Ghost Stories From Northern New Jersey, Part 1 (Clinton Road)
I’ve lived in Northern New Jersey my whole life, and living here, it’s impossible to avoid all the ghost stories floating around. This area has a lot of history embedded in it, and the sometimes tricky terrain doesn’t help matters at all. Ghost stories are meant to entertain, to surprise and scare, for both people who has lived in the area their whole lives, and for those who have never been. I thought I would share some of the best, scariest and creepiest of the ghost stories from my little corner of the world. In this little series, I will look at the top three haunted places in Northern NJ, and share the stories that I’ve either heard or read of. I’ve asked friends, family, and searched the internet to bring you these creepy, thrilling and terrifying tales. Whether or not these places are actually haunted- well, I’ll leave that up to you. I know I tend to give these places a wide berth, whenever I can. While these stories are simply meant to entertain one has to wonder if there may indeed be a grain of truth within these long lived legends.
Clinton Road, West Milford
This area, both the road and the area around it, are fraught with stories. Going all the way back to 1906, this place was rumored to be haunted. Nowadays, not only is it rumored to be haunted, but there are stories of Satan worshippers, the KKK, escaped circus animals, and the ghost of a drowned young boy. Some years back, off this road, was an old castle, named the Cross Castle. The castle no longer stands, but while it did, it was rumored to be a gathering place for Satanists and the Ku Klux Klan. On certain nights a bonfire could be seen, coupled with mysterious chanting. People have been rumored to have gone into seizures upon hearing the chanting while on the road. People have reported finding small burnt sections of ground near the castle. When it still stood, there was strange graffiti on the walls, supposedly the work of the Satan worshippers. In fact, when the demolition crew came in to destroy the castle, they found graffiti in the basement- which had been sealed for years, with no way in or out.
One story is that if you see a dead animal on the road near the castle, no matter what type of animal it is, never get out of your car. If you do, supposedly, then that’s when you are captured and killed. There are some people, that once they cross the boundary of the old castle, go into a kind of shock, and need to be led out of the area by whoever they are with- if they’re lucky enough to be with someone at the time. Then again, there is the tale that the castle rebuilds itself every year on October 30, and that people will go sacrifice a goat there. On this date, the castle has strange guardians, large floating “hellhounds” that guard the castle, and prevent any trespassers from coming too near. It’s best not to get out of your car around where the old castle used to sit- even in the day.
The forest around Clinton Road is nearly as famous as the old castle, and just as
well known for its strangeness. In the forest, it always feels though you were being watched, an eerie feeling no matter where you are. Years ago, it’s
said that a circus train crashed in these woods, and all the animals escaped.
Monkeys, lions, tigers, all sorts of exotic animals have been rumored to walk
these woods, and apparently have no compunction against attacking people.
Others say that when the old Jungle Habitat closed, the animals escaped and
bred with the local population, creating some fearsome offspring. Some say that if you stop at a certain section of the road, a strange white creature with glowing red eyes will rush your car. No word on if this creature has ever attacked a person.
Not only are there the strange animals that inhabit the forest, but also the dead. A man once found a head in a bag off the road while biking, and notified the police, which supposedly led to a mob arrest. Apparently, an old mob hit-man used the road as a dumping ground. Dismembered bodies have- again supposedly- been found in the woods off of this road, and once a body bag, with bloodstains, was found in the middle of the road. By the time the police arrived, the bag, and all traces of it, were gone.
Also found on this road is a well-known reservoir, where many have gone fishing, and driven over the bridge that spans it. The turn just before it is known as Dead Man’s Curve. Supposedly a truck will chase cars down to this curve, causing many an accident. This bridge also has tales of its own to tell. Supposedly, a young boy, who was playing on the bridge, dropped a quarter down into the lake. When he went to retrieve his quarter from the water, he drowned. Another legend is that the boy was struck and killed by a car when he went out onto the bridge to fetch a quarter. These two tales have two things in common, the quarter and the young boy dying. Here’s the creepy part. According to legend, if you stop on this bridge, and toss a quarter off the bridge, the ghost of the young boy will throw the quarter back at you. Another legend says that if you stand on the edge of the bridge, you’ll see a quarter drop from thin air. Then the boy will push you into the lake to save you from being hit by the car that hit and killed him, long ago. Some say that if you toss a coin into the lake, it will be on the bridge the next morning, and others still, will say that when you drop the coin into the lake, you will see the boys reflection in the water as the ripples clear. The ghost boy is probably the best known legend of Clinton road, and many, many people that I talked to, said that they tried to summon the boy. It ran about 50/50, those who said that the coin was thrown back, and those that said they were disappointed by the lack of a response.
So, those are the tales I have heard of the mysterious Clinton Road. The question now is are all these stories real? The best answer is your own. Could it all just be the by-product of bad weather, escaped animals, and hysteria? Or maybe a bias, that once you’ve heard these stories, you're predisposed to having an “encounter” on Clinton Road? Or perhaps, just perhaps, it could all be real? Maybe one day, just one day, you’ll find yourself on a bridge over a lake, on a dark, windy road at night, with a coin in hand….
© 2013 John Jack George