California Ghosts: Pasadena’s Suicide Bridge

It’s a sad truth that when a tall structure or a great height is accessible to people, there will be some poor souls who take advantage of it to throw themselves to their deaths in a moment of despair. These suicide spots also frequently become the focus of ghost stories as people tell tales of the lingering spirits of these tortured souls.


One such structure is Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge. Built in 1913, the beautiful bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, and spans 1467 feet over a deep canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains and the seasonal river called Arroyo Seco, or “Dry Canyon.” The bridge became a popular tourist attraction, and local residents have long enjoyed strolling along the bridge and looking out from its 150-foot height over the deep canyon below.


Even before the bridge opened, there was an incident that seemed to foreshadow the future tragedies of the Suicide Bridge. A worker fell into the quick-drying cement that was being used in the foundation supports for the bridge, and his fellow workers were unable to get him out before the concrete set. They were forced to leave his body where it had fallen, and the spirit of that worker is said to be one of the many who still haunt the bridge today.


Sadly, the bridge soon attracted those who wished to use that big drop for a more sinister purpose. The first recorded suicide from the bridge was in 1919, and as the years wore on, and especially after the beginning of the Great Depression, the number of people who committed suicide from the bridge rose. Over the years, more than 100 people have leapt to their deaths from the rails of the Colorado Street Bridge.

One of the most poignant deaths on the bridge occurred in 1937, when a mother threw her newborn daughter off the bridge and then leaped to her own death. While the mother was killed on the rocks below, the child miraculously survived when she landed in some trees.


After the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, the California Department of Highways closed the bridge for an extensive series of repairs and upgrades, including the installation of a suicide prevention fence. After 27 million dollars’ worth of repairs, the restored bridge was reopened in 1993. The number of suicides has been drastically reduced since then.

The spirits of those who killed themselves on the bridge are said to still haunt the area. People have seen a woman in a long white robe perched on top of one of the bridge’s ornate parapets before she flings herself off to the canyon below. Others have seen a perplexed man in wire-rimmed glasses wandering on the bridge; he’s said to be one of the many who’ve killed themselves there.


The canyon below is said to be similarly haunted, and hikers have often heard the eerie cries of those who’ve flung themselves into the rocks. There is a general consensus that the atmosphere of the area is “thick” with a sense of oppression and malaise from the lingering spirits of the dead.


As with many areas associated with a large number of suicides, Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge continues to hold more than just the history of the architectural marvel; it also holds the lost souls of those for whom the bridge was the last stopping place of their mortal existence.

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