Please include debunking or confirming information on subpages. Note: Many of these listed are debunkable with a little research, don't believe everything you hear!


City Legends

  • Haunted Houses
    • I grew up in Davis, and I have never heard of any haunted houses. As kids we used to play in the Davis Cemetery, but even that wasn't haunted
    • The Baxter House is supposedly haunted.
    • Old City Hall/Police Station - Davis PD moved to a new building recently, after having been in the old City Hall that was built in 1938 or so. Downstairs, after it was vacated, in the Women's restroom, there was seen a wild haired redheaded woman rushing toward the 2nd stall door in an 'attack' posture with outstretched arms and claw-like hands towards a person's face.
  • Jimmy Carter's visit
    • Jimmy didn't visit, but Rosalynn Carter did, to see Village Homes, which was the country's first all-solar housing developmentBevSykes
    • Rosalyn Carter did indeed visit Village Homes. I was a boy living an adjacent neighborhood backed up to Village Homes at the time (Hudson Street). I went over to Village Homes for the event, was blown over by the wind blast from the Presidential helicopter which carried Rosalyn Carter and landed in Village Homes' green belt, and at the end of her tour, she addressed the public, at which time I shook her hand. This was no urban legend!BradOHearne
    • French President Francois Mitterand also visited Village Homes, landing by the gazebo in a helicopter.
  • What's buried under the bike statue on Russell
  • Unidentified Flying Objects
  • Why is the bar called Froggy's?
    • Check out the page for an explanation

Campus Legends

  • World War Two Prisoners
    • I am not sure what is meant by this heading, but a former City Councilman, Jerry Kaneko, was interned in a Japanese labor camp during WWII.
    • German prisoners of war were kept out by the University Airport during WW2. A story was published about it in the Davis Enterprise in the late 1990’s.
  • Girl's Face on Side of Tercero A - legend has it that a girl living on the third floor of Tercero A leapt to her death. The faint image of her face later become apparent on the wall - or it maybe it was that her friends painted her face on the wall, it was later painted over, and reappeared (which would make complete sense as one can often see the vague impression of underlying layers of paint).

When I was a freshman in Tercero C, I heard a different version of this story. The girl's face CAN be seen from outside, but it is painted on the underside of a third-story awning on Tercero A, facing C building. The story that we were told was that many years ago, two identical twin girls lived in the room where the painting is located. One evening, one twin was out at her boyfriend's house while the other twin was asleep in their room. Supposedly at 3 am or something, she suddenly woke up, opened up her window, leaned out from her top bunk bed, and started drawing this image of a face on the underside of the awning. She didn't know what possessed her to do it but she couldn't make herself stop. At some point she finished, looked at the picture, and thought that it was funny that it resembled herself. She went back to sleep and was awakened at 7 am the next morning by a phone call. It was her mother, calling to tell her that her twin sister had been killed in a car crash coming home from her boyfriend's that last night at about 3 am. She was so stricken with grief that she leapt to her death from the third floor window. Legend has it that the image has been painted over every year, but somehow, the face mysteriously reappears through the paint. I have no idea if this story is true, but it used to scare the heck out of me as a freshman. — KayRide

  • Suicide note in the Malcom Hall elevator shaft - Back when I was a freshman living on Malcom 3 it was brought to my attention that if you take the elevator to the 5th floor and look up through the crack between the door and the wall, writing is visible on the ceiling of the elevator shaft. It said something to the effect of "what did I do wrong? why do you all hate me?". Legend has it that a girl hung herself in the elevator shaft shortly after writing the letter. I haven't actually been in Malcom for about 3 years so the writing may be gone by now. — DanMasiel
    • At the top of the shaft it says: shit, give me a chance.ErnBro
    • Still there for the 02-03 year. A painted message was at the top of the Ryerson Hall elevator shaft as well, and it might have said the same thing, so it's probably fake. Just look straight up when the doors are open. I thought it said 'shit, give me another chance. -ES
  • Missing Mathematician in Kearney Elevator - In the winter of 2008 a math major dropped his calculator down the elevator. The story is that he went underneath the elevator to retrieve it, but he got stuck underneath. He had to stay for a chemistry final that night, but everyone else had already left for winter break. Some students saw him that night missing his calculator and knew he wanted to retrieve it, but no one knew if he was actually going to try. No one knows the actual truth and no one ever saw his body again. The only trace left of him is the calculator under the Kearney elevator and the knocking he is known to make when his ghost tries to escape every night around 2 am.**
  • Cow on a Roof - In the 1980s, a group of residents from Tercero's D-Building stole a cow late one night from the local Dairy Cattle Facility and led it up the "stairway to heaven" (which refers to the steps leading up to the roof of D Building). They were attempting to test the fact that it is possible to lead a cow upstairs but impossible to lead it downstairs because a cows' knees cannot bend properly to walk back down. The cow was led onto the roof with little difficulty but sure enough, it could not walk back down. Because Student Housing could not figure out a way to remove the cow from the roof, it was decided that she would have to be killed on location... and so, she was. Now it is said that on clear nights, if you sit quietly on the stairway to heaven, you can hear the faint moos of dear Betsy's ghost... the cow.... that DIED on the roof.
  • Suicide by Hanging at Arboretum Gazebo - The ghost of a student who supposedly hung himself is said to haunt the Arboretum Gazebo. The fact that no locals or newspaper articles have ever confirmed the alleged suicide makes the incident seem unlikely, but the story has spread to several websites in recent years, elevating it to urban legend status. The tale may have had its origins in this 1995 account.

Greek Legends

  • Any Greeks care to spill the beans?
    • I think the story of the kid being stabbed 27 times, and it being ruled a suicide should be put here for future generations.. It will become an Urban legend
    • I suspect the above comment is referring to the death of Andrew Wieman. Information on his death can be found on the Tragic events page.

Debunked Legends & Truth

  • Agent Orange was invented on the UC Davis campus. Agent Orange was actually born as a defoliant at the University of Chicago during World War II.
  • Cow Tipping
  • Davis was the first city with curbside recycling. Not true! Davis started curbside recycling in 1974, while Madison, Wisconsin had already started in 1967.
  • Lands deeded with stipulations.
  • Square Tomatoes were invented here. Most tomatoes one finds in a grocery store are "square" tomatoes. They are more robust than traditional tomatoes, eliminating a formerly significant problem of tomatoes breaking during harvesting. (No, they aren't square in shape any more than Coral Bells are made from coral or Baby Tears are related to crying infants).
  • Sword and Sandals is a campus secret society.
  • Radioactive Beagles were buried on on UC Davis property - from this report:

The former Laboratory for Energy-Related Health Research is a 15-acre site located on part of the University of California, Davis campus...The Atomic Energy Commission and Department of Energy sponsored experiments at LEHR during the 1960s through the 1980s. These experiments consisted primarily of exposing beagle dogs to strontium-90 and radium–226 to extrapolate the human effects from exposure to low levels of radiation. Waste from these research activities was processed in a Radium/Strontium Treatment System... waste was also buried in the southwest corner of the site in unlined trenches (Southwest Trenches).

  • A Russian spy was caught in Davis during the Cold War. The Walker "Spy Ring" was essentially John Walker and his family, for the most part; they stole all kinds of classified info from the Navy, and sold it to the Soviets. One of John Walker's main contacts/partners in spying was a recruit of his, Jerry Whitworth, the sole non-family member in the group. Whitworth was living in Davis at the time of his arrest in 1985, in the Rancho Yolo mobile home park (at that time it had a mixed population, before it became seniors only) on Pole Line Rd., just north of Fifth Street.
  • The large three story house on the corner of 4th & I Streets has a backwards swastika embedded in its chimney, marking it as the home of Nazi sympathizers. This historical home was built in 1911 by German-born Theodore Schmeiser; he incorporated the symbol as a good luck designation.
  • The Unabomber Visited UC Davis. UC Davis librarians handed over to the FBI a book found in the stacks with handwritten markings around text closely paralleling some of the Unabomber's manifesto, which raised the possibility that the Unabomber may have used the UC Davis library for researching and writing at least part of his manifesto. There is no firm evidence that the Ted Kaczynski studied at the UC Davis library. However, the Unabomber's attorney was Federal Public Defender Quin Denvir, a Davis resident whose wife, Ann Denvir, taught math at Davis High. Kaczynski has also been considered the suspected Zodiac Killer. The return address of a 1995 letter from Kaczynski to the New York Times was the address of CalGene Inc. on Fifth Street.
  • A Demented Ghoul Did Strange Things To Dead Bodies While Living In Davis. Actually, in July 2003, 47 year old David Lawrence Beale was arrested after decomposing and mummified human body parts were found near a dumpster at Slatter's Court, where he'd lived previously. Subsequent investigations uncovered an additional 157 pounds of body parts in an Olive Drive storage locker and in a shed behind his home on Erma Lane in the Royal Oak mobile home park. Beale, a self-taught autopsy tech, admitted to collecting the parts for study over a fifteen year period. He was arrested on felony charges of suspicion of removing human remains with the intent to sell or dissect, possession of stolen weapons and possession of methamphetamine. Two severed human heads were found in his refrigerator by a police officer. He claimed that the body parts were all stolen from the morgue and were not from murder victims. He was never charged with murder. In any case, this guy was not entirely mentally stable. He clearly had a bizarre obsession with cutting up human bodies, living with severed human heads, hoarding human remains, and loved to leave decomposing body parts under his trailer.
  • Famous Locals & Alumni
    • Hasan Akbar - became internationally infamous for a fragging incident during the Iraq invasion. He was sentenced to death.
    • Josh Davis aka Dj Shadow - Davis Senior High graduate
    • Paul Moller - Developer of the Volantor Skycar, a flying passenger vehicle through his company Moller International.
    • Xavier Mosely - Blackalicious DJ
    • Tom Shimura - Lyrics Born,
    • William Sullivan - Current CEO of Agilent Technologies, Graduated '77 w/ B.S.
    • Ann Veneman - Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and current director of UNICEF, Ann Veneman earned her bachelor's degree in political science from UC Davis.
    • Martin Yan - chef, author and host of Yan Can Cook
      • Martin taught cooking classes here. He gave a high priced cooking class at the University and taught the same class for $20 through the Adult School. I took two of his Adult School classes and they were wonderful. Before Martin became big on TV, he was working with local attorney Stephen Cole to get a program started in Canada (I was working for Stephen's father, Robert M. Cole at the time. —BevSykes
    • Also feel free to look at a list of Davis' noteworthy published authors.

Should Debunked and Truth be together? Personally, I think they should be spread throughout the rest of the Urban Legends, marked T Tb U Fb F Ft or P, a la alt.folklore.urban standards. I collect books of urban legends and have a fairly good library, and every one has the true, false and unknown mixed together, organized by subject rather than veracity.JabberWokky

I like the idea of a mixed list with the truth hidden with a scratch-off where known. The following are a sample of what I'm talking about

Cow Tipping

Did a former ASUCD senator get expelled for cow tipping?

Debunked. See Cow Tipping
Recycling Firsts

Davis was the first city with curbside recycling.

Not true! Davis started curbside recycling in 1974, while Madison, Wisconsin had already started in 1967.

It is sort of a title, teaser, truth model. Alternatively the title could be a heading such as === Cow Tipping === to allow for a table of contents. Add some text at the top of page explaining that selecting the text in the black boxes will reveal the status of the legend. — JasonAller