By <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Armandoartist&action=edit&redlink=1" class="new" title="User:Armandoartist (page does not exist)">Armandoartist</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Public Domain Photo of Kate Morgan
During the 1880’s California was going through a huge real estate boom. Many developers were transforming the then barren landscape of the State into massive resorts each trying to outdo the others.
The jewel of the contest was built in San Diego.
In 1885 a group of investors bought about 400 acres in Coronado and the North Island for $110,000 (just over $3,000,000.00 in 2023 dollars). Here they began construction on what would ultimately be largest resort not just in the United States but in the entire world when it opened in 1888.
Construction began in 1887 on spit of sand with nothing more than some coyotes and jackrabbits.
They even had a fresh water pipe built from the San Diego River under San Diego Bay to the hotel. A ferry service (no bridges had yet been built) from San Diego to Coronado created.
In the last decade of the 19th century there was simply no greater vacation experience than the Del. For the wealthy of course.
The world’s first oil furnace was built in the basement. It was also the first hotel in the world built wired for electricity. At the time the electrical wires were spun inside the oil pipes.
By the roaring 1920’s the hotel had not only hosted 4 US Presidents but it had become the playground of Hollywood’s elite including Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Mae West, Katherine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers to name drop but a few.
Although the US Navy never took over the hotel in World War II – as it did with many other west coast resorts – the hotel did house pilots training to fly off the aircraft carriers in the Pacific War. Priority was also given to the families and spouses of officers going to war because there was the real danger it would be the last time they’d see their husbands and fathers.
By the early 1960’s the hotel was really beginning to show its age and was nearly demolished after being bought by a local millionaire. Instead, he sunk $150 million (nearly 1.5 billion in 2023 dollars) into the hotel bringing it up to date.
In 1996 the Traveler’s Group bought the hotel and in 2001 and they did another $55 million (just over $90 million in 2023 dollars) renovation on the resort including seismic retrofitting.
They hotel went through a number of owners until 2017 when it was bought by Hilton Hotels who did a 3 year renovation beginning in 2019 at a cost of $400 million.
On March 26, 2020 the hotel for the first time in it’s long history due to lowered revenue because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The hotel is currently open again to the public.
Despite the resort’s age of nearly 150 years it has only collected one ghost; that is one of the most famous ghosts in the world.
Kate Morgan, aged 24, arrived at the hotel on Thanksgiving Day, 1892. She is described as seeming sad and not very healthy.
Although Ms Morgan can be verified historically – a photo of her is above - her story varies here: 1) she was waiting her estranged husband – or perhaps a new lover – who never came; 2) she was waiting for her brother – a doctor – to come help her with the stomach cancer she was suffered from; he also never came.
Kate was said to spend her 5 days at the hotel quietly – taking walks on the beach – before she made the trip into San Diego to buy one thing; a handgun.
On the 5th day of her stay Kate was found dead on the stairs leading to the beach. Her death was ruled a suicide; her death was from a self inflicted gunshot.
Having no idea who she was the police sent her photo to agencies all over the Country identifying only as the “Beautiful Stranger”.
Eventually Kate was identified as a domestic worker working for a wealthy Los Angeles family. She was married but she and her husband were estranged.
If you would like to get to know Kate Morgan better and learn all of her story, there is a book Beautiful Stranger which can be purchased on the hotel’s website (link above).
Kate’s apparition is seen both in the hotel’s hallways and on the beach she took her lonely walks on with the hotspot being near the hotel giftshop where fragile items have flew off of the shelves but always land upright and unbroken.
But if you really meet the ghost of Kate Morgan you need to book the most requested room in the entire hotel; Kate’s former room on the third floor.
Reports of paranormal activity in her room include: the tv turning itself on and off; phantom footsteps; a disembodied female voice; objects moving on their own; doors open and closing on their own; flickering lights; unexplained breezes; hot and cold spots as well as sudden changes in temperatures; unexplained smells and a feeling of not being alone.