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NEIGHBORS : Local Haunts : Ventura's own ghostbuster televises his search of a dozen sites. And old-timers recall a rail tale.


Halloween means ghosts. And ghosts, around these parts, means Ventura historian/ghostbuster Richard Senate. As might be expected, it's a busy time of year for him.

Senate has been investigating a Victorian building in Ventura where residents reported seeing a young woman wearing a pink and white dress. They also mentioned the usual moving objects and lurking figures.

Sadly, this latest apparition didn't appear in time to be included in Senate's Halloween-week television show, "Haunted Ventura."

The program features a dozen haunted sites, including the Belle Maggiore Inn, the Clocktower Inn (there's a ghost in room 210) and the Zander Building. It provides interviews with people who saw the ghosts in question and an appearance by Rev. Kate Gibson, a medium from the Center of Joy in Camarillo. The show will air tonight and tomorrow at 7 p.m.


Today's Halloween pranksters have nothing on turn-of-the-century Venturans. Just ask some old-timers. They'll probably sit you down and tell you all about the Great Railway Caper of '08.

The August, 1961, issue of the Ventura County Historical Society Quarterly recounts the Oct. 31 incident. We thought we'd share the story with you as we approach the 84th anniversary of that eventful evening:

At the time of the incident, Ventura had a 15-year-old railway system, consisting of two horse-drawn, rail-guided cars. The system was a source of debate in the summer of 1908 because the streets upon which it ran were the only ones in town that had not been repaved with a much-needed mix of crushed rock and asphaltum. The delay in paving the railway roads annoyed some residents.

On Halloween night, some locals decided to make their feelings known.

According to the Quarterly, about 150 young men gathered outside the car barn on Chestnut Street with the intent of relocating the cars--apparently to a point just beyond the end of the San Buenaventura pier.

Owing to logistical problems, the rebel-rousers instead pushed the first car, known officially as Car No. 1, to the beach and moved it from there to a point in the ocean about half as far as the pier's end. The tide was extremely low that night, and the car stuck in the wet sand.

Having completed stage one of their deed, the mischievous fellows returned to the car barn to hunt down Car No. 2. It wasn't long before that car was on its side on the beach--with a collection of broken windows.

The next morning, the town turned out, along with the railway operator, to look at the beached buggies. It took a team of six mules to pull each of the cars back to their homes.

Within a week, the cars were in working order. But by that time, guess what? The rails had been paved over, and the railway was history.


Have you asked yourself why, as adults, you still enjoy dressing up in outrageous costumes for Halloween? Ventura County therapist Sharon Potter may have the answer.

Wearing costumes lets grown-ups "say things or do things that they would never, ever do normally," she said. "Adults don't play that much. Halloween gives them permission to play and also to be in cognito, to be somebody else."

True, it is a chance to be anonymous, but Potter said people actually divulge a lot about themselves through the costumes they wear.

"We pick parts of ourselves that we don't normally express," she said. "A person might dress up as a monster in part because he either fears monsters or feels like a monster and doesn't let that out."

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