The community of Modesto, California, prides itself on being fairly active. As a result, many running and hiking trails have been created through the town and surrounding county. But some trails are more well-known than others.
The Legend of the Modesto Farm Hand
The Dry Creek Running Trail is quite popular, but not necessarily for its scenic views or level of difficulty. Many routine joggers and cyclists use it (or avoid it) because they believe it to be haunted. Some say the spirit of a teenage boy lingers on this trail—at the bridge on Claus Road in particular.
According to local legend, there once was a young man in town who was desperately in love. He took one look at the local banker’s daughter and knew he wanted to marry her. Being a poor farmhand himself, he was certain she would never reciprocate his feelings.
But then one day he found her by the side of the road, crying because her horse had run off with the family carriage. The farm boy was so kind, and made her laugh away her troubles. She quickly realized that he was a remarkable person, someone worthy of giving her heart to.
For several weeks the pair met for secret rendezvous, and stolen kisses. He was confident that he could win her stern father over, but she was not at all convinced. Quite suddenly, everything came to a head.
The town gossip had seen the two kissing behind the general store and quickly ran off to tell the banker. The girl’s father was furious at her secrecy and because of the man she had chosen. He refused to sanction the union and ordered her to break all ties with the farmhand.
Distraught, but eager to retain her father’s hard to earn love, the girl met with the farmhand one last time and told him that they could never be together again. She was married off to a stern businessman in a neighboring town two months later. Over time, her pain ebbed away into nothing, but the farm hand did not recover.
Certain that he would never love again, he took to the bridge on Claus Road and flung himself over the edge, subsequently ending his life. Now, some townsfolk believe his spirit still haunts the area to this day.
It Could Be a Shadow But…
“I believe I encountered him one day,” remarked local resident and hiker, Silas.
"I was walking along the trail and I noticed that the air started getting steadily colder and colder as I hiked. I turned a bend, and could see the bridge up ahead of me."
“I almost faltered in my steps when I saw the shadow of a man, leaning against a tree right beside where the bridge begins. Many runners and hikers use the trail, but based on the shadow of his body, it looked as if he were wearing thick layers of clothing. Keep in mind that this was June, so that was odd in and of itself,” Silas said.
“I kept walking, but I was on my guard. As I got closer I noticed that not once did the man move a finger, not even the slightest bit. It wasn’t until I was a few yards away when he seemed to dissolve into nothing,” he shrugged, at a loss.
“Granted, it’s possible that it could have been the angle of the sun or something, but…it looked so clearly like a teenage boy. There are many people in Modesto who think that trail is haunted, and after seeing that strange figure I can totally understand why.”