11 Eerie Urban Legends of New Jersey
The Garden State is chock full of terrifying urban legends. From cities to the countryside, there’s something creepy lurking in just about every corner of New Jersey.
Jersey Devil: Monster in the Pines
For over two centuries, something wicked has stalked the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Numerous sightings of an infernal chimera have sparked newspaper articles, scientific examinations, movie plots, and comic book characters. Now, new evidence has surfaced and revived the search for the truth behind the New Jersey Devil.
The Devil’s Tree—Bernards Township
According to Weird N.J., the Devil’s Tree has been the site of multiple suicides, and it’s not uncommon to see ghostly figures swinging from the tree’s branches. Locals say it’s impossible to cut the tree down — its trunk bears the scars of multiple attempts — and that snow will not stick to the ground beneath the large tree. Not far from the tree is a rock that’s reportedly warm to the touch year-round, even in New Jersey’s cold winters. Some think it could be a portal to hell.
The Little Boy of Atco—Burnt Mill Road, Atco
Burnt Mill Road runs through a wooded area of Atco, and was reportedly the site of a tragic drunk-driving accident where a little boy was killed. According to Patch, "you're supposed to drive to the end of the road, turn around, and drive up to a spot in the road where there is a crack from one side of the street to the other. Stop, honk your horn and flash your lights three times each, then sit in the darkness and wait to see a child dribble a basketball across the street."
The Jersey Devil—Estellville
An Estellville woman was so upset to be expecting her thirteenth child that she declared, "Let it be the devil." The child reportedly turned into a flying demon with hooves after birth and has spent the last 250 years terrifying residents throughout Estellville and the surrounding Pine Barrens.
Flanders Hotel—Ocean City
The beautiful oceanfront property was built in 1923 and survived a massive fire just a few years later before going on to become a grand hotel. The facility is reportedly haunted by a young woman named Emily who’s still waiting on her boyfriend to return from WWI. She reportedly plays with the locks, laughs in the hall, and crashes wedding photos.
Shades of Death Road—Warren County
There are a handful of legends spun into the two-lane Shades of Death Road in Warren County. The road passes through what used to be a settlement where countless people died in a malaria outbreak. Further down the road, a gang of violent outlaws reportedly attacked and killed travelers. Some say a Native American spirit guide takes the form of a deer in an attempt to get drivers to slow down.
The Devil’s Tower—Alpine
The large stone tower was commissioned by a rich sugar importer, Manuel Rionda, in 1910 as a present for his wife. Originally called Rio Vista, the plan was for his wife, Harriet, to have a place to see the skyline in nearby New York City. From the top of the tower one evening, Harriet reportedly saw Manuel with another woman, and the devastated wife leaped to her death. Visitors to the tower report feeling like they’ve been pushed from behind, hearing screams, or even seeing what looks like a crumpled body on the ground when they look out from the tower.
A fisherman on the lake in 1894 sparked a mass panic when he reportedly saw a 40-foot monster with a dog’s head and a snake’s body. Nicknamed Hoppie, the creature is considered to be friendlier than other water-dwelling cryptids. There have been sightings through the years, but nobody has managed to capture the creature on camera.
Buried Treasure—Long Beach
There was a massacre at Long Beach on October 25, 1782, when a British ship ran aground outside Barnegat Light, and all of its crew were taken captive by a militia guarding the beach. That night, as the militia slept, the British crew managed to kill them all. Legend has it there’s treasure buried at the beach, and it has yet to be found.
A single light can reportedly be seen floating along some railroad tracks in the area. At first glance, it appears to be a lantern or flashlight, but it quickly disappears. Local legend has it that a rail worker was knocked unconscious in a work accident in the early 1900s and fell with his arm splayed across part of the track. When he awoke, he realized his arm had been severed by a passing train. The prosthesis he used was a simple hook, and he hangs his lantern on the hook as he searches the tracks for his missing arm.
Mad Dog—South Plainfield
A now-shuttered gentleman’s club had a resident ghost. Mad Dog was reportedly the ghost of a mobster hitman who knew the owner’s grandmother. Among the unexplained events at the club were cocktails evaporating and the ghost reportedly tearing a bartender’s shirt. Perhaps the now-shuttered building is still haunted by the old hitman.
The Ghost Train—Newark
A ghost train is said to come through the train station in Newark at midnight on the 10th of every month. It’s reportedly driven by the ghost of an engineer who was killed by a train in 1868. Crowds have occasionally gathered to see the ghost train pass through, but nobody’s ever seen it — they only hear the rumble of a steam engine and its whistle. A member of the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society captured the audio of the ghost train in 2001.
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