USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘handprints’
general
Legends
Narrative

Chatsworth Trainwreck Haunting

The Folklore:

E: Are there any strange ghost related phenomenons in the valley?

C: Yes, there is a popular belief that after the Chatsworth train wreck, the railroad has been haunted by the ghosts of the people killed in the wreck.

E: What event triggered this urban legend?

C: In 2008, a train derailed and crashed in Chatsworth, California which is located in the San Fernando Valley. 25 people lost their lives in the train crash.

E: What supposedly happens at this train crash site?

C: It is told that if you park your car on a certain part of the train tracks, handprints will begin to appear on all of your car windows. After that occurs, a force begins to push your car off the train tracks. It is said that the handprints that appear on the car are the people that died in the train wreck, and since they don’t want you to also die in a train wreck they push your car off the train tracks.

E: Where did you learn about this urban legend?

C: I learned about this legend about a year after the train accident and my friend from home had actually experienced this phenomenon. This conspiracy is actually very popular and have heard discussion about this phenomenon numerous times from many different people.

E: Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?

C: No, I have never personally experienced this phenomenon, but I have had friends that have experienced this phenomenon.

Context:

This conversation was held in a very casual setting. My friend and I conversed about ghost stories in our surrounding neighborhood. He told me this story as well as another. The train track ghost legend stems from a rumor very close to my informant’s home.

Analysis:

The tragic incident created a story that the community would react to. This story makes people visit the site of the tragedy and it also serves as a means to warn people, don’t park on train tracks. Having lived in the same area for several years, there’s many places in the valley that are supposedly haunted. These stories are used to warn people of dangers but also draw attention to areas where unfortunate events have occurred.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Narrative

“Handprints”

When asked, “why don’t you drive on the Pali at night?” your response will be a sigh because the answer is obvious and comes in the form of various horror stories and unexplainable events. Long story short, no matter what story you’ve heard, driving on the Pali is always sketch. Anyway, this version starts like this:

So it was said that, a long time ago, there was a young couple that after a date, went up to the Pali lookout and (intake of breath) as they’re sitting there, looking out, they start hear something funny (like strange, not humorous)…

And so the guy’s like, “what is this?” and the girl’s freaking out a little bit…

His date was clearly really scared already and so of course he decided to be all “macho” and go outside and investigate. So he goes out and she can’t see him anymore… and then she hears him scream and then she hears the slap of hands on the car (gestures slapping)…

… and she freaks out even more, and then stupidly, also decides to go outside to find him/discover what the noise is… and of course she also disappears….

Then the next day, when people come looking for them, all they find is the car. They find a car on top of the Pali lookout, all covered in handprints (makes a wide gesture), and no one, to this day, knows where they were…

They were never found. And that’s why no one drives/stops at the Pali lookout at night. The End!

 

How did you come across this folklore: “this is something I think everyone in Hawaii has heard throughout life, especially in Hawaiiana class–but this version was one told more saliently/memorably at freshman sleepover by my paddling coach.”

Other information: “I’ve also heard versions where the car is found covered in bloody handprints, or something like that, but I find them less believable. This version, and the other horror stories from the Pali, are so believable that anyone from Hawaii will agree that driving on the Pali highway at night is a terrible idea.”

This legend, among the others forewarning those intending to drive on the Pali highway at night (which is passes through several areas than many would consider as “sacred” to the native Hawaiians), illustrates that belief really is contextual. One might not believe the story in broad daylight, in the comfort and safety of one’s home, but when obligated to or given the option to drive on the eerie Pali at night, all of these legends suddenly become a hundred times more plausible and a lot of people will go out of their way to avoid this.

 

 

 

 

[geolocation]