Monday, October 28, 2013

Devil's Gate Dam, Pasadena, California

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I'm closing out this glorious month with a location and a story I wasn't aware of until a couple of weeks ago. My friends know I'm a paranormal enthusiast so they often come to me with, "Hey, do you know about the...?" or "Have you ever heard of...?" and I always stop them mid-question with a definitive, "Yes." That is, until I was asked about Devil's Gate Dam.

"Where," my ears perked up, "is that? And what can you tell me about it?"

My friend went on to tell me about this old dam that sits across from the JPL building in Pasadena. She mentioned how it's thought to be a vortex, or gateway, to Hell. "Two boys literally vanished from the area, never to be seen or heard from again!" she went on. I started to press her for more details when she said that some friends of ours frequently go hiking up there. I literally backed those friends into a corner, begging them to take me to Devil's Gate Dam.

The hike itself was pretty eerie, traveling through underpasses of the 210 freeway that smelled like makeshift bathrooms for the homeless.

We continued further until we reached the bridge toward the dam. There's just something about old dams that creeps me out. Maybe it's the stories my parents used to tell me of the Baldwin Hills dam breaking when I was a baby, with so much water rushing down the hillside that the water actually came trickling down our street, at least three miles from the dam itself. I remember driving up that hillside with my parents throughout my childhood and finding the need to stare at the ominous wall of the abandoned dam while my mind tried to conceive of the tragic events that unfolded in 1963. I would always shudder, imagining some malevolent force behind the wall, looming and staring back at me.

But back to Devil's Gate. As you can see from the photos at the very top of the page and the one directly below, it was completely dry that day. My friends told me that when we have a rainy season in Los Angeles, those trees you see in the background are almost fully covered with water. They've promised to take me back there the next time we have a hefty rain storm.

After snapping a few photos with giggles under our breath and feigned fear on our faces, we came to the stairway that takes you to the area named Devil's Gate. Here's a photo of that stairway.

And here are a couple of photos of the caged stairwells leading down into the gorge.

It was at this point I was relieved to be with other people. Had I come here on my own I would have certainly hightailed it out of there!

Now for the backstory. In my research I found that the story of two boys disappearing wasn't entirely true. No, four children had gone missing from the area. In the summer of 1956 a 13-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl disappeared from the area. Local authorities and volunteers combed the area, including divers who also searched the reservoir itself. No children. No bodies. Only their bicycles and the little girl's jacket.

The end to that story wasn't, in fact, paranormal. Over a decade later, Mack Ray Edwards would confess to the kidnapping and murders of the two children. Seems Edwards, who had a job building the highways of the Golden State, had hidden the corpses by incorporating them into the highway and covering them with asphalt. So next time you're on one of the freeways near Pasadena, you might want to check your rear view mirror to make sure the ghosts of these restless children aren't in your back seat.

The two boys that my friend told me about had actually disappeared at different times. In the spring of 1957 an 8-year-old named Tommy was hiking near Devil's Gate with his family. He was literally a few paces ahead of his family when he went around a bend and vanished. Hundreds of people joined the search team throughout the week, but Tommy was never found.

Then in 1960, a YMCA group was hiking not far from where Tommy vanished when a 6-year-old named Bruce started to feel weak. His leader instructed him to return to camp and, under the leader's watchful eye, Bruce was seen just steps away from the campsite. Thinking Bruce was safe, the leader joined up with the rest of the group but Bruce was not to be seen again. More search teams scoured the area, but as in the case of Tommy there were no clues and no answers as to what happened to Bruce.

Visit Devil's Gate Dam, if you dare!

(Note: As always, my photos are copyrighted and are not to be used without my written permission. Thanks, guys.)

Sad to see October end. Until next time.

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