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SLO Mythbuster: The Legend of the Dorn Pyramid

Armed with only our flashlights and riding in an almost broken-down Mazda, my friends and I headed out towards the San Luis Obispo Cemetery after the sun had set with a mission. The moon was bright, and illuminated the silhouettes of the gravestones as we drove down the gravel road and into the graveyard.

I had recently read about an urban legend involving a mausoleum in San Luis Obispo called the Dorn Pyramid. It stated that the individual had to knock 12 times on the door, and wait to hear a knock back. My friends and I decided to bust a local myth and try it for ourselves for fun.

We began with the largest Mausoleum down the road inside. Although the graveyards are kept very well, they looked creepy AF at night with a full moon. If ghosts were real, I imagined them standing there, slowly watching us as we made our way into the dark fields-envious of my friend’s loud bag containing a gourmet caramel apple.It’s an indescribable feeling being in a cemetery at night. It’s so quiet, the only sound a large and constant croaks of frogs in the grass surrounding us and the slight sound of cars on the road in the distance. It smelled of dirt and the air was crisp, like stepping into a cool, dark forest.

The first mausoleum had two dark wooden doors with clear glass windows to look inside. It looked surprisingly mystical inside the building, the glow of the moon somehow filtering through the skylight inside the center of the gigantic building and onto the plants and memorials indoors.

Since I was the one that convinced my friends to join me on the myth busting adventure, I decided to knock on the door. After knocking twelve times, we stood and waited in silence. I didn’t expect anything, but a small part of me hoped something would knock back. Silence ensued.

We got into our car after waiting a moment and began to buckle our seatbelts. “The headlights won’t turn on!” my boyfriend exclaimed in desperation. He began to laugh and flicked them back on as we headed to the Dorn Mausoleum in Odd Fellows Cemetery up the road on Madonna.

Standing above the rest of the cemetery on a hill was the notorious pyramid. With the moon shining just above the tip of the structure, it seemed for a moment that we had left San Luis Obispo and were standing in a grassy Egypt.

We climbed the windy grass road up to the structure and quickly realized that we could see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie from the pyramid at the Drive-In Theatre about a half of a mile away. Despite our very creepy and dark location, we all stood momentarily and were distracted by the scenes.

Around the side of the pyramid, a large piece of the stone had been removed and the door of the crypt was visible. The metal door had been welded shut, and just under our feet read the words “DO NOT DISTURB THE DEAD”. I’m not kidding you. It really said that. Right in front of the door.

This seemed like nothing short of a horror movie, and there I stood, prepared to knock on the crypt door and wait for a sound. As I reached through and leaned towards the door, I shrieked in fright and jumped back.


Not just any spiders. Poisonous spiders. In every single crevice of the door!

Even though every instinct told me to go, I knew I had to follow through and test the legend. I quickly leaned in and prayed that a giant squad of a thousand poisonous spiders didn’t rain down on me as I knocked on the door. The metal echoed throughout the inside of the crypt as I knocked. We waited, and I checked myself for about a solid five minutes to make sure no spiders got on my clothes.

But we didn’t hear a knock back.

Although we left without any spiritual experiences, we did get our fright for the evening. Perhaps the poisonous spiders were protecting the dead from being disturbed. For now, the Dorn Pyramid Legend remains a mystery.

Student Athlete Majoring in Journalism. Obsessed with all things involving nature, art, and music.
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