Whiskey Row circa 1910. Photo courtesy of Online Archives of California
Not many people may know this, but Fresno County had its own Wild West town back in the late 1800’s. The town of Coalinga was started when a railroad line was built out to the western part of the county to connect to Coaling Station A, which was then shortened to Coaling A, when then became Coalinga.
The town didn’t really develop much until about 1886 when oil was discovered. Soon the town began to grow as business came to town to cater to the workers on the oil fields. Front Street or known better as Whiskey Row, had at least thirteen saloons running up and down the street. There were also gambling dens and possibly houses of ill repute, all locations for fights and the occasional gun fight.
So what does this have to do with Weird Fresno? A Wild West town in Fresno isn’t very weird (though I think it’s pretty damn cool and makes me want to visit). Searching for ghost stories I came across one on GhostVillage.com (one of my favorite sites regarding all things paranormal). Here’s what they wrote:
Behind my street is a street called Whisky Row. It has been known to be haunted because in the 1930's old saloons and prostitutes were there. Many people on my street have told me stories of things that happened in their houses because our street is so close to Whisky Row.My aunt, who lives right across the street from us, told me a story of a time when she was the only one home and she went to her bedroom for just a second -- when she came out all of the drawers and cabinets were open. We all laughed because none of us believed her. Later on that night I had been a little shaken up from the story we had heard earlier so I slept with my mom. In the middle of the night I woke up to a sound -- I looked to the side of me and I saw a woman who looked very young (about 18) and she was wearing a very short dress. As I looked closer I saw that she was looking through my mother's drawer. It looked as if she was looking for something because she was moving the clothes around. She turned around at gave me a cold look. All of a sudden I got an ice-cold chill in my spine. I looked into her face and I could see that her makeup was running and black mascara was all around her eyes. She had a handprint that was very clear on her right cheek. As she whipped around quickly I could hear her long fingernails scraping the bottom of the drawer as she still searched for something that was missing. I fell asleep that night listening to that horrible sound.Me and my mother got up early the next morning and I told her what had happened during the night when I heard something like the sound of many people whispering all at once, but before I could think anything of it my four-year-old brother starts crying and calling my mother yelling, "Mom they are talking to me." Over and over again. When we finally got into the room his whole bed was shakingThat was six days ago and numerous things similar to that have been happening since.
Link to the original article on GhostVillage can be found here.
The person did not leave a name, but interestingly enough left an e-mail. I plan on contacting them, even though the post was written over 8 years ago, and see if I can find anything else out.
I’m not saying the entire area of what used to be Whiskey Row is haunted, but I love the idea that Fresno County had its own Wild West town and it’s maybe a 90 minute drive away. Even if the town isn’t haunted, it’s still an interesting part of Fresno’s folklore and history that many not know about. Hopefully after reading this post that will change.