The Banta Inn located in Tracy, California
Photo courtesy of Running Wolf Productions
About two hours north of
is the town of Tracy.
Though it was incorporated into a city in 1910, the city's history goes further
back. In the late 1890's it was a small, but growing town, and a two story
saloon was built. The first floor was the actual saloon and the upstairs acted
as an inn of sorts. It was said the owner of the place was associated with
Joaquin Murrieta and the saloon also acted as a gambling parlor where the
upstairs inn doubled as a bordello. The inn was a popular stop on the stagecoach
line and was also a known place for gold miners and panners to trade in their
tired mules for a pair of fresh ones.
In 1937 tragedy struck as the Banta Inn nearly burned to the ground. No one knows what started the fire, but when it was finally put out the bodies of a mother and her child were found. Despite this tragedy the inn was quickly rebuilt, but this time as a one story general store. Given it's history, the owners decided to keep the original name of Banta Inn despite the fact there were no longer any rooms used as lodging.
Sometime in the 1960's the owner's daughter and her husband Ton decided to turn the general store back into a bar and restaurant. Tony's favorite place was behind the bar and he was known for stacking coins at the register and playing poker by himself when business was slow. One day in 1968, while tending bar, Tony had a heart attack and collapsed and died.
Even before Tony's death the Banta Inn was said to be haunted; the mother and child from the 1938 fire were said to have been seen around the
Inn for years. Soon after Tony
passed away workers would find money stacked by the bar's register even though
it was locked and no one was in the room. Ashtrays and other times would be
found in locations different than where they had been left. And sometimes the TV
would change channels even though no one would touch the remote.
What are the reasons behind these hauntings? With Tony it seems that he is still at the bar where he was the most happiest. And it seems he still likes to make his presence known. But what of the mother and child, why do they haunt the Banta Inn? Witnesses have heard the voice of a child crying and as stated before both mother and child have been seen. Could these two not realize they are ghosts and are trying to reach out for help? Or is it just part of the incident replaying over and over like a video recording, fading as the years go by? One thing is for certain; the place is definitely haunted and is one of the more known spots in the country for having paranormal activity.
Last I checked the
still open as a bar/restaurant and they are very open to their history, both
regular and paranormal. Perhaps next time I head up that way I'll stop by for
lunch or dinner and say hi to Tony.