10 Haunted Highways and Byways
Do you see dead people? According to legends, they see you. Restless spirits and ghosts seem to wander all over America's highways and back roads.
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Haunted Intersection in Texas
The bus stalled as it crossed the railroad tracks, or so the story goes. The driver, ferrying kids home from school sometime in the 1930s or '40s, was near the intersection of Villamain and Shane Roads, south of San Antonio, Texas, when the train whistle screamed. Everyone tried to get out, but not everyone did, and the bus was hit. Some folks say several students were killed. Actually, there's no evidence that an accident happened at all — but even today, drivers who leave their cars parked near the site sometimes return to find them covered with small, ghostly handprints.
Evil Clowns on the Roads
Movie makers deny that a rash of evil clown sightings was a publicity stunt for the release of the 2017 film It, based on a horror novel by Stephen King. That hasn't stopped reports of scary clown attacks and sightings from pouring in around the U.S. Are they humans in creepy costumes, or malevolent manifestations of something supernatural? Keep your wits about you; the ghastly ghouls have been spotted on urban streets and country roads, where they whisper and beckon to children. Whatever these clowns are — they aren't funny.
You might not expect Route 66, America's "Mother Road," to be menacing. You'd be wrong. Begun in 1926, it was one of the first highways in the U.S. Highway System., running from Chicago to the Pacific Ocean. Over the years, it seemed to attract the undead, from spooky hitchhikers waving pale thumbs, to paranormal happenings in roadside hotels. It encompasses some 100 frightening spots in all, including the Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, Ariz., where a phantom bell boy knocks on guests' doors at night; to the mysterious "Spook Light," an unexplained orb that appears in the dark sky over Quapaw, Okla.; to a theater in Albuquerque, N.M., plagued by a mischievous little boy who died there in a 1951 boiler explosion.
Apparently, bridges don't just allow drivers to cross over rivers and streams. They also let ghosts cross over from the realm of the dead into the land of the living. According to a New Jersey tale, a dead boy — who may have drowned or been struck by a car — lurks under a bridge on Clinton Road in West Milford. Throw a coin into the water, and he'll toss it back, or at least return it to the bridge or leave it on the ground by midnight. The haunted bridge is near — you might have guessed — Dead Man's Curve.
Hauntings in the Moonlight
Chicago's Archer Avenue is said to be one of the most haunted roads in America, perhaps because of two nearby cemeteries. Once it was an Indian path, chosen for its alleged magnetic power. Today, nighttime travelers sometimes report seeing eerie, hooded figures on Archer, or phantom hearses or "Disappearing Mary," the ghost of a girl killed by a hit-and-run driver.
There's also a mysterious moonlit trail in Sica Hollow State Park, S.D. "Sica" is a Sioux word for evil or bad, and old stories warn that the park's unpaved Trail of the Spirits is home to gurgling, red-colored bogs filled with the blood and bodies of the Indians' ancestors. Hikers have seen strange natural phenomena, like moaning waterfalls and green-glowing stumps. In the 1970s, several people were said to have disappeared in the park. Some searchers think they were swallowed up by quicksand. Others are not so sure.
Could dark tunnels be passageways for dark spirits? In Hawk Point, Mo., residents say a ghostly man haunts Satan's Tunnel, an old underpass draped with twisting vines and other vegetation. Amateur ghost hunters have parked outside another abandoned tunnel in Church Hill, Tenn., hoping to see the ghost of a madman said to pop in and out. Many found themselves stranded there when they try to leave, unable to start their cars. When their engines finally crank, they see the madman's terrifying figure in their rear-view mirrors when they start to back up.
Ghost in the Road
Go on, tell yourself you're not afraid of ghosts. Then feel your heart pound when you read this: A Louisiana man once donated several statues to a New Orleans cemetery after the death of his beloved daughter, Mona. He asked to have one of them displayed on a pedestal in her memory. Unfortunately, the statue was later destroyed in a car chase with unruly teens. Now Mona can't rest. Passing drivers say she floats up to their cars, dressed in white and clawing at their windows.
Spooky Streets and Alleys
Do troubled souls stalk dark city streets and back alleys? Many Bostonians think so. In 1648, a Puritan judge convicted poor Margaret Jones to be hanged for witchcraft; now she's said to wander Boston Neck, an area under Washington Street, along with other condemned unfortunates. In Savannah, Ga., Abercorn Street seems to be a hotspot for the supernatural. Listen and watch for those who perished from violence, disease and war as they roam through the darkness.
It's not a good idea to pick up hitchhikers. It's an especially bad idea on Route 44 in Rehoboth, Mass. For over three decades, drivers have claimed to encounter a bearded man with dark eyes who resembles the victim of a deadly car crash. Pack your car with passengers if you encounter him. He's said to mysteriously appear in empty back seats, and when he leaves, your car radio will squawk with static, and your car will shake. Sometimes, they say, you can hear his maniacal laughter through the noise.
Remote Roads in Dark Forests
Bragg Road, in Hardin County Park, Texas, is unpaved, like many other isolated roads around the country. A mysterious light that often appears has given it its nickname, "Ghost Road." Does the light belong to a hunter who became lost in the woods and was never found, or a grief-stricken, long-dead groom searching for the killer of his equally long-dead bride? Some think it's just the reflection of light from a passing car, or some kind of glowing gas. Whatever it is, it's enough to give you chills.