Archive for the ‘Urban Legends’ Category

J L Tree

The J L tree is so named because of the legend of Jimmy Lynch. He was a high school student who lived in Lakewood in the 70’s. he was murdered in a park in town and his girlfriend carved his initials into the tree where he died. Within a few years, the tree branches formed the letters J L and still can be seen to this day. If you get your car close to the J L tree, word has it your car will stall out./

Supposedly Jimmy is buried in a cemetery in Spruce Street. There are tales of eerie figures in white that haunt the cemetery.

I have not visited the J L tree because I don’t know where this legendary tree is. If anyone does, please share, thanks.

Jersey Devil Hunt

The Jersey Devil was supposedly born the 13th child to Mrs Leeds, born in Leeds Point, NJ in the 1700’s. After having so many children, she didn’t want any more and if she had another it would be the devil. There are other women in other places who supposedly gave birth to the jersey devil, but her name, that town, and that reason are the most commonly known origins. Over the past 200 years over 2000 people claim to have seen the creature, mills were shut down, trolleys were supposedly attacked, and fire departments supposedly tried to knock it off a roof with their fire hoses.

The JD Hunts are conducted by Russell Juleg, of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, whose goal is to help preserve the Pinelands, and to educate people about the area. They conduct many nature walks, canoe trips, as well as provide lessons in wilderness survival. JD Hunts are held numerous times thru out the summer and fall. The event costs $10 pp, and you must register in advance. You can register by calling Russell Juleg at the PPA at 609 787-3740. The hunts begin at the Batona campsite, located directly opposite the Caranza Memorial on Caranza Rd.

We arrived for the hunt around 7PM, and although it was getting dark, we still had an hour of light left so we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and enjoyed the evening air and talked amongst ourselves. There was at least 15 of us, ranging in age from 10 to at least 55. Around 8PM it was getting dark and we got down to business. Russell Juleg, our host, stoked the fire good and began telling the story of Mrs Leeds 13th child. He took care to present the story as folk lore. “it’s not too terribly helpful to get hung up on whether not the JD exists. From a folklorists standpoint, a more important question is what role did the telling of the story play in South Piney culture?” Juleg explains the history of development in the Pinelands, and tells how the story may have originated, and how strange noises in the woods might translate into a “sighting”. He also explains why the story has continued to be told nearly two centuries after it first began being told….

The Jersey Devils hockey team are named after the creature.

By the time Juleg had given us a history of the JD and the basic history of the Pine Barrens, it was now 9PM and it was pitch black. Russell told us to put our food and chairs away and to meet by a big tree. “And leave your flashlights in your cars!” he yells. Surprisingly we were able to see quite well in the pitch black night, and we proceeded on a 90 minutes 1.5 mile hike over old railroad beds, past the Caranza Memorial, and along narrow trails. All along the way Russell told us tales about Piney characters from long long ago, and we kept a lookout for a set of eyes up in the trees. I won’t reveal what happened on our excursion, but I will say that at times it was a tad scary and unnerving, being in the woods in the dark. Course some of us were more scared then others, and that of course made it even more fun for the rest of us. The whole thing lasts about 3 hours or so, and is well worth the $10 cost. If you go, remember to bring bug spray, marshmallows and hot dogs, but leave the flashlights at home!

Inside the house of Demon’s Alley

I received the following email and photographers from a reader.

I saw your page on Demon’s Alley and figured you might want to see inside. I live nearby and have to go past the New City Complex now and again. Even though I know the truth (radon and all that) the area still creeps me out. I think it’s those stupid windows with the fake windowshades. Anyway, I’d never actually stopped to check it out so recently when a friend was visiting from S Jersey I decided to take a stop by. I parked on the side of the road and walked over to one of the houses.

It used to be boarded up good but I see somebody ripped all the plywood off. Assholes. Anyway, the inside was completely rotted out, I mean the floor was *gone*. Nothing left, like rotted away to nothing! One of the other houses was in better shape but I wasn’t about to go in there. Who knows when that floor will give way? Then I’d be a candidate for the Darwin Award. Anyway I snapped a few pics thru the windows and then headed out. You’d be taking your life in your hands if you went in there, besides doesn’t look like there’s anything interesting in there anyway.

Why are people so fascinated with this place anyway? It’s just some houses that had radon. Course most of the people probably believe those horse-shit stories about kids who murdered their parents and the other crap stories they tell to scare each other before coming over here at 3AM. I bet the NWC bulldozes this place just to avoid the headache and the liability. It’s reasons like this why Cross Castle was taken down…

Great site, keep up the good work.

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Annie’s Road

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“We went to the end of the road and met a midget named George. He gave us his phone number!”

“You can often see a flickering light moving around and about the graves.”

“Beware midgets live there, I know because they shot at me.”

“Alongside the road is a guard rail painted red where she died.”

Annie’s Road is haunted by a young girl who died on her way to the prom. On the road there remains to this day a blood red stain marking the spot where she died. Familiar story, eh? That’s one of many explanations for strange things that have happened on or near this winding road in Totowa. Annie’s Road has so many stories intertwined with each other that the hard facts and the rumors & gossip are almost inseparable. Have people died on in car crashes on this road? Yes. as someone murdered near here? Yes. Do dwarfs live here? No! Is there cemetery a cemetery on this road? Yes, two of them. Is the road of the cemetery haunted? That’s for you to judge.

So what’s fact and what is fanciful tale? We’ll try to sort out the myths and gossip from reality in a moment, but first off: a primer for those who don’t already know the tale…

Riverview Drive

This unassuming road winds along the Passaic river in the shadow of a sewage treatment plant to it’s left, followed by Laurel Hill Cemetery. The road has several sharp turns and is not well lit. The turn just before midgetville is particularly harsh and there are numerous recorded accidents and deaths, including one in the late 90’s involving a car full of high school students.

Rumors of ghosts and apparitions have been reported on this road going back as far the colonial days. The main legend concerns Annie, a young woman who lived in the area in the 60’s, not long before Route 80 was built thru the area. She was going to the prom and got into an argument with her boyfriend and left the car to walk to her home on River View Dr. Along the way she was picked up by a bunch of sailors who raped and murdered her. The violent end to her life made her spirit uneasy, and so she began to haunt the local road, even possessing men who traveled along it. The numerous car accidents on this road are attributed to Annie’s ghost. One theory is people swerve to avoid her ghost, or lost control after seeing her. Others think she may have possessed the driver and forced him off the road.

Midgetville

Located just off Annie’s Road is a small cul-de-sac with some very small houses. For years there have been rumors of little enclaves where dwarfs live. John Ringling owned a home in Alpine, and just south of where the GWB is located was a small community where dwarfs allegedly lived. The same rumors followed him to his other home in Morris Plains. Singac & Waldwick also have been rumored to be home to dwarfs. None of these towns holds the mystic that Totowa does.

I visited Annie’s Road and spoke with one of the local residents about the ghost, the accidents and the midnight riders looking to see dwarves. She told me all about the ghost of Annie and all the problems they’ve had with teenagers driving by at 3am looking to see dwarves. The houses were once summer rentals and as such they weren’t designed as large as traditional homes. I

After numerous problems with rowdy and noisy teenagers, the residents began policing the area themselves, calling police on the rowdy teenagers, and sometimes surrounding cars to prevent the teenagers from fleeing. One local resident was run over by a teenage girl trying to get away. “My son was the one who stood in front of her and wouldn’t let her leave after she hit the other gentleman. He suffered a broken leg and there was no way my son was going to let her get away with that.”

I guess that explains this sign…

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Laurel Hill Cemetery

Laurel Hill Cemetery is 90 acres and is located right off River View Dr. There are some very cool headstone in the cemetery and is well worth visiting and exploring. On a recent trip I saw evidence of vandalism, as numerous headstones had been knocked over, and many cherubs and angels had their heads knocked off….

The Hail Mary Murders

It was 1992, and six high school boys spent their days fixated by Annie’s tale. Believing she was run over by a car and that she now haunted the road, they spent their nights at Norwood Terrace, near the house she supposedly lived in, then they would drive up and down River View Dr, before ending up at the mausoleum where they thought she was buried.

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Eventually though 5 of the boys felt that they no longer wanted to hang around with the 6th boy, and decided to make him leave. They made several botched attempts to burn his car, but they all failed. Eventually realizing that they couldn’t make him go away, they decided he needed to eliminated. (and all this because they were bored with his company mind you)

They tried to stuff an aerosol can into his gas tank in the hopes of causing an explosion. It didn’t fit. They tried to convince him to be handcuffed to the steering wheel, after which they would stick a flaming rag into the gas tank. He refused. After so many botched attempts to scare him and even eliminate him, some of the boys wondered if he wasn’t protected by Annie herself…

They finally settled on a simpler method, and tragically it worked. One day they all drove out to the HS and parked in back. They all began to recite the Catholic “Hail Mary”, and then one of the boys in back took out an electrical cord and strangled the victim from behind, garrote style. Putting his feet on the headrest, the victim didn’t have a chance, and the other boys continued to recite the Hail Mary, until after nearly 10 minutes, he was dead.

They tried to cover up the crime by outing the body in the trunk and causing an explosion, but it didn’t work. They ditched the car, and predictably, were caught, arrested, and convicted.

Jewish Cemetery

I don’t think anyone else even knows about this one. You can read the whole story on it’s own dedicated page, but basically there is a Jewish cemetery up in the woods near the Waste Treatment Plant, that is owned and operated by a construction company that is located right next door. What do Jews & construction workers have to do with each other?

The Jewish cemetery of Totowa

I was looking at the map of Riverview drive, or Annie’s rd as it is more commonly known, when I noticed a graveyard off in the woods. This wasn’t Laurel Hill, that’s farther down the road past midgetville and Route 80. So there’s an abandoned graveyard off to the side of the haunted road where dwarfs live? Well that demanded an investigation…

When I visited I saw that the entrance to the cemetery was thru the driveway of an auto salvage yard or construction company. At first it looked like any other cemetery, but then I examined it further and that’s when it got really weird. First off, it had appeared to be old and abandoned, but it wasn’t. There were several fresh graves. Second, almost all the graves were Jewish. third, I found a sign that said this graveyard was maintained by the construction company. What does a construction company have to do with Jewish people? It wasn’t a Jewish construction company… and why was it located in such an oddball place?

I did some web searching and found out that the Jewish Federation of North Jersey Cemetery Association owns numerous graveyards and that the Knoble Construction Company apparently manages several of them. I presume therefore that family would go up the construction company driveway. I just don’t know why the Jewish Federation chose such an obscure spot that would require driving thru a construction company to get to it.

Laurel Grove Cemetery

Laurel Hill Cemetery is full of interesting and unique headstones. It is more well known for its association with midgetville and a ghost named Annie. Annie’s Rd is supposed haunted by the ghost of a young woman who died when a car hit her after she decided to walk home from the prom. Another story says she was murdered and raped. She supposedly is buried in the Van Dyck mausoleum.

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This very large elk is the centerpiece of a series of graves, laid out in a circle. On each side of the base of the elk are the words: justice, charity, fidelity, and brotherly love, the watchwords for the Elks organization. The Elk is visible from Route 80 (see pictures) and is mistaken by some for a deer, grazing on the hillside. Another large & noteworthy grave is that of Kaspinov family. It’s more of a monument then a grave, as if features life sized statues of both the son Oliver, and his wife Lence. Also included are several large pictures, all enclosed in a private secluded area constructed of gravel, stones and bushes. It is extremely large, extremely ornate and probably extremely expensive.

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Another famous grave is that of Sal Giardino, known as the world’s greatest electrician. His grave is certainly one of the more colorful ones you’ll see. His daughter Kim died not so long after he did, and she received an equally colorful headstone. You can easily find the graves as they are in the middle of the cemetery.  

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Demon’s Alley

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Demon’s Alley is another example of a well known (in Weird NJ circles) place which is over-rated. And yet it’s worth a trip anyway. Confused? Let me explain. First off, what exactly is Demon’s Alley anyway? It is a small section of road where there are a half dozen abandoned homes, which by itself is rather unusual. One or two abandoned homes? Blame the economy. A half dozen all on the same block? Well there’s got to be a story there somewhere, and there is, it’s just a tad boring…

The road is on Newark Watershed Land, in West Milford, near several reservoirs. The first stories about the places had the usual bullshit-hype behind it. Satanic cults, ritual murders, etc. The truth? Well in a letter to Weird NJ which was printed in the following issue, the Newark Watershed Commission stated that the properties were used to house employees. Known simply as the New City Complex, the letter simply states that the properties aren’t being utilized for housing. No duh. A separate letter states that homes were abandoned because of radon, which is, from what I understand the real truth. That would explain why they left behind personal items and furniture. When a home is contaminated with radon it gets into everything and little can be taken with you.

I recently was in the area and I had to visit and was actually quite surprised by what I found. First off, from letters I had read I the impression that the entire area, road and property and all were cordoned off, presumably by a fence. No such deal. I pulled off Route 23 and I saw the side street in question was right there with the houses in plain sight. Turned off and pulled to the side and began snapping pictures. The houses themselves are beginning to fall apart, especially the roofs. The doors and windows are all solidly covered with plywood, with one exception. Some folks may have no problem B&E, but I do. In their letter to Weird NJ, the Watershed Commission made it clear that anyone trespassing will be arrested.

Somehow I don’t doubt their sincerity. The condition of the plywood clearly indicates that whenever someone breaks in, the entrance is quickly covered up. This is the second really odd thing: for whatever reason, they paint the plywood to look like window shades. Now this is so obvious it can’t be meant to really fool you, yet why go to the trouble? Perhaps to cover the copious amounts of graffiti that cover the buildings?

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The only building with any entrance appeared to be some sort of garage or shed. It has a large opening which appears to have had no attempt to be covered. After about 10 minutes of observing (without trespassing) I finally left. I can say that this place would give me the heebie-jeebies at night, even with my knowledge of the real reason why this place was abandoned. I must say if I had skittish friends, I could play quite a bit of mind games with them if I were to bring them here at midnight….

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