Author Archives: Katherine Christian

Phoenix’s Hotel San Carlos

The storyteller was a USC student from the city of Scottsdale, Arizona, near the larger city of Phoenix. She grew up in Scottsdale and before that, Minnesota, and is from a European, Caucasian background. This ghost story was collected around sunset, in my bedroom.

Me: So where did you hear this ghost story?

K: Uhm, from my friend who came back from one our school trips. She told me at school. *Long pause*

Me: Ok, you can go ahead and tell the story now.

K: Oh, ok….uhm, so, every year my theater club, we take a trip downtown for a convention and we stay in this old historic hotel.

Me: Downtown where?

K: Phoenix. Yea, its called the Hotel San Carlos and it was built in like, the late 20s? And it was this really nice hotel for stars to come if they came to the desert, like Marilyn Monroe has a room named after her and so does Clark Gabel….and all that jazz. But, uhm, I guess, a year, like, according to legend, a year after it was built one of the hotel workers, Leone I think it was? She was “pushed” out the, I think, I don’t know what story but it was pretty high up. She was pushed out, died, and so apparently her ghost wanders the halls of the hotel. And yea, and there’s also apparently this little girl who will go around and nobody knows what her story is but guests will say that she comes into their room and they hear this little girl crying. And you can see her sitting at the edge of the bed or in a chair in your room. And apparently, they think that she is a ghost of a kid that used to go to a school that was on the property before the hotel was built, who probably died in this huge flu epidemic. So my friend was staying there and she told me that both nights they slept in the hotel, she would wake up in the middle of the night and she would hear people getting ready in her room, and she’d hear voices. So she turned on the light and all of her roommates were still sleeping, and nobody was there, so she went back to sleep. Then she heard it again, so she went to the bathroom, and their bathtub was running. So she freaked out, turned it off, and went back to bed. And the second time it happened, the water started running again, and so she woke up her friend, and they both went and checked it out and turned it off. And they stayed up a long time, waiting for the ghosts. But they didn’t see anything, they just kept hearing these noises, and then I thought when I stayed there that something would happen, but nothing did…so….

Me: So do you think it was a ghost?

K: I don’t know, I don’t believe in ghosts so I really don’t know. Uhm yea, that’s about it.

This ghost story falls in one of the classic categories of ghost stories, in which the ghosts’ motives are driven by their untimely or un-respectful death. Leone and a little girl supposedly haunt because of the way they died, unfairly and untimely. The storyteller claimed that she didn’t believe in ghosts, yet she stated that she had thought she would see something when she stayed at the hotel. She didn’t clarify whether she expected to see ghosts, or some sort of optical illusion. Had she been told the story in a different setting, rather than at school in a casual setting, she might have a better chance of believing the story to some extent. Also, if she had told me the story in a darker, later setting she might have had more belief and enthusiasm in her tone.

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.




Richards, David. “IIG | Gravity Hill Investigation.” IIG | The Independent Investigations Group. Independent Investigations Group, 07 Jan. 2006. Web. 05 Nov. 2011. <>.