Stow Lake: The legend of the Lady in White

The famous legend of Stow Lake has been circulating the Bay Area for nearly a century where the supposed ghost haunts the locals.

And so the story goes something like this:

In the years prior to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, a beautiful young mother lived in the city with her infant child. One day, the woman decided to take her baby on a walk around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. While strolling, the woman spotted an old friend, and the two began to converse on a bench to catch up, with the stroller right next to her.

After a few minutes, the woman turned to check on her baby.

To her horror, the stroller was no longer next to her and rolled away unnoticed. In a panic, she ran around the lake and asked people if they had seen her baby.

Realization hit when finally she registered that the stroller rolled into the lake. She ran into the lake looking for her infant and that was the last anyone saw of her – alive.

There is also a belief that the woman’s spirit resides in a nearby statue, known as the “Pioneer Mother”. Being as the statue is of a mother and two children, people believe the energy of the mother resides in the Pioneer Mother to seek refuge.

The Rumors

For the last century, people have reported seeing a tormented lady in a white dress strolling the perimeter of Stow Lake. Other reports say that if you drive there with your friends in a group of cars, all the cars will stall at precisely the same time.

Another element to the legend involves the Pioneer Woman statue. They say if you approach the statue at night, you may get glimpses of the statues moving, as if scanning the lake for something–a baby.

Some even say that she approaches them, begging them to help her find her missing baby. If you answer, “yes”, the white lady will haunt you and if you say “no”, she’ll kill you.

First Hand Account

As someone who was raised in the Bay Area, I have only heard the several renditions of the ghost of Stow Lake. My curiosity peaked when I turned 16 and learned how to drive. With a group of friends, we set out to experience Stow Lake right before it hit midnight.

My friend was driving just about 10 mph on the road surrounding the lake. With his low beams on, we didn’t see much for the first few minutes. Along the road, we hit a glass bottle which, luckily, did not result in the car’s impairment.

I was in the backseat when I looked in the rear view mirror and in the distance, I saw a faint figure dressed in white. Alarmed, I asked my friend if they saw the figure as well. Two out of five of them reported to have seen it while the other three thought I was just trying to scare them.

The driver turned off his lights and stopped the car, unsure of what he was waiting for. For a short time, we were completely in the dark, save for some of the distant traffic lights beyond the park.

As a joke, he flashed his high beams. This time, all five of us saw the distance white figure next to the statue of the Pioneer Woman. It was strange, yes, but I admit it was thrilling to hear that all five of us who were in the car saw a lady in white.

Luckily for us, the car didn’t stall in the middle of the road nor did the white lady approach us.

For those who enjoy mystery and investigation, you might want to visit Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. Some say spirits are most present during Halloween.