Real New Jersey Haunts
Looking for authenticity this All Hallows’ Eve? Explore one of these truly spooky spots...if you dare.
Photo courtesy of Burlington County Prison
Riverview Dr., Totowa
The story has a view versions. One is that after getting into a fight with her boyfriend by the side of the road after prom in the 1960s, Annie, a local high school student, was picked up by a carload of sailors and murdered. Other stories include a bride who died on her wedding night and a girl who was dragged by a truck. Known by locals for its winding sharp turns, Annie’s Road has been the site of several other fatal, real-life accidents supposedly caused by her ghost. Want to see her for yourself? Turn on some “oldies” music, pull over, turn your car lights off and glance in your rearview window. Oh yeah, and keep a look out for the many dwarfs that are rumored to live in the area.
The Atco Ghost
Burnt Mill Rd., Atco
The legend of the Atco ghost centers on a young boy who ran into the street chasing after a basketball before he was lethally hit by a car. If you want to see for yourself, pull up to the dead end road and turn around. Turn off the car’s engine and lights, get out of the car and walk away, then wait for the apparition to appear. As if this isn’t creepy enough, Burnt MIll Road is on the outskirts of the Pine Barrens, the very haunted home of the Jersey Devil and other specters.
Burlington County Prison
Corner of High and Grant Sts., Mount Holly
Back in 1811, this two-story prison housed about 40 inmates. Due to eventual overcrowding, the prison closed its doors in 1965 (it was the oldest continually-occupied prison in the US)—but some stubborn spirits remain. Take Joel Clough, who spent his final days in the death row dungeon. After he was hanged in 1833, inmates and guards started experiencing the unexplainable. In 1999, renovations began to turn the jail into a museum, and workers reported screams, moans, disappearing tools, rattling chains and temperature changes. Don’t miss creepy artwork by former prisoners on the chipping walls of the building.
Off Rte. 23, West Milford
With accounts from locals warning of this hazardous five-mile stretch since the 1900s, it’s no surprise this is reportedly the most haunted roadway in America. It’s rumored the site was home to Satan worshippers, dead bodies and more dark finds. Various paranormal phenomena including the ghosts of dogs, small children, trucks and deranged hunters have been seen here. There have even been a handful of UFO sightings. Venture to the bridge at Dead Man’s Curve with some pennies to throw in the water. A ghost boy just might throw them back to you.
The Dempsey House
Off Rte. 36 (by the bus depot), Leonardo/Middletown
A host of urban legends are attributed to this abandoned 1890s-era pump house that was once part of the Dempsey Estate. Some locals say Mr. Dempsey went insane, killed his family and now haunts the building. Creepier still? Dempsey allegedly hanged himself from a tree following the murders—and many trick-or-treaters mistook his body for a macabre decoration. Keep an eye out for the noose Dempsey used to end his life, which some say can still be spotted swaying from a tree at night.
12 The Esplanade, Alpine
The traffic and blue laws aren’t the only terrifying things about Bergen County. This menacing structure was the centerpiece of the Rio Vista estate for the first half of the 20th century. The estate was split up after the owner died, so the clock tower became a site for teenaged partiers, graffiti artists and delinquents. As a result, the tower was sealed up. Drive around it three times in reverse at night and turn off your headlights to see the ghost of the owner’s wife. But be careful, she might take control of your car and drive you straight into a tree. Not scary enough? Walk six times backwards around the tower and you’ll meet the Devil himself.
The Devil’s Tree
181 Mountain Rd., Basking Ridge
This notorious oak is rumored to have been the site of Ku Klux Klan lynchings and where a local farmer hanged himself after murdering his family. Word has it anyone who attempts to cut down the tree (axe marks show many have tried) will meet an untimely death. Some say the road and land are guarded by a hellish sentinel who drives a pickup truck and has been known to chase visitors down the road until his headlights suddenly disappear. Visit during the winter after a snowfall: Locals say the ground around the tree is never covered in the white stuff, as it’s warmed by all the lost souls the tree has claimed.
The Flanders Hookerman
Four Bridges Rd., Flanders (along the Flanders tracks)
Arguably one of the oldest ghost stories in the Northeast, the Hookerman’s apparition is supposedly the spirit of a railroad worker who lost his hand in an accident. He was known to work on the Bartley-Flanders railway line until the train severed his hand, causing him to bleed to death on the side of the tracks. Legend says a mysterious ball of light can be seen hovering over the tracks at night, assumed to be the Hookerman’s lantern that he uses to look for his lost limb.
345 Main Ave., Bay Head
A bed and breakfast down the Jersey Shore, the Grenville has been a vacation hot spot since it opened in around 1886. Employees and guests alike recount instances of supernatural activity. The most common reports include hearing the laughter and voices of children. The third floor of the hotel is the scariest, since occupants of rooms 303 and 304 often report feeling like someone is sitting at the edge of their beds.
The Lady in White
Branch Brook Park, Newark
She’s one of the state’s most famous roadside specters. Legend has it that a young bride was riding in the car with her husband on their wedding night when they crashed into a tree, killing her instantly. Paranormal enthusiasts claim if you drive through the park, her white apparition will appear near the tree that ended her life. Some say you can spot her at night walking around the tree in a circle. The tree also has a big, white painted X on it, which some say was the lady’s way of warning motorists of the tricky turn that killed her before the road was rerouted away from the tree.
149 Kearny Ave., Perth Amboy
This 1764 site has seen some serious history. It was home to the former royal governor of NJ, Ben Franklin’s illegitimate son, William. It’s the last standing proprietary governor’s mansion from the 13 colonies. The spirits of Revolutionary War soldiers supposedly still claim the property as their own, as well as those of a young boy and woman. Travelers have reported loud noises, footsteps and drawers opening. One investigator even felt someone grab at her neck, a common occurrence here.
56 Main St., Clinton
Hours change seasonally
This 1810 wool mill is known for strange occurrences including loud footsteps on a vacant second floor and bells that swing back and forth on their own. An apparition of a man in period clothing and a black hat has been known to tug lightly on visitors’ clothes. Warning: the museum is closed until November due to Halloween prep for Haunted Village and more!
Shades of Death Road
North of the Interstate 80 crossing, along Jenny Jump State Forest, Allamuchy
This sinister street’s name is certainly fitting. Once home to a group of murderous bandits before the turn of the century, Shades of Death’s name comes from their violent reputation. This notorious road borders a haunted lake bed that sometimes has unexplainable pillars of mist on top of the water. Some say they’ve seen the undead walking in the fog.
The Union Hotel
76 Main Street, Flemington
Home base for dozens of journalists during the Lindbergh baby kidnapping of 1932, the building has retained some visitors over the years. Employees claim to see ghosts of children and hear strange singing from behind the walls. After talks of demolishing the hotel persisted for some time, it was decided the historic spot would be permanently protected in May of 2017.
13 Bumps Road
Johnston Dr., Watchung through Scotch Plains
Local lore claims that this spot is the burial ground for 13 witches who were found to be killing children in the Deserted Village at Feltville. They were executed and buried under Johnston Drive. Although the road has been paved multiple times, the bumps always reappear. Drivers say they can still feel the bodies of the deceased beneath them.