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A typical stretch of Clinton Road

Clinton Road is located in West Milford, Passaic County, New Jersey. It runs in a generally north-south direction, beginning at Route 23 near Newfoundland and running roughly 10 miles (16 km) to its northern terminus at Upper Greenwood Lake.

A motion picture entitled Clinton Road will be going into production during the summer of 2010. The script was written in three weeks during the summer of 2009 by Amanda Whitcroft, Diana Whitcroft, and Anthony Del Negro. Media:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1604560/

The road and the land around it over the years have gained notoriety as an area rife with many legends of paranormal occurrences such as sightings of ghosts, strange creatures and gatherings of witches, Satanists and the Ku Klux Klan. It is also rumoured that professional killers dispose of bodies in the surrounding woods - with one recorded case of this occurring [1]. It has been a regular subject of discussion in Weird NJ magazine, which once devoted an entire issue to it. Stories from Clinton Road also appear in the book Convergence: When the Living Clash with the Dead.

There are very few houses along the road and much of the adjoining property is undeveloped publicly owned woodlands (either City of Newark watershed or state forest) and the road itself is a narrow two-lane that receives little maintenance, is not part of New Jersey's county-highway system and was until fairly recently unpaved for some of its length, connecting two areas of minimal population and growth and thus having little traffic even at the busiest times of day.

While it is not the only thoroughfare in northwestern New Jersey to have such a reputation, the continuing attention paid to it in the pages of Weird NJ have ensured that it is the best known both in and out of the state.

Contents

History

The sign for Clinton Road at Route 23, its southern end.

The road, like the reservoir and brook in the area, gets its name from the now-vanished settlement of Clinton, which was located about where it crosses the brook.[2]

There is evidence of the road having a similar reputation as it does today as early as 1905, when a writer cautioned travelers against the road citing reports of rampant banditry and witchcraft in the area.[citation needed]

Legends and folklore

There are several tales regularly told about different areas along or near Clinton Road.[3]

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The ghost boy at the bridge

Supposedly, if you go to one of the bridges at the reservoir and throw a penny into the water, within a minute it will be thrown back out to or at you by the ghost of a boy who drowned while swimming below or had fallen in while sitting on the edge of the bridge. In some tellings an apparition is seen; in others the ghost pushes the teller into the water if he or she looks over the side of the bridge in order to save him from being run over as he was in life.[4]

The 18th-century smelter mistakenly believed to be a Druidic temple.

The Druidic temple

A conical stone structure just east of the road south of the reservoir was said to be a site where local Druids practiced their rituals, and horrible things might come to pass for any intruder who looked too closely or came at the wrong time.[citation needed]

However, the building's origins are easily explained: It is an iron smelter left over from the 18th century when the ore was common in the area and needed for the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. It has nothing, at least not by design, to do with any religious observance. It is currently fenced off by the Newark water department to prevent any entrance and the liability for injury that might result.

Kidnapped by cannibals

Some area residents warn that if you travel down the road at night and encounter a fallen tree blocking the road, you will have fallen into a trap set by local natives and you must turn around immediately before they cut another tree down behind you. If you are captured, you will be eaten.

Who would be doing this is sometimes unspecified or varies, but it is most often attributed to the Jackson Whites, a pejorative name for the Ramapough Mountain Indians.[5]

Phantom pickup truck

Residents warn that if you drive the road late at night, there is a phantom pickup truck that appears suddenly behind drivers. According to reports, the pickup truck seems to come from nowhere, it's white and it tailgates right behind you, sometimes slamming in your car. It continues to tailgate you until the end of the road, at which point it's headlights turn off and it turns around.

Other legends

  • Besides the ghost boy, there have been other ghosts described by Weird NJ readers. One claims to have seen a ghost Camaro driven by a girl who supposedly died when she crashed it in 1988 (any mention while driving the road at night is supposed to trigger a manifestation).[4] Another claims to have encountered two park rangers one night while camping with friends near Terrace Pond, a glacial tarn on a ridge accessible from the road by hiking trails, who in the morning turned out to have been the ghosts of two rangers who had died on the job in 1939 .[4]
  • Strange creatures, from hellhounds to monkeys and unidentifiable hybrids, have been caught in the glare of headlights crossing the road at night. If not of supernatural origin, they are said to have been survivors of Jungle Habitat, a nearby attraction that has been closed since 1976, which have managed to survive and crossbreed.[6]
  • Some visitors to the area report also seeing people dressed weirdly at odd hours who simply stare at those who see them and do not speak. Sometimes these people disappear or are apparently not seen by those present.[7]
  • Lastly, some travelers have reported a feeling of uneasiness or mounting dread as they drive down the road, sometimes so great that they have to turn back.[8]

Cross Castle

In 1905 a man named Richard Cross built a castle on high land near the reservoir. Later in the 20th century it fell into ruin after a fire destroyed part of it and became a popular destination for hikers and local teenagers looking for secluded locations to camp out and have parties.[8]

It was also widely believed to have played host to gatherings of Satan worshippers and their sacrifices. Several past visitors have written to Weird NJ telling of strange occurrences in or near the castle site, such as people going into seizures and bruises appearing on their bodies afterwards, or having strange, disturbing visions. Writings on the castle's interior walls, particularly in areas that were supposedly inaccessible, that suggest Satanism have also been reported.[8]

Newark's water department razed the castle as an attractive nuisance in 1988, but the foundations remain and several hiking trails can still be followed to the site.[8]

The Iceman

One day in May 1983 a bicyclist going down the road noticed vultures feasting at a spot in the nearby woods. He investigated and discovered it was a human body.

An autopsy found that the man had died of foul play but also something initially puzzling: ice crystals in blood vessels near his heart. His interior organs also had decayed at a rate far slower than his skin. Pathologists concluded that someone had frozen his body after death in an attempt to mislead investigators into believing he died at a later time than he actually did.

The man was identified as someone on the periphery of Mafia activities in nearby Rockland County, New York. The investigation ultimately led to the 1986 arrest of Richard Kuklinski, a New Jersey native involved in Rockland organized crime who confessed to being the killer of not only the victim at issue but a veteran hit man for the mob. He claimed to have killed over a hundred others and similarly treated their bodies, which earned him the nickname "The Iceman." He pled guilty to five of the murders and received two life sentences, which ended with his death in March 2006.[1]

Other realities behind the stories

Reports of KKK activity in the area may come from the presence of the German-American Bund, which maintained some camps in the area in the years prior to U.S. entry into World War II. A number of local residents also were reportedly Bund members.

Weird NJ also has published email from a correspondent who claimed to have been a practicing Wiccan and said that he and fellow adherents built shrines in the area and practiced casting spells, which he said accounted for some of the stories people told. He claimed there was a lot more of this activity than the magazine's editors knew about.

References

  1. ^ a b Moran & Sceurman, 206.
  2. ^ Moran, Mark and Sceurman, Mark; Weird NJ: Your Travel Guide to New Jersey's Local Legends and Best-Kept Secrets; Barnes & Noble Books, New York, New York, 2003, 200
  3. ^ Moran & Sceurman, 200-07.
  4. ^ a b c Moran & Sceurman, 204.
  5. ^ Sniatkowski, Brian; October 2004; Clinton Road:Ghost Boys and Hell Hounds and pickups, Oh My!; The Cacher; retrieved September 6, 2006.
  6. ^ Moran & Sceurman, 203.
  7. ^ Moran & Sceurman, 205.
  8. ^ a b c d Moran & Sceurman, 202.

See also

External links

Coordinates: 41°03′15″N 74°27′08″W / 41.054275°N 74.452189°W / 41.054275; -74.452189


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