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The Dangerous Twists and Turns of “Snake Road”

The helpful Sanger Police officer set me straight right off: “It’s called ‘Snake Road’ because of the twists and turns. It’s actually named ‘Channel Road.’” When asked about the haunting he claimed to know nothing about it, but added that this didn’t stop those pesky kids from racing up and down at all hours of the night and generally causing a ruckus and headaches for the cops. He gave exact directions to the area and wished me luck. He didn’t know if anyone had been killed in a wreck there.

If the officer had checked the records, he might have encountered the story of a woman who

somehow lost control of her car and plunged into the Kings River sometime in the not-too-distant past. The woman was drowned, and her two daughters, riding in the back seat, were swept away in the car by the raging currents and also perished further downstream. She is said to wander the road at night, moaning and calling for her lost children. La Llorona, the old Hispanic tale of the “Crying Woman” who haunts the banks of creeks and rivers, is given a new twist.

Channel Road is not easy to find, even with directions. This country lane begins innocently enough at the intersection with Annadale Avenue amongst swaying eucalyptus trees and neatly planted orange groves, but soon devolves into a nightmare of hairpin turns that would tax even the most sober of drivers.

The most confusing aspect about the drowned woman story is that the Kings River is not exactly next to Channel Road. There are vast sewage treatment ponds and marshes along its lower reaches, and the “channel” that gives the blacktop its name appears to have been long ago submerged behind long, chain-link fences. About two miles further east from the Channel intersection, Annadale Ave. does indeed cross the river, and perhaps the ghostly wanderer is looking in an area where her daughters may have been washed ashore downstream.

Although the road not nearly as ominous during daylight hours, I did spot something bizzarre and disturbing near the southern end of the street. Someone had killed two huge crows and tied them to the fence at eye-level, with their wings spread and heads twisted. Whether this was the result of some elaborate ritual, a warning to other crows, or a macabre teenage prank was not clear, but the creep-out factor was suddenly palpable. Across the street was a house with old cars on the lawn and scores of cheap plastic toys strewn about the yard—not really a place to arrive unannounced to ask about ghastly crow mutilations. 

You can read firsthand eyewitness accounts of ghostly encounters on Sanger’s Snake Road in Weird California.

Weird California

 

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