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THERE'S A GHOST RIDING THESE RAILS.

Byline: - Eric Noland

When crew members are given a passenger tally for an American Orient Express train trip, they always mentally add one to the list.

It's not a good idea to overlook Isabel. She is referred to as a ``permanent guest'' on the upscale train.

Isabel is a ghost.

According to porter Javier Garza, all manner of strange phenomena have occurred on the Washington Sleeping Car, which he services. The ghost seems to favor compartment I on that car, he said; that is where most of the strange events have happened.

Garza said he was once alone in the compartment, with the door closed, and had just cleaned the three-sided mirror above the sink. He then cleaned the water closet, but when he finished, he found a handprint smack in the middle of the mirror.

On another occasion, he entered the empty compartment to find the drinking glasses half full of water. Lights in the car's hallway have flashed on and off for no apparent reason. The phone will occasionally ring in Compartment I - it has even happened when the car was uncoupled and the phone system disconnected.

AOE employees freely acknowledge Isabel. Garza heard about her from the train's longtime piano player. A receptionist in the Passenger Services Office said she used to have a phone board that lit up according to compartment, and she frequently received late-night calls from an otherwise unoccupied Washington I.

It is unknown if someone died long ago in the vintage train car. Employees prefer to think that Isabel simply enjoyed a journey on it in life and later returned in spirit.

Garza attempts to placate the ghost by placing a foil-wrapped chocolate on a hallway baseboard. But sometimes a guest returning from the lounge car late at night will swipe it, and all kinds of things will go bump in the night until he sets out a fresh one.

Chocolate? Surely that accounts for the messy handprint on the mirror.
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Title Annotation:Travel
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 20, 2005
Words:328
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