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VW Camper Van Ghost Story Part Two

Please read Part One first. Part Two continues here...

It was the late fall early winter of 1972, around October, November time. The first snow flakes of winter were blowing in from the north.

Elliott was on his way from his home base at the time, Iowa City, to a gig in Wyoming, some 500 miles to the north west.


He was driving in the pale blue and cream VW bay camper van which had been provided by Volkswagen of America. It had now clocked up quite a few thousand miles.

As ever he still had a lot of ground to cover, and was getting tired. The gig was early the next day. He would have to stop and rest. It was about 11pm.

Following well-practiced procedure, he drove off the highway, to a distance of a few hundred yards. This was open prairie, empty of any animals or people, with not a house or light anywhere, as far as the eye could see. It was completely flat, barren. Hills, if you could have seen them, would be on the distant horizon.

Through the curved windshield of the VW bus, the fine cascading snowflakes were lit up by the headlamps, as he drove slowly over the uneven terrain. He found a place to stop, and switched off the engine. There was a dusting of snow on the ground.

It was a routine stop, just like any other of countless stops he'd made on past journeys. There was a fixed procedure before going to sleep. Check the vicinity to make sure you're out of the way and not near any unseen houses or other potential hazards. Then get inside, pull the sliding door closed, draw the curtains, and make sure all the doors are locked.

Despite these measures, you still felt vulnerable, isolated, susceptible to unseen forces. No phone, no companion, no brick walls or fences to protect you, only the thin metal and glass skin of the VW camper van separated you from whatever was outside.

Elliott got inside his sleeping bag, lying parallel to the door, his head toward the rear of the van, and quickly fell asleep. He remained asleep for some time

Suddenly he was awoken by the sound of the sliding door being violently hurled open with such force, such determination, it seemed as if it had been done in anger.

The van rocked gently on its suspension as the heavy door banged against its guide rails into the fully open position. There was no other movement of the vehicle, no shifting of weight as an unknown assailant jumped inside. There was no-one, nothing, no sound at all, just silence, the wind and the snowflakes now blowing inside the van.

Terrified, Elliott got up, grabbed a flashlight and shone it around the interior of the van to see if anyone was there, hiding, and about to pounce.

There was no-one.

Pointing the flashlight he lit up the ground outside, expecting to see footprints in the snow.

There were no footprints. Nothing to suggest that any person, animal or other entity had come anywhere near the van.

What unseen force could have done this, and more to the point, how had it been possible to open the lock from the inside?

Anyone familiar with the VW van will know that the sliding door doesn't open of its own accord. It has to be pulled open, and it can be fiddly to turn the handle to the unlocked position.

These were questions that Elliott didn't care to ponder on right now. With lightening speed he jumped into the driver's seat, turned the ignition, - thank goodness, the air-cooled VW engine started first time! - headed back towards the highway and continued on into the city of Casper, where he was due to give the presentation in the morning.

He spent the rest of the early hours wide awake in an all night diner, drinking coffee and thinking over his experience.

The next day, as ever, he showed the film to another appreciative college audience. For the traveling movie-maker and presenter, the show must go on.

Elliott told people about the incident, and in doing so made a significant, and chilling discovery.


The spot where he had parked his VW camper van that night - and unfortunately he can't remember with any certaintly the exact location - was the place where, many hundreds of years previously, in the days before the arrival of the White Man, two rival Native American tribes had battled against each other, with many men slaughtered. The spot where Elliott had parked his VW van was a documented Indian battle site.

Elliott drove on, covering many thousands of miles, sleeping in countless isolated spots, but he never experienced anything like it again. To this day he can't offer an explanation, and he doesn't care to investigate it any further, preferring to let such things lie.

For those of us - me included - who often sleep in the car or camper in a rest area on an Interstate motorway, or autobahn - we can feel relatively secure. Bathed in the reassuring light of the sodium vapor lamps, with other fellow travelers, car drivers, truck drivers, sleeping nearby, there is safety in numbers.

But off the highway, out on the prairie, in the empty wastelands, the badlands, isolated and far from other living beings, with only yourself and your vehicle for company, who knows what unseen hazards are lurking just outside the windows of your vehicle... or maybe inside!

You have been warned!

Written by Aidan O'Rourke based on an account by Elliott Bristow. Copyright Aidan O'Rourke and Elliott Bristow. Reproduction of this article on any other website or publication is prohibited.



Part One | Part Two

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2006-06-27

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