Hello readers, and welcome back to our travelogue where we dive into the creepiest urban legend from each of the 50 states. Last week, we hit the halfway point, but there are still so many more spine-tingling tales to go! So settle, in as we take in five more, and as always, we encourage you to share your own favorite urban legends from your state in the comments below as we get to them!
Montana: The Hitchhiker of Black Forest Lake
Hitchhikers play a role in more than one urban legend. Most often, it’s the tale of a young woman who appears in distress who either vanishes when the driver stops or who asks to be taken home only to give directions to a cemetery. Better yet, there are the tales of a driver who picks up a hitchhiker, carries them to a house where they vanish upon arrival. When the driver goes to the door, they find out that the hitchhiker was actually the spirit of a family member who died in a car accident years before.
In Cascade County, Montana, however, there’s a different sort of hitchhiker tale that takes place near Black Forest Lake on Highway 87.
It seems that more than one person traveling driving this stretch of road has reported an eerie sighting that ends in a terrifying conclusion each time. It all begins when the motorists spot a man who appears to be Native American dressed in denim on the side of the road. The highway here is long and flat so many times the driver will spot the man long before they reach him.
Here’s where this tale gets spooky. When nearing the hitchhiker, the man will suddenly disappear from the side of the road only to suddenly roll over the hood of the car, up the windshield, and over the roof. When the terrified driver stops to check on the man, he has, of course, vanished, and there is not one scratch or dent on the car despite the very real sounds of impact that the driver hears during the encounter.
Locals say that this is the spirit of a man who was hit by a car and killed on the highway, but no records indicate that happening.
Nebraska: The Portal School aka Hatchet House
This story is not technically an urban legend per se, but it does have many of the tropes tied to it that we see in other examples and well, it’s just a really creepy story…
It seems that back in the early 1900s there was a small one-room school in Portal, Nebraska in Sarpy County. The town itself is now nothing more than a ghost town, which only lends weight to the events that reportedly occurred one fateful day in the school.
For an unnamed reason, the school’s teacher–previously thought to be a kind and generous woman–snapped one day. In a fit of rage, she blocked the exits to the small building, grabbed a hatchet, and murdered every student in her care. In some versions of the story, they say the woman eventually decapitated the children and placed their heads on the desks in the room.
But the teacher was not finished. She next removed each of the students’ hearts from their chests after which, perhaps when her rage had subsided, she was overcome with regret. She took the hearts and walked to a nearby bridge where she tossed them one by one into the waters below.
The school was later moved, but it is said that if you walk across the bridge, now called Heartbeat Bridge, you will hear the sounds of the students’ heartbeats below and sometimes, you might even see the spirit of the schoolteacher, captured in grief over what she did.
Nevada: Robb Canyon Murders
Back in the 1970s four bodies were allegedly recovered from Robb Canyon near Reno, Nevada. Heavily mutilated, the three men and one woman were never identified, nor were their killers found.
At a glance, that seems like a straight-forward story except that no official reports about the murders exist. No police reports, newspaper articles, nothing exists that says these murders actually happened, but that doesn’t stop some of the locals from swearing it is fact.
Furthermore, since the 1970s Robb Canyon has been the site of numerous forms of paranormal activity including phantom screams, glowing orbs of light, cold spots, and full-bodied apparitions.
New Hampshire: The Wood Devils
It was really time for another cryptid in these articles and New Hampshire showed up to save the day with their famed Wood Devils.
Estimated at over 7 feet tall, the wood devils have been spotted in the forests near the Canadian border for well over a century. The creatures are described much like Bigfoot or Sasquatch, but unlike their cryptid compatriots, they are much sleeker, thinner, with grayish fur that allows them to camouflage themselves among the trees.
Most people say they’re so good at hiding that you’d nearly be standing right next to one before you even realized it.
They are also described as being incredibly fast, able to run into the trees with an inhuman speed that is terrifying.
Sightings of the creature began as early as the beginnings of the 20th century but have been formally reported as recently as 2004 when a man saw the creature while out hunting with his grandfather.
New Jersey: Shades of Death Road
You thought I was going to write about the Jersey Devil, didn’t you? While that terrifying cryptid may be the most famous urban legend of New Jersey, there are others that, to me, are far creepier, and Shades of Death Road is one of them.
First of all, who names a road “Shades of Death?” Aren’t you just asking for trouble?
Well, according to Weird NJ, there are a lot of stories about how this stretch of road got its name. For instance, in one version of the story, the area of land was once “settled” by a group of unruly squatters who regularly fought among themselves and no few were murdered in the midst of these altercations. Then there are those who say that it was originally called the Shades thanks to the large trees in the area, but after numerous people–reportedly so many that the local morgues/mortuaries laid the bodies in the streets due to lack of room–died in a recurring malaria plague, the name was changed to Shades of Death.
Whatever the case, the road has earned a reputation as an eerie, haunted place that plagues those who traverse it. The land on either side of the road is said to be home to numerous spirits, a “fairy cave,” and more than one person has reported seeing phantoms along the sides of the road.