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Ghosts of the Queen Mary in Long Beach
Resting in Long Beach Harbor is the RMS Queen
a colossal ship that was bigger, faster and more powerful than the
Titanic. The 1,000-foot ship began her life when the first keel
plate was laid in 1930 at the John Brown shipyard in Clyde, Scotland. The
Depression held up her construction between 1931 and 1934, but she was
finally completed, making her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936.
For three years the grand ocean liner hosted
the world’s rich and famous across the Atlantic including the likes of the
Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, David Niven, Mary
Pickford, George and Ira Gershwin, and Sir Winston Churchill, just to name
a few. Considered by the upper-class to be the only civilized way to
travel, she held the record for the fastest-ever North Atlantic crossing.
The Queen Mary and the Scorpion, a Soviet
Submarine, Kathy Weiser, December, 2005.
But, when World War
II broke out in 1939, luxury travel immediately ceased and the ship
was transformed into a troopship that would become known as "The Grey
Ghost.” During this time her capacity was increased from 2,410
to 5,500. By the end of World War II, the ship had carried more
than 800,000 troops, traveled more than 600,000 miles and played a
significant role in virtually every major Allied campaign. She
had also survived a collision at sea, set the record for carrying the
most people ever on a floating vessel (16,683), and participated in
the D-Day invasion.
At the close of the
war the ship began to transport more than 22,000 war brides and their
children to the United States and Canada. Known as the "Bride
and Baby Voyages," she made 13 voyages for this purpose in 1946.
Its duty to the war
complete, the Queen Mary
was refurbished and resumed her elegant cruises in July, 1947,
maintaining weekly service between Southampton, Cherbourg, and New
York. However, by the early 1960’s, transatlantic cruises were
falling out of fashion, due to air travel becoming affordable for the
masses. In 1963, the ship began a series of occasional cruises,
first to the Canary Islands and later to the Bahamas. However, without
central air conditioning, outdoor pools, or other amenities now
commonplace on cruise ships, she proved ill suited for the work. In
1967, she was withdrawn from service after more than 1,000
That same year, the Queen Mary
was sold for $3.45 million to the city of Long Beach,
for use as a maritime museum and hotel. On December 9, 1967, she
made her final voyage to Long Beach. After 1,001 successful Atlantic
crossings, she was permanently docked and soon became the luxury hotel
that she is today.
Internationally recognized, the historic
floating hotel and museum attracts thousands of visitors every year. It has also attracted a number of unearthly guests over the years. In fact, some say the Queen Mary
is one of the most haunted places in the world with as many as 150
known spirits lurking upon the ship. Over the past 60 years, the Queen Mary
has been the site of at least 49 reported deaths, not to mention
having gone through the terrors of war, so it comes as no surprise
that spectral spirits of her vivid past continue to walk within her
rooms and hallways.
Located 50 feet
below water level is the Queen Mary's
engine room, which is said to be a hotbed of paranormal activity. Used in
the filming of the Poseidon Adventure, the room's infamous "Door 13"
crushed at least two men to death, at different points during the ship's
history. The most recent death, during a routine watertight door
drill in 1966, crushed an 18 year-old crew member. Dressed in blue
coveralls and sporting a beard, the young man has often been spied walking
the length of Shaft Alley before disappearing by door #13.
In the area of this heavy door in the Engine
Room, we got some very creepy feelings,
Two more popular
spots for the Queen’s other worldly guests are its first and second class
swimming pools. Though neither are
utilized today for their original purpose, spirits seemingly are not aware
of that. In the first class swimming pool, which has been closed for
more than three decades, women have often been seen appearing in 1930’s
style swimming suits wandering the decks near the pool. Others have
reported the sounds of splashing and spied wet footprints leading from the
deck to the changing rooms. Some have also spied the spirit of a
young girl, clutching her teddy bear.
In the second class poolroom, the spirit of another little girl named
Jackie is often been seen and heard. The unfortunate girl drowned in
the pool during the ship’s sailing days and reputedly refused to move on,
as her voice, as well as the sounds of laughter has been captured here.
In the Queen’s Salon,
which once served as the ship’s first-class lounge, a beautiful young
woman in an elegant white evening gown has often been seen dancing alone
in the shadows of the corner of the room.
Yet more odd occurrences
have been made in a number of first-class staterooms. Here, reports
have been made of a tall dark haired man appearing in a 1930’s style suit,
as well as water running and lights turning on in the middle of the night,
and phones ringing in the early morning hours with no one on the other end
of the line. In the third class
children’s playroom, a baby’s cry has often been heard, which is thought
to be the infant boy who died shortly after his birth.
occurring throughout the ship, are the sounds of distinct knocks, doors
slamming and high pitched squeals, drastic temperature changes, and the
aromas of smells long past.
These are but a few of
the many reports of apparitions and strange events occurring at this
luxury liner turned hotel.
Today, the Queen Mary,
listed on the National Register of Historic Places, provides not only a
wide range of guest rooms for travelers, but also 14 Art Deco salons, tours, restaurants, shops, and exhibits.
Queen Mary Hotel and Museum
1126 Queens Highway