Photo by Al Pavangkanan courtesy of Flickr.
If you ever took a trip to Monterery, Santa Cruz, or the Bay Area there's a good chance you've taken Highway 152 through Pacheco Pass. The part of the trip from Los Banos to Gilroy is rather mundane for those who have driven it before. Or is it? Did you know it has a rather dark history? There are stories of supposed Indian massacres by the Spanish settlers in the 1700's. And from 1860 to 1880 the pass was known as Robber's Pass due to two highwaymen that robbed, raped and murdered travlers along the route. And now in modern times it's known as Blood Alley due to the numerous traffic accidents that occur along it's route. Not all these accidents are fatal, but some are. And apparently some of the victims haven't moved on.
Blood Alley seems to have several spirits on it's stretch of road. On the old Bolsa Road there's a story of a headless figure wandering aimless off the side of the road. It's said the ghost is that of a man who was in a car accident and was decapitated and now he is searching for his missing head. Another story is as you are driving towards San Juan Baustista, right after you pass the mission you drive through a small grove of trees and on your left you will see an outcropping of rocks. Sometimes late at night it's said the ghostly spectre of a woman can be seen there. Apparently her fiance was killed in an accident on this stretch of road, and despondent, she put on her wedding dress and went to the scene of the accident and climbed the rocks and jumped to her death. Unfortunately for whatever reason she did not join her beloved in the afterlife and she wanders the road looking for him to this day.
Other miscelaneous sightings include a woman searching for her child, but when you approach her for help she disappears. Witnesses have also claimed to hear the sound of a stage coach and the sound of horses but never see the source of the sounds.
There have also been reports by numerous witnesses of seeing a man in a black robe standing on the side of the highway usually between Casa De Fruta and Bell's Station. Written reports of seeing the figure go back at least several decades and the figure was always seen late at night or early in the morning before sunrise. It's theorized that the figure could be that of a Fransican Monk given the type of garb the witnesses describe seeing him in.
Another story I came across is that of young Indian girl that fell in love with one of the local monks who helped find the San Juan Baustista mission. They had a secret meeting place on a hill besides Fremonts Peak. But once the local townspeople found out about this illicit affair, the preist was excommunicated from the church and the girl was banished from her tribe. The priest went to their spot to find his beloved so they could finally be together. But when he arrived there he found her dead. Distraut, he killed himself. It's said you can see them both on the hill to this day. Whether this monk is the same spirit that was mentioned previously is unknown.
And what haunted highway would be complete without a phantom hitchhiker? Claims of a young girl wearing jeans and a plaid shirt asking for a ride from truck drivers have been reported. The girl would approach a truck with a driver in it and ask for a ride. When the driver said yes, she would walk towards the front of the truck as she was heading towards the passenger side. The driver would wait for the passenger door to open, but it never would. When they would get out of the truck to look for her, she was no where to be found. It's said that this woman is the ghost of a hitchhiker that was accidently killed by a semi-truck years ago.
And because ghosts aren't enough apparently for Blood Alley, there have been sightings of a half human half birdlike creature standing in the middle of the road. Strange lights have also been reported along the pass that have no known explanation.
So next time you are taking a trip to the bay area (or maybe Gilroy for the garlic festival) and see a person on the side of the road, double check that they are actually there. Because there's a good chance you just saw one of the many ghosts of Blood Alley.