There aren’t too many people who know about the old dairy of the Camarillo State Mental Hospital – colloquially known as 'Scary Dairy' – outside of those who grew up in the area or went to CSU, Channel Islands. As we’ve always loved scouring the internet for creepy places to go, this popped up on our radar years ago.
Heading west from LA you can either take the scenic route along PCH, or the potentially quicker way (the 101). This place is very easy to miss. Parking can be easy as pie if the lot is open just a few hundred feet from the Scary Dairy structures. Otherwise, you have to park quite a ways away and make about a 30-minute trek from one of the college parking lots. If you do have to do that walk – it’s not too bad. The whole way is eucalyptus trees and citrus orchards.
Some facts on the old Camarillo State Mental Hospital:
It was operational from 1936 to 1997 and specialized in pioneering research on autism and schizophrenia. At its height the hospital had about 7,000 patients with a wide variety of ailments. The dairy farm was built to give some patients a form of structure and work experience in the hopes of rehabilitation (of course, the dairy also provided additional income for the hospital).
The dairy lasted for a couple decades but closed in the 60s. The cows were then relocated and the dairy buildings left to decay. It was during these years that local youths began a tradition that still lasts to this day of late night excursions to the property, graffiti, partying, etc. etc.
Even after the property was added to the CSU, Channel Islands campus in 2009 (seven years after the college had taken over the old mental hospital itself) – nothing ever came of the old buildings. To this day the buildings continue to crumble and a new layer of graffiti seems to appear nightly (which juxtaposed with the remoteness of the surroundings is actually pretty stunning).