Los Angeles. It’s a city built on dreams both good and bad. This home of near mythic studios and idolized elite also happens to be home to one of the most interesting haunted locations in the USA. That place is Griffith Park, and it seems to be a grab bag of paranormal activity with a little bit of something for every investigator.
It all began with a curse…
…or at least that’s what we’re told.
Around 150 years or so ago, the land was owned by a man known as Don Feliz and was called Rancho Los Feliz. Over the course of time, Don Feliz became very ill with smallpox and was wasting away. As the story goes, he sent his sister Soledad and her blind daughter, Dona Petranilla, away to keep them from being exposed to the terrible disease.
After the women had left, a nearby neighbor named Don Antonio Coronel arrived at the home with his lawyer in tow. They “helped” Don Feliz draw up a new will leaving the land to Coronel. It is even told that Coronel tied a stick to the old man’s head and forced him to nod his agreement to their schemes.
When Feliz died and his family discovered what had been done, Dona Petranilla laid a curse on the land and the men who had conspired against her uncle and her family. Coronel scoffed at the curse, but it wasn’t long before something had taken hold of him, his lawyer, and the judge who signed off on the dubious will.
Don Inocante, the lawyer, was killed in a bar fight. The judge died under mysterious “natural” circumstances, and Don Coronel wasted away, watching all of his family die. When he finally died himself, his young widow remarried and her new husband immediately filed for divorce seeking ownership of the land.
A man named C.V. Howard came to own part of the and and sold the water rights, but legend says he, too, was soon killed in a saloon. Afterward, the next named owner of the land, Leon “Lucky” Baldwin decided to start a ranch there. His luck definitely ran out with his decision. His cattle dried up and an almost Biblical plague of grasshoppers devoured his crops, and before long the stories say he was gunned down by an outlaw.
The land passed to a land agent who quickly sold it off to Griffith J. Griffith. After a short time, Griffith gave the land to the city of Los Angeles as a Christmas gift. Notably, it wasn’t long after that Griffith was convicted of attempting to murder his wife and spent two years in prison.
With all of these changing hands and misfortune, it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination that Dona Petranilla’s curse might have packed a punch.
It’s interesting to note here that some say the curse ended when Griffith donated the land while others point to mysterious deaths (one couple in the 70s were crushed under a falling tree as they were having sex on a picnic table) and an inordinate crime rate as proof that the young woman’s curse still stands.
Check out the next page for the Ghosts of Griffiths Park!