I am from Ventura County – born and raised.
We are known for surfing, agriculture and the Hell’s Angels. Most people in the VC are stuck somewhere between 1997 to the early 2000s. It’s not surprising to hear Social Distortion or Bad Religion or Pennywise blasting out of someone’s car. Black hoodies are staple.
So are ghost stories and urban legends. There’s the Scary Dairy in Camarillo, the Sycamore White Lady in Fillmore and the Gravity Hill in Moorpark to name a few. I grew up testing the threads of these stories hoping for a cheap scare.
But for me, the most interesting of all of the urban legends is (and always will be) CHAR MAN. He is the scariest and most gruesome. He is also the most elusive. It’s really hard to come up on a legitimate Char Man experience even though every teenager and local has a story about him. There’s even this crappy found-footage movie about the urban legend on Amazon. You can stream it for free if you have Prime.
There are a few different versions of his narrative but here’s the one I have heard the most often. In the late 1940s, a man was in the Ojai woods near Camp Comfort. A fire broke out and he was trapped between the trees as the flames circled him. With no escape, his skin melted off his body while he was still alive and he suffered a very slow, excruciating death. Because of his violent suffering, his soul could not be put to rest and now he haunts the woods. Most specifically the Creek Road bridge.
It doesn’t matter the origin. In ALL of the legends, Char Man is pissed off and looking for some kind of vengeance. His soul is in a perpetual state of unrest. If you park near or walk on the bridge he is supposed to show up and scare the hell out of you.
He will sneak up on you and shake your car while trying to open one of the doors to claim you and drag you into the forest never to be seen again. In some stories, he wields an ax and he will use it to try and cut through your roof.
Some say that the reason he is looking for victims is that he is fashioning a new skin for his heavily burnt body. People who have seen him say that his face is twisted and scarred with dripping flesh. He smells like smoke.
It’s friggin’ creepy and downright terrifying. If you want to get a taste of how dark and scary the bridge is, check out the investigating I did with some of my friends in the video below.
Have you ever encountered Char Man and survived? Do you know another variation of the Charm Man tale? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.