This is the next installment of my constantly growing list of locations that I consider must-visit locations that every paranormal enthusiast, investigator, explorer, or adventurer needs to see before they die. A paranormal (before I kick the)bucket list. I’ll share updates in the form of a travelogue and a report of my take from a paranormal investigator’s point of view.
I am partial to any location that also includes a hike. Legendary ‘haunted hikes’ that immediate come to mind is the Rustic Canyon hike to Murphy’s Ranch/LA’s Nazi bunker (very historic and whispers of it being haunted, though I’m still sketchy on whether or not it’s actually haunted), a hike I recently took on Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside, CA (video coming soon), hiking beyond Cobb Estate in Altedena, CA, “The Gate” in Independence Grove Forest Preserve, Libertyville, IL, countless hikes through Robinson Woods in Norridge, IL, hiking the grounds of Madison, WI’s Sanatarium Hill, and of course the death-a-versary hike to the peak of Mt. Lee to honor and remember Peg Entwhistle at the Hollywood Sign in Griffith Park.
Back to Griffith Park I need to go as I have left one story there completely untouched. While I’ve covered the Hollywood Sign, have visited the ruins of the haunted zoo & merry-go-round (a way overdue video on that needs to be edited at some point) and I’ve talked about the curse of the land involving Don Antonio Feliz & his niece Petranilla, plus the possible haunting in the area connected to Rudolph Valentino’s horses. In short, this place is crazy haunted and I haven’t even touched on non-ghostly oddities and the attempted murder of his own wife by the park’s namesake, Griffith J. Griffith (hey, in fairness, if my name was Markus L. Markus, I might end up a little nutty too).
I had this misconception that the haunted picnic table was near the carousel or the zoo, but no, this table is a hike to get to. So, let’s get into the story and finding the location.
First, I have to give a hat tip to the podcast, “A Touch from the Past” that covered this location and inspired this post. Feel free to listen to the episode in question by clicking their logo to the right.
The Story: On one romantic night in 1976 two lovers went on a hike. They found the privacy of this far off picnic table and, feeling amorous, they allowed their emotions to lead to actions. Enthralled in passion, their lives were surprisingly cut short by a large falling branch, crushing them against the table, killing them.
After their bodies were removed, a park worker was tasked with returning to the picnic table to remove the fallen branch. He left the office to do the job… but never returned. His body was soon discovered at the picnic table, deceased. His body had been dragged around 15 feet towards the table, his fingers mangled and broken with the chainsaw wielding was bent in half.
It’s the stuff of horror movies. Especially when you factor in the morality tale.
Amazingly, the huge fallen branch is still laying across the table to this day, a memorial to the young lovers who died here. Those who attempt to move the branch are startled away by phantom voices who seem to guard the location.
The Facts (….anyone? Hello?): There are so many ‘facts’ reported about this story. The dates of the tragedies, the names of the lovers, the name of the park worker, etc. This being a legendary tale, I was expecting to find some embellishments or unverifiable elements (“Sure they were a couple, but were they really making love on the table? That won’t be reported in the papers!”).
This is a site for celebrating stories, sharing theories, encouraging community & travel, but, probably above all, this is a research site. I love finding newspaper articles to include in my write-ups and this is finally a story where the who/when/where is easy to find. This article is gonna be a breeze for me!
And I have called off the search. I could not find one real match for either of the lovers names (allegedly Rand Garrett and Nancy Jeanson) in California or anywhere else around the date in question (Oct. 31, 1976). I expanded the dates and location and still no luck (There was a Rand Garrett who played football for the Army and played a game in California in the ’40s, but there’s no evidence we was killed by a falling branch during the game. There was a man by the name of Dennis Higgs (allegedly the park worker who died attempting a clean-up of the area) who was in the papers in the 1960s, however, he made the news as a protester who was arrested for an anti-apartheid bombing he conducted in South Africa.
There’s the possibility that the story would get little to no press coverage (however a double fatal accident followed almost immediate by a mysterious death would’ve lead to at least a little ink being spilled), but these names didn’t appear in obituaries either (and I’ve also checked Find-A-Grave to no avail).
A possibility: Is there a chance this is a bit of local lore from somewhere else in America that was somehow transposed to this picnic table in Griffith Park? This is a city of transplants bring their own legends and lore to share with new friends. So, if you know of a similar story taking place somewhere else in the world – whether it’s a true story or urban legend – please reach out to me!
The Location: Truth or fiction, be damned, I still wanna check out this location and do a little investigation here. Where it’s haunted or not, we’ve had years of people going to this location, impressing their own energy to it… scared energy or with a sympathetic heart, so there can possibly be observable paranormal phenomena going on here, imparted by us curiosity-seekers.
According to Spiralaim.com (full links below), here is the pin point location of the table:
Comparing the image above with what I could find on Google Earth resulted in this finding:
You can see 3-Mile Trail coming down on the left of the above image and of course that split of Mt Hollywood Dr, leaving an island of green in the middle with, indeed, a picnic table, sitting out in the open. Sadly, however, if this is the correct location and correct table, there is no tree branch covering it. Did it finally get cleared off? See the detailed zoom in below to also see the longititude/latitude coordinates:
I have also found this location on CaliforniaCuriosities.com: 34°8’13″N 118°18’23″W, which is about a half mile away. Tips on finding the location are welcome, but any way ya cut it, I’ll be checking out both locations and coming back with the real, confirmed location once I find it for myself!
Further Reading – great fun articles (with good photos) below: