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