnic and rest for awhile before continuing on their journey.

Vallecito Stage Station

Vallecito Stage Station

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