A haunted train ride
What’s spookier than combining ghost stories and Los Angeles public transit? Every Sunday night in October, Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles, or “GHOULA,” put on an entertainingly educational Haunted Red Line Tour where participants explored the city’s history with an eerie twist.
“We are a social club dedicated to the preservation of greater L.A.’s rich haunted history, and the promotion and celebration of this local lore through ghostly gatherings, events, and publications,” GHOULA writes on its website.
Throughout the year, GHOULA, which was founded in 2006, promotes a variety of spooktacular happenings in the city, including haunted venues, cat ghost stories and personal accounts of paranormal activity. But there’s no better time to see the spooky side of the city at large than in October while traveling underground. Those who dared to adventure along the “blood” Red Line began their journey at the palm tree-lined island in front of Union Station and then traveled through 13 stations, getting off and on along the way while hearing tales about a spirit soldier, a vanishing padre, a ghostly car and more.
Connor Bright, a well-traveled paranormal historian, led the tours.
“She calls Los Angeles her home and the spirits of the city her friends,” her online description states.
Bright is the co-founder of “What’s YOUR Ghost Story,” an online community that describes itself as a platform for people to share paranormal experiences and seek answers from experts. Additionally, she worked with Los Angeles Hauntings Ghost Tours, where she met Richard Carradine, the president of GHOULA, and collaborated with him on the Haunted Houdini Tour of Los Angeles.
“I am having a blast hosting the Red Line tour. It is easily one of my favorite tours,” Bright said. “I love that it is a grand circle tour of L.A. You get to see a little bit of everything, from the founding of the city to the Golden Age of Hollywood to even more modern scandals.”
Bright traveled a unique path to her paranormal profession.
“I love history. I wanted to go to school to be a historian or archeologist, but while I was in school, I had someone come and lecture about paranormal history and just fell in love,” Bright said. “I started researching and lecturing and giving tours. Next thing you know, I’m an expert. I stay with it because it’s a passion. The paranormal brings history back to life, and I adore that idea.”
Starting from the entrance of Union Station, palm trees silhouetted against a vivid pink sky, for the last tour on Oct. 29, Bright kicked off the tour by detailing the haunted history of the station before leading tour-goers to depart for the first stop, Pershing Square. Despite a small hiccup as everyone arrived on two separate trains, Bright swiftly brought the group back together and turned Pershing Square, famous for its history of hippies and protests, into an ominous ghost scene. The nearby historic Biltmore Hotel can never be viewed the same when Bright tells the true story of Elizabeth Short, best known as “The Black Dahlia,” who, in 1947, was found brutally sliced in half outside of the hotel. Some ghost hunters claim that Short still haunts the area, as illustrated by Bright’s vivid anecdote about encountering Short’s spirit with a ghost hunting tool called an “ovilus.”
Tourists then hopped back on the Red Line and got off at the City of Stars, Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. As it turns out, this iconic cross section is famous for more than what meets the eye, and some claim to have seen the ghost of Lon Chaney return to where a bench he frequented to scope out new actors used to be.
Bright then told a story at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a venue Marilyn Monroe stayed at often. Monroe allegedly spent a good deal of time rehearsing in front of a specific floor-length mirror in her room, and, following her death, was said to have haunted that same mirror.
The last stop on the tour was the North Hollywood station, where Bright made her final remarks, met with applause, before opening up the floor to questions and inquiries about her personal ghost stories.
Bright was an excellent, energetic ghostly tour guide who is clearly passionate about her craft, and anyone who is able to take part in any of her events with GHOULA will, as her last name implies, have an enlightening experience. The free, family-friendly tour offered a unique way to explore and learn about Los Angeles, and everyone has something to gain, whether long-time natives or new residents of the area.
In the end, L.A. public transit has nothing on the untold hauntings that exist throughout the city.