The Legend of the Stow Lake Lady



Photo credit: Michelle Kelly

The Stow Lake Ghost is arguably the most popular urban legend in the Bay Area, having been told for over 100 years. It was first mentioned in the San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 6, 1908. Its origins have been revised and retold year after year, leading many to venture late night to the lake to test the legitimacy of the myth.Stow Lake is located in Golden Gate Park, and is one of the most visited parks in the U.S. The lake is said to be haunted by a lady dressed in white, known as the ‘White Lady.’

The White Lady was a mother of three children, and it is said that one of her children drowned in the lake. Ever since that day she has haunted the lake in search of her baby. There are many variations of the myth. Some say she purposefully drowned the baby as she had it out of wedlock, and later committed suicide drowning herself in the lake. Others say she was on a boat and her baby fell off, she then jumped in after it and they both drowned.

The most popular version states that the White Lady was very tired and sat down on a bench with her baby next to her in a stroller. Another women came by and engaged the White Lady in conversation, and at this time the baby’s stroller rolled into the lake unnoticed by either women. Once the conversation concluded, the White Lady noticed her baby was missing and jumped up in fright and frantically began searching for the baby. She then walked around Stow Lake and asked people, “Have you seen my baby?” All day and night she asked anyone who passed if they had seen her baby.

As the night came to an end the last place she checked was the lake, and it is said she never returned. If one ventures to the lake at night and she is active, it is said she will be seen emerging from the water to approach the individual and ask the question, “Have you seen my baby?” If a person chants the words “White lady, white lady, I have your baby” three times, the lady will appear. She’ll ask, “Have you seen my baby?” If the answer is yes, she’ll haunt you and if it is no, she’ll kill you. It has also been reported that if a group drives through the lake with cars, all cars will stall simultaneously.

At the entrance of the lake there is a statue of what is believed to be the White Lady, with her arms outstretched and two children by her feet. The statue is supposed to be a warning of the nights she is active. The statue has been reported to move or change shape and become disfigured, sounds of laughing children are also said to be heard if one stands close enough to the statue.

There is one other ghost said to be active at the lake as well, known as the Ghost Cop. The origin of his ghost is very vague, it is said that he will pull a driver over for speeding through the lake and give them a ticket.

If the person tries to pay their ticket they will be told it, along with the officer, does not exist. I have personally been to the lake a couple of times and never encountered the White Lady or the Ghost Cop, but the atmosphere is definitely an eerie one. The feeling varies from person to person, some say it is a beautiful place to go, day or night, while others say it is taboo and to be avoided at all cost. If I have peaked your curiosity and you are brave enough to venture to the lake and test your luck, Halloween is the night she is said to be most active.