Did you know… that the Camarillo State Mental Hospital also housed a working dairy? It came to be known as the Scary Dairy.
Nestled amongst the hillsides, open plains and farm fields of Camarillo you will find the Scary Dairy. Many of you know that the campus of California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI), located in Camarillo, is formerly the home of Camarillo State Mental Hospital. Opened in 1936 and functioning until 1997, the hospital was at the forefront of treating illnesses previously thought to be untreatable, for instance, developing drug and therapy procedures for schizophrenia. It was also one of the first hospitals to deal with autism. Programs initiated here helped patients formerly relegated to institutions to leave the hospital and move to less restrictive group homes or become (at least nearly) independent.
The mental hospital’s dairy…
As part of these therapy programs, Camarillo State Mental Hospital operated a functioning dairy farm. The dairy farm sat adjacent to the hospital grounds. The dairy was run by staff members and patients of the hospital as a form of a work experience program and to help bring in some additional income for the hospital. Patients would milk the cows, grow vegetables and do other farm tasks in exchange for… well, we’re not really sure if they got anything but a nice day with the cows. The dairy was closed in the 1960s and, eventually, the buildings fell into a state of disrepair, falling prey over the decades to vandals and taggers.
…turns into the Scary Dairy
The old dairy is said to be the site of all plethora of supernatural activity. Ghost hunters and paranormal investigators have come from all over the world to visit the site. Many have reported numerous cold spots, especially around the tanks that still stand just outside the main building. Small objects left lying out, especially keys, seem to invariably be found moved or missing when their owner returns. And a few people have even reported seeing them move on their own. Who are these ghosts? Well, rumors have it that the site is haunted by the ghosts of more than one unfortunate patient who met their end at the Mental Hospital and perhaps even a few of the former livestock. The Scary Dairy, indeed!
Take a walk on the scary side
The Scary Dairy is open as part of a hiking trail through the foothills. It’s a bit overgrown, a bit graffiti-strewn, but worth a trip if you’re a ghost lover. It is legal to hike through the site and surrounding trails but, please note, they do not allow people in at nighttime. Nor would you want to go to the Scary Dairy at night!