Every state has its own set of ghost stories used to terrify kids near campfires or during sleepovers. But some, I’d say, are definitely better than others. And as a lifetime New Jersey resident, I would have to say that our urban legends happen to be some of the best. We have devils roaming through the Pine Barrens, ghost trains to hell and our own Nessie. Honestly, we probably have thousands of stories, but these five are my absolute favorite. So get your comfiest blanket and let’s dive in!
The Jersey Devil
Are you even from New Jersey if you haven’t heard about the Jersey Devil roaming around the Pine Barrens? Local legend says that the Jersey Devil is the 13th child of Mother Leed’s after she cursed the child after finding out she was pregnant. They were born on a stormy night and came out human but then transformed into a creature with hooves, a goat’s head, bat wings and a forked tail. The Devil beat everyone in the room with its tail before taking off into the night. Sightings of our infamous Jersey Devil have been recorded over the years and include hooved roof prints on snowy roofs and stalking hikers in the vastness that is the Pine Barrens.
Gates to Hell
Located behind the old Black Prince Distillery in Clifton, New Jersey, lies the Gates to Hell. Don’t be alarmed. It does, in fact, look like any old drain. While the others in the area are circular in shape and filled with water when it rains, this particular one is square and always completely dry. An old urban legend lists this place as the home of the Devil and goes for hundreds of feet underground tunnels that form the nine layers of hell. It is said that a room deep underground can only be accessed by lifting giant axes that weigh thousands of pounds and block the doors. Inside are glowing human skulls that serve as a turnback sign before you come face to face with the Devil.
Shades of Death Road
Of course, New Jersey would have a road named Shades of Death. And quite a few urban legends have been born along the nearly seven-mile road. My favorite? The Ghost Lake, of course. Just off the road in the state forest south of the I-80 overpass lies this haunting lake. It was created in the early 20th century when two wealthy men dammed a creek that ran through the area. From the very beginning, the lake gave off wraithlike vapors in the cooler mornings. It is also said that no matter what time of night you visit Ghost Lake, the sky above is bright as if it were still twilight. Not to mention all the ghosts that are reported to appear in the area!
Sussex Sea Serpent
Less spooky than the others, but still pretty epic comes the New Jersey urban legend about the Sussex Sea Serpent. First spotted in 1879 by the Sandy Hook Life Saving Service, “Hoppie,” as they have been lovingly named, has been spotted multiple times in Lake Hopatcong. It is said that Hoppie is 50-feet-long with two horns above their head with a bulldog-like head. And while that might seem terrifying in thought, many believe Hoppie is more friend than foe. Though I imagine if you got caught on the water late at night and accidentally came in contact with Hoppie, you might not make it back.
Newark’s Ghost Train
There is a lot to be scared about in Newark. But this one is of the ghostly variety. If you happen to be in the Broad Street Station at midnight on the 10th of every month, you have the chance to spot the infamous Ghost Train. It is said to be driven by an engineer who was struck and killed on the tracks. While there are no reports of actually seeing the train itself, many have reported hearing the engine’s while and the wheels screeching across the tracks. The train, which has become known as the “Express Train to Hell,” has never stopped to pick up travelers – or so we think.
Which one of these New Jersey urban legends is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below and on social media!
This post was originally published on 10/6/21.
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