Santa Susana Pass Road
The Santa Susana Pass Road, which winds through the rocky sagebrush-covered hills connecting the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth to the east side of Simi Valley, was once a dusty stagecoach trail back in the 19th century. It was also home to Spahn’s Movie Ranch—a deserted former studio ranch infamous as the Manson Family hideout in the 1960s.
Before being reduced to ashes by a wildfire in 1970, Spahn was the site of at least one grisly murder. A ranch hand and stuntman by the name of Donald “Shorty” Shea was brutally stabbed to death there after attempting to evict Manson and his followers from the ranch. His decapitated body was buried in an unmarked grave on the property.
The area has a strange and disturbing feeling to it, and an inexplicable sense of “dread” seems to hang heavily in the air, especially in the still of night. Some people have even reported seeing the ghostly figure of a headless man standing on the rocks high above the road.
One dark and chilly night while I was driving through the thin wisps of fog along the Santa Susana Pass and hoping to catch a glimpse of the headless ghost, a pair of bright headlights from a black 60s model sedan suddenly glared in my rearview mirror. It startled me a bit, as I had not seen or passed another car for many miles. The vehicle tailgated me for quite some time, making me rather nervous. But as soon as I drove past the site where Spahn’s Movie Ranch used to be, the “phantom car” seemed to mysteriously vanish into thin air.