USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Train Tracks’
Legends
Narrative

Haunted Train Tracks

The informant used to live in the Gulf Coast region of Texas.

SC: I did once hear the obligatory “haunted train tracks” legend in my town back in Texas. Some kids were joyriding along the tracks and got killed dead. LEGENDS SAY that if you park your car on the tracks and cover your windows with powder, you can see their handprints form as they try to push the car off.

There’s a lot of train tracks in the area and a few crossings in town don’t have warning lights or bars, so it’s not too hard to believe someone was acting stupid and got into an accident.

The legend actually caused some people to park their cars across the rails in hopes of meeting the ghost kids, but the inherent danger in doing that and obscuring vision to catch the ghosts in the act made the traintracks even more unsafe. Since then, fences and crossings have been built across more of the railroad crossings in the area.

general
Legends

Moorpark’s Gravity Hill

The story teller was a USC student from the city of Moorpark, about an hour north of LA. She grew up in Moorpark, and is from a Japanese American background. This ghost story was collected late at night, walking on a dimly lit street through campus.

 

Me: First of all, where did you hear this ghost story?

K: Uhm I mean, someone told me, it was just a casual thing, someone told me at someone’s house, it wasn’t a dark scary night or anything. But everyone hears this story at one point or another living there.  So, there is this place in Moorpark, called Gravity hill and its back in…people don’t live back there. Its like farm land, getting into the orange trees and everything, I don’t know anyone who lives back there. I’ve only been back there for this place. So basically, there is this place where supposedly there used to be train tracks and a bus full of kids stalled in front of these train tracks, a long time ago, no one ever told me when. And they couldn’t get the bus off the train tracks, and it was full of kids, and a train started coming and hit the bus and everyone in the bus died. All the kids died. So they say this place is haunted by these little kids, and that if you put your car….if you go to this place and you go to this certain spot and put your car in neutral, and let it sit there, the kids will come, and think you’re stuck there, and they will push your car up hill to try and save you, you go up gravity hill. So we tried it this one time, homecoming night, freshman year, went there before the dance. So we went to this place, and it was my friend’s older sister who was driving the car, and so she had to find the right spot. So she put her car in neutral, and we’re sitting there, and then all of the sudden the car started moving forward. And, I mean, its not that big of a slope, its like a little tiny bit of a slope, and your car starts rolling up hill. Its like, the creepiest thing ever. I heard that some people like to put flour on the back of their car and they check it when they get up the hill, and check for handprints later. Which, I mean, there are rumors about people finding handprints in the flour but I don’t really believe them, but people say that they do.

 

Me: At the time did you believe any of it?

 K: Uhhhh, I don’t know. I don’t really believe in ghosts. I honestly don’t, I mean, I would have to actually look up the history to see if there were actually train tracks there to believe it. If I found out that there were actually train tracks and this did actually happen, I might believe it a little.

Me: Do you think there is any other explanation other than some sort of other worldly spirit?

K: (Laughs) Uhh, I mean, maybe putting your car in neutral doesn’t really put your car all the way in neutral and maybe you have a little gas putting you up the hill? I don’t know, the hill is really small.  So it’s not like….maybe people don’t realize at the very end of where you put your car at there is a little down slope first, you know? I don’t know. You do roll a significant amount forward though, I don’t know. It ‘s kind of creepy. I got goose bumps there, and I was freaked out. I locked my doors.

 

After I heard this story, I was quite speculative myself. Being an engineering that trusts in the good laws of science, I knew this was physically impossible, and that a car could not roll uphill. I did some research using the keyword “gravity hill”. I found an interesting article covering an in depth investigation of how this happens, at it is reported as a common phenomena at various places around the world. The conclusion that they came to was that the car does not actually roll uphill, but rather downhill, and the upward slope that people see is actually an optical illusion caused by the surrounding landscape and curvature of the road. What I find fascinating about this ghost story is that it has an interesting legend, complete with spirits of children, and people are able to go and see it for themselves. Due to the variety of places that have reported this occurring, there is great potential for a variety of different ghost stories to explain why this occurs. These ghost stories could vary by location or culture, and have unique stories, different than the children pushing the car.

 

Source:

 

Richards, David. “IIG | Gravity Hill Investigation.” IIG | The Independent Investigations Group. Independent Investigations Group, 07 Jan. 2006. Web. 05 Nov. 2011. <http://www.iigwest.com/investigations/2006/20060107_gravityhill.html>.

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