Ione’s Preston Castle opens for tours to explore ghostly history of location

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While driving through Amador county or visiting the town of Ione, you might wonder what a Romanesque style castle is doing there.

Preston School of Industry, also known as Preston Castle, was originally used as a reform school for boys during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

It was later closed down in 1960 due to various fire and earthquake hazards.

Although the school has been closed for more than 50 years, the Preston Castle Foundation has made it very accessible to the public by hosting various events, which also help restore it.

One particular event that Preston Castle is known for is its annual Halloween Haunt.

Halloween Haunt Chairman Victor Munoz said, “the Haunt’s 150 volunteers started planning for this event as early as march of this past year.”

The volunteers began decorating the castle for the haunt as early as Sept. 16.

“This year the music was more reformed and we tried to stay true to the building,” said Munoz.

In the spirit of staying true to the building the costumes and decorations have been chosen in hopes of reflecting that.

The ending of the haunt also resembles an escape route, so that the participants feel as if they have escaped as inmates of Preston School of Industry.

San Joaquin Delta College student Kelsey Churchill attended the haunt due to having a personal connection to the history of Preston Castle.

“My great grandpa was a pharmacist here in the 1920’s so I felt like I should visit the castle. I was very impressed with the haunt and all of its special effects. While exiting the haunt I even heard some girl say that she had peed her pants,” said Churchill.

Sonia Toledo, a Delta College communications professor, also previously visited Preston Castle.

“My husband and I attended the Halloween Haunt last year and it was great,” said Toledo.

The event continues on Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29.

Tickets are $10 for high school and under with identification and $20 for adults.

Each tickets grants admission to the haunted house once. Fast passes and VIP packages are also available, which can be purchased at the gate or online. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Attend if you dare.