Category Archives: California

Haunted Glendale, CA – Brand Park & Cemetery

BrandParkCemetery4You’ve gotta love a mountain hike that leads to a mostly hidden cemetery! Glendale, CA’s “first family,” the Brands, started a pet cemetery that they themselves began laying themselves to rest in. The nearby family home, library and this cemetery all claim some level of paranormal activity. There are reports of occult activity at the cemetery, though that’s always a red flag for urban legends to me.

Oddly enough, the modern history of this area dates back to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago where Missouri realtor Leslie Brand and his wife visited and were immediately taken by the East India Pavilion.

BrandParkCemetery9Just a year later he purchased the small community of Glendale (click on the map image to the right to open the GoogleMap of the location) with hopes of further developing the community and also crafting his perfect, East India-inspired family home.  The home, situated at the base of the Verdugo Mountains was named “The Lookout” in Indian, or Miradero.  Interestingly, the land he purchased is still outlined and named “Miradero” on GoogleMaps.

The East Indian style home, nicknamed “The Castle,” built in 1904 quickly became the social hot spot of Glendale.  When Leslie died in 1925, he donated much of the Miradero land to the city of Glendale, specifically to be used as a library and park.  This library was finally opened some 31 years later and continues to operate to this day.  The park, with baseball diamonds, is in heavy use.

Sadly, like all too many possibly haunted cemeteries, this one has a history of desecration.  Single graves were unearthed on separate occasions with bones of the deceased being scattered about the grounds and skulls stolen.  One of the skulls belonged to Miradero architect Nathaniel Dryden.

BrandParkCemeteryParking in one of the main parking lots, walking up the paved Brand Park Drive, keeping Miradero on your right, gaining altitude as you reach the Verdugo Mountain range, you’ll eventually reach a T intersection.  In front of you, you’ll find decaying stars to nowhere (pictured left).  It’s eerily similar to the present date site of Altadena’s Cobb Estate.

Bear left at the t-intersection and you will soon find the fenced-off Brand Family cemetery, which contains several conventional graves as well as the remarkable pyramid-shaped grave of Leslie Brand.

The trails into the mountains behind the estate still boast scores of ruins from a bygone time.  The photo below shows  Brand Cemetery as seen from a nearby mountain ridge (note the pyramid in the lower right corner), along with

BrandParkCemetery8 Below is another stairway to nowhere, deeper within the mountains.  While there seems to be a large amount of infrastructure, including old, decaying roads, power line supports and building foundations, researching historical topographical maps to not show any buildings whatsoever.  Perhaps these buildings were not built with any official permitting as Brand kept these grounds private, even hidden from civic meddling, as he was a powerful force in Glendale.  Unfortunately, this makes dating and identifying buildings in this area quite difficult.  Event the cemetery, which has to have started in the early 1920s or earlier doesn’t appear on these maps until 1967.

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The most concrete paranormal activity takes place in the library itself where Leslie Brand understandably continues to spend time in his dream home.  If that’s a conscious haunting or that of the residual variety remains to be seem as encounters seem to be too fleeting to gleam much information from.

Due to the terrible grave desecration that happened at the family cemetery, one would understand the place being under close surveillance as much as you would understand if there is some amount of unrest here.  I do believe that paranormal investigation at this site is important as much as I feel that it’s important to do this investigation the “right way.”  Respect the land, the rules and honor the family that helped build Glendale.BrandParkCemetery6

For continued, much more in-depth reading into the history of this site & the brand family themselves, check out a great KCET article here.


Haunted Glendora – Bennett House

Bennett House Ghosts of haunted Glendora

Bennett House Ghosts of haunted GlendoraGlendora’s Bennett House, built in 1905, was purchased by the Daughters of the American Revolution and they found out quickly (during their very first monthly tea party meeting) that they weren’t alone in the home. The visage of a phantom man crashed the party before vanishing.  Occupants also talked about hearing sounds of objects moving, but not seeing anything out of the ordinary happening; this seems to be a common residual-type haunting.

Bennett House Ghosts of haunted GlendoraIt’s unclear if much activity has taken place in the house since that first encounter with the vanishing man in 1982.  It’s not uncommon for paranormal activity to spike when a building undergoes a change (renovations, new inhabitants, etc.). Maybe once the new owners settled in, the spirits settled back down as well.

This is not the only haunted residence in Glendora as John Zaffis, founder of the Paranormal and Demonology Research Society of New England (not to mention that he’s the nephew of famed demonologists Ed & Lorraine Warren) investigated another affected home in Glendora on his show, Haunted Collector.  Read more about that story at Glendora Patch.

Do you know of other haunted sites in Glendora?  Have you experienced anything yourself at the Bennett House?  Were you there at that famed 1982 tea party?  As always we wanna hear about it?


Seeking Location to Investigate in So. Cal

Hello!  I’ve been traveling a lot and am in the process of getting some videos ready to share with you.  First though, I need your help.  I’m calling on you, ghost story fans to help me find the perfect location to do an extensive investigation on with a small group of people.  Some of them are people you’ve seen in my videos before, some are brand new additions.

We’ll be filming in the Los Angeles area, but if LA and Hollywood are one thing, they are crowded!  If they’re something else, they’re loud!  So, I’m looking to find a location outside of the heart of LA.  A place we could get permission to have the run of the place.  It would be a single night overnight investigation.  I’m looking for a place that is actively and heavily haunted.  It doesn’t have to be a place where people see full apparitions or a place where people get physically confronted, though those would be okay for me too…. Sorry team, but just a place where the activity seems to be interesting and ongoing.  If you have a personal experience there, we might be able to get you even more involved with the project, if you’d like.

Here’s a rough map showing where I’m looking.  The red locations are potentially good target areas where the blue area is likely locations I’d avoid.  So, I’m looking at a pretty big area.  From Hidden Hills to Rancho Cucamonga, from the massive Angeles National Forest to further south than this map shows, really.

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It can be a private residence, a public place or a company.  We just need permission to conduct this one-night investigation.  We’re not trying to do anything sneaky here.

If you know of a place within a more populated (blue) area, but you think the building is quiet and isolated enough that we could do an investigation without sound contamination, I’d be all for it.  I even have a wish list for places In these areas:

  1. The Hollymont house just north of Hollywood Blvd
  2. Themla Todd’s Café and the house she died in, Castillo del Mar
  3. The Warner Pacific Theatre, one of my favorite buildings in LA, one I’ve never set foot in because it’s been restricted since the earthquake in ’89.  I’d love to get in there and try to make contact with one of the original Warner Brothers.

So, if you have leads on any interesting haunted location in any of the cities listed, please drop me a line with any info you may have, the history, alleged hauntings, if you know who I should contact and, maybe most importantly – if YOU have a personal experience there!


Updated Photos from Murphy’s Ranch

By Scott Markus

There has been much concern for the fate of one of LA’s most unique landmarks and ties to strange history – Murphy’s Ranch.  Plans for the demolition of the remaining buildings have long been known.  Then, early in 2016, some dates became public knowledge.  Specifically, late March was the bulldoze date.  Scott and Connor made a trip to the site in early April to get a look at the changes.  While a lot is gone, it could have been much worse. photo IMG_1655_zpsn2g8pk4a.jpg

 photo IMG_3865_zpstidyfjml.jpg Immediately apparent is the large fence and wall have been totally removed, making trail access even easier than it already was.  Perhaps if the gates weren’t locked in the first place, people wouldn’t have felt the need to create their own hole in the wall in the first place.

 

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The huge water tank was the first victim of the “clean-up,” having been eliminated in early 2016.  It was fairly recently that someone got themselves stuck inside of it, requiring help from the authorities to get free (I think it’s okay to call them an idiot).  The silver lining here is that there’s still evidence of where the tank was.  The cement walls were sliced at an angle, creating a sort of curb for the downward sloping trail.  Of course, we’d love for the tank to still be standing, but this is a nice accent that lightly hints at the former site.

 photo IMG_3875_zpsmiv6dfju.jpgSeen to the right, Connor (and co-adventurer, Brownie the chocolate lab) is standing in what was once the center of the large water tank.  The now removed wall gives you a unique perspective and vantage point to how enormous this thing was.

Along the way we passed the remains of a small house (pictured below).  Though largely untouched for the moment, most of the debris in the structure was swept out towards the road.  Our guess is that the junk will be cleared, but we hope the foundations remain.
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 photo IMG_3895_zps8ua1x67s.jpgTo our (and Brownie’s) delight, the most iconic building is still standing, fully in tact.  Not only is it untouched, but for the first time that I’ve seen, the cyclone fencing around it has been removed, making this a strangely inviting location.

The large metal building, which had turned into a mountain of twisted metal was removed (before and after pictures below), along with the remains of a 1960’s VW Mini Bus.  The loss of this bus is a negative to me because it was a wonderful example of how this location went from a center of hate and domination in the ’40s to a home to artistic endeavor and free thought/love in the ’60s.  Poetry in history.  The remnants of the van were brought up to the main road, likely for easier collection.

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I didn’t really want this to be a “review” of the changes, as I am quite the naturalist/preservationist.  I would’ve loved to see what was left standing of the large structure secured in a safe way, but I understand clearing out the debris.  Though I hate the loss of the water tank, people getting stuck inside of it (again, like idiots) makes this an easy decision for the powers that be to simply remove it.  Removing the wall & fence at the trail head seemed unnecessary.  Simply opening the gates and welding them to a secure, open position would’ve been effective and a much easier task then removing everything in full.  Still, as far as everything else is concerned, I’ve found my peace with what we’ve lost and I just hope nothing else goes.  This is such a wonderfully unique piece of Los Angeles history, it would be a shame to lose anything else.

I plan to do a more complete live video discussion on this topic in the near future on Periscope.  That video will later end up on YouTube and right here with video footage of some hard to find locations and a lot more ‘off the beaten path’ structures in this area you may not know about.  Stay tuned!


Surviving (and ENJOYING) Jury Duty in Downtown LA!

I recently had the experience of having to do jury duty and…. had a great time!  I am one of those “lucky” people who have actually gotten called for jury duty three times in the last three years.  Yes, I have gotten out of it in the past with legitimate reasons I was unable to serve.  This time, however, I gave it a go.  Okay, I did try to get out of it a few times until it got to the point that trying to get out of jury duty was more of a nuisance than actually serving jury duty.
So, to show off the bright spots of jury duty and to provide you with a jury duty survival guide, I wanted to create this post.  If you’re on this site, I imagine you are interested in ghost stories, local history, crime history, Los Angeles and visiting museums.  If you keep an eye on these themes, then serving jury duty is downright exciting!  I know that sounds like BS, but stay with me here.

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The first part of jury duty and truly the only part that most people experience is being in the “jury pool.”  It’s just a big waiting room full of people hanging out.  Honestly, is that so bad?  Most people keep themselves busy with their iPads, phones, laptops, etc.  There is Wi-Fi, so it’s not a bad way to get some work done.  I, on the other hand, did a lot of reading.  I got deep into a fascinating book on the Prohibition era that deserve its own blog entry.  However, if you are serving jury duty in downtown LA, I would strongly suggest reading “A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption & LA’s Scandalous Coming of Age.”  This amazing book covers the frequently lawless and corrupt age of life in Los Angeles, a town that was growing faster than its infrastructure was ready for. The book covers topics like the Castaic Damn disaster and Clara Bow’s blackmail case.
Back to jury duty.  Each day you get a 90-minute lunch.  That’s crazy!  What’s more crazy is that most people stay local or even eat in the building.  In 90 minutes, you can walk to a lot of great places, taking a nice tour in the process.

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 photo 20150507_121159_zpsu7jdkx7v.jpgAfter giving quite a few tours and frequently losing tour members to Mr. Churro, I decided that this was finally my time to check the place out.  Leaving 210 W. Temple (pictured, top with the white Pico House building visible on the far right) and walking North up Spring Street, you get a lot of great views of the Pueblo de Los Angeles area (pictured directly above).  This is our destination and also where the city of Los Angeles was born.  On your left, you walk past the largest cement military memorial in all of America, a tribute to the Mormon Battalion and the site of Fort Moore (pictured right).
 photo 20150507_120952_zpsazqueuok.jpgCrossing the next overpass gives you a great perspective on exactly how much of the original Moore Hill (specifically the land that was Moore Hill Cemetery) was dug out to make room for the 101 freeway.  Yes, in a tale straight from the movie Poltergeist, a cemetery was moved (said bodies are now located in Rosedale Cemetery in the West Adams neighborhood, by the way).  Yes, there was a school (that crazy stainless steel building) that was built on a former cemetery and yes, that is a haunted building.  Bodies from the original cemetery were found on this site from the original cemetery as recently as 2009.
Continuing down Spring, you’ll eventually make a right at the corner of Spring and Ord.  This is the site where, not all that long ago really, LA was gripped by the possibility that huge quantities of buried treasure was hidden underground throughout LA.  Who put this treasure here?  A now extinct species of 6 foot tall reptiles, of course (this is a true and strange footnote in LA’s already strange enough history).

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Now turning the corner and heading through Chinatown, you get a nice look at the ornate dragons that keep watch over the neighborhood before walking a couple more blocks to Olivera Street.
 photo 20150507_122756_zpsrsl8r5gx.jpgGetting here has only taken about 15-20 minutes out of the 90 minute lunch, so there’s even time to visit the free Old Plaza Fire House museum (pictured left, with City Hall in the background on the right edge of frame), which is really not much of a museum, but you do get to enter one of the original fire stations in LA and see some of the vintage fire fighting gear and impressive photos of the LAFD in action through the years.
To read more about this haunted history of the Pueblo de Los Angeles including Pico House, the Avila Adobe (also a free location to visit) and La Gondoloria Resuaturant, check out my article here.
I grabbed my lunch to go (it did live up to the hype) and walked back to and past the courthouse building to have lunch in LA’s Grand Park.  It’s no Grant Park in Chicago or Central Park in New York, but the city has done a lot to create a gorgeous, large park right in the middle of this portion of the city.  In addition to a nice aesthetic, there are exhibits worth viewing including quotes and pictures from survivors the Armenian Genocide (pictured below, right with City Hall looming in the center of the image and the criminal courts building on the left).
 photo IMG_2695_zps5skjclan.jpgDay 1 ended with me actually getting assigned to a case.  Though most cases are only 1-2 days, this one was estimated to take 6 days if I was selected to the jury.  This was not a lock as I was one of about 50 people to make it to this stage.

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Day 2

My second day of jury duty started around 11am or so and after just 60 minutes of jury duty, it was time for my 90 minute lunch.  It’s amazing anything gets done, really.

Unfortunately, on this day it was raining, so I decided to see what fun I could have in the building. Unfortunately there is no top floor observation deck, but I did find a museum-caliber display covering both the 17th and 18th floor of the building. It’s amazing!
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The displays are floor-to-ceiling and do cover every lady square inch of the walls on the two floors. The display is a timeline of crime in LA (technically, it’s about the district attorney’s office, since we are on the floor the D.A. is on).

 photo 20150508_124844_zpsm7rham6o.jpgThe perspective is interesting, looking at the history of Los Angeles as it relates to crime, from the 1871 Chinese Massacre through the Griffith J. Griffith attempted murder case in 1903, the 1910 LA Times building bombing, Bugsy and Mickey’s Mafia control in the ’30s, the career-ruining Pantages trials the Manson Family trial, through the modern age of the LA Riots and the OJ trial.  Among the more well-known stories are some tremendous events that today are largely forgotten.
Did you know that there were sea battles just a few miles beyond the Santa Monica Pier between authorities and floating casinos?  It’s a saga that went on for years and somehow we haven’t seen a movie based on these events yet(?).  Tony Stralla’s name appears on these walls a couple of times.  Before he went on to create the Stardust Casino on the Vegas strip, he was a prohibition-era bootlegger and casino operator in the soutland.

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This location also ties in beautifully with the afore-mentioned book, “A Bright and Guilty Place,” as pretty much every event covered in the book also appears on these walls, as well as personalities like Dave Clark (an LA City prosecutor who got his hands dirty and bloody more than once) and Burton Fitts.
LA’s DA office is about to move to another building, so this exhibit will not be here forever, so whether or not you have jury duty, this is a public building, so make sure you make time soon to go up and walk these halls.
Another must-do in this area is check out the observation deck on the LA City Hall building located just across the street from the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, named after the first female lawyer on the west coast.
 photo dd5f032c-321b-439a-8a36-385a14e11d60_zpsni4d9tzn.jpgJury duty or not, this location offers some of the best views of downtown LA and is a must visit.  Sadly, the view towards the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory is frequently obscured by smog and other larger buildings in the area block some other ideal sites, but it’s still well worth the visit.  West Hollywood, the Brewery artists lofts and, much closer Broadway and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  This is specifically a way to handle jury duty here in downtown LA, but when it comes down to it, no matter where you are, you can find an interesting way to entertain yourself.  Turn it into an opportunity.  How often do you have 90 minutes to kill away from home?  We’re always in a rush nowadays and you can use this time to your personal benefit.  The fact that you’re also pridefully doing your duty as a US citizen…. also a nice perk.

Rancho cucamonga / Alta Loma Suicide House

Is it pure urban legend or can someone actually track down a newspaper report to verify this intriguing story?  It shouldn’t be too hard if the facts we’ve heard are true.  The alleged suicide happened recently, just in the 1990s.  The details of the haunting (first reported here: InsidetheIE.com/scariest-place-alta-loma) include phantom whispers, screams, cries, an apparition of the father, and even a shadowy form walking about the back yard.

We’ve also heard that there are other homes in this neighborhood with very active entities residing within them.  We would love to investigate!  Please drop us a line!


Hiking and exploring LA’s forgotten Nazi bunker

by Scott Markus

“Murphy’s Ranch” is regaining popularity these days for the time when a radical political group called the Silver Legion set up shop here to prepare to aid in Hitler’s attempt at taking over the world in the ’40s.  The more we associate the word “Nazi” with this location, the more sensationalized it seems.  Make no mistake about it, this location, deep within Rustic Canyon, north of Malibu and within the Pacific Palisades was developed by Nazi sympathizers who supported the cause Nazi Germany was fighting for.  However, how strong the ties between the actual Nazi party was with the Silver Legion are a mystery.  In my uneducated opinion, I think they amounted to little more than a fan club.  The Nazis had their hands full in Europe, they hadn’t yet realistically set their sights on the “sleeping giant” called America.  That said, this location is amazing and the history still completely veiled in mystery.  So much so, in fact, that we had to produce two videos here.

Before we jump into the videos, very important question:  Do YOU have a ghost story about this place?  If so, please leave it in the comments!

In the first video, Connor Bright talks about the history of Murphy’s Ranch.  She also uses the ruins as a backdrop to talk about her recent shoot for AwesomenessTV that was filmed at the Cobb Estate.


In this video, Scott Markus takles the hike itself, showing you the beautiful views and creepy ruins.