Before the age of smartphones and social media, teens spent their time cruising in their cars looking for the weirdest and spookiest places to dare their friends to visit. They would drive down Clinton Road with a crush or visit the Devil’s Tower with soccer teammates — and it never seemed too difficult to find some pretty scary local spots. These sites are where the legends linger, even today — and in honor of Halloween, the most haunted time of year, we’ve compiled a collection of Northern New Jersey’s spookiest locations from the most benign to the genuinely frightening. Read on for some terrifying tales from North Jersey’s most haunted locations.
Devil’s Tower | Alpine
Perhaps one of New Jersey’s most puzzling structures, the Devil’s Tower, originated in the purest of things: love. Constructed in the early 1900s by designer Charles Rollinson Lamb, it was built for a sugar baron named Manuel Rionda. Rionda’s wife wanted a view of the dazzling New York City skyline, so he made her the tower and joined it via an underground tunnel to their nearby mansion. Legend says in 1910, while Rionda’s wife was enjoying her view from the building, she spotted her husband with another woman. In her heartbroken despair, she threw herself off the tower. In the years after, workers were said to be pushed off the tower to their death under suspicious circumstances leading to Rionda’s closure of the building. The legend and its unusual location led to its name Devil’s Tower. Rumor has it that Rionda’s wife will appear in the window, screaming as she jumps in a ghoulish fashion. Beware not to drive or walk backward around the tower, or you might see her or perhaps the Devil himself!
Clinton Road | West Milford
This ten-mile road northwest of the state is a Jersey legend, richer in lore than many other haunted spots. To the average visitor, it is simply a long stretch of poorly maintained asphalt, curvy and wooded on both sides. But to the night driver, it is a dark and lonesome road engulfed by the surrounding forests — the things of nightmares. People have reported feeling like they’re being watched, strange lights, and disembodied childish laughter, even going back to when it was first settled. In 1905, a local wrote of the witches and bands of robbers that stalked this region. Others have claimed UFO sightings and inexplicable beasts that prowl the area. However, Clinton Road’s most famous legend is of the Ghost Boy, that lives under the bridge at Dead Man’s Curve. It is said if you throw a coin in the small stream, a young boy, who died in the stream, will throw them back to you.
Ringwood Manor | Passaic
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Built in 1807, the mansion was expanded through the years until it was deeded to the state in 1936 as a museum. The estate has 52 rooms, with several wings, 13 baths, and 24 fireplaces. There are rumored to be three ghosts, but many people claim to feel the presence of spirits within the building. Apparitions are said to pass through the main door, slamming the door, or bound up the stairs. A nearby tomb is home to a mapmaker who died in 1780, and it is said he leads followers to a nearby bridge. Another ghostly woman is rumored to rise out of a vast roadside boulder, moaning and crying.
Herbert Appleby House | East Brunswick
Did you know there is a New Jersey Ghost organization? Well, the Historic Village of Old Bridge, in Middlesex County, is so haunted that they offer ghost tours of the pre-Civil War homes there. One of the most haunted houses is the Herbert Appleby House, a mid-19th-century private residence made into a library. “The history is Old Bridge is so interesting. There’s murder, mayhem, and lots of spooks,” said New Jersey Ghost Association co-founder and East Brunswick resident Karen Timper to Patch. There have been several murders attributed to the now-closed library, “including the 1727 murder of a local tavern proprietor and the 1906 killing of a local woman.” So if the veil is thin this month, prepare for a fright.
Old Canal Inn | Nutley
Montclair’s Tierney’s Tavern isn’t the only home of a rumored “death chair” — the Old Canal Inn in Nutley has its version. A roped-off seating section denotes the site of this dangerous recliner, where three people passed on after sitting in the chair. In addition, two men were said to have died of heart attacks within three days after sitting in the chair. But the Old Canal Inn has a sense of humor and sells a Death Seat Burger in the chair’s honor. The burger is “topped with garlic mashed potatoes, jalapeños, spicy cheddar cheese, everything beer-battered and deep-fried.” Though with that kind of menu, one is left to wonder if it’s not the chair that killed them, but perhaps what they ate while sitting at it.
Liberty State Park Terminal | Jersey City
This New Jersey landmark is on the state Register of Historic Places and the National one. Built in 1889, this terminal was a booming hub for 30,000-50,000 daily commuters. In the early days of the terminal, it housed workers, a pub, and even gender-separated waiting rooms (can we bring those back?). While there have been no reported deaths at the station, rumors persisted of a Lady in White who has been seen by both visitors and employees. She has long white hair and wears an entirely white outfit, walking her way through the train terminal until she disappears into a wall. Other tales include a ghost train that leaves the station at midnight. Perhaps that’s where the Lady in White was headed all along?
The Devil’s Tree | Basking Ridge
Can a tree really be the most haunted place in New Jersey and one of the scariest places in America? According to Thrillist Magazine, The Devil’s Tree is. With its haunted silhouette, the tree is creepy enough. It’s a gnarled, dying oak in the middle of a lonely field — dozens of ax hacks carved into its trunk. But the tree’s appearance is one thing, the frightening rumors, another. There was an active KKK clan down the road from the spot, which was said to have used the tree for cross burnings and hangings. There was also said to be a farmer who murdered his whole family and then hung himself off one of the tree’s limbs. Redditors substantiate that the legend exists; one touched the tree and then suffered from a swift illness less than an hour later. So it might be best just to leaf it alone.
Feltville Historic District | Union
The “Deserted Village” of Feltville was settled around 1736 with the construction of a sawmill. In the mid-1800s, a man named David Felt invested in the property, increasing water access to a second mill and building the little town of his namesake. He lasted 15 years on the property before selling it off. Ventures continued failing as purchaser after purchaser tried to revive the area. It never took, and Feltville became the deserted village it is today. The area is locally known as the “Enchanted Forest,” some claim they have feelings of dread, others say satanic rituals have awoken the woods, but it is generally agreed that it’s a place of “bad vibes”.
Snake Hill | Secaucus
This Secaucus hill was once the site of a psychiatric hospital, almshouse, and prison. While clearing land for a new road, workers discovered a potter’s field with as many as 10,000 unmarked graves of the mentally ill and the poor. The bodies were exhumed and reburied, but many believe they might have missed a few.