The L.A. County Poor Farm—a refuge for the elderly, homeless, mentally ill, and disabled—opened in 1888. Immensely successful, it grew over time to house thousands of patients and hold official status as its own town before becoming part of Downey in the 1950s. Later renamed Rancho Los Amigos, it had a working farm, a Craftsman mansion for the superintendent, its own post office, a World War II Army base, and a miniature zoo before it shut down and fell into disrepair in the ’80s (the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center across the street, though, is still up and running). Now erroneously known as the Hollydale Mental Hospital, it’s dilapidated and definitely creepy—a bunch of marines even found a box of mummified legs in a freezer there during a training exercise in 2006.
Photographer Scott Reyes recently built up the courage to explore the old asylum. “From the outside it looks intact,” he says, “but inside you can see the debris from an old fire. It was really dark. I had to use my flashlight on my phone to walk around.” Here’s what he found inside.
One day two ghost hunters named Marsha and Kirsten decided to sneak into the abandoned area and take a look for themselves. Inside they found a boarded up ranch home along with tons of abandoned buildings. It felt like they were walking around in a miniature city – except something wasn’t quite right. Even though all of the buildings were empty, Kirsten describes feeling as if each place was still occupied.
When they approached the army base, they both felt as if hundreds of people were watching them at once, and they both felt this at the same time without saying anything to each other. The atmosphere only seemed to get more and more threatening as they wandered further inside. When they reached the mental asylum, Kirsten noticed there was still lot of expensive lab equipment, books, magazines, and other important-looking items laying around. The buildings themselves were old and full of toxic asbestos.
They clearly needed to be vacated, but she still found it odd how the workers had chosen to abandon all of their belongings. It was almost as if something had scared them off in a hurry. Overall, the experience left Marsha and Kirsten sure that they weren’t alone during their adventure. Something else was with them the entire time – they just knew it. To use their words, exploring the haunted mental asylum felt “as though you are in another world, one that does not belong to you and whose inhabitants don’t necessarily welcome you”.
With this in mind, they are sure that there has to be a hidden history to the hospital, a darker reason that would explain why the workers suddenly decided to close off a large portion of the hospital from the rest of the world for good. These two ghost hunters were not the only ones to have a creepy experience on the old grounds. In 2006, United States Marines were using the abandoned buildings as part of a basic training drill. As they were doing a sweep from room to room, they came across an extremely old freezer that looked evil enough to catch their eye. The team opened it up and were shocked by what was inside.
The freezer was full of body parts that were at least 30 years old, if not older. As it turned out, the marines had stumbled into an old abandoned morgue area. These body parts were supposedly from amputations, but nobody can say where they came from for sure.
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