Invisible kids, a lumberjack hitchhiker, and a ghost dancer are just some of the paranormal beings that prowl these dark and windy byways.
Ghosts may be best known for occupying houses, hotels, and graveyards, but that’s not their only trick of the spectral trade. Phantom hitchhikers, ghostly vehicles, and other eerie apparitions have been known to frequent roadways throughout the country. Oftentimes the hauntings occur in remote corners, surrounded by woods that are dark and deep, the spirits appearing mostly at night…but not always! The ghostly visitors can be angry, or anxious, or beastly. But one thing is always the same: They disappear into thin air. Here are ten of the most haunted roads in the USA. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
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WHERE: San Antonio, Texas
Sometime in the 1930s, a train hit a school bus stalled on the tracks south of San Antonio, at the intersection of Vallamain and Shane Roads, tragically killing between 26 and 30 students—the details vary. Newspaper articles describe the horrific crash, stating bodies were “strewn for a mile along the isolated right-of-way.” Today, San Antonians repeat the eerie story, going so far as to drive their car onto the tracks, sprinkle baby powder on the trunk, and place their transmission in neutral. Inevitably, their car rolls slowly across the tracks, and when the driver looks at their trunk afterward, they find tiny ghostly handprints, proof of phantom kids who pushed them to safety. Google maps identify the site as “San Antonio’s Infamous Ghost Tracks.” But what most people don’t remember is the crash actually occurred near Salt Lake City, nearly 1,300 miles away.
A Dead Boy's Payback
WHERE: West Milford, New Jersey
Some time ago, no one is exactly sure when, a little boy saw a quarter on Clinton Road in West Milford, and, when he went to pick it up, a car crushed him dead. Today, it’s said the dead boy hides under a bridge near Dead Man’s Curve and, if you toss a coin into the water, he’ll toss it back—or return it on the ground by midnight. The story varies, and another version says that if you stand on the bridge, you will see a quarter drop. Bend to pick it up, and the little boy will push you into the lake, to save you from his same fate. Whatever the case, this section of Clinton Road, tunneling through deep, dark forest, is twisty, lonely, and poorly paved—the stuff haunted tales thrive on.
The Mysterious Lights of Devil's Promenade
WHERE: Hornet, Missouri (and Quapaw, Oklahoma)
Settlers in the 1860s first spotted the Spooklight, a flickering ball of light that bobbles and bounces along a 4-mile section of the gravel E50 Road, aka Devil’s Promenade, near Quapaw, Oklahoma (though it’s most often seen from the east, which explains why it’s often connected to the border hamlet of Hornet, Missouri). Some say it’s the ghost of a Civil War soldier who was decapitated by a cannonball; he wanders the woods, holding a lantern, in search of his head. Or maybe it’s the joined spirits of two Native American lovers who died rather than be separated. The first official report took place in 1886, and to date, no one, not even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has been able to explain exactly what the light is. Unsubstantiated theories include ignited marsh gas or glowing minerals. Tip: Clear nights are best for viewing.
WHERE: Justice, Illinois
If you’re traveling by night along Archer Avenue in Justice, just southwest of Chicago, don’t be surprised if you encounter the infamous Resurrection Mary. She’s a single-minded hitchhiker wearing a white party dress and dancing shoes, looking every bit her mortal part. She stands by the side of the road and, when she takes a ride, she remains silent, disappearing behind the tombstones at Resurrection Cemetery. Some say she’s the spirit of a teenage girl who fought with her boyfriend at the Oh Henry Ballroom (down the street from the cemetery) and walked home; a hit-and-run driver struck her dead within a mile, and her distraught parents buried her in her party dress at Resurrection Cemetery. The ballroom burned down in 2016, and it remains unknown what Resurrection Mary thinks about that.
The Disappearing Lumberjack Hitchhiker
WHERE: Rehoboth, Massachusetts
Don’t pick up any hitchhikers on US 44 through Rehoboth, Massachusetts. At least at night. Stories abound about picking up a bearded, red-headed man with dark, soulless eyes, dressed like a lumberjack. He sits in the back seat, refusing any small talk, eventually disappearing. Hysterical laughter fills the empty space. Sometimes people see him standing alongside the road, or walking in the woods. Charles Turek Robinson first made the Redheaded Hitchhiker famous in his book The New England Ghost Files, though locals have talked about him for decades. Nobody knows who he may be, though some mention a deadly car crash that occurred here some time back. Whoever he is, he has made this stretch of road one of the country’s most haunted.
The Phantom Miner of Prospector’s Road
WHERE: Coloma, California
On the tiny, twisty Prospector’s Road, off Calif. 49 (Coloma Road) in California’s Gold Country, the ghost of a scruffy, bearded, angry gold miner appears to hikers and drivers. Most who have seen him say he’s semi-transparent, hovering above the ground. Pointing his finger, he whispers: “Get off my claim.” The story goes, back during the California Gold Rush, which started nearby, a gold miner got drunk, and in his fog of intoxication, bragged about his bounty of gold. His fellow miners murdered him, either out of greed or to shut him up. He’s now eternally haunting the land, looking for his claim. Here’s an even scarier fact: Locals have reported him entering their homes, scaring pets, and leaving doors wide open.
The Ghostly Werewolf on Bray Road
WHERE: Elkhorn, Wisconsin
He’s tall, with a human-like, fur-covered body, and a head resembling a wolf or bear. He’s the Beast of Bray, a werewolf-like creature that haunts the deep woods along Bray Road near Elkhorn. Sometimes he scratches up vehicles or eats dead animal carcasses along the side of the road. Linda Godfrey, a small-town reporter, was assigned to cover the story in the early ‘90s, reporting that eyewitnesses seemed dependable. State news, then national and even international news, picked up her stories, making the Beast perhaps one of the world’s most famous hauntings. But what is it? Or he? Is it a wolf, or a bear, or a cousin to Bigfoot? No one knows.
A Cluster of Ghosts by the Road
WHERE: Haynesville, Maine
A whole cast of spooks lurks along this remote road through Haynesville Woods in northern Maine, including the Little Girl, the spirit of a girl (or girls) who was smashed by a semi-truck in 1967; and the Screaming Woman, who yells at drivers for a ride, and once she’s in your car, she tells the story of her new husband trapped in a car after an accident—and then she vanishes. The road was built in 1828 to connect the town of Haynesville with the military post at Houlton. Through the years, many truckers died along here, so many there could be an “A Tombstone Every Mile” (as former trucker-cum-singer Dick Curless’s song states). It’s best to heed his words and stay away.
The Distressed Spirit Searching for Her Husband
WHERE: Jackson County, Florida
Jacob Road (Route 162), just north of Florida Caverns State Park and Marianna, Florida, leads to what many claim to be Florida’s most haunted spot—the ancient Bellamy Bridge. After Elizabeth Jane Croom Bellamy died nearby in 1837, her husband, Samuel, mourned for 15 years then slit his throat. He was not, however, buried next to his bride. Her vow to love him “forever and always” led to her spirit wandering the woods, swamps, and road in search of him. But she’s not the only ghost around here. There also have been sightings of a 19th-century murdered moonshiner and a headless wagon driver. For a really good scare, hike the half-mile Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail. Guided ghost walks take place after dark on the Friday and Saturday closest to Halloween.
The Wicked Energy on Kelley Road
WHERE: Industry, Pennsylvania
If you’re driving through the deep, dark forest between Ohioville and Industry, Pennsylvania, on Kelley Road (some locals say Wolf Run Road, which runs perpendicular), and notice a change in mood—you become angry and violent for no reason—you’ve tapped into the “bad aura” that lurks in the area. Animals, too, are affected, so watch your pets. Sometimes a strange fog covers the vicinity, cars stall for no reason, and ghost children wander from a nearby graveyard. No one knows why this happens or who they are. Some say it’s a Native American curse, bestowed when the land was stolen from them. Others say it’s the result of satanic cults that summoned evil in nearby fields in the 1980s. Whatever it is, the bad energy and ghostly sightings occur only along the road’s southernmost 1-mile stretch, dubbed the Mystery Mile. As soon as you pass it, the disturbances cease.