Born and raised in New Jersey, I’ve heard many an urban legend about the state. Some you may be familiar with, while others are lesser known. They are all at least a little spooky, some fantastical, others based in fact. Though these supernatural tales may be strange, they’re still fun to share. Read on and keep New Jersey’s urban legends alive. Though we’ve all heard of the Jersey Devil, did you know about the Sussex Sea Serpent?
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. The Devil's Tree
The Devil's Tree is located in Bernards Township and is pictured above. Legend says that the tree is cursed and harm will come to anyone who disrespects it. The stories around the tree vary but all center around hangings, from lynchings to suicides. Allegedly, snow does not fall around the tree, or melts instantly upon touching it. The Devil's Tree is currently surrounded by a chain link fence due to vandalism.
2. Bloodthirsty Spook Rabbits
This legend was first started among hunters in Harmony Township back in 1891. Hunting dogs were getting injured in the fields and the hunters suspected the cause was bloodthirsty rabbits seeking revenge. It turns out the culprit was thorn-laced bramble.
3. Sussex Sea Serpent
You've all heard of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, but what about Hoppie? Hoppie seems to be a friendly sea serpent, but there was widespread panic upon her first sighting in 1894. Jersey's own sea monster is described as being 40 feet long, with the head of a canine and the body of a snake.
4. Woodbridge Cemetery Snake
This legend dates back to 1896, beginning with the funeral of Lulu Lorch. A snake is said to have wrapped itself around her casket. Anyone who looked the snake in the eye would meet their certain demise. While this seems unlikely, Lulu's 29-year-old brother William died of heart failure just 20 minutes after her funeral, according to an article in the New York Herald.
5. Atco Ghost
Probably one of our more popular urban legends, the Atco Ghost is said to appear when drivers honk three times on Burnt Mill Road in the Pine Barrens. Legend has it that the ghost boy haunts the site where he was struck by a drunk driver.
6. Newark's Ghost Train
According to local lore, a ghost train passes through Broad Street Station at midnight on the 10th of every month. The train is said to be driven by an engineer who was killed on the tracks back in 1868. According to the Newark Courier, crowds would wait to spot the specter, but to no avail.
7. Belmar's Disappearing Pond
According to Native American legend, a large pond once sat at the junction of 18th Avenue and Allaire Road. On a cold night, a massive flock of geese landed in the pond. The pond froze, and these geese would have been trapped, but they worked together and flew off, lifting the entirety of the frozen water, taking it with them. Though very doubtful, this is still a nice fable about teamwork.
8. Hotel Hauntings
Flander's Hotel is a lovely place to stay in Ocean City, but there are several urban legends surrounding the site. It is said that the hotel once hosted covert crime boss meetings in its catacombs. It is allegedly also home to several ghosts, the most famous of which is a young red haired woman.
9. Captain Kidd's Jersey Shore Stash
Notorious pirate, Captain Kidd, spent a significant amount of time in New Jersey. His marriage to a wealthy Monmouth County woman is actually what led him down his pirating path. Legend has it that he has gold hidden in several spots throughout the state, including Treasure Lake in Cliffwood Beach.
10. The Toms River Terror
A haunting in the city made headlines several years ago when a family purchased a home in the neighborhood but fled after only a week, claiming there had been strange noises and occurrences. Allegedly, doors would open and shut, whispers could be heard through the vents, and eerie dragging and scraping sounds came from the basement. The spookiest part of the story? A staff writer for an urban legends website went to interview the family and apparently, the eerie voice of a ghost child can be heard. If you'd like to listen, click
11. Go-Go Ghosts
A South Plainfield gentleman's club claimed to be haunted by the ghost of "Mad Dog," a former mob hitman. There were reports of flying glasses and other strange occurrences, but being billed as the only haunted go-go bar in North America definitely brought the lounge media attention... Liquid Assets got widespread press coverage but was shut down after a 2014 shooting.
12. James Still, MD
A Pine Barrens legend, James Still was said to be a 19th century African American doctor who was unable to practice due to his race. The legends vary and some say he was lynched, while others say he went on to be a local hero and died a natural death. One thing is generally agreed upon, he haunts the area, aiding injured travelers.
13. The Massacre At Long Beach
The massacre itself is fact, the legend is that buried treasure can be found near the site, somewhere around Barnegat Light.
14. Clinton Road
The 10-mile stretch near West Milford runs from Route 23 to Upper Greenwood Lake. Spooky legends have surrounded the stretch for over 100 years. It has apparently been host to ghosts, witches, unearthly animals and earthly Klansmen. One story says that two brothers stumbled across a KKK meeting on the road, near Cross Castle. They made it out alive, but the same can't be said for everyone who has traveled down this paranormal path.
In 1983, a cyclist on the road spotted vultures circling a tree. After further exploration, he discovered a garbage bag with a human head sticking out. The investigation surrounding the murder led to the conviction of notorious Mafia hitman, Richard "Iceman" Kuklinski.
15. Shades Of Death Road
Shades Of Death Road in Warren County is surrounded by local lore. Some say the road got its name after a plague killed so many local residents that morgues were full and bodies were lain in the street.
16. Jersey Devil
New Jersey's most famous urban legend, even our state's NHL team is named after the mysterious creature. Our very own "Bigfoot," the animal is said to have the head of a goat, bat-like wings, horns, small arms, clawed hands, cloven hooves and a forked tail. It resides in the Pine Barrens and emits a blood-curling scream. The legend begins all the way back with the Lenape tribe, who believed a local woman birthed the strange entity in 1735. It was her 13th child.
After birth, the demon fled, not to be seen again for 5 years, when it was supposedly exorcised by a priest. It was thought to be gone, but was spotted again some time later. In 1909, sightings were so common that the creature got media coverage, and an artist's rendering (seen above) was published in a Philadelphia newspaper. There have been many stories of sightings throughout the years, including one by Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's eldest brother.
How many of these legends were you familiar with? What others can you add to this list? Share your stories in the comments. I’d like these tales to live on forever, each is part of what makes New Jersey so unique. Spread the word and scare your friends! If you’re looking for similarly spooky tales, be sure to check out my previous post about