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OLP Myths and Legends

Tunnels, Ghosts, German Spies and More– the true secrets of OLP

Have you ever wondered what the basements of OLP contain? Tunnels? Ghosts? German Spies? OLP being the oldest high school in San Diego has provoked many ideas from students, faculty, staff, parents and more that, over the years, has turned into mesmerizing legends and myths that roam the campus in a ghost-like fashion. I have gone around and collected stories told at the lunch table, to real life apparitions. Here they are…OLP exposed. 

The VanDruff family originally built the estate of what is currently known as OLP before they sold it off to the sisters. Their name alone gave rise to the theory that the they were actually German spies working during World War II. What is currently known as CE1, or the round room, was suspected to be their hideout room where they had a telescope that could see down to the bay. The VanDruffs built this estate, but never actually lived in it. It is said they moved because they lacked the money to finish the renovations, but also because the military was beginning to look into all German-sounding names that lived in the area. Even though it was later proved that the VanDruff’s were Dutch and not German, there is is some interesting ideas that could prove they were in fact spies.

Both the father and son, Winfred and Ross VanDruff, were mining engineers. And one of the most known legends around OLP is that there are tunnels underground connected Saint Catherines and Carondelet. Both the father and the son would have been able to construct tunnels underground due to their profession, which has only fueled the fire of this myth. In the basement of Saint Catherine’s, there is a panel that can be moved in one of the storage rooms which reveals an opening to the basement. (Top photo on the right shows what can be seen once the panel is removed)

Deeper into this opening, there is a small door that can be opened (shown on bottom left) which drops straight into the outside canyon that faces the freeway. The use of the small door displayed in the photo is unknown. 


Additionally, in the basement of Carondelet building that contains a large cement square about 5ft tall with an opening that runs underground for about 9ft before making a sharp 90 degree angle and continuing under Carondelet. 

This tunnel is from the original building due to how it was constructed. This tunnel ends at the edge of the building, with a full sized door. The VanDruff’s would have built this door when it opened out into the canyon before lowerplaza was built. This door has been sealed off since the time it was built. 

What are the reasons for this escape hatch? Why do they have two doors opening up into different sides of the canyon? Even though the reasons for these escape hatches are unknown, it does add mystery and intrigue as to the tunnels that could be under OLP.

“The only problem with such tunnels existing is that they would be about 100 years old and there is a good chance that the ground on top of the tunnels would have begun to sink over the years,” OLP Historian Dr. Blade commented. Dr. Blade continued to describe the large expense the tunnels would be for the VanDruffs. She has also found no official documents describing the tunnels; but, if there are no documents of tunnels, then what is the concrete tunnel underneath Carondelet? And what are the escape hatches under two

It is a known fact that OLP used to be run by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet. However, for many years the sisters have not lived on campus… but this sparks the question, have any Sisters ever died on OLP grounds?

There have been sightings of ghost-like apparitions, mostly in Carondelet building. There have been a few who have seen a nun wearing a white habit by the back steps of Carondelet (steps facing the Event Center). The most most mysterious part of all is that the Sisters of Carondelet did not wear white habits, they wore black. Dr. Blade immediately began to research this, coming up with theories that it could have been a nursing nun that died on OLP campus. She stumbled upon something that could explain it all. The Sisters of Mercy, the same nuns who run Mercy Hospital, used to live with the Sisters of Saint Joseph…. And they wore white habits.

I met with Coach Blackbourn a few weeks ago to discuss a mysterious occurrences that happened to her during fall of 2016. It was a Friday afternoon, around 2:00. All the students had left campus and few faculty members remained. She was sitting in the weight room at a table by the back set of windows, when she looked up and into the bottom floor of Carondelet. The lefternmost window, on this bottom floor, was wide open with the curtain drawn. Suddenly, a nun appeared in the window. She described her as being fuzzy looking, but she could make out the face as being elderly. She knew it was a nun based on her habit; however, it was not the same white habit that has been previously seen by others. This nun was wearing a grey colored outfit. “I wasn’t creeped out in the moment,” Coach Blackbourn said. “It really didn’t hit me until afterwards that I had just seen a ghost nun in front of me.”  

Also, Kimberly Ransom took a photo one day when she was working in the OLP spirit store in Saint Catherine’s building. She was simply trying to take a photo of her hair, when all of sudden she noticed an odd face appear in the back of her camera. She was the only person in the room.

You can see it here in the photo above. It is a grey colored colored face with chubby cheeks and her hair pulled back. She could not explain who or what it was. Maybe she got a photo of one of the famous nun ghosts that roam OLP.

Have you ever seen a nun or experienced something odd while on the OLP campus? Have I missed one of your favorite myths that you and your friends talk about during the 12:05 and 12:55 time frame of lunch? Leave a comment or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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