You may have passed Castella, California while driving on Interstate 5 just south of Mount Shasta, although it’s difficult to notice when faced with the beautiful views of Castle Crags. But the little town was known as a hotspot for celebrities during prohibition and, according to local legend, was the secret meeting location for one of the most famous affairs in American history.
It’s no secret that President John Kennedy and Hollywood sex symbol Marilyn Monroe were rumored to be having an affair during his presidency. In a time of fewer cameras and no social media nonsense, the two could schedule secret rendezvous while the president was on official state business. Local stories claim that one of those very places was right in Northern California, where relics of their love affair remain today.
This story is based on the eyewitness accounts of Castella residents George Costas, a silver miner; Swede, an old fisherman; and Mike Padula, owner of the bar. All three stated the meeting of President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe took place at Castella in 1962. All three witnesses have since passed away, however, their stories still remain alive today.
As the story goes, in 1962, the owner of Mike’s Place bar in Castella, Mike Padula, claimed that the then famous Monroe entered the bar and chatted with regulars for three hours. Padula had been given a note to give to Monroe, saying “M car here at noon for you and J,” a clear message about her and President Kennedy.
Before Monroe was picked up by a big limousine out front, she signed her name on the bar’s wall in red lipstick. According to the bar patrons, JFK was in that limousine. From there, it’s said the two shacked up in Engle Inn Resort, later named Castle Stone Cottage Inns, in Cabin #3 for two days. They didn’t even seem to hide it all that much, parking that big shiny limo (not a usual sight in Castella) outside the hotel room the entire time.
Castella local and former UCLA track and field champion Brian Theriot had heard the rumors before he bought the property in 2003. According to his story, he once found two hidden photos inside Cabin #3, both showing Monroe outside the cottages.
Although the concrete proof behind their extramarital affair is lacking the pizazz heard in the stories, multiple eyewitness accounts in Castella claim the two indeed spent time there. It may just be legend, but it seems like a pretty likely story.
Today, the location no longer runs as a hotel, but the cottages are still rented out by Theriot, and you can actually stay there. For more information on renting JFK and Marilyn Monroe’s private cottage, go here.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine