Imagine being locked down in an abandoned town because of a freak snowstorm during the pandemic while ghosts seize the opportunity to haunt you at every chance they get. For this Austin, Texas man, it’s a reality.
The world has been in lockdown for the past two months due to coronavirus and the government. Meanwhile, Brent Underwood has spent his self-isolation alone in Cerro Gordo — a ghost town about 200 miles northeast of Los Angeles that was once a bustling mining town abandoned since the 1880s. Cerro Gordo is also well known for having a long history of death and murder.
“Cerro Gordo is well-known for being a ghost town, but prior to this I didn’t believe it much,” Underwood said.
“There are stories that some people would surround their beds in sandbags to stop stray bullets from hitting them in the night because there were so many shootings,” Underwood said.
Underwood, who owns HK Austin hostel, bought Cerro Gordo in 2018 after a friend jokingly said he should purchase it. So he did and decided to renovate it so others can experience the town’s history.
Since then, Underwood travels twice a month to California to work on the renovations. When the COVID lockdown began, Underwood drove out to relieve the property’s caretaker in March.
After he arrived, a freak snowstorm came through and buried the ghost town in several feet of snow, trapping Underwood in. The closest neighbors were about 20 miles away. And with most of the drive out of Cerra Gordo consisting of a dirt road next to a cliff, Underwood had no choice but to just stay by himself in the town.
However, he says he is not alone.
“Sometimes, I will be in a building and get a weird feeling and want to run out, and the feeling will just get worse until I leave,” Underwood said.
Cerro Gordo has quite a few ghost tales, with people reporting seeing children, murdered miners, and other phenomena throughout the town.
The TV show “Ghost Adventures” featured the town in an episode, determining there were spirits that roamed the properties.
“There have been too many incidents of mischief and things that I can’t explain,” Underwood said. “I haven’t had any negative interactions; I don’t think the ghosts are out to get me. I think they are more curious.”
One night, as Underwood walked by a locked-up house, he said he saw a kitchen light on and saw a face in the window before the curtain closed shut. He said he is the only one with a key. He went into the home and turned off the light, but by the next night, the light was somehow turned back on.
While he has been staying in the Belshaw House, which is where the ghosts of children are often spotted or heard running about, he said he has only experienced books mysteriously falling off the shelves. Underwood said one time he saw a miner’s face in the back of the saloon.
Underwood said he can feel when something is not quite right.
“There is a bunkhouse that I don’t like to go into because I get too eerie of a feeling when I try to go down this one hallway,” Underwood said. “And the closer I get to these bedrooms, the worse the feeling is; it’s like needles in my skin.”
“It’s pretty simple,” he laughed. “I have been slowly figuring out where I don’t want to go … but I try not to fixate on (the ghosts).”
Despite the weird stuff going on, the quarantine has given Underwood the chance to fall in love with the town.
He said he doesn’t have many tools and can’t get any contractors out to the property, so it has been difficult to fix up any of the old buildings.
“I put my life savings into this and there are about 20 buildings that each need significant renovation, so I have been going building by building doing what I can,” Underwood said.
Underwood has also been teaching himself geology, photography, and studying animal tracks. He has also started hiking and exploring the mines that tunnel under the town.
But it hasn’t been an easy two months for Underwood, he arrived with only two weeks’ worth of provisions and has had to ration as well as scavenge what he can find in the town. He is also without any running water, something that he said he really misses most about his Austin apartment.
“I am just trying to embrace the situation; it has been good and bad.” Underwood said. “I haven’t had to be as consumed with the news, so I haven’t had to see the effects of the coronavirus as much. I am also finding comfort in the fact that, because everyone else is stuck inside too, I am not really missing anything.
“I think everyone will remember their time in quarantine and this sure has been an interesting time for me to look back on.”
If you would like too check out the Ghost Adventures episode you’re in luck, we dug it up for you:
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