Dark Watchers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Dark Watchers (also known by early Spanish settlers as Los Vigilantes Oscuros)[1] is a name given to a group of entities that have appeared in California Folklore for the past several hundred years purportedly stalking travelers along the Santa Lucia Mountains.


Described as tall, sometimes giant sized featureless dark silhouettes often adorned with brimmed hats or walking sticks. Most often reported to be seen in the hours around twilight and dawn. They are said to motionlessly watch travelers from the horizon along the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. According to legend no one has seen one up close and if someone were to approach them they disappear.[2]


Original accounts of The Dark Watchers date back to Chumash natives who have inhabited the region along California's central coast for at least 13,000 years and who have included stories of The Dark Watchers in their oral legends and traditions since Pre-Columbian era. When Spanish Settlers first moved into the area they were said to have witnessed the Dark Watchers whom they dubbed Los Vigilantes Oscuros.[1]

The Dark Watchers are most famously given a brief mention in the short story Flight, written by John Steinbeck.[2] He describes them as follows,

"Pepé looked suspiciously back every minute or so, and his eyes sought the tops of the ridges ahead. Once, on a white barren spur, he saw a black figure for a moment; but he looked quickly away, for it was one of the dark watchers. No one knew who the watchers were, nor where they lived, but it was better to ignore them and never to show interest in them. They did not bother one who stayed on the trail and minded his own business."

Along with this, The Dark Watchers are also referenced by poet Robinson Jeffers in his 1937 publication Such Counsels You Gave to Me.[3] Coincidentally, John Steinbeck's son Thomas Steinbeck would grow up to report having seen The Dark Watchers during his childhood and later along with artist Benjamin Brode collaborate on a book titled "In Search of the Dark Watchers," where they go into the history of the legend and interview locals who claim to have seen them, such as famed Big Sur resident Billy Post.[4]

According to newspaper archives in the mid-sixties, a Monterery Peninsula local and former high school principal went on a hiking trip in the Santa Lucias when he suddenly spotted a dark figure standing on a rock and surveying the area. When the principal called out to the other hikers, the creature vanished. Sightings of The Dark Watchers continue to be made to this day.[5]


Illusions, hallucinations or misinterpretation of natural stimulus brought on by exhaustion or isolation have been proposed by psychologists.[6] Infrasound, which can be generated by wind, can cause feelings of uneasiness and anxiety in some people and is frequently connected to paranormal sightings.[citation needed]

An optical illusion known as the Brocken spectre is a plausible explanation for the legend.[7] A Brocken spectre, "mountain spectre" can occur in certain atmospheric conditions when the sun is at a particular angle. The subject's shadow can be cast onto a cloud bank around them, creating the illusion of a large shadowy humanoid figure.[8]

See also

Grey Man of Ben Macdhui


  1. ^ a b Kriegman, Mitchell (November 13, 2014). "In Search of the Dark Watchers". Santa Barbara Independent. 
  2. ^ a b Dunning, Brian (7 June 2016). "Skeptoid #522: Dark Watchers". Skeptoid. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  3. ^ Parzanese, Joe. "Dark Watchers - Weird California". 
  4. ^ Woo, Elaine (2 August 2009). "Billy Post dies at 88; Big Sur's resident authority" – via LA Times. 
  5. ^ Biship, Greg; Oesterle, Joe; Marinacci, Mike (March 2, 2006). Weird California. Sterling. p. 304. ISBN 9781402766831. 
  6. ^ Reed, Graham. (1988). The Psychology of Anomalous Experience. Prometheus Books. pp. 44-45. ISBN 0-87975-435-4
  7. ^ Brown, Dave; Mitchell, Ian. (1987). Mountain Days and Bothy Nights. Luath. p. 157. ISBN 0-946487-15-4
  8. ^ Ross, Helen. (1975). Mist, Murk and Visual Perception. New Scientist. p. 658. "The Brocken Spectre (where one's shadow cast by the sun onto a cloudbank appears distant and gigantic)... The shadowy image appearing much farther away than it is, and consequently enlarged to a sufficient extent to give rise to such tales as the Grey Man of Ben MacDhui."
Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dark_Watchers&oldid=813243856"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Watchers
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Dark Watchers"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA