From spooky stalkers and jilted wives to ancient burial grounds and leathery-winged creatures, the Garden State is a land of a thousand ghost stories. If you’re on the lookout for the paranormal, take a look at the most haunted places in New Jersey.
Scary places in New Jersey
Squirrelled away in New Jersey’s rural Warren Country, Shades of Death Road hasn’t always had a morbid moniker. Originally, it was simply ‘The Shades’, due to its low-hanging trees. No one quite knows how it got its nickname, but plenty of people have taken a guess. One legend tells that a band of wildcats mutilated and killed its earliest residents. Some claim it’s due to a series of murders that took place beneath the trees. Others say it got its name from an 1849 outbreak of malaria.
Notable landmarks along the lonely stretch include ‘Ghost Lake’, a man-made body of water that emits a curious white vapour from its surface, and a small cave called ‘The Fairy Hole’, said to be related to the Native American burial grounds underneath it.
2. Pine Barrens
Stretching one million acres across seven counties in New Jersey, the heavily-forested Pine Barrens was once home to a thriving industry. Its inhabitants have long since abandoned the sawmills and surrounding villages, and today it’s a deep, dark forest peppered with ghost towns. The Jersey Devil is definitely one of its spookiest residents. According to legend, a woman called Deborah Leeds gave birth to a creature with leathery wings, a goat’s head and hooves in 1735. It darted up the chimney and out to the Pine Barrens – and has been terrorizing residents and livestock ever since.
3. Watcher House
Derek Broaddus had just finished painting his new million-dollar mansion in Westfield when he received the first note. It read, “657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.” The letters from ‘The Watcher’ kept on coming and eventually drove the family to sell the house. There are a few chilling hypotheses on the true identity of The Watcher, but the case is still unsolved.
4. Snake Hill
Soaring 150 feet above the flatlands of Seacaucus Meadowlands, Snake Hill – now officially known as Laurel Hill – has a history. It’s been an almshouse, a penitentiary and a psychiatric hospital – a far cry from its well-manicured gardens today. When the psychiatric hospital was demolished in the 1960s, builders clearing land discovered over 4,000 bodies in pine coffins. It’s estimated that there are still up to 10,000 undiscovered graves in the area. In 1973, the then superintendent of the county morgue removed all of the headstones, throwing the area into even more confusion. Today, the site is said to be haunted by miffed spirits who never got a proper burial.
This sinister, solitary tree stands in the middle of a large field off Mountain Road. It’s accrued a number of grisly legends over the years, so only thrill-seeking teens tend to stick around it. Some say a farmer murdered his family and hung himself from a low hanging branch. Others say that anyone who tries to cut down the tree will meet an untimely end. There have been quite a few attempts to fell the tree too, evidenced by the ace and chain saw scars on its trunk. Some say that the souls of those who were killed on the spot keep it warm, which is why snow doesn’t fall around it. According to local lore, lynchings were prevalent in the area and while there isn’t any evidence supporting hanging in this location, the Ku Klux Klan did have a strong presence here in the 1920s.
Built in 1879 by Dr Emelen Physick, Emelen Physick Estate is the archetypal haunted house. In fact, it’s even been voted as America’s Most Haunted House. Spooky residents include Dr Physick’s Aunt Emilie, who is said to watch over the house, and Dr Physick’s mother, who spends most of her time in her bedroom. You can take a ghost tour around the estate and visitors have reported spotting a woman in old-fashioned clothing wandering through the house. There is also, allegedly, an audio recording of the disembodied voice of a child. Chilling.
This six-storey stone tower is allegedly haunted by its baron’s wife. According to local lore, she clambered up to the top of the tower, only to spot her husband embracing another woman. Spurned, she jumped to her death and has haunted the spot ever since. Apparently, if you try walking backwards around the tower a few times you might be able to summon her – or worse, the devil himself. Other gruesome legends claim the tower was a hotspot for Satanists at the start of the century. There is satanic graffiti on the inside walls, but the tower is now gated and locked.