It’s easy to fall into a rut of the familiar and well-known activities, but you might be surprised to know that New Jersey is full of unusual and kooky destinations? If you’ve heard the term “Weird NJ,” you know exactly what we’re referring to. While the stretch of these oddities span statewide, there are quite a few weird happenings right in our own backyards, quite literally. Weird NJ, a well-known magazine and website, has been compiling unmistakably weird spots around the state for decades. We’ve compiled a list of the area’s noteworthy Weird NJ sites that are sure to make for a memorable visit. Read on to learn about some landmarks that have been etched into our local history.
The Gates of Hell (Clifton)
Not too far off the beaten path from Hoboken lies one of Jersey’s creepiest spots: The Gates of Hell. Scary as it seems, this entrance is a system of tunnels that run deep and wide. The entrance itself is terrifying enough but deep below the surface are what many believe to be the home of Lucifer, himself. The dark tunnels lead in and out of this underground terror cave and if you’re brave enough to go in, you might even find out what else has been hiding out in this dark and twisted cavern.
Hoboken’s Phantom Bridge (Hoboken)
Hoboken was almost the home to a trans-Hudson bridge, connecting Uptown Hoboken to Manhattan in the early 1900s. The structure was to rival the George Washington Bridge, standing “6,000 feet long, 200 feet above the Hudson River, and 200 feet wide” and carrying “12 railroads, 24 lanes of traffic, and two promenades,” according to Weird NJ. Bridge builder Gustav Lindenthal was the engineer behind the project, though his plan never came to fruition. Ground was broken on 12th Street in the last years of the 1800s, where a small stone with the words “The North River Bridge Co. Ground Broken June 8th, 1895″ lies. First Foundation Masonry Laid June 18th, 1895” etched into the surface, sat in the backyard of 1200 Grand Street. The stone was then moved to Steven’s Campus for display in the 1980s. Whatever happened to this bridge and how would it have changed Hoboken?
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Captain Bayonne (Bayonne)
(Photo credit: @captainbayonne)
Not all heroes wear capes, but this well-known Bayonne figure has made his presence known in town: Captain Bayonne. Formally known as Captain Bayonne, a man has been running the town (quite literally) for some time now. As explained in an interview with Weird NJ, Captain Bayonne shared his love for running and exercise while managing to keep his identity a secret, which is an amazing feat. The Weird NJ interview also uncovered the reasoning behind his Mexican lucha libre mask, which he explained served the dual purpose of protecting his identity and making him more visible to drivers, especially at night. And while he does not claim to be any sort of superhero, he is well known throughout the town for his presence and costume. If you find him running the streets, feel free to stop him for a photo.
Sybil’s Cave (Hoboken)
While not technically on the official Weird NJ list, this Hoboken historical phenomenon is widely popular with locals and visitors alike. Those who are familiar with the works of Edgar Allan Poe’s like “The Raven” and “The Tell Tale Heart,” might also recognize Sybils’ Cave as the setting for another famous tale: “The Murder of Marie Roget.” According to the Hoboken Historical Museum, the cave that still stands is a manmade structure that was built in 1832 by The Stevens Family. At one point, the area surrounding the cave served as a spot for people to enjoy refreshments. In this day and time, the premises are off-limits. For more information regarding the murder associated with the cave, check out our other article, here.
Jimmy Hoffa’s “Supposed” Burial Ground (Pulaski Skyway, Jersey City)
After “The Irishman” was released on Netflix, the popular story of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa and his buddy, Frank Sheeran, was uncovered. According to Weird NJ, just beneath the Pulaski Skyway on the Jersey City side was the P.J.P. Sanitary Landfill, which served as a dumping ground for toxic waste in the 1970s. The landfill caught fire one day and continued to burn for nearly 15 years with little interruption. People claimed that after Hoffa mysteriously disappeared, he was murdered and his body was dumped in this landfill and left to burn. It is said that in the time following Hoffa’s death, police monitored that land for quite some time in search of leads, though the fiery burning pit would leave no evidence for anyone.
The Quaker Parrots of Edgewater (Edgewater)
With seals and deer swimming in the Hudson, to the bald eagles that hung out in the Mile Square, we have seen quite an influx of wildlife in the area. Edgewater is also no stranger to animals inhabiting the area, but this one takes the proverbial cake. In one area of the town, beautiful green parrots, native to Argentina, have been living in Edgewater for at least the last 30 years. While there are many thoughts on how these birds made it all the way north from South America, one family contacted Weird NJ to explain that the parrots belonged to their grandfather, who bred birds and fish in town. One day, he accidentally lifted a lever that released the birds while cleaning the cages. True? Quite possible! Keep your eyes peeled whenever in Edgewater for these tropical birds. More info here.
Edgar Allan Poe Monument (Riverview Cemetery in Trenton)
While we are on the topic of this famous literary figure, we would be remiss not to mention the tombstone that pays homage to his work. The tombstone, located in Riverview Cemetery in Trenton, is unmistakably a tribute to the late writer. It is even shaped like a door and includes the name Lenore, from his popular poem titled “Lenore.” Is it the gravesite for the beloved dying woman featured in his poem, Lenore? Was she just a fictitious character? This tombstone leads us to think otherwise.
Clinton Road (Route 23, West Milford)
If you’re willing to make the trek up to West Milford, Clinton Road is a popular spot to check out. Clinton Road is home to some pretty quirky things but the most well-known is Dead Man’s Curve. This stop on the haunted road is home to the legend of the Ghost Boy. There are many different beliefs behind this dark, haunted road but the tale says that a young boy drowned after falling into the rocky, rough waters. Some believe that if you toss coins into the water, The Ghost Boy will throw them back to you. Others believe that he will push you into the water to help save you from being hit by a passing car….the mystery lives on.
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Deserted Village (Watchung Reservation in Berkeley Heights)
The Deserted Village, known as Feltville, is nestled deep into the grounds of the Watchung Reservation. The Village has been mostly uninhabited for quite some time. But, as told by Weird NJ, the Village was originally settled by Peter Willcocks in 1736, and for centuries this village continued to turn over. The village stands as nearly deserted to this day, though the homes and surrounding areas are seemingly frozen in time.