The Niles Canyon ghost story is the Northern California variation on the vanishing hitchhiker archetype. There are many different variations of this story depending on whom you ask. All stories include a girl being involved in some sort of motorized vehicle accident on February 26 (year often changed).
One variation of the story includes a girl being involved in a car crash on Niles Canyon road (off the 680 freeway in Sunol, California) on the way to her prom. The girl died on impact and to this day is said to haunt Niles Canyon road every February 26. The tale of the haunting goes that people traveling along Niles Canyon road (now Highway 84) on the night of February 26 will see a normal-looking high school-aged girl walking along the road in a prom dress (many people have said it is white). People traveling along the road (mostly those traveling alone) have said to have stopped and offered the girl a ride.
She accepts the ride, giving the driver an address across the bridge (either Dumbarton or Bay Bridge depending on the storyteller). Once the driver gets to the beginning of the bridge, the girl will disappear. Sometimes people have gone to the address to find that a girl many years ago matching that description once lived there. Today, many people will travel along this treacherous pitch black road in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Niles Canyon ghost.
Fremont’s Very Own Lady in White
She wound up by a bend in Niles Canyon Road when a car came careening around the corner and could not stop in time. The vehicle ran over the woman and kept on driving. The woman died shortly after.
Today, residents of Fremont believe the ghost of the woman can still be seen along the now infamous road. Marnie has relatives who live in Fremont and visited them often while growing up. She encountered many people who claimed that they saw the woman in the white dress, but no matter how many times her family used that road, Marnie never saw a thing.
A Terrifying Tale Revisited
“It was so easy to dismiss all the stories,” she told us. “People like to share ghost stories because they think it makes them seem cool or special somehow. But after countless trips down that road, there never seemed anything special about it.
“Fast forward a couple years when I was assigned to investigate the validity of a ghost story for a Halloween segment of the newspaper I work for,” she said. “I thought about the ghost in white in Fremont and I knew it would be the perfect tale to write about. So I drove down there, made my way to Niles Canyon, and brought out my equipment.
“Since ghost hunting shows are so popular these days, my editor in chief wanted me to use the same kinds of devices they do on television,” Marnie nodded. “So I got a thermal camera, a EVP device, the works…The sun had just started to set when I got there. I walked along what is considered a hidden sidewalk, as you can’t see it from the road.
“Many people have supposedly run into the lady in white here. As I started walking around, I thought I heard the sounds of someone else walking nearby, but each time I stopped the noises would too…like whoever it was watched me through the trees. I started getting a little scared, but I didn’t think it was the bloody ghost.
“I thought it was some creepy guy or something,” Marnie shrugged. “Anyway, I kept going. As the sky grew considerably darker, I pulled out the thermal camera and scanned the area with it.
“I turned it towards a group of trees when I saw a human figure walking parallel to me on the other side of the foliage. I was scared,” Marnie admitted, “but I had to find out who was there with me. I ran towards them, all the while looking at them through the thermal camera.
“According to the feed, the person was standing right in front of me, looking right at me…but when I looked up there wasn’t anybody there. It was…the scariest thing I have ever endured,” she whispered. ‘H-hello?’ I called out. ‘Marnieeeee’ the voice said, eerily high pitched. I ran straight to my car and drove out of Fremont then and there.”