Sunday, June 10, 2012

Preston Castle

Preston School of Industry also known as Preston Castle or The Castle was built between 1890 – 1894 as a school to rehabilitate juveniles in Ione, California. The Castle stands on 230 acres bought from the Ione Coal and Iron Company at $30 per acre with 100 acres donated. The sandstone bricks were made at San Quentin and Folsom prisons and delivered via railroad at 6,000 bricks per car. The original plans consisted of five floors and seventy-seven rooms. It officially opened for business on July 1st, 1894 and remained so until 1960 when new buildings were built to replace it. The wards were taught two trades so they could survive after their release. Some of the wards went on to become famous and some infamous. Among the famous Eddie Anderson who went on to play Rochester on the Jack Benny show. Eddie Machen became a heavyweight boxer Pancho Gonzales was the world no. 1 professional tennis player for an unequalled eight years in the 1950s and early 1960s. Merle Haggard went on to become a country siger. He escaped several times on his last escape he stole the deans car and was sent to San Quentin. One of his songs is Misery And Gin. The infamous include Caryl Chessman who was a convicted robber and rapist who gained fame as a death row inmate in California. Another was  Joseph Paul Cretzer was killed in the bloodiest escape attempt called "The Battle Of Alcatraz". He and two other inmates and two guards were killed. Many television programs have filmed episodes at Preston Castle. The Travel Channels Ghost Adventures filmed an episode at Preston Castle. Other television programs include The Outsiders and The Amazing Race.

The wards were not housed in the castle they were only processed there when they arrived. The wards stayed in several small houses around the castle. The castle had offices, a school, kitchen, showers and the only hospital in Ione at the time.

The image below is the chemical bath they used to delouse the wards when they arrived.

In the image below the raised indentation to the lower right was for the gaurd (to stand in and keep his feet dry) to keep and eye on the wards while they showered.

The image below shows a hidden staircase they are not sure what it was used for, but some people think it was used so dean could use to get around undetected.

The castle had a water powered elevator shown in the next two images.

A fire hose reel, the part with all the holes is made of wood. There are several of these in the castle.

There is a lot of controversy over where Anna Corbin's body was found. This is one of the places that some people say she was found rolled up in a rug with a rope around her neck. Others beleive she was in a locked room that only staff had access to and that she was murdered by one of the gaurds. The gaurds were strict and Anna was very motherly to wards and people think the gaurds did not like that.

They are not sure if Merle Haggard carved the "Merle 48" in the wall or if it was done for a film that was filmed here. He has been asked to come back to visit, but he says that is not a part of his life he wants to revisit.

When Preston Castle closed the state came and took items because the castle was going to be torn down. Luckly it is still standing today. There is an effort to restore the castle and you can find out more by going to If you would Like more information on Preston Castle visit Dreaming Casually


  1. Awesome and thanks for linking the Anna Corbin name to my blog. I looked at that other blog you mentioned and I had previously left this person a comment because her research was poorly done and was very inaccurate. I am glad you found my blog, as I worked so very hard to uncover the true history behind Anna Corbin's life, not just her death but everything she went through in life up to her death. I also have another article you may enjoy and feel free to link to your blog as well. It is the detailed history of Preston Castle (PSI)

    1. Thanks and I appreciate your research and accuracy. I also included the link in my blog post.

  2. Thanks again! your photos are absolutely amazing!! I saw the ones you posted of Bodie, CA. Brilliant work...really.

  3. Thanks Dreaming Casually I was actualy sick that day at Bodie hope to make it back soon. Here is a link to the Bodie pictures she is talking about.


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