"Tuolumne General Hospital"
Original Airdate: 08/30/13
Season 8 / Episode 3
Sonora, CA

Tuolumne General Hospital (sometimes titled "Tuolumne Hospital") is the third episode of Season 8 of Ghost Adventures. Zak, Nick and Aaron explore the abandoned Tuolumne Hospital in Sonora, CA, hoping to encounter spirits of the miners who passed through its doors during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Although not open to the public, Tuolumne General Hospital tends to draw curious ghost hunters who like to take selfies out front in hopes of capturing the image of past patients standing behind them. The hospital opened in 1849 to cater to the illnesses and injuries of gold miners in Sonora and remained an active hospital until the doors were shuttering in 2011, remaining abandoned ever since. Locals (and prior hospital staff) share stories of the frightening and unexplainable activity in the old hospital, prompting the location to be featured on an episode of Ghost Adventures. The documented evidence of paranormal activity was so overwhelming that the show hosts referred to Tuolumne General Hospital as the most paranormal site they have visited.

Preliminary InvestigationEdit

The story of Tuolumne General Hospital, which eventually collapsed under the weight of insurmountable debt and what some say was slow-moving government bureaucracy, is sad in many ways. This historic county hospital provided excellent health care to our community for more than a century and a half until it was pronounced terminally ill by county supervisors in 2007.

To understand how this pioneer institution came into existence, first consider the conditions that prevailed in Sonora during 1848 and 1849. Owing to the want of fresh vegetables, multitudes of gold washers were stricken with scurvy, a disease brought on by vitamin C deficiency. This predicament reached epidemic proportions, as hundreds of miners died during the spring and summer of ’49. Gravely concerned, the kind and benevolent people of this encampment concluded that a hospital must be built. On Nov. 7, 1849, they organized a town government and sold lots to raise money for the noble project. It was mainly due to this urgent need for good health care that Sonora officially became a town, according to an old document cited by The Union Democrat in 1877.

The original hospital was a canvas tent near today’s Courthouse Square. Its attending physician was paid $8 a day. Bottled water was sold to patients for $5, potatoes for $1 to $1.50 per pound. The high prices were not unusual in 1849 due to scarcity of food and supplies in the diggings. In 1851, the county took over the hospital, which eventually grew into a magnificent three-story Victorian structure fronted by spacious balconies. By 1896 it was devoted primarily to indigent care and was widely known as the “county home.” It was moved six times during its long run, expanded, demolished, rebuilt, expanded again, praised as an exemplary medical center and, more recently, denounced as a financial debacle.

Unable to compete for market share with its privately run rival, Sonora Community Hospital, by the mid-1980s Tuolumne General had fallen into accounting disarray. By 1989 client files were a mess, according to its own chief executive. Turnaround time between invoicing and reimbursements was a disaster – far worse than industry standards – and cash-flow shortfalls were unsustainable. By 2004, when Sonora Community moved to its present state-of-the-art facility on Greenley Road and was renamed Sonora Regional Medical Center, it was all but over for old Tuolumne General. Seven-figure deficits were staggering. She was now haemorrhaging red ink at an unstoppable rate, her vital signs were beyond critical and she was expected to flatline unless she received immediate help. Meanwhile, the county poured more and more taxpayers’ dollars into what seemed like a black hole. Finally, at 6:05 pm on April 10, 2007, years of debate ended as the Board of Supervisors pulled the plug in a 4-1 vote. Tuolumne General would be permanently shut down in stages beginning with acute-care services. Longtime board member Dick Pland called the closure one of the most difficult decisions the board had ever faced. That evening, hospital staff members, in a tearful candlelight vigil, said their goodbyes to one of the state’s last remaining rural county hospitals. The grand old lady had served the community well for 158 years. All that remains of this historic sanitarium today is a tiny accounting office, records room, and 42-bed long-term care unit that will soon move to new quarters, run by a private corporation. Today, Pland offers this postscript: “The way things are now, it’s a good thing ted when we did or the whole county might be bankrupt by now.”


The episode began with Zak interviewing former employee of the hospital, Edward Sampson. Sampson is not skeptical of the activities occurring within the hospital’s walls, estimating that there are a couple of spirits there ... even naming one George. After describing the mischievous nature of the spirits, it is during this interview that Aaron informs Zak that he hears whispers and creaking of a door. Investigating the sounds and attempting to make communication with George, Zak suddenly gets a headache and is forced to leave the hospital due to the intense pain. As quickly as the headache came on, it goes away when Zak walks outside of the location. He notes that the headache could have happened medically but also speculates that the pain he had felt may be that of a patient who may have suffered a head injury.

Before lockdown commences, Billy and Jay are left at the hospital to set up the equipment and focus the Kinect motion detecting system on a bed with a CPR dummy. About 30 minutes after setting up the Kinect system in the operating room, the camera detects a figure by the dummy, motioning as if it is helping a patient. This is repeated later when Nick is lying in the bed. Aaron and Nick begin to feel dizzy, the figure appears again and its arm begins motioning towards Nick’s stomach, Nick feels a sharp pain in his stomach which overwhelms him. It is after this that Aaron informs Nick where the figure had struck him.

After Nick and Aaron leave, Zak is left with the spirit box and communicates with whom they think was a nurse telling him to leave; and with the spirit "George."  It is when they re-group in the nerve center that the monitor capturing the dummy on the bed is forcibly knocked over. Aaron then goes to the psychiatric portion of the hospital where patients have attempted to commit suicide, one succeeding. As Aaron sat in the rubber room he immediately (emotionally and physically) appears to be paranoid, as if he may be feeling the effects of those who resided in the rooms. After checking the door, swearing he sees something, an EVP is captured of a spirit asking them not to help.

The episode ends with a consultation with engineer, Bill Chappell, regarding the figure they captured on the Kinect system. They debate if the figure was a result of a glitch. Bill concluded due to the timing of the incident before and after the figure appearing, that it was not a glitch and that with this technology we are detecting something we cannot see with our eyes.


  • Residual Noises: Doors opening, LOUD crashes, Footsteps, Disembodied Talking,
  • Spirit Box Voices: "Jacob", "help...patient...", "now get out", "George".
  • EVPs: "please don't".
  • Physical Harm: When Zak is conducting a spirit box session with Ed during the day, he feels sharp pains in right side of his head. When he takes a break, he feels the pain has lifted and he then becomes very emotional about thinking that his pain could have been from a patient who died from a head injury. In the operation room, Nick starts to feel sick, and at the same time Aaron starts to feel dizzy.
  • Apparition/Physical Harm: A figure with a head and arms appears at bed beside Nick, on the Kinect cam. It looks as though that the spirit is punching Nick, which leads him to becoming in pain. An orb seems to shoot from the ceiling into Nick's neck, moments later it leaves and disappears. At the same time that Nick feels that energy from the ball of light, he feels the same symptoms as he was feeling when he felt something punch him.
  • Apparition: When Zak, Nick and Aaron were driving to the hospital, Billy and Jay captured an unexplained figure that maps out a head, arms, hands and shoulders on the Kinect cam. It looks as though that the figure is doing operation on near the bed, with its right arm moving very quickly near the IV bag stand. A ball of light from the right side of the bed, shoots into the spirit box Zak is holding. It may have been possible that the orb may have been what Nick was reacting to which then vanished.
  • Equipment Malfunction: The digital recorders that Zak and Nick had have their batteries drained, while in the operation room where the unexplained figure was.
  • EMF Fluctuation: The EM Device on the dummy starts to light up, detecting a change in the electromagnetic field.
  • Moving Object: The monitor for the Kinect cam falls backwards with force, the same time the EM Device starts to flash.
  • Visual Sighting: Aaron thought he saw someone behind the camera while he was in the basement.
  • Possession/Physical Contact: Aaron claimed that when he was in the mental room in the basement, it felt as though that he was the mental patient acting of what they would have done back then.
Season 8 Episodes
Pioneer SaloonBlack Swan InnTuolumne General HospitalMissouri State PenitentiaryYost Theater & Ritz HotelHaunted Victorian MansionExorcist HouseAlcatrazMustang RanchThornhaven ManorBattle of Perryville