Shudder And Quake

From fright fests to haunted hayrides, ghostly attractions abound.

Think there’s nothing in the state scarier than summer traffic on the Parkway? Actually, New Jersey is a hotbed of haunted houses, witches’ cauldrons, and odd apparitions. Here’s a primer on the state’s favorite ghost stories—and some fall attractions designed to spook even the most jaded thrill-seekers.

Passaic County residents know to stay clear of Annie’s Road in Totowa, especially the curvy stretch that is haunted by the ghost of a teenager named Annie. Legend says that Annie died during her prom night in the 1960s after a fight with her boyfriend, who left her alone on the side of the road. Her spirit still lurks along the guardrail (where her blood is said to be visible) and supposedly has caused many car accidents.
In Chester, they talk of a railroad worker, now known as the Hookerman, who lost his arm and his life 100 years ago in a train accident. The Chester Ghost now is seen roaming the deserted tracks (with a hook instead of an arm)searching for his missing limb.

Newark’s Gully Road, the former name of a stretch along the Passaic River, is home to many eerie creatures. The best known is old Moll DeGrow, a witch known to delight in making others miserable. Back in the nineteenth century, she troubled the community with sour milk and vicious dogs, but once an outbreak of unexplained infant deaths occurred, occupants of Gully Road had enough. A mob formed to burn the witch at stake, but when they arrived, DeGrow was already dead—propped upright with a cruel smile.

Then there is the famed Jersey Devil.  Sometimes called the Leeds Devil because of its possible origin at Leeds Point, the Jersey Devil is said to have been cursed by its mother at birth. It has haunted the woods surrounding its home ever since. A mash-up of several different creatures, the Devil lurks in the deepest parts of the Pine Barrens, with glowing red eyes.

Exit 82 on the Garden State Parkway—for Route 37, Seaside Heights, and Island Beach State Park—has some drivers fearing more than just speed traps. The Parkway Phantom, as this specter is called, supposedly shows up here at night, posing as a stranded driver—then disappears just as courteous drivers approach to give him aid.

Rowan University in Glassboro boasts a few ghosts, but perhaps the one with the biggest flair for the dramatic is the late Elizabeth Tohill, who taught drama at the university from 1930 to 1956 (when it was known as Glassboro State College).  Students say she visits rehearsals, and sometimes even joins the actors on stage. As her grand finale, the campus’s Tohill Auditorium bears her name.

Want to get in on the action? Here’s a sampling of some of the spooky doings this fall in the Garden State:

Six Flags Fright Fest:
Featuring walk through attractions, shows, and rides for the whole family, the theme park’s annual event runs from October 3 through November 1.  The ghosts and goblins really do come out after dark, so show up before 6 pm for kid-friendly fun.  Six Flags Great Adventure, 1 Six Flags Boulevard, Jackson (732-928-1821; sixflags.com/greatadventure).

Night of Terror: Not for the fainthearted (or the little ones), the thirteenth year of this spook-tacular event features some of the scariest attractions around, like the Ride of Terror, the Home of the Demented and the Dead, and the Dreaded Cornfield Maze. Creamy Acres Farms, 448 Lincoln Mill Road, Mullica Hill (856-223-1669; nightofterror.com).

Haunted Hill House: Scarier than taking final exams without studying is a trip to Haunted Hill High, the theme for this year’s annual backyard production by friends (and Halloween buffs) Joseph Cutalo and Jeff Fucci. Mad scientists Vincent Darcone and Dr. Jack McKnight are back from last year’s event as teachers in a high school of horror. Proceeds will go to the Center for Food Action in New Jersey. 539 Hackensack Street, Carlstadt (908-358-3674; iwontbeafraid.com).

Harvest Moon Hayrides and Nighttime Corn Maze: Bring your flashlights and wend your way through the corn maze, sip hot mulled cider on a hayride, and pick your own pumpkins at this family-friendly event. Buy a s’mores roasting kit and make the molten yummies around a crackling campfire. Alstede Farms, 84 Route. 513, Chester (908-879-7189; alstedefarms.com).

Ocean City Ghost Tours: These candlelight tours combine history, folklore, and ghost stories for a night of eerie fun in Ocean City’s historic downtown.  Tours depart from the corner of 9th Street and Asbury Avenue, Ocean City (609-814-0199; ghosttour.com/oceancity).

Ghosts and Legends Tours: Asbury Park’s Paranormal Books and Curiosities is home base for this 90-minute walking tour of the city. Be sure to check out the shop’s collection of paranormal paraphernalia before embarking on the spine-tingling trek. Paranormal Books and Curiosities, 627 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park (732-455-3188; paranormalbooksnj.com).

Haunted Cape May Walking Ghost Tours: Explore the weird side  of one of Jersey’s most historic (and haunted) towns on Diane Bixler’s ghost tour. Also, stop by the “boo-tique” for all things ghoulish this Halloween.  727 Beach Avenue, Cape May (609-463-8984; capemay.com/activities/ghosttours).

Burlington County Prison Museum: This national historic landmark is creepy throughout the year, thanks to former inmate Joel Clough, who haunts the cell where he stayed before his 1833 hanging. In October, the museum hosts The Prison, a monster mash of deranged inmates, masked menaces, and chainsaw-yielding baddies.  128 High Street, Mt. Holly (609-678-8898; prisonhaunt.com).

Nightmares: Every weekend in October can be spent walking the Twisted Maniac Trail, a one-acre attraction with corpses, zombies, and other endearing creatures. Love clowns? The trail includes CarnEvil, a 3D experience where evil clowns chase you with power tools. After the terror, relax your racing heart at the Horror Museum with original costumes and props from popular horror movies. Depiero’s Country Farm, 300 Grand Avenue, Montvale (201-716-2827; night-mares.com).

NJ Halloween Horror Fest: Ride the haunted hayride, get spooked in the horror movie viewing room, and walk through a display of more than 50 Hollywood monsters. Experience the blood and gore for five nights in October. Sussex County Fairgrounds, 37 Plains Road, Augusta (201-362-1690; njhalloween.com).

Field of Terror: You are stuck in a cornfield. On your right is a bloody masked man wielding a chainsaw; on your left is a zombie ready to attack. Sounds like fun, huh? Visit New Jersey’s largest and most realistic corn maze hayride. Or bring a flashlight and opt for the friendly Flashlight Maze. 831 Windsor Perrineville Road, East Windsor (609-758-7817; fieldofterror.com).

The Haunted Village at Dey Mansion: This daytime tour of Dey Mansion turns dreadful at dusk, when visitors will encounter vampires, zombies, werewolves, and deranged clowns. Odd but not terrifying, this attraction is perfect for the whole family. NJ Renaissance Kingdom, 199 Totowa Road, Wayne (732-271-1119; njkingdom.com).

Halloween Haunted Hayride: Ride through Allaire’s possessed woods, where you will be chased through graveyards, stumble upon witches, and meet the ghosts of Mr. Allaire’s first wife and his cousin Calicia. It’s a popular event, so order tickets in advance. The Historic Village at Allaire State Park, Farmingdale and Wall Township (732-919-3500; allairevillage.org).

Jersey Devil Haunted Hayride:
Enter the mysterious world of the Jersey Devil on this tractor-trailer jaunt. Bump into ghouls and goblins, scream at disturbed ghosts, and try to keep the Jersey Devil at bay. Indian Rock Resort, 920 West Veterans Highway, Jackson (732-928-0034; jerseydevilhayride.com).

Haunted Hayride of Terror: Pick pumpkins, sip witches brew, and shop at the seasonal boutique Hauntingly Delight. But when darkness strikes prepare to ride with terror, explore the haunted barn, or cautiously brave the wooden trail. C. Casola Farms, 131 Route 79 South, Marlboro (732-946-8885; triplecnurseries.com/haunted/).

New Jersey Zombie Walk: Join droves of undead October 3 for this annual Asbury Park event.  Zombie “Base Camp” sets up at 11 am at the Asbury Park Convention Hall, where attendees can apply their zombie makeup and check out local artists, filmmakers, musicians, shops, and horror-related organizations.  The Zombie Walk starts at 5 pm.  Asbury Park Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park ([email protected]; njzombiewalk.com).

Click on the links below to read our Fall Day Trips stories:

Take A Hike: Aching feet and burning quads are a small price to pay for a trek on New Jersey’s Appalachian Trail.

Patriots Chilled: Tour the grounds where Washington’s (shivering) army slept.

Where The Wizard Worked: Editson’s West Orange lab reopens its doors after a five-year restoration.

Paterson Great Falls Historical Park

Rise To The Challenge: Tour New Jersey’s Historic Lighthouses.

Forging Ties: Batsto Village in Burlington County is a many-layerd Jersey pleasure.

Break Out Your Bonnets: From tea dances to murder myster dinners, Cape May’s Victorian Week will put you in a gingerbread frame of mind.

Happy Harvests: In October, the Garden State’s food and wine festivals invite you to put your month where your mouth is.

Golden Golf: Don’t even think about putting away your clubs this month, New Jersey courses beckon.

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