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Yankee Camp


Situated at 1,200 feet above sea level in the Santa Cruz Mountain is Yankee Camp.  It is now inaccessible by unauthorized vehicles.  Much speculation and buzz had emerged over social media mediums regarding this location due to increasing recorded paranormal instances in the nearby region since it’s closure in 1950.  


Yankee Camp was constructed by the State of California as a part of the Dream Project of 1930.  In the midst of the Great Depression, the mass migration of American families to the west for work impended a housing responsibility situation for the California Government.  The Dream Project of 1930 was a civil project which would provide temporary housing for families in search of employment in California.  California was a new hope for many displaced American families since the Great Depression and Dust Bowl had devastated so many means of income.  


The town of Hicks was an outlying possession of Santa Clara County, and was among the six other communities to suffer from the 1940 construction of California State Route 17 (SR17).  Yankee Camp grew to the ability of housing 1,000 families at full capacity from it’s original 200.  Much of the town’s economy was driven by working class families of the nearby (2 miles) Yankee Camp, the agricultural industry, and of traveling tourists from the Central Valley to the Coast.  Yankee Camp was on the southern end of Lake Elsman, Hicks at the north.  


The Dream Project was approved with a timeline of 15 years (1930-1945) and that timeline was strictly upheld.  By 1945 the communities built under the Dream Project had been a success, but under Federal order funding would no longer be provided, delegating responsibility and possession of the camps to the State of California.  The economy in 1945 had stabilized and much of the state funding was diverted to other projects since there was a less prevalent housing situation.  The construction of California State Route 17 and the automobile industry outshone the Railroads and Town trails leading to the coast is a strong example of the turn in the economy.  Hicks, along with Alma, Lexington, and 3 other towns would become abandoned for various reasons.


All of the 3 camps closed and were demolished and prepared for various tasks, however Yankee Camp was closed and repurposed as Hicks Sanitorium in 1945 due to its rural location.  Patients of the sanitorium included those who suffered from Shell Shock (PTSD) from the Great War, and those whose cases were too severe for the Agnews Developmental Center of Santa Clara.  Services for the mentally ill ended in 1969 due to cases of abuse and cruelty by staff towards patients of the facility.  


The facility was closed and left in 1969 but still accessible to the public because Lake Elsman would become part of the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve, effectively a park.  


Social Media has exploded with news of this being one of the most haunted places in the United States.