Turnbull Canyon has a reputation for being a haunted, creepy place. We decided to drive out today to see it. There's lots of rumors surrounding the place: urban legends, such as a "hanging tree" and a "witch house", devil worshippers, KKK people, the ruins of an abandoned asylum. There's also the violent history of the canyon: people have been killed here and bodies found, for example a burned man, a girl found wrapped in plastic, and another girl who was tied to the back of a car and dragged for miles, leaving a blood trail. Gang executions and other stuff also happen here, which makes sense. It's very remote. It's a pretty dangerous drive, too. Joyriding morons would not be fun to encounter. There are cliff drops and the roads are very narrow.
Anyways, we drove out there today. That first picture is a shot from Turnbull Canyon Road of a water tower, supposedly where people have been murdered.
We drove through the winding canyon. It had a pretty dangerous feel to it, but only for safety reasons. We got to the intersection of Turnbull Canyon and Skyline Drive. According to rumors, apparently the RUINED ASYLUM is located at this intersection. I didn't see any asylum, but here's what was there:
I'd seen this intersection on Google Maps and it looked like a graveyard. But up close, it's hard to tell exactly WHAT it is. Presumably the frontage of some fancy house that's hidden up that hill? There are some coloured tiles that you can sort of see in the picture above. Lance figured out that they spell "The Singing Kettle", and there's an image of a flaming kettle. Weird. *edit: after some Googling, I was able to find out that in 1935, this was "The Singing Kettle Tea Shop". A pretty weird and remote spot for a tea shop, I'd say, but hey - who am I?
Here's a farther away shot of the intersection. It does look like a graveyard, even though it's not. It certainly isn't the foundation of some frightening old asylum, although I presume urban legend has done its job. It couldn't possibly be the remains of an old tea shop in some rich dude's front yard - no, it must be an ABANDONED ASYLUM. *sigh*. But, we had another goal: at the end of Skyline Drive, the street turns into a fire route where there is an abandoned house. I'd seen pictures of the house with its windows boarded up, and read about the creepy homeless dude who apparently lived there and the MYSTERIOUS LIGHTS ON even though no power apparently went to the house. So we drove to the fire route... oh, and once you get to Skyline Drive, it's pretty resedential. Even the "abandoned house" is seriously only about twenty feet away from occupied homes. But nevertheless, we were ready to be creeped out...
Here it is. Not abandoned anymore. No boarded up windows. And there were four vehicles in the driveway. So I guess someone bought it. Not creepy at all. But it is located along the fire route, which is a hiking trail as well, so since we had just parked, we decided to follow the trail. It appeared that the trail would lead us up to the water tower. It probably took us about twenty-five minutes to get from where we'd parked up to the tower, and it was a scenic ol' walk.
On the way up, we were pretty uncomfortable. It was dusty and hot. At one point we saw some other people way, way up ahead, walking towards us, but they disappeared onto one of the offshoot trails - of which there were many. You could get lost or into trouble in this place. All around us were more hills and steep drops. You could see various trails along the hills. As we walked up to the water tower, we saw this building above. Some sort of Buddhist Temple. Shortly, however, we arrived at the water tower.
Here it is, in all its graffitied glory. Apparently gang guys have killed each other up here, satanic rituals, death, et cetera. Makes sense. The tower sits on a high peak, it's sort of a beacon for miles around. Totally isolated, yet easily found. It wasn't creepy, but I mean, the whole time I was kind of nervous that someone was going to pop out and knife us for our spare change.
Here's a view looking back up at the tower. We headed back down the trail. Oh, by the way, apparently a ways down there is an ABANDONED FACTORY. Well, there is a factory, but it's not abandoned. It was not creepy enough to warrant taking a picture of. There were areas of chain-link fence yanked back, which implies creepy people sneaking around, but that's about it. We walked back to the car.
We'd parked right by Skyline Drive and Descending Drive. The next stop on our list was the supposed "Gates of Hell" or "Devil's Gates" or what-have-you. Disappointed by the total non-scariness of the ABANDONED HOUSE, yet refreshed because the water tower had been kinda neat, we headed down Descending Drive. Which does, in fact, descend.
Lots of graffiti on signs and even on the road. The scary rumors about Turnbull Canyon and area have brought out the kids, obviously. I'm sure it's a high-school rite-of-passage to go around this area at night. Drunk, and with cans of spray-paint. This did lead to the vibe of not wanting to return at night, and not because of GHOSTS. Because people are scary.
Anyways, we soon arrived at the GATES OF HELL:
The story about these gates is that behind them somewhere, there is a ruined/abandoned house, which is used by Satanic cults. I don't know about that, but the area was kind of weird. All along Descending Drive and the surrounding streets in this little neighborhood were tons of fenced-off driveways, leading up to really nice houses with swanky-ass cars. The GATES OF HELL were easy to pick out, if only by the lack of security and trespassing warnings. I suppose it would have been interesting to go exploring for the abandoned house somewhere in the wilderness behind it...
... and easy, too, as Lance illustrates. But we decided not to. It just wasn't piquing our interest as we'd hoped it would. We headed out of this neighborhood. We saw no signs of the "blood pools" or any other sort of abandoned or ruined buildings.
Bottom lines for me: Do I think Turnbull Canyon is haunted? No. I think it is a remote, dangerous place where bad things have happened - committed by humans. I wouldn't want to go there at night, but only because I wouldn't want to get into a car accident or encounter some drunk maniac in the rocks. Apparently the winding roads are very popular with street-racing type idiots. More for them. It had that "bad people want to hurt you" vibe about it. And I can totally see how the canyon is an appealing place to ditch a body.
*** We decided to head to a Buddhist Temple that Lance had seen. Not the one with the pagoda-like structure, but a different one, closer. I agreed to go check it out, but I felt reluctant, as I was disappointed that there hadn't been a spooky vibe at all yet, and there sure wasn't going to be one at a Buddhist Temple. However, it was very beautiful:
We put pennies on the heads of a few of the statues, and there were bald nuns walking around. I wish I'd gotten a picture of them, but how crap would that be - the bawdy white chick strolling around, aghast at the bald Buddha ladies. It was a beautiful though and I'm glad we went.
***Before heading home we decided to check out the nearby Rose Hills Cemetery.
There were deer grazing by the gravestones. One had a hurt leg. :( She's the one lying down.
We ended up going into a mausoleum. It was really big and totally empty. I felt like we shouldn't be in there. Classical music was playing over the speakers.
At one point inside the mausoleum, I heard footsteps coming up a hallway behind us. I turned around, fully prepared to apologize to the attendant for tracking our touristy mud all over the sacred place. But there was no one there. I'm not even kidding.
In conclusion, it was a nice day. And I have a beautiful picture that I'm going to save for tomorrow.