Born and raised in New Jersey, we’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? How many of these New Jersey urban legends are you aware of? Let us know!
1. The Devil's Tree
Mountain Road, Mountain Rd, Bernards, NJ 07920, USA
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
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. Also known as the
, this terrifying creature is said to look much scarier than it actually is.
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, or so sayeth the legends surrounding the family and Lulu's untimely demise. That being said, there are still
cemeteries in New Jersey
worth visiting thanks to their old age and/or their spooky qualities... if you dare.
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. This eerie
New Jersey urban legend
may or may not be true, but it's still immensely spooky.
6. Newark's Ghost Train
Local legends whisper about a ghost train passing through Broad Street Station at exactly midnight on the 10th day 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... no evidence has been found to support the tale, but it's fun anyway.
7. Belmar's Disappearing Pond
Native American legend says that a large pond once sat at what is now the junction of 18th Avenue and Allaire Road. On a cold night, a massive flock of geese landed in the pond. The pond froze, so these poor geese would have likely 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 and survival by working together!
8. Hotel Hauntings
The Flanders Hotel, 719 E 11th St, Ocean City, NJ 08226, USA
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 on the interview tapes. If you'd like to listen, check out the audio on
Urban Legends Online
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 still haunts the area, aiding injured travelers... so this one could definitely be worse, but at least the spirit of Dr. Still seems to have good will toward the living.
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. Whether or not it's really there, who knows, but the tales are fun to tell nevertheless.
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 "The 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
It's 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 region 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. As she agonized in labor with the baby, she decried its very existence, asking "the devil take the thirteenth" one.
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
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