Monday, March 30, 2009

Graham Hill Road Cemetery

There is a cemetery on Graham Hill Road in Santa Cruz, near the entrance for Highway 17. People report taking photos of "orbs" (more on this below), as well as having encounters with various ghosts at this cemetery. One particular story holds that pulling a car into the cemetery’s driveway at night with the lights on will attract a violent spirit that is usually described as being "large and white" (yep, The Man even keeps the spirits down).

Commentary: This story is your basic “spooky graveyard” story. Other than the allegedly hostile ghost in the driveway, there’s really nothing that marks this story out as particularly unique. However, it is right next to a “white widow” ghost site (which I will write about later), so that’s kind of unusual.

By and large, the nature of the story seems to be little more than fodder for "legend tripping” – the habit of people, especially young people, to go to places where a ghost/demon/escapee from the insane asylum/Ed Koch is allegedly to be found in order to prove their mettle by facing a danger that isn’t really there. The stories describing the danger of the place in question are typically supernatural in nature, although there are exceptions.

As for the "orbs", These are apparent balls of light that appear in photographs of allegedly haunted places. They also appear in photographs of non-haunted places. In fact, they have nothing to do with ghosts. They are a very well-known side-effect of the way that cameras pick up light. When a particle of dust or moisture catches either the ambient light in a room or the light from a camera flash, it will appear as a floating ball of light. Our eyes gather light, and our brains process what our eyes gather, in such a way that we don't see "orbs." However, cameras gather light in a way that they become fairly common in areas with high dust or moisture contents. Wanna-be ghost hunters often point to “orbs” as evidence of spirit activity, but all that they are seeing is a very well-understood and mundane artifact of photography.

Incidentally, I have watched photographers and people with advanced knowledge of optics explain this to believers, and the believers invariably refuse to listen to anything being said and cling to their belief in the notion that these "orbs" are evidence of ghosts.

Personal Experience: One night, a friend and I decided to put this story to the test. We drove into the driveway with our headlights on, and waited.

Nothing.

I switched the headlights to brights.

Nothing.

My friend got out and began shining a flashlight around while I toggled back and forth between bright beams and normal headlights, and honked my horn once.

Nothing.

So, we concluded that the story was, unsurprisingly, nonsense. However, someone that I told this story to insists that the spirit was simply refusing to show itself to someone who was testing it.

Yep, it's a sulking spirit. You'd think that death would serve as a wake-up call to get someone to stop acting like a spoiled 16-year-old, but apparently not.

SOURCES: Local Legend, Internet

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