How can I not write about Sunol's most famous
ghost story on this All Hallows Eve? Some call her the White
Witch, others the Niles Canyon Ghost. It's a story that has
been told over and over from generation to generation and everyone
has their own version of the horrid events that took place that
day. Some say she was returning home from a prom, others tell
of her being a bride on her wedding night. Some say it happened
in 1920 others say 1940. We like to think of it as our own ghost
story but similar stories are told all over the country. And
I still can't figure out the "witch" part. The most
common of the haunted stories goes something like this.
While traveling through Sunol at the intersection of Scott's
Corner, which is now where highway 84 meets highway 680, a young
beautiful bride was on her way to her wedding in a horse drawn
carriage when suddenly the horses were spooked and the bride
was thrown from the vehicle and instantly killed.
Now the story changes here a bit because supposedly her white
ghostly figure appears near a train trestle on Niles Canyon
Road every year on February 26, which is still highway 84 but
several miles from Scott's corner. They say the woman wearing
a beautiful but dirty white wedding dress is wandering by the
side of the road looking for a ride.
The tale continues as unsuspecting motorist stop to give her
a ride. She tells them that she is trying to get to San Francisco
and gives the driver the address. But before the car reaches
the Dumbarton Bridge, she disappears into thin air. The scared
and confused driver continues on to the address given by the
woman and the person who lives at the home discloses the fact
that their daughter/niece/sister was killed in the 1920's.
I must confess, as a teenager we all dared each other to travel
that dark canyon on February 26 and we never witnessed anything
other than the occasional raccoon. But supposedly others have
had encounters with this famous apparition.
In my own family I had an uncle, whose tall tales were fueled
by his fondness for liquor, who swears he picked her up by the
side of the road and yes she did vanish before he arrived at
the Dumbarton Bridge. But I don't think he continued on to the
San Francisco address.
Another time a friend who lived in Pleasanton was traveling
from Fremont through Niles Canyon late at night and saw a strange
figure of a woman by the side of the road. My friend knew nothing
of the ghost story and while talking a few days later she casually
mentioned that she had seen the strangest thing the other night,
a woman dressed in a long white gown walking alone at night
down Niles Canyon Road. Was it the Niles Canyon Ghost or an
Others have tried to recreate the mysterious woman by wearing
a bed sheet and traipsing over the trestle on the anniversary
of that fateful night. In 1950 a group of teenage boys decided
to play a hoax and donning a white bed sheet, one the teens
climbed the hill to the trestle to wave and try to scare passing
The local police were soon called and when arriving at the
scene they fired warning shots to bring the playful teenagers
out of their hiding place. The boys were given strict instructions
never to try that dangerous prank again.
Do you believe in ghosts? Several homes in Sunol are reported
to be haunted. Could yours be one of them? Happy Halloween!