Turnbull Canyon

Looking for the most Extreme mountain biking or hiking experience?  Then check out Turnbull Canyon located near the city of Whittier, CA.  The history of Turnbull Canyon has a checkered but interesting past.  Over time urban legends developed and spread like a wildfire about the canyon, which created an infamous reputation of being a hotbed of tragedies and weirdness.


The History of Turnbull Canyon

The Native American tribes that inhabited the San Gabriel Valley referred to a canyon within the valley as Hutukngna which means the “night”, “the dark place”, or “the place of evil”.  According to one story, the Spanish would force the natives  who refused to convert to Christianity to spend several days in the canyon of evil.  Later the east side of the San Gabriel Valley was named Rancho La Puenta by William Workman who was a banker and land developer.  In 1876 Workman was ruined financially which led to his suicide four months later.

A Scottish immigrant by the name of Robert Turnbull moved to the San Gabriel Valley in the 1870’s and made a small fortune through real estate.  After Workman’s suicide, an advisory committee was formed to regulate bank loans.  While sitting as an advisor on the committee, Robert Turnbull came across an opportunity that allowed him to buy land in the canyon for a cheap price.  Due to a stream of water running through this land he was successful at raising sheep.  While making his name as a shepherd he also developed a reputation of being a drunk and a loud mouth.  A group of Quakers moved into the area and decided to develop a settlement for their people.  They made several offers to buy Robert Turnbull’s land, but Turnbull never accepted their offers.  Until one day, the Quakers offered him $30,000; a fortune during that time period, and Robert decided to sell.

One night in 1888, Robert Turnbull was leaving one of his favorite taverns, the St. Charles Hotel, and was arrested for public drunkenness due to falling off of his horse.  The next day he was released and while entering his home his housekeeper, Mary Kate, noticed that Robert had several bruises all over his face and body.  She reported that it looked like he was involved in a brutal fight.  After taking a long nap, Robert got up the next day and Mary told authorities that he didn’t seem himself and left the house wearing mismatched clothing including a hat that belonged to her.  The next day two children found his body floating face first in the Los Angeles River.  The coroner stated that Robert died from a blood clot that developed from a head injury and that it was very possible that Robert was murdered.  Shortly after, the Quakers renamed the canyon to honor Robert, and that is how Turnbull canyon got its name.

William Haight-popular science

The Electrodome

During the late 19th to early 20th century, droughts were very common from the mid-west to the west coast of the United States.  Rainmakers were coming out of the wood works claiming that they could make it rain for a small fee of course.  Many rainmakers were eventually exposed as  charlatans but some names were noted in history as the real deal.  During the 1916 drought in San Diego, CA; Charles M. Hatfield’s method of controlling the weather was successful, so successful that he caused a heavy downfall of rain that caused a flood that claimed 20 lives, washed out the infrastructure of the city, and many homes as well.  He was chased out of town and was never compensated.

In the early 1930’s, William Haight made his mark as a rainmaker with his invention of the Electrodome.  His device would generate negative electrical currents into the atmosphere and create a pulsating direct current from the ground to the sky.  His invention would allow people to create rain, displace fog, and could even prevent frost from forming on crops.  His smaller model of the electrodome was a success, but to produce a more effective result Haight would require a serious financial support which he didn’t have.  Due to some financial support from a Citrus farmer, John Dodrill,  William was only able to build one big tower that was based off of an old existing oil tower located in the Turnbull Canyon.  With the laboratory sitting on an 80 foot tower the Electrodome reached 125 feet from the ground to the sky.  The final test of his experiment happened on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight in 1932.  There is no mention in the media of the results of the test.  However, the Russian Government at the time was very interested in Haights invention and used it for themselves.  Currently, more advanced versions of the Electrodome are currently being used by the United States government, Japanese government, and a company called the Australian Rain Technologies.

Flight 416W

On April 18, 1952 a North continent airline, operating under Robin Airlines, was on a flight from New York City, NY to Burbank, CA.  After making several intermediate stops flight 416W was redirected to Los Angeles International Airport due to bad weather in Burbank.  The plane was on an instrument landing system approach to LAX.  While the landing gear was fully extended, the left wheel of the plane struck a ridge near the Turnbull canyon causing the pilot to lose control causing the plane to crash into a steep hillside.  The plane exploded into flames instantly and all 29 on board were killed.  After the investigation was completed the officials stated that the cause of the crash was due to pilot error.  The pilot was flying below the minimum altitude of the area.  It was suspected that the pilot couldn’t see the runway due to fog build up and decided to fly below the minimum altitude which led to the accident.  The investigations also found Robin Airlines had more than 40 violations that included, charges of overweight planes, demanding and excessive flying time for crews, and failure to use approved seats and safety belts.  The investigation also discovered that the pilot of the plane was flying with a restricted medical certificate.

flight 416 crash

KKK, Satanic Cults, and UFOs..ooh my

Many locals of the area of Whittier Heights claim that Turnbull Canyon is home to KKK rallies and Satanic Cult activities.  During the depression era of the 1920’s rumors were spreading that people in black outfits with hoods were seen walking around at night and some stories claim that orphan and runaway children were being sacrificed in the area.  Video’s of UFOs and orb sightings in the Turnbull canyon are also all over the internet.


Hell’s Gate

In the depths of the brush of Turnbull Canyon lies Hell’s Gate.  There is not a lot of information about the origins of this notorious gate on the Web.  The location of Hell’s Gate is between the intersections of Skyline Drive and Descending Drive.  There is a dirt path that cuts through the overgrowth of vegetation that leads to a chain linked fence with a “Private Property” sign along with another sign warning intruders that there is a dog.  One story that is floating around the Web is that behind the chain link fence there use to be an insane asylum that was notorious for neglect and abuse of the inmates.  The facility eventually burned down.  Years later some teenagers decided to visit the abandoned asylum and supposedly came across a device that was used to administer electrical shocks to the inmates.  Joking around one of the teenagers applied the electrode probes to his head got electrocuted and was killed.  As the story goes…the electricity was shut off 20 years ago before this alleged incident.

While digging deep on the internet I have not been able to find any validation of an asylum in the area of Turnbull canyon or no proof that a teenager was killed by self-electrocuted shock to the head.  I have found some Youtube videos of brave souls exploring beyond the chain link fence.   Behind the fence is a lot of vegetation overgrowth along with some remnants of concrete slabs with pipes coming out of them.  The notorious Hell’s Gate was still present but the rod iron gate that was shown in these videos did not live up to the infamous reputation that have developed overtime.  No dead babies, hell hounds, or internal flames coming out of the ground, just an ordinary rod iron gate.  According to one of my sources, one person made a journey beyond the Gate of Hell which just led to someone’s backyard.

gates of hell

Gravity Hill

Many locals claim that there is a gravity hill somewhere located in Turnbull Canyon.  Gravity hills have been found all over the world and locals in the areas of these mysterious hills will tell stories of spirits or aliens that are to blame for the phenomenon.  For those of you who don’t know what a gravity hill is, don’t feel bad,  I had to look that one up myself.

A gravity hill is a hill that appears to be going up and people in cars will travel up the hill without applying any gas.  Balls have been placed on these hills and they would roll up the hill.  A gravity hill is an optical illusion, sorry to disappoint everyone but there is no prankster ghost or alien messing with us.  When standing on a path of a gravity hill the horizon is obscured from the person’s viewpoint which creates the illusion that the hill is going up but it is actually going down.

The Hanging Tree

There is supposedly a tree somewhere in the Turnbull Canyon that is referred to as the “Hanging Tree”.  While reading up on the Turnbull Canyon, I came across two different stories about this elusive tree.   One story states that a man hanged himself on a branch of a tree and at the time and day of his death you can see his ghost dangling from the branch.  Another story that I came across involved a teenage couple who decided to take a drive through the canyon and ended up having car troubles.  The male told his girlfriend to stay in the car and not to let anyone in while he goes and gets help.  After a while, the female started to hear sounds on the roof of the car that resembled the sound of light rain.  After several hours waiting for her boyfriend to return she ended up falling asleep.  The next day she was woken up by taps on the window from a police officer.  While the police officer was asking her to step out of the car he instructed her to not look up.  Supposedly she disregarded the officer’s advice of not looking up and saw her boyfriend was dangling from a rope tied to a branch and his blood was dripping on the roof of the car.  While searching for any validations to these stories I came across quite a bit of uncertainties from other curious minds of where this “Hanging Tree” is located and there are so many different trees that are being referenced as the phantom tree of death.

Final Thoughts

I always love to hear a good ole ghost story and the Turnbull Canyon is riddled with them.  There have been actually deaths and horrible tragedies that actually occurred in the canyon.  Walking around in the wilderness especially at night will naturally create some healthy paranoia.  But after my journey of reading up on Turnbull Canyon the only real threats to be aware of are: rattlesnakes, white supremacists, mountain lions, and drift car racers.

The canyon also has some great mountain bike paths.  If you decide to go hiking on these paths, bikers going down hill have the right away.  Gravity trumps their brakes so to avoid any collisions get out of their way when you see them.


F. (2014, November 17). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii8KDPMg7Ys

F. (2014, February 28). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb-beiXJMDg

Valenzuela, A. (2016, January 22). The Ascension to Hell – POETINIS: DRINK IN THE TRUTH – Medium. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://medium.com/engl-201/the-ascension-to-hell-d30d43952889

“The Rainmaker” House and Weather Station (1916). (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.vchistory.org/historical-sites/the-rainmaker-house/

Brown, R. J. (1934). Electricity Governs Our Lives. Popular Science, 124(2), 11-13. Retrieved November 23, 2017, from https://books.google.com/books?id=2CcDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA12&lpg=PA12&dq=William Haight PopularScience&source=bl&ots=gB_8GWBnUY&sig=gIjPl7i5pE6axyoWR9I0_KT_2VA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiWtLWApMLQAhWJ7YMKHXLTBrYQ6AEIHzAB#v=onepage&q=William%20Haight%20Popular%20Science&f=false.

Sundermier, A. (2016, April 14). People all over the world are flocking to these mysterious hills that seem to defy gravity. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/what-really-happens-on-a-gravity-hill-2016-4

WeirdU.S. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://www.weirdus.com/states/california/local_legends/turnbull_canyon/

Whittier, CA (near) Airliner Crashes Into Hills, Apr 1952. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.gendisasters.com/california/5517/near-whittier-ca-airliner-crashes-hills-apr-1952

M. (2014, August 14). Haunted Los Angeles. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://hauntedlosangeles.blogspot.com/2014/08/turnbull-canyon-whittierhacienda.html

McKenna, J. A., M.A. (n.d.). Native People. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://www.hillsforeveryone.org/the-corridor/native-people/


The Silver Arrow


Urban legends involving ghost trains have been reported from around the world since the early days of locomotives.  The Silver Arrow, later to be known as Silver Pin, is a story that dates back to the the mid 1960s behind the backdrop of Stockholm, Sweden.  


The legend begins when an experimental aluminum model C5 train was built.  1 out of the 8 prototypes was left unfinished.  The car was left unpainted and had other differences that separated it from its peers.  It was missing an air suspension, it had a whining distinctive motor sound, and it had outlying sliding doors.  It was stated the sliding doors were an idea that would allow more room on the inside of the train for passengers.  Another difference between the cars was that the interior panels were installed on the other cars that supported beautiful advertisements on the walls that brought a little color into a commuter’s mundane life.  The interior atmosphere of the The Silver Pin was described to be an urban ghetto landscape littered with graffiti and a metaphorical imagery of the daily grind mentality from the working class perspective.  The odd “red headed step child” train was only put into commission to be used as a backup car in the Stockholm metro system.


The Folklore

The stories of the ghost train vary from each other.  One claims that the The Silver Arrow or Silver Pin is believed  to be a train that is only for the dead.  Another legend states that If one were to step into the train and sit down they would disappear forever or would finally get off the train weeks, months, or even years later.  Reports from subway tunnel workers and commuters claim to have seen Silver Pin moving down the rails filled with commuters with emotionless stares gravitating to the front of the car.

Another urban legend of a haunted abandoned metro station, Kymlinge station on Line 11 also referred to as The Blue Line, had intertwined with the legend of The Silver Pin.  Another legend  of The Silver Pin ghost train claims that the last stop on the Silver Pin is the Kymlinge station.  “Bara de döda stiger av i Kymlinge”,  (“only the dead get off at Kymlinge”).


My Thoughts…

The reputation of the train, while being in use, would probably have something to due with the infamous reputation that it later ended up earning.  Being only used as a backup would explain why common everyday commuters would rarely see the unique car.  The Silver Pin also developed the reputation of not being very reliable.  Due to it being the back up train I’m willing to bet the schedule of arrivals at the various stations would be affected.  Out of frustration, the people relying on the metro system waiting to be picked up could’ve had a part in creating the references of the legend.  I know from personal experience, while having to be dependent on public transportation from my younger days as a teenager, I had made statements such as “I  will probably be dead by the time this damn bus arrives.”  Of course I’m paraphrasing from the original comments that I made that were filled with all kinds of colorful language and euphemisms.


Investigations into the unknown and weird. (2013, October 9). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://silentthrill.wordpress.com/tag/silverpilen/

Journals, W.L. (n.d.). Silverpilen. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://worldjournals.org/article/WHEBN0002652899/Silverpilen

Grundhauser, E. (2015, October 7). The Silver Arrow, the Real Ghost Train Haunting the Stockholm Metro. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-silver-arrow-the-real-ghost-train-haunting-the-stockholm-metro

Ghost train (folklore). (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_train_(folklore)

Stockholm haunted by ghost train. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/europe/74125955/The-mystery-behind-the-ghost-train-that-haunted-Stockholm


The Bunny Man

The bunny man bridge

While searching for my great white whale of a tale, I came across an urban legend with a title that alone gave me a smirk on my face and sparked my curiosity.  As I’m reading the legend of the Bunny Man I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the true events of the Bunny man and another piece of folklore that I picked up when I was a kid going to summer camp.  I’m not  going to give it away, but if you see it or possibly hear it in your head while reading this blog,  please give me some form of validation that I’m not the only one who thinks this is funny.

The legend takes place in FairFax County, Virginia.  On Halloween at the stroke of midnight while you are hanging out under the Colchester overpass, which is also nicknamed the Bunny Man Bridge, a flash of light will appear.  Anyone under the bridge will have their throats slashed and will be hanged from the bridge.


There are some variations of the story that created the origins of this urban legend; however, the main part of the story starts in the early 1900s.  An insane asylum was built deep in the wilderness of a nearby town called Clifton.  After the Civil War, the population started  to grow in FairFax County.  As the population increased the fears of living near an insane asylum arose and eventually a petition was signed by the populus of the county to have the inmates transferred to another facility known as the Lorton Prison.  One of the transports crashed and the guards and some of the inmates died.  Ten inmates escaped into the woods and after several exhausting months of manhunts eight of the inmates were apprehended.  Two of the inmates, Marcus Wallster and Douglas Griffin, vanished into the woods.  The inmates managed to evade the authorities long enough to cause the manhunts to be called off.  The police figured if they’re not dead by now they would be soon.

Soon after, skinned rabbits were being found and sometimes hanging on the Colchester overpass.  Eventually the body of Marcus Wallster was found hanging from the overpass.  The police suspected Douglas Griffin for the crime and he became known as the Bunny Man.  Douglas Griffin was convicted of murdering his family on Easter Sunday which is what landed him in the asylum in the first place.

Some versions of the story state that the authorities caught up with Mr. Griffin and while pursuing him he was  hit by a train.  Another variation stated that the authorities found Mr. Griffin’s dead body lying on the train tracks that run over the Colchester overpass.

Now there have been many tales of teenagers hanging out under the Bunny Man Bridge on Halloween night and found the next day hanging from the bridge.  Here is where I’m starting to smell the presence of good old fashioned parenting.  Scare your kids by telling them ghost stories to prevent them from doing stupid things, which inevitably causes them to do those stupid things when they become teenagers.

According to my sources there are  no documents whatsoever to validate the origins of this legend.  There are also no police reports confirming that there have been people found hanging dead on this notorious bridge.  However it is pretty common to find abandoned buildings or remains of buildings in the backwoods of Virginia.  It is possible that one of those remains could have been the abandoned asylum that was shut down.  And it is possible that documents could disappear.  If you don’t believe me ask a lawyer or a unscrupulous business person.

paper shredder


This is where it gets a little silly and weird.  In 1970, a series of the Bunny Man sightings started to pop up.  Police reports were made and even some of the local newspapers started chiming in on these mysterious encounters.  The first report was made by an Air Force Academy cadet Robert Bennett who was on leave in Virginia  and was visiting his uncle.  Towards the end of his leave he spent the evening with his fiance.  They were sitting in a car in the 5000 block of Guinea Road when a man dressed in a bunny suit came out of the bushes wielding an axe shouting out, “You’re on private property and I have your tag number”.  The man tossed the axe through the right passenger front window of the car and then skipped off back into the dark woods.  Another report was made less than two weeks later by Paul Phillips who was a private security guard for a construction site.  Phillips reported to police seeing a young male appearing to be in his 20s dressed in a bunny suit carrying an axe.  As Phillips approached this bunny man the man struck a wooden support with his axe on a new house being built and shouted out, “All you people trespass around here.  If you don’t get out of here, I’m going to bust you on the head”.  There were over 50 reports of sightings of the Bunny Man in the 70’s.  Even to this day there are sightings of a man in a bunny suit near the overpass or somewhere along Guinea Road.

While reading about these true encounters the Little Bunny Foo Foo song started to play in my head.  If you have never experienced or heard of this song I have provided a link below.  Warning this song is very catchy so I give you my apologies in advance.


I extended my research for this blog just to see if there are any correlations between the folklore of the “Bunnyman” and “Little Bunny Foo Foo” and there are none.  However it did inspire a “Little Bunny Foo Foo” parody of mine.

Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest…Slicing people’s throats and hangin’ em on the bridge…

I’m not going to continue on with it.  I will leave the rest of it up to your imagination.


The Bunny Man Unmasked – Page 4. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/branches/vr/bunny/bunny4.htm

A.K. (2014). The Strange True Story Behind the Legend of the Bunnyman Bridge. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.oddlyhistorical.com/2014/04/25/strange-true-story-legend-bunnyman-bridge/

B.S. (2015, May 18). Beware of the Bunny Man! | Mysterious Universe. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/05/beware-of-the-bunny-man/

Mckendry, D. I. (2015, December 22). Virginia Haunted by Killer Dressed as Giant Rabbit: The Legend of Bunny Man Bridge. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.blumhouse.com/2015/12/22/virginia-haunted-by-killer-dressed-as-giant-rabbit-the-legend-of-bunny-man-bridge/