New Jersey has the dubious honour of hosting some of the most bizarre and disturbing urban legends in the U.S. Tales abound of the many isolated back country roads across the state, plagued by ghosts, dotted with ruins, and patrolled nightly by only the darkest denizens of humanity. The most famous, the best documented, and perhaps the most unsettling of all such places has to be Clinton Road.
"What is it about this road?" the paranormal travel magazine Weird N.J. asks. Well, first the mundane: Clinton Road is a 10 mile (16 km) stretch of road running through West Milford in Passaic County, in the northern part of the state. It is sparsely populated and until very recently a good portion of it was unpaved. It follows a curvy route through the woods around Clinton Reservoir which, like the road itself, was named for the now-nonexistent settlement of Clinton. Even without the supernatural elements Clinton Road is unnerving to traverse. The section of the road that winds around the reservoir is extremely dangerous, with sudden 90-degree turns that have caught more than a few unwary drivers off guard, with fatal consequences. One in particular that is reputed to be heavily haunted is known appropriately enough as Dead Man's Curve.
But if perilous driving conditions aren't enough to slake your thirst for terror, perhaps these guys can help. At the bridge at the aforementioned Dead Man's Curve, the ghost of a little boy who died after falling from the bridge waits for a playmate to pass through. Legend has it if you toss coins into the creek below, the little boy will throw them back at you. A red-eyed grey wolf stalks the bushes and will give chase if you set foot outside your car. Witches, Satanists, "albino midget cannibals", and the Ku Klux Klan all enjoy hanging out in the woods at night, but they don't much care for party crashers. The ruins of an abandoned castle sit in the woods and often serve as host to the many unholy get-togethers. Weird animals, believed by locals to be the interbred descendants of exotic animals freed from the nearby abandoned zoo Jungle Habitat (or possibly the cast of Jersey Shore) roam about. And when you get bored of sightseeing, phantom cars and hovering orbs of light will be happy to show you the way out. Just be sure you can outrun them. And mind those corners. Those funny spectres love to watch their quarry plunge to a watery grave in the reservoir.
So how "true" are the tales of Clinton Road? Eyewitness accounts from residents of West Milford and nearby Upper Greenwood Lake vary, with many who have a story to share of a trip down the road confirming the strange goings-on. The red-eyed wolf, the mutant animals, phantom vehicles, orbs, demons, bloody clothing, and Satanic graffiti have all been reported. It is always possible that the locals have resigned themselves to the spooky reputation and have just decided to have some fun with some really creepy stories, but one thing that even the skeptics have agreed upon is that there is definitely something...off...about Clinton Road. There is an unnatural stillness even in the daytime. The forest is bereft of such "ordinary" wilderness sounds as chirping birds and buzzing insects, replaced with a feeling of uneasiness and dread that weighs down the air itself. I believe Weird N.J. summed it up best:
"It’s possible Clinton Road is actually no scarier than any other road, but it must possess the elements necessary to put people in touch with their own most deep-rooted fears. Whatever the reason may be, one fact is indisputable: Clinton Road possesses some kind of indefinable, yet undeniable power."