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.

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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.

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Robert Turnbull

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.

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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.

References

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/

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La Isla De Las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls)

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Imagine traveling in a boat and then slowly approaching an island where the landscape is littered with mutilated dolls, decapitated doll heads, and doll limbs, hanging from trees like Christmas ornaments or dangling from a dead man’s noose.  Would you be brave enough to explore and stay overnight on the Island of the Dolls?

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La Isla De Las Muñecas is located on what was once Lake Xochimilco, south of Mexico City. Before the Spanish colonization the area was part of the Aztec Empire.  The Aztecs created artificial islands known as chinampas that provided a variety of crops that became a primary source of food for the people of the Empire.  These man-made islands were connected through a labyrinth of canals that established a network with other nearby lakes.

Folklore

The legend of The Island of the Dolls starts in the 1950’s.  A man, either by the name of Don Julian Santana or Julian Santana Barrera, took residence and became the caretaker of the island.  One day while Julian was walking he stumbled upon the body of a dead girl on the shore of his island.  One source states that a group of girls were playing near a canal and one of the girls ended up drowning and washed up on Julian’s island.  Some sources claim that Julian also found an abandoned doll next to the girl and out of respect he hanged the doll on a limb of a nearby tree to keep the spirit of the girl at peace.  From time to time Julian would find dolls floating in the canals nearby the island.  He would hang them from trees or tie them to trunks or posts.  It is even stated that he would venture off his island and look for discarded dolls through other people’s garbage.

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My sources vary when it comes to the reasoning for Julian’s obsession of collecting abandoned or lost dolls/doll parts and hanging them to trees.  One source claims that after discovering the girl’s body, the spirit of the girl was tormenting him and he was protecting himself from the wrath of the spirit by giving her dolls to keep the vengeful spirit happy.  His family stated that the ghost of the girl was just a figment of his imagination.  Another source stated that the girl reminded him of his daughter whom he abandoned when he decided to become a hermit and was collecting dolls for the spirit of the girl out of kindness.  However, all the variations have a common and mysterious ending.  In 2001, the dead body of Julian was found on the same exact spot where the girl was found in the 1950’s.

Tourists Beware…

The family of Julian Santana have made the La Isla De Las Muñecas a tourist site.  Tours of the Island are given during the daytime.  However,  locals claim that at night the island becomes alive.  The dolls will move their remaining limbs or heads.  It has been reported that the dolls will whisper to each other and sometimes child laughter will echo through the eerie landscape of the Island of the Dolls.

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References

Hoeller, S. (2015). There’s a terrifying island in Mexico that’s full of hundreds of mutilated dolls. Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/la-isla-de-las-muecas-doll-island-in-mexico-2015-10

Swancer, B. (2014, July 01). The Mysterious and Creepy Island of Dolls | Mysterious Universe. Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/07/the-mysterious-and-creepy-island-of-dolls/

The Island of the Dolls in Mexico | Oddity Central – Collecting Oddities. (2009). Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://www.odditycentral.com/pics/mexicos-island-of-the-dolls-is-beyond-creepy.html

La Isla de la Munecas – Island of the Dolls. (2012). Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://unusualplaces.org/la-isla-de-la-munecas-island-of-the-dolls/

The Hull House

Hull House

In 1856, a real estate tycoon Charles J. Hull built a home in the near westside of Chicago, which in that time period was considered to be the upper class area of the city.  Mr. Hull’s wife died in the second floor bedroom and shortly after a few months of her death it was reported that her ghost haunted the room.  After the rest of the Hull family vacated the house  the Little Sisters of the Poor and a used furniture store occupied the building and also claimed to have experienced the presence of Mrs. Hull.

After the Chicago Fire of 1871, burning down most of the westside, the wealthy moved to other parts of the city and the near westside became inhabited by Italian, Greek and Jewish immigrants.  The area’s landscape went from luxurious homes with green lawns and hedges to tenement houses and factories.

Jane Adams

jane adams

Jane Adams was a social reformer who was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace prize.  In 1889, Jane Adams along with her partner Ellen Starr Gates started their social equality efforts in Chicago by opening up the Hull House as a peaceful haven for the immigrants living in the area.  They provided shelter, education, and job training to improve the quality of life of the residents who resided in an area that became plagued with crime and crooked cops and was known as the “Dark Corner of Chicago”.  The Hull House was purchased by the University of Illinois and still stands today as a museum of social reform efforts made by Jane Adams, Ellen Gates, and the staff of Hull House.

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The Devil Baby

The Hull House became a footnote in the realm of urban legend folklore by becoming known as the House of the Devil Baby of Chicago.  The story goes that a catholic woman married an atheist man.  The woman tried to put a picture of the Virgin Mary on a wall of their house and the man ripped the picture down and tore it to shreds.  The man yelled out, “I would rather have the Devil himself in this house than that picture.”  Shortly after the woman gave birth to a child that had scales and a tail.  Some variations of the story claim that the child had horns and a hooves for feet.  The baby was taken to and abandoned at the Hull House.  Supposedly, Jane Adams took the baby in and while trying to baptize the baby, the infant stood up, walked around, and was mocking the priest.  Rumors ran rampant about the “Hull House Devil Baby” and people would visit the House and ask to see the infamous baby, some even tried to offer money for a peak of the demonic creature.  

Jane Adams and the staff of Hull House denied the stories.  Jane Adams even wrote in her autobiography dispelling the rumors and claims of the Devil Baby.  People to this day claim to see at night a demonic face of a child appearing out the attic window of the Hull House.  Whether the story has some truths or not, there are now known birth defects that could have happened that could logically explain on how this once started as a rumor then turned to the legend of the Devil Baby.

References

About Jane Addams. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hullhousemuseum.org/about-jane-addams/

 

Visit The Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hullhousemuseum.org/overview/

Jane Addams and Hull House. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hauntdetective.com/hauntings-legends-folklore/chicago/westside/85-jane-addams-and-hull-house

The Devil Baby of Hull House. (2011, October 3). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-quirk/2011/10/the-devil-baby-of-hull-house/

JANE ADDAM’S HULL HOUSE. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.prairieghosts.com/hull.html