Most people that talk about Griffith Park are usually bringing up the Observatory, which would make aliens come to mind, if we were talking weird stories, I suppose. But actually Griffith Park's most famous markers could be seen as the strange by-products of a curse laid on its soil in the 1860s by a blind woman who'd been left destitute.
The area of land that incorporates Griffith Park is much larger than most people realize. It was once owned by the Feliz family, but there was a dispute in the passing down of the land when the patriarch, Don Antonio Feliz, died. Many say he was tricked in his fevered stupor from smallpox, and bequeathed the land to Don Antonio Coronel under much pressure and duress. Needless to say the destitute women left behind with nothing weren't thrilled. His blind niece, Dona Petranilla, put a heavy curse on the land and everyone involved with the dirty deed.
Legend says that she died in the weaving of the dark magic.
As the land was passed on the cattle on the land died, the grain burned up when lightning kept striking, grasshoppers destroyed the remaining crops; at every turn the land lost value. Family members died young and went bankrupt, until the property was sold, then sold again a year later, then again, until it ended up in the hands of Colonel Griffith. Today the land consists of the Observatory, the Greek Amphitheater, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Museum of the American West, the Travel Town Train Museum, two golf courses, a merry-go-around, countless hiking and horse trails, and the Hollywood sign.
The supernatural stories that emerge from the land are all over the map—quite literally. The Hollywood sign has the ghost of a failed actress, The Zoo is haunted by the souls of dead animals, and Don Antonio Feliz still laughs atop the rocks overlooking the Park. Ghosts run rampant everywhere, it seems, as if the curse holds their souls captive to torment the living.
But, by far, the most interesting and bizarre story to come from the cursed land originates in the picnic area off Mt. Hollywood Dr. The story of haunted picnic table, to be exact. In 1976 a young couple was making out on said picnic table when a large sycamore tree fell on them, killing them both. Yes, that's right. The tree killed them. On Halloween night of all nights.
The ashes of the young couple were sprinkled onto the spot of their gruesome demise by the family, in memory, allowing them to be together forever. But it also seems to have created a problem. When the city came out to trim out the dangerous tree, they didn't get very far into the process until the tree shook and groaned at them.
The job of removing the beast was left undone for decades. The city worker even filed out an incident report. And to this day it remains, the ashes and souls of the couple said to have become a part of the odd sculpture of table and branches.
Rachel A. Marks is a proud nerd, and the keeper of faerie secrets. She's also an artist and the author of DARKNESS BRUTAL and WINTER ROSE. You can read more about her and her work on her webpage: www.RachelAnneMarks.com