Archive for the ‘totowa’ Category

If you’re thinking of going to midgetville: DON’T. You will be busted.

I happened to be in the area and felt like driving down Annie’s Road. When we got to midgetville I was tempted to pull in just to see what’s changed in the couple of years since I last visited. I know there’s been a few incidents with paintballs being shot so i expected to be eyeballed. I’m not a kid, I have my wife and son in the car so I figured at best I’d get a look see but no trouble. I passed the first entrance, figured I’d go to the second entrance… and discovered it’s been sealed off, barricaded by giant concrete highway dividers.

So if you go in, you have to exit the way you came in. Cause any troubles, you aren’t getting out. More then likely if you pull into their street you will be questioned since there’s only 6-7 houses and everybody knows everybody and their car. Anyone who doesn’t belong will stick out. This means you.

The final resting place of John Holland

John Holland was born In Ireland in 1841. He entered a Navy submarine design contest, before joining up with a group called the Fenian Brotherhood. Their goal was to develop a small submarine that could be launched from under a merchant vessel, then return. The result of his efforts was the Fenian Ram that was launched in 1881. Holland and the Fenians had numerous differences, and they broke off working together. He designed and built numerous submarine prototypes but he suffered numerous financial difficulties and often sold his designs for less then his research costs. He eventually sold his company to the Electric Boat Company (now part of General Dynamics) forfeiting rights to most of his patents. He died broke but not forgotten.

John Holland is buried in Holy Seplechure Cemetery in Totowa.



Annie’s Road


“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.


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…


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.


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.

The Totowa Book of the Dead

Totowa has a population of 10,000 but over 84,000 buried in it’s cemeteries. Laurie Giordano, son the famous electrician buried at Laurel grove cemetery, is currently working on a photographic memoir, “The Totowa Book of the Dead.” Although it will be about the cemeteries in part, it’s about life growing up in Totowa. Excerpts and pictures can be found at the website listed above. I look forward to it. I like the B&W photos she is using, since B&W is so much more moody and expressive then color….

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.


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.






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.  




Waving Joe

Joe Cerce, aka Waving Joe, was an elderly man who passed the days waving to passersby. Passing cars would honk back and the incessant honking drove neighbors crazy. They asked him to stop waving, but he refused. The neighbors took him to court and a settlement was reached. Joe could still waive, and the town would erect a sign instructing cars not to honk back at him. Joe passed away from a heart attack in summer of 2002. His sign was left up for nearly a year before the town (or fans) removed it.



Midgetville is probably the most legendary place in all of Weird NJ lore. It is a place most fans of the magazine have heard of, and everybody wants to visit. Many claim to have actually seen midgets (FYI: they prefer the term dwarf). There have been stories of midgetville long before weird NJ wrote about them, but as is to be expected when a magazine with their readership does an article on the subject and tells people where it is, the problems grew exponentially as a result. One local resident I spoke to said that they problems but they were managed until Weird NJ published the article. What kind of trouble? People driving thru the street honking their horn at 2AM and screaming “Come out of your houses you midgets!” Vandalism, theft and public disturbances are frequent occurrences. These problems would explain this sign that is prominently mounted in one alleged midgetville area…


So where is midgetville supposed to be? The mostg famous one is in Totowa, but people have suspected small enclaves of homes in Edgewater and Waldwick too. The ones in Waldwick are long gone, replaced by ugly mcmansions. I have visited both the Edgewater and Totowa locations. yes, the houses are small, built as summer vacation homes decades ago. As north jersey has become over developed these homes which once only housed people in the summer are now regular full time residences.

The origin of midgetville stems from the fact that John Ringling (original owners of Ringling Brothers circus) had a home just north of Fort Lee as well in Jefferson Twp. There were actual dwarves that performed in his circus and there were homes specially built for them right nearby. Do these tiny sized homes still exist? probably not. If they do exist, do midgets live in them? Probably not. Are the small villages in Edgewater and Totowa home to midgets?


I normally don’t try to burst anyone’s bubble when it comes to urban legends, but this is one exception. There are no midgets in Edgewater. There are no midgets in Totowa. If you go there and act like an asshole at 3AM you will be arrested. Don’t go there. Leave these poor folks alone.

The Ottillio Office complex

You could drive past the Otillio office complex and not give it a second glance as it is off set and below the roadway itself. But on second look you begin to notice certain architectural and design elements. The massive columns creating the central opening and doorway certainly stand out. Like the giant chain links that create a pseudo wall. Or the giant bell by the parking area, with the large gate and ornate scrollwork on it.

Inside the complex it becomes even more unique. From the detailed carvings on the push bars on the doors, to the elaborate railings on the elegant stairway to the little garden next to the stairs to the wooden chest, you realize there is something a bit more extravagant then normal about this place.

The Ottillio Complex was fashioned from elements salvaged from landmarks being torn down, including the Japanese Pavilion at the World’s Fair, columns from Barnert Hospital, the Transportation Building at the World’s Fair and the from the 7-Up Pavilion, not to mention the Paramount theatre. The railing came from an abandoned subway station, and the chain links from a pier being brought down on the Hudson.

The project took over 15 years to complete, during which time Carmen Ottillio searched thru rubble and thru buildings about to become rubble to see what was striking or unusual. He then brought the pieces here and created something entirely new from these old & useless (to some) pieces.