The White Lady, Troll Bridges and other La Jolla lore
by JILL DIAMOND
Published - 10/24/19 - 09:00 AM | 4820 views | 3 3 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The infamous White Lady of La Jolla cave. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LA JOLLA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTION
The infamous White Lady of La Jolla cave. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LA JOLLA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTION
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La Jolla may be considered the crown jewel of San Diego County thanks to its glorious beaches, beautiful homes and envious climate, but it also has its fair share of spooky stories, legends, and lore.

Just in time for Halloween, you might want to explore some of these haunts to get you in the mood for the scariest holiday of the season.

As for spooky stuff there are some legendary tales that usually emerge around this time of year,” said La Jolla Historical Society Historian Carol Olten. 

She cites the Museum of Contemporary Art’s ghost Ellen Browning Scripps, whose home once occupied the site on Prospect, as well as World War I soldiers from Camp Kearny heard running the halls of the Grande Colonial hotel on occasion, and, her favorite, the story of The White Lady Cave … “which isn’t really a haunt but a lovely haunting romantic yarn to say the least.”

 

The White Lady of La Jolla 

Olten said The White Lady Cave is named as such because when looking at the cave’s entrance you can see a woman’s silhouette or profile.

You really do see it,” she said.

The story stems from an early incident that occurred in the 1900s and was written by La Jolla resident and author of the poem “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight,” Rose Hartwick Thorpe.

However, her claim to fame is a small book called “The White Lady of La Jolla,” Olten said. It tells the story of all things La Jolla but mainly focuses on the cave and is based on hearsay.

The story is about a young couple who came to San Diego and stayed at a place in Old Town. They later decided to visit La Jolla to explore the caves after a referral. 

The lady who was preparing them lunch said, ‘There are caves you should go see and go into one of them.’ They went in and they were both caught as the tide came up and were pulled under and drowned. They were scheduled to be married later that day, too.”

The couple disappeared and the man who had brought them by horse and buggy searched all over but couldn’t find them. Unsuccessful, he went back to San Diego and told others what had happened. The woman’s brother came up the next day with a search party and looked all around. 

He was said to have gone into the cave and looked up and said, ‘looks just like her,’ referring to his sister, Bertha Hathaway,” Olten recalled. “Henceforth, it has been called The White Lady Cave. It is a romantic yet eerie tale that continues to this day.”

 

Scripps Home

As for the Browning Scripps home, Olten said: “Strange occurrences have been reported at the site of the original home of Ellen Browning Scripps, who lived there until her death in 1932.”

There are always stories of things happening in the area where her kitchen was when it was her house. For instance, the rattling of pans that can be heard during certain times of the night,” Olten said.

 

Troll Bridges

And don’t forget about the two infamous La Jolla Troll Bridges where many a story has been told. 

Trolls, to my knowledge, are dwarfish beings from Scandinavian folklore who live in caves and musty subterranean dwellings and scare people. No trolls have ever been spotted under these bridges called Troll Bridges,” Olten said … “But it goes nicely with other La Jolla legends around these neighborhoods on the slope of Mt. Soledad, also said to have been inhabited at times by Munchkins (the Munchkin Houses on Hillside Drive) and the Seussian inventions of Grinches, Loraxes … created by the good Dr. Seuss who lived on Encilia Drive not too far away,” Olten said. 

Olten added the Troll Bridges are two unusual structures built in the late 1920s and early 1930s to give automobile access around the steep hillsides of real estate developments. 

The first bridge on the Al Bahr roadway was built in 1928 by developer William French Ludington over a deep ocean canyon. It is reinforced concrete and features a series of classical arches that can be a little spooky to walk under, especially to a kid,” she continued. “The other is the Castellana/Puente Drive Bridge that has a park of dense and overgrown plantings beneath it and a spectacular ocean view when you drive over it. 

When you talk to people who grew up in La Jolla during the baby boomer period, they most often remember these bridges as places to escape from their parents and smoke,” Olten said.

Wherever you decide to explore this Halloween, be safe but have fun.

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