Tag Archives: haunted

Haunted Train Tracks, San Antonio

Context: My informant (M) grew up in a small town in Texas about an hour outside of San Antonio. This was a local legend she heard growing up about haunted train tracks. She told me every kid in her town knew about the tracks, and it was a common outing for high schoolers to go see the tracks. She told me that if you visit the tracks now, there are police cars and signs telling people not to stop on the tracks because it creates too much traffic. San Antonio plays into the legend and features the train tracks in museums and historical tours.

Main Text:

M: There’s a place in San Antonio where a bus filled with children got stalled out on a railroad track. They weren’t able to move the bus so the train came and it killed all the kids inside. So the legend is that the kids now haunt the train tracks. So if you drive on the train tracks at around midnight-and you can put like baby powder on your bumper or something- but if you stop on the tracks and put your car into neutral, supposedly the kids will push your car just enough for it to get off the tracks. Then, if you get out and look at your bumper, you’ll see little handprints on it from where the ghost kids pushed your car. I guess they do this so you don’t have to experience the tragedy that they did.

Me: Did you ever do it?

M: No I wasn’t allowed to drive to San Antonio at midnight (laughs). But in high school, a lot of kids would do it and then come back to school and say ‘oh you know we did it and it totally worked I saw the handprints and everything.’ And there were all of these “first-hand accounts” that made it really believable at 15, 16 years old.

My thoughts: It seems like a common story around the United States to have a haunted site where kids died and now they push your car. I did some research and I found a similar story from Los Angeles about the ghosts of Gravity Hill, I linked it below. I also included a link to the San Antonio ghost tours website that tells this story with more historical information. 

Los Angeles Gravity Hill: https://www.ranker.com/list/gravity-hill-haunting/erin-mccann

San Antonio’s Ghost Tours Site: https://ghostcitytours.com/san-antonio/haunted-places/haunted-railroad-tracks/

New Orleans Haunted House

Context: The informant is my father (DM) who grew up in California. He told me about how his father, my grandfather, grew up in a haunted house when he was young. The house is located in New Orleans and was supposedly home to the pirate Jean Lafitte, who now haunts the house. The following excerpt is from a passage written about the house that my dad showed me.

Main Text: “Legends are many of this old Pirate House. One has it that a secret tunnel runs from a sub-cellar into the Gulf, and through this tunnel, pirates transferred their booty from ships to their strongholds beneath the house.”

“This old house at one time sheltered Jean Lafitte. It was more than a century ago that Lafitte, during the historic days of private terror along the Gulf Coast, captured and scuttled ships form almost every country.”

Analysis: This haunted house in New Orleans that my grandfather lived in interests me because a “pirate ghost” seems like a blend of two outdated beings. Pirates are a thing of the past and the belief that the ghost of Jean Lafitte still haunts this house in New Orleans pays homage to his historical significance and notoriety. My grandfather also supposedly searched for the tunnel underneath the house but was unable to find it. It is still important to note the presence of Jean Lafitte and his legacy in this location regardless of the factuality of him haunting the house.

UC Davis Haunted Lecture Hall

Background: The informant is an American UC Davis 2018 alumni who currently works as an actuary in San Diego, CA. He learned the tradition while attending university in Davis, CA, but never partook in it himself. 

Context: The following piece was collected in a brief, casual over-the-phone interview.

Piece: 

Collector: “Were there any haunted places on the UC Davis campus?”

Informant: “Yeah there was a lecture hall…People would say that it was haunted because um it was like a building made in the 1960s with a whole bunch of like narrow corridors and rooms that were really like close together. Um so pretty much like a nightmare. You would be pressed up against forty people trying to get into your classroom. 

Collector: “Why did people think it was haunted?”

Informant: “Um I think like the lights would flicker on and off. They weren’t super good. And then like the rooms on the bottom floor got really cold really fast. But like there were no rumors of people like haunting it at night just because it was such a used lecture hall building that there were always people walking around it.” 

Informant: “Do you remember the name of the lecture hall?”

Collector: “Yeah I do. I think it was called like Wellman.” 

Analysis: College campuses are often the setting of ghost stories and hauntings as they are liminal spaces in which students are often transitioning from adolescence to adulthood and are forming their own belief systems. I was surprised at how little explanation and description were offered surrounding why the building was haunted, although it is important to note that while the informant was familiar with the legend, he does not believe in ghosts nor any other supernatural entity. According to the perspective he offered, the haunting appears to not have been an intensive or detailed legend, but was merely a way to make a mundane space interesting. Coldness/chills are often associated with haunted places and was used as a sort of proof of hauntedness in this class. This association may be related to how the human body temperature lowers following death or could be associated with the sense of shock that cold temperatures procure. Ultimately, this legend doesn’t appear to have much stake in actually convincing people that the hall is haunted, but rather serves as a way to color the everyday and generate excitement.

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs

Main piece:

“The Crescent Hotel is a famous building in Eureka Springs with a long history because now it’s a common ghost attraction and makes a lot of local haunting lists. The building which began as a hotel for elite visiting Eureka Springs later became a tuberculosis ward during the plague and there were rumors about doctors who experimented on their patients trying to find cures to diseases like cancer”

Background:

The informant for this piece is a woman in her late 40s who lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She was born in Joplin, Missouri but moved south to Fayetteville and has lived there for almost 18 years by now. Fayetteville is a college town as it is adjacent to the University of Arkansas. Due to the proximity of the town to the Ozark mountains, the Ozark culture influences the town alongside the culture of those going there for college. This specific building is located outside of Fayetteville in an area called Eureka Springs. The hotel is just one of many structures converted to a tuberculosis ward to fight off the diseases in the 1900s. Similarly, in the past there have been similar stories of abandoned and haunted hospitals. 

Context:

The piece was shared with me via a phone call with the informant. This exact topic was brought up in response to my general question looking for local folklore of the Fayetteville area. 

Thoughts:

I feel as though this piece is interesting as it represents an amalgam of other similar haunted buildings. The Crescent Hotel began as a hotel for the elite members of society, but the business went under. This keeps in the theme of haunted buildings having ties to old money, and I feel represents a distrust of those with extreme wealth. This also makes sense in context of the location, which while not poverty-stricken, by no means has a large population of extremely wealthy inhabitants. The hotel is also described as a tuberculosis ward, which while not entirely accurate does reflect a fear of doctors and disease. This is a common fear and is often featured in similar structures like haunted hospitals. In my opinion, what differentiates this building is how the history of the building as both a hotel for the elite and hospital combines these two separate but similar stories into one extremely haunted structure.

The Haunted House in Calabasas

Main Piece: 

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: Tell me about the haunted house that’s in your neighborhood.

Informant: well, it’s actually not in my neighborhood but just a couple streets down. I’ve only been a couple times because you have to take a pretty long uphill hike to get past the gate without getting caught. 

Interviewer: So it’s a private neighborhood with people still living there?

Informant: Yeah it’s just your average suburban calabasas neighborhood, this one house has been abandoned for a solid fifteen years though. 

Interviewer: Well why do people think it’s haunted then?

Informant: I guess most people don’t hahaha but one time I went up there with a group of friends and we had a crazy supernatural experience and never went back. Basically we had our faces up against the window and all saw a face in the distance that wasn’t there before, and we just turned and booked it outta there. 

Interviewer: Oh so you guys actually started the rumor about this place being haunted?

Informant: I guess so! We’ve heard a couple other groups have similar things happen to them at the house though so we all think it’s legit. And I’ve seen enough horror movies in my life to know to never go back there again haha

Background:

My informant was born and raised in California, both of his parents also born Americans. He grew up in the Calabasas area and never believe in the paranormal until his experience at this “Haunted House”

Context: 

I spoke to my informant over the phone amidst the 2020 coronavirus epidemic. 

Thoughts:

While the story of this haunted house is interesting, I was more interested by the fact that my informant didn’t think the house was haunted, but just abandoned, before they went there. Even though other groups have said they’ve seen similar things, those accounts reportedly only started after my informant’s initial scare. This leads me to believe they are actually responsible for the folklore of this house, and it is interesting to see just how far those stories spread even though they don’t talk to the other groups directly. 

Driving around Scary Dairy

MAIN PIECE

Driving around Scary Dairy

“Scary Dairy is what you do when you wanna pass the time as a teenager, but also don’t want to spend any money.  It’s not really that scary or haunted, but younger kids like to believe it is so that they get a thrill from it.”

“What it is specifically is an old building on the CSUCI campus that used to be used to kill Mental hospital patients, so people drive past it or even sneak into it when they want to be frightened.”

BACKGROUND

SM is from Camarillo, California and has grown up in the area since he was born.  He says he remembers Scary Dairy from driving past it and even going inside.  He says he and his friends would make up ghost stories and talk nonsense when they were around it.   He also says that he has done this with many other friends and  that people that grew up in Camarillo always talk about it when they are in high school.

CONTEXT

SM is an old high school friend of mine.  I invited him to a  Discord server and I watched him play The Witcher.   He was open to talk about folklore of the area we grew up in during cutscenes he said he had already watched when he had played the entirety of the game before.

THOUGHTS

Ghosts are a very popular folkloric trope and it’s not surprising to hear about one in a suburban town like Camarillo.  What I believe is that, like many other “haunted” places in suburban towns, it’s  purpose less so is the straight fact that it is haunted, but instead the thrill that believing it is gives to young people.  To go drive around Scary Dairy must have some sort of rites of passage meaning as  well because SM specifically mentioned teens, but not younger kids like middle or elementary schoolers.

The Haunting of the Lorenzo

Main Piece

JS: “Yeah, dude! The Lorenzo is haunted! You’ve never heard about this?”

Collector: “No! I guess I don’t know enough people who live there.”

JS: “The Lorenzo used to be a hospital, which was abandoned for a bunch of years before the developers bought out the land for the apartments. A bunch of people died in that hospital, so obviously some parts of a place that big have got to be haunted. They try to gloss over it, but the carpets in there still give it away. It looks like The Shining! People get lost in the hallways all the time, and never come back.”

Collector: [laughter] “Has this happened to people you know or is it just something that you’ve heard about?”

JS: [laughter] “No, it’s never happened to anyone I’ve known. It’s probably all just made up. You can never be too careful, though. The place still gives off the creepy vibes and I am not making up that it used to be a hospital…look it up!”

Analysis

Buildings that have taken on lives beyond their original intention or original owners are often claimed as haunted places. The inevitability of death and pain in places like hospitals and prisons adds a very convincing layer to many that there are still souls who cannot escape the earth trapped in these locales. Many people are uncomfortable thinking about the harsh lives of those in the same spot as them, even if they did not know them directly. The legend is known to students of USC because of how many end up living at the Lorenzo after they lose their spots in student housing. To this very day, people consider ghosts as considerations when deciding where to live, which demonstrates how strong the belief in after life and spirits are in the US.

The Ursuline Ghost

(trigger warning: talk of self-harm)

 

INFORMANT: Do you remember the ghost story about the nun that haunts Ursuline?

 

ME: Yes I do, but go ahead and tell me about it.

 

INFORMANT: Okay so in the entryway of the highschool Ursuline, they have an old picture of a class where you can actually see this ghostly figure in a window in the background. The legend is that the nun killed herself in the school and is now cursed to walk the halls for eternity. I remember when I took a tour of the school, I got goosebumps and instantly creeped out. I didn’t even know the story at the time but I knew that place was haunted. It’s also just super old and creepy looking

 

Background

The informant fully believes that the school is actually haunted by the nun and found the picture that everyone references online. She originally heard the story from one of her friends who attends the all girls school and has since passed it onto her friends at her school as well.

 

Context

Ursuline Academy is an all girls private Catholic school in Dallas, Texas. The informant is currently a student at a different, co-ed private school in Dallas.

 

Thoughts

The idea that the nun was forced to haunt that school as a result of killing herself is a statement about the catholic roots of the school. In Christianity, suicide is considered a sin instead of a result of depression. This concept that suicide is a punishable act may have contributed to this story (it should be noted that there is no record of a nun ever dying on the school’s grounds- much less commiting suicide on school grounds). On the other hand, Christians believe in Heaven and Hell and therefore don’t believe in ghosts. So the idea that a servant of God would be damned to haunt Earth forever is a naturally rebellious idea that goes against traditional beliefs.

 

Haunted Babies

The informant was telling me of a belief that there are different kinds of babies. She explains how some babies are possessed by spirits when they are born below:

There is one kind of baby that only cries at night and it cries really loud. We have a specific phrase for them yia cu long which means those babies are haunted by some kind of ghosts, because like when a baby is first born they seem very vulnerable to ghosts, so they can easily see ghosts since they’re just born. If a baby is always crying at night it means yi cu long, meaning they are kind of haunted by ghosts, and so that’s why the baby is terrified and he always cry during the night. So in some of the culture what they will do is they will actually have like a person to do some ceremony in order to get the ghost out of their body or stop them from haunting the baby, so it’s like a witch but not really, and then after that the babies are not supposed to cry anymore during the night.

 

So like one of my mom’s friends, his grandson actually all of a sudden started crying at night everyday and he finds someone to produce the ceremony or whatever, and the baby actually stopped crying.

 

Context:

One day when we were talking she told me she had some interesting pieces of her culture that she could share with me, so a few weeks later we met a little café on campus at USC. We sat outdoors while she shared this tradition with me.

Background:

My informant was raised in China until middle school. When she was sixteen years old she moved to the US where she attended a boarding school in Maryland for high school. My informant transferred to USC for her sophomore year of college.  She was telling me about a superstition in Chinese culture that is practiced when babies are crying. A family friend of her mother had a grandson who was crying and ‘haunted’ by a spirit, and when this ritual was performed, the baby stopped crying at night, meaning the spirit was gone.

Analysis:

I found it intriguing that babies can be ‘possessed’ by spirits because they are weaker and new to the world. Even more so, I think it’s incredibly that my informants family friend’s grandson stopped crying after the ritual was performed, which gives the ritual more credibility.

Haunted Driveway of Valencia

TEXT:  This is a short transcription of my conversation with someone who knows the story of the Haunted Driveway of Valencia. My informant will be seen as and I will be B. 

A: There was this one time where my friends and I drive through there at like 2 am just to see what it was like. And then we played a game of rock paper scissors and the loser had to get outside and touch a tree that was barely visible. It was almost pitch black because there were no lights or anything. No one lived there or anything. I ended up losing, of course, and I ran out to go touch the tree but my friends were slowly driving off. I was so scared. I chased after them but I swear, it felt like someone was behind me.

B: Why was this place scary? Like did it have a reputation?

A: Yeah, so Valencia is not that old but even still, for however long Valencia has been around, there has been no construction on this road at all. Everywhere around it, there are houses and stores and stuff but the city hasn’t even bothered putting lights here. And it’s a dead end if you drive far enough. And there was this girl in my school that did something similar to what I did and she came back traumatized or something. Apparently, when she got back in her friend’s car, she was bawling cause she said she saw a ghost or something.

B: Was she the only one that experienced this?

A: I think so. The driveway always had a scary reputation, even before her, but she kind of just solidified it.

B: Do people believe her?

A: People were talking about it and going up to her at school asking if she was okay for a few days or so. Personally, I don’t really believe her. I think it was probably her own head that tricked her. You know how when your foot is dangling off your bed at night, you feel like someone is going to grab it? I think it was something like that.

B: What are your views of the driveway now?

A: I mean, I don’t really believe in ghosts. But I do have to admit, it was pretty scary to be in the middle of darkness. I really do feel like someone was chasing me but I know in my head that there was no one. But it was still one of the scariest experiences of my life.

 

INFORMANT: My informant has lived in Valencia since he was in 3rd grade. Ever since he moved there, that road has had cones around the entrance. Even though there has not been any construction, cones blocked the entrance. He is not a believer in terms of ghosts or supernatural events. He loves to watch scary movies because he likes the thrill but never gets affected by the movies afterward.

CONTEXT: The informant and I were grabbing a meal on a weekday because we were catching up after a while of not seeing each other. I asked him if I can talk to him about the Haunted Driveway in Valencia for my project and he obliged. It was very casual and he did not tell the story with any scary or fearful intonations. This was primarily because of the fact that he did not believe in paranormal things or haunted areas.

MY INTERPRETATION: I was actually raised in Valencia as well so I had heard about this Haunted Driveway before. However, I did not know too much about it because I did not live as close to the driveway and because my friends did not like scary things so we never tested this myth. I also heard about the girl that was traumatized from her experience on this driveway but I heard a far more exaggerated version. I heard that she had to go to the hospital because she had fainted and when she woke up, she had not been the same for a few days. It was interesting to hear from someone that actually went to the same school as her. I couldn’t help but think about the idea of multiplicity and variation as the story gets performed by different people over time. This story probably started off as the story that my informant said and slowly deviated into a more horror-like story as it got to other people in the city. This supports the idea that as every time a story is performed, there is a little variation in the story. If there is enough of this variation, eventually, the story will be very different from the original.

In my personal opinion, I have a very similar perspective to my informant. I do not think that the driveway is haunted by any spirits or anything. I completely agreed with the small side story that my informant had said about the foot that is dangling off the side of the bed. It’s true that often times, people get scared that something will grab their foot. This is similar to when some people have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Often times, people don’t like to do it because they are scared of the dark. Especially because this driveway has no lights at all, being in complete darkness probably perpetuates fear in people who do not like the dark. I have driven on that road with my friends during the day and it seems awfully normal. There are just a lot of trees and mountains encircling this very narrow plot of land which also makes it hard for the moonlight to help illuminate this area during the evening.