A lovely, picturesque stretch of tree shaded pathways, Pioneer Park is located in the center of Mission Hills. This beautiful gathering place where children play and folks get together to play sports, walk dogs and enjoy the scenery, is steeped in history, dating back to the late 19th century. It was also one the first cemeteries in San Diego and is considered to be one of the most haunted spots in the city.
History of Pioneer Park
In 1870, Pioneer Park became the final resting place for thousands of people. Originally named the Calvary Cemetery, the burial ground began to fall into disrepair over the years and in 1968 the land was given to the city. Almost as if the dead never existed, many of the headstones were taken away, recycled or just moved to another cemetery; a small group of them were placed in a corner of the park as a memorial. And while they built a playground for the children and planted new trees, it seems the city forgot one very important fact - the bodies of the dead still lay beneath the ground in their original tombs.
It’s this disturbance and disrespect that many feel caused the spirits of the dead to rise every night at Pioneer Park - angry that they were forgotten and resentful that their resting place is now a place for picnics, playtime and other whimsical activities. Do those playing Frisbee realize they’re frolicking atop of dead bodies?
According to historic records, many children were buried in Calvary Cemetery and were victims of murders, accidents, drownings and other gruesome deaths involving train and trolley accidents. And while the park today remains a peaceful retreat by day, when the sun goes down, everything changes.
Strange Apparitions throughout Pioneer Park
Visitors to Pioneer Park get more than they ever imagined when they walk amongst the trees and pathways after dark. One of the most reported events is the appearance of a woman who walks around the park appearing to be lost or confused. Her spirit rises, not from one of the few graves left, but perhaps from one of the many that were removed and tossed aside many years ago. Others who come to Pioneer Park say that there’s coldness to it - an eerie feeling that someone is watching you. When experts have investigated, they’ve reported that their electromagnetic field readers go off the charts. One guest captured someone or something walking through the park on film - even though they saw nothing while taking the photo.
Within the Mission Hills community, residents report strange occurrences like radios turning on in the middle of the night and flashes of light floating about in the park.
If you’re one who’s the least bit curious about the existence of ghosts, a visit to Pioneer Park may be just what you’re looking for. While on your San Diego vacation, make it a point to stop in - and keep looking over your shoulder; the restless souls of the dead could be waiting. The best way to learn about all the haunted places is to take a San Diego ghost tour with Ghosts & Gravestones.