Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Strange Legacy of Leland Stanford
A Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

An early depiction of the Santa Monica Tunnel


To date, we have followed the case of Norinko Hanasaki, whose disappearance from a moving bus passing through the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel has gone virtually unnoticed by the media. However, the middle school student's journal has been found by three people who we know of. But whoever finds the book also disappears, leaving behind a poem in the journal which vanishes as well. So far, no sign of the Hanasaki journal has shown up and attempts to contact investigators searching for the missing student have proved futile. In fact, one of the detectives on the case himself has disappeared.

I've been trying to unweave this puzzling mystery and my research has led me back to the place where Norinko disappeared--the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel. What follows is a summary of the salient discoveries about the tunnel, its history, its builders, and the betrayals that have followed the construction of the tunnel since the 1800s. What is remarkable about this research is how it connects to Hanasaki. It is more than coincidence. The student's disappearance, in fact, seems to follow a pattern. But I've been working hard on this piece for over a month, so perhaps I am imagining these connections. I will leave any further correlations to you, dear readers, to judge for yourselves.

Research Findings on Leland Stanford 

You probably recognize the name of Stanford for the university he had built in honor of his deceased son, Leland Stanford, Jr., Leland Stanford Junior University (now known as Stanford University) at a cost of 40 million dollars. The industrialist acquired his wealth mainly from the Central Pacific Railroad (CPR). He was part of "The Big Four", investors who brought the railroad and all its business to California. After an unsuccessful bid for the California governorship, Leland moved his family from Sacramento to San Francisco (circa 1874). There he became president of the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company (OOSC), dealing with Japan and China in furtherance of The Central Pacific Railroad expansion. It was through the OOSC that Stanford hired laborers for the building of the railroad track.

In his second bid for the California governor in 1861, Leland was elected to the top executive post of the state. In 1862, Stanford betrayed his Chinese and Japanese railroad workers by supporting and lobbying for "anti-Chinese" mandates in the Legislature, where Chinese immigration was blamed for the labor problems in the Gold Rush cities from Sacramento to San Francisco. Although the new governor was hailed as a leader of the "white" people of California, Stanford's political opponents revealed to the Press that it was Leland himself who brought the majority of "Asians" into the state via his dealings with the railroad and the OOSC.
This betrayal seems to have begun a series of bad omens for the CPR.

Note: The Chinese workers hired by Stanford were of the Han Province in China. The Japanese workers introduced "sake" (a fermented rice liquor) to the immigrant railroad laborers and Leland Stanford began to import the drink to sell to his own workers. “Sake” meant “criminal” to the German immigrants who worked alongside the Japanese on the railroad or did business with them in the small towns that sprung up along the railway route. Although the Japanese meaning is clearly “liquor”, the immigrant Germans thought the Japanese merchants were saying “sache” (legal), which, in turn, the Germans used to mean an illegal thing or person. In this case, the Japanese were selling liquor behind Stanford's back to the other railroad workers; the Germans considered this a betrayal of their boss.

Note: Is it a coincidence that "Han" and "sake" combined spell Norinko's last name: "Han(a)saki"?

The Big Four, powerful industrialists invested in the building the railway, hired Theodore Judah as the Chief Engineer, who constructed the route of the railroad, including bridges and tunnels. After falling out of favor with the industrialist investors, Judah sought out new investors so that he could finish the final stages of the railway line to the Pacific Coast. He died of Yellow Fever while on route to meet with the new investors in New York. It was Judah who built the tunnel where Norinko Hanasaki disappeared. It was the last project he oversaw.

Visit here for more background on the train tunnel before it was converted to a freeway tunnel. 

Visit here to view the earliest footage of the tunnel.

Theodore Judah was a known "Freemason", who as an engineer and builder, had strong connections to Freemasonry and was a "Master Mason" who was taught to be loyal to one's employers or suffer certain death. The story of "Hiram Abiff" comes from the religion's beliefs. Hiram was the architect of King Solomon's Temple; he was murdered by three thieves who attempted to extract the secret passwords of a Master Mason. Hiram died keeping the secrets and maintaining his loyalty to the Freemasons. In contrast, Judah betrayed his employers by seeking new investors behind the backs of "The Associates", the name "The Four Four" used among themselves when addressing the railroad business.

Note: Theodore Judah was portrayed heroically on the TV show, Hell on Wheels. On the show, we see a parallel conflict with the Mormons with the curse of Hiram Abiff (a curse that portends the death of any Master Builder who betrays the interests of Freemasonry).

Furthermore, Stanford and Judah had the Chinese workers dig the tunnels using nitroglycerin. Many died in the tunnels but many more died because the Chinese were forced to camp by the work sites, whereas white workers were provided shelter away from the dangerous construction. These camps were buried in landslides caused by the unpredictability of nitro. Neither Leland or Theodore considered the loss of Asian lives above the progress of the tracks and tunnels.

When the train tunnel was rebuilt into the freeway tunnel, the tunnel workers reported hearing screams and "Japanese" voices speaking with "urgency and fear". I covered this phenomenon in the second research article of this investigation. *

Which brings us back to the Santa Monica Tunnel where Norinko Hanasaki disappeared. The school bus entered the tunnel with Norinko sitting at her seat. The moment the bus exited the dark tunnel, Norinko was no longer at her seat, according to her classmates and the bus driver. Soon after, however, the bus driver also disappeared, as did the Detective investigating the case. The janitor at Hanasaki's school had found Norinko's school journal, according to the principal, who refused to allow us to use her name, and the next day, before he could turn the journal over to the principal, the janitor disappeared as well.

For those of you who are following this case, you know that the journal has appeared and whoever finds it ends up disappearing. Luckily, the bus driver wrote down what he had read in the journal before he vanished; there were a series of poems, seemingly written by Norinko herself. But, according to friends of Norinko, her journal only had one poem. It seems that for every person who finds the journal, a new poem appears--and not in the voice of a teenage girl but the voices of a bus driver, a detective, and a janitor. I posted the poems on an earlier entry to the Norinko Hanasaki investigation. So far as I know, the journal of Norinko has not made an appearance, but my research has scratched the surface of the history behind the tunnel where she disappeared.

If you know of any further news on Hanasaki's disappearance or the discovery of the journal by anyone, please contact me at

*Perhaps I should organize these articles into a cohesive "series" so the reader can more easily follow the progress of my investigation. I will consider this over leaving it as is to reflect my discoveries as I find them. We'll see what I decide based on pauses in my research. Thank you for your patience.

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