New Jersey's Haunted Shades of Death Road Is The Scariest Stretch of Pavement in America

The Haunted Shades of Death Road is the Most Terrifying Stretch of New Jersey, and That’s Saying Something

shades_of_death_feature

We all know that New Jersey is a weird place. You can’t pump your own gas (it’s literally illegal) they happily import New York City’s trash, and one of their mascots is a demonic creature birthed in their backwoods. But while the majority of Jersey’s quirkiness lies squarely in the realm of the lighthearted and the offbeat, there are a few places with a much more menacing background. One of the darkest corners of the Garden State is a stretch or road where murder is mundane and the ghosts of the dead still roam: the haunted Shades of Death Road.

Shades of Death road sign

The winding two-lane terror is located smack in the middle of Warren County, NJ, and runs for seven miles alongside the eerie tree line of Jenny Jump State Forest. While the route is definitely maintains a spookier vibe than many stretches in the state, it didn’t come be to known as Shades of Death for its looks.

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Back in the early 1900s, Shades of Death was ground zero for a spate of brutal murders. One man was beaten to death with a tire iron for a handful of gold coins. In another incident, a jilted woman messily beheaded her husband, burying each part of his severed body on opposite sides of the road. In the third confirmed murder, a local man by the name of Bill Cummins was gunned down in cold blood, his body buried in a roadside mud pile. His killer was never found.

Skeptics will tell you that the road received it’s spooky name thanks to a local malaria outbreak that occurred long ago, but locals know better. The tragic tales from Shades of Death don’t end with the three previously-mentioned cases of murder, but stretch deep into the local legends that have haunted the road for decades. It’s said that the low-hanging branches of the Jenny Jump Forest were often used for late night lynchings, and a few strange, barren portions of the nearby land have long been rumored to have hosted human sacrifice and black magic ceremonies by mysterious hooded figures.

ghostly figures on shades of death road

New Jersey’s knack for names has also extended to a particular pass on Shades of Death known as Haunted Hollow, where travelers have reported seeing ghostly figures wandering the lonely stretch of road at night, only to vanish when approached.

Running parallel to Haunted Hollow is Ghost Lake, where drivers often report seeing ghostly, human figures walking the still water’s surface, figured believed to be the spirits of Native Americans slain by early settlers and unceremoniously dumped into the lake.

Cat Swamp, now known as Bear Swamp, was named for the packs of vicious wild cats that called it home, creatures known to frequently kill travelers foolish enough to traverse the road alone.

ghost-lake

Like all of the greatest ghost stories, the legend of Shades of Death Road even involves a deserted cabin in the woods, where those who enter are rarely seen again. A tale shared with Weird NJ several years ago recounts one man’s frightening visit to the cabin:

There is an old cabin that’s right off of Ghost Lake. You can barely see it in the day, but at night forget it. If you don’t know where to look, you wont find it. Me and a couple of kids were inside it one night and I remember it was trashed – the windows were all broken, the walls were falling apart the floor had holes in it, the place was a mess. In one of the far corners of the house is a hallway with a piano built into the wall. The keys are all smashed up on it and that alone is enough to be kinda freaky. We went on exploring the place and then went upstairs, and I was the last person up the stairs. I remember that so there wasnt anybody else downstairs. All of a sudden the piano sounded like someone banged on it really hard. Then it happened again, and there was a crunching sound like the glass on the floor was being stepped on. This sound came closer and closer down the hallway. Our first reaction was that it was the cops. But when we heard the sound right in front of us and saw no flashlights, wee quickly ruled out that one. So someone shined a light on the area and there was nothing there. We took off out of there as quickly as we could and didn’t look back. when we got to the road we noticed that there were no cars parked along the side, so it wasn’t any body fucking with us.

inthecave

One of Shades of Death’s more interesting legends is backed up by local historians and attached to what has been dubbed the “Fairy Hole”, a small cave inside of a nearby rock face. After archaeologists surveyed the area in 1918, they stumbled across the cave and discovered pottery shards, arrowheads, and flint, evidence that the Fairy Hole once held significance to the local Lenape tribe. Since the cave is located so close to numerous Native American burial grounds, many of the archaeologists believe that it was once a sacred site. Today, it’s not uncommon for brave cave explorers to report hearing whispers in the cave, murmurings that appear to be in the Lenape’s native tongue.

jackandhisstupidface

Despite its legendary status among ghost hunters, there have only been a few attempts at in-depth paranormal investigations along Shades of Death Road. One of the most publicized investigations was conducted by Jack Osbourne as part of the aptly-named reality show Haunted Highway. As usual, you should take paranormal television with a grain of salt (particularly ones starring celebrities), but the results were more than a little strange, nonetheless.

flattire

By rigging their vehicle up with half a dozen cameras, Jack and his co-host Dana Workman are able to capture footage of the spooky stretch from every angle, though it doesn’t take long for the video equipment to mysteriously malfunction. A flat tire and two commercial breaks later, the duo see a lone, ghostly figure standing near the tree line and Jack captures footage of the Ghost Lake figures as they rise out of the water. Whether Haunted Highway‘s evidence is actually proof of the road’s sinister legends or just a ratings booster doesn’t really matter at this point. Every new story of ghostly activity only serves to bolster Shades of Death’s reputation as one of America’s most haunted roads.

The ghostly figure captured by Haunted Highway on shades of death road

Of course, there are a few downsides to being an evil road with a terrifying name. Over the last several decades, all the tales of haunted cabins and ghostly figures have drawn more and more thrill-seekers to the area, and not all of them are as interested in capturing evidence of the anomalous as they are in capturing the infamous Shades of Death Road sign. To the annoyance of locals, the marker has become something of a prize, forcing the residents to resort to covering the road sign’s pole with oil and grease to prevent theft. Sometimes the old methods work the best.

So, do you think you could handle a night on Shades of Death Road? Have you ever visited it yourself before? Share your experiences with me on Facebook, tweet me @nuekerk, or leave your thoughts in the comments below! Want to check out some more spooky roads? Go investigate Wisconsin’s Beast of Bray Road, visit the creepy Archer Avenue that runs by  the even creepier Resurrection Cemetery, or Clinton Road, where drivers regularly report everything from little ghost children to Satanic rituals in the forest.


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Greg Newkirk

Greg Newkirk

Editor-In-Chief at Week In Weird
Writer, adventurer, and professional monster chaser, Greg Newkirk is the founder and Editor-In-Chief of Week In Weird, Director of The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult and one-half of the prolific investigative duo Planet Weird. Learn more about Greg.
Greg Newkirk
Greg Newkirk

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As someone from the area, I just want to point out that plenty of locals also have stolen/attempted to steal the sign.

That’s the problem when places like this get heavily publicized; every amateur ghost hunter or kid looking for a thrill and their mom come out to gawk and have a good time. I’m all for having this kind of stuff available for people to explore and enjoy, but when there’s a small mob of people all talking over each other and generally ruining the atmosphere? Ugh, no.

Ust to live on that road in 1970, Heard some weird stuff but but a 13 I shrugged it off as folk tail.

I have been trying to find this place for awhile now but can’t ever find it do you know the address to it

Depending on where you’re traveling from, it’s right off Rt. 46. I live less than 20 minutes from Shades, for me I take Rt. 31 North and then hit 46 East. You’ll see a left hand turn eventually (after a couple of dive bars) for 611. Take that, and Shades of Death road is a little ways up on your right.

It’s terminus will take you out near Allamuchy, NJ. And no, no cannibals there that I know of.

😉

Saints Peter and Paul Church is a good marker to use when on Rt. 46. Take that left and go about 2 1/2 miles. Shades is on your right.

I could get you the address , it’s not hard at all I go there all the time .

The problem is that all the Publicism has people go to explore And take the trip down that road. Locals in neighboring towns (younger crowd) will actually spot vehicles traveling down and then creep behind them with lights off until they get to a certain part of the road and then high beam them and try to run them off the road. I’ve had happen to me and I was from a neighboring town with a couple of my friends. Luckily we weren’t injured when the truck tried to run us off the road but there are people who are… Read more »

Omg back in high school we use to drive down these road we saw things that would blow ppls minds haven’t thought bout this road in a really long time or the things we saw ….

Do any of you old timers remember Diane Burkett (Hack. High) and what was called Ghost Lake Christian Camp? Her family owned the lake and the camp. The camp was not very successful and only lasted a few years. I believe it was Diane’s father that actually built the foot path across the lake. It was pretty impassable back in those days on the far side of the lake where Fairy Cave is.

Been there a handful of times & I’ve never seen anything or heard anything . But it’s still scary to even drive on !

Not to worry Jessica. I lived in what they call “the cabin”, which if you are being honest and really know the place like I once did, you know that was a full sized house, three levels in fact as it had a square tower which was a third floor and that was my weekend bedroom when I visited there for several years. I never encountered anything on Ghost Lake but it does have orb type figures that rise off the lake early most mornings. Mr. Burkett who owned it at the time, (before it was sold to become state… Read more »

does anyone know the address I could put in my gps I’ll be coming from phillipsburg nj I’ll probably take 519 in

Any explanation as to why it is called “Jenny Jump Road”. That’s a very odd name. Who is Jenny Jump or did Jenny jump?

Legend has it, Jenny and parent were cornered by natives and only exit was a cliff so parents instructed her to jump rather than being slain.

Jenny lived in a small house which is now surrounded and owned by the Land Of Make Believe. Jenny was walking in the woods near her house when she was surrounded by Indians. She ran to the edge of a cliff where her father yelled “Jenny jump” so that she wouldn’t be captured or killed. There are mixed stories as to whether she survived or not.

I went there a few times after reading about it in weird new jersey. I was there around 2am and no one in the car saw anything and nothing happened. We also went to jenny jump and nothing there either.

I lived in the house on Ghost Lake when I was in my late teens. The house is no longer there, and was sad to see that it had been razed. Of the 5years or so that I lived here, I never experienced any paranormal activity. I do however question the safety of the water in that house. Thee have been too many strange deaths that have occurred to folks who have lived in that house. Not strange scary but unusual medically.

I would love to walk this road…alone. I have always loved the paranormal and strange tales and ghosts. I want to visit sometime that’s for sure.

Go down to the far end of Shades Rd. on the Allamuchy end if you are chasing spirits.

walk this road…alone. I have always loved the paranormal

No one ever seems to mention that Shades of Death Road intersects with Hope Road. Always found that interesting. Plus Blairstown and Hope NJ are very close to this. The original Friday the 13th movie was filmed there. The diner that was in the movie has great food. 🙂

Why would you want to encounter a ghost? Maybe all of you buttholes should stay in your shitty town and leave ours alone. I was a teenager in this town and somehow lived to tell the tale. The only weird stuff on this road is seeing some idiot w out of state plates parked under an overpass honking their horn.

I too have been down this road a few times. It’s just a mile or so off of route 46 in Great Meadows NJ. I honestly haven’t seen anything, we checked out an old bridge that looked dilapidated, but no spooks. I was a little disappointed actually.

No ghosts. No haunted places. All folk tale. Lived in the area 29 years, on the road itself for the past 13. It’s a beautiful area ruined by ghost hunters jack Osborne’s show was full of crap.

If we are going to deal in rumors about the area, here are a few from the 1980s: 1. There is a cave with a pentagram on the floor where people party. But on the full moon some local guy sacrifices a goat to Satan. 2. There is a mafia guy who lives across from ghost lake who disposes of bodies. His employees will escorts you off the property at gun point. 3. The mafia dumps bodies in ghost lake. 4. In the 70s there was a group of Russians who had a compound with stockpiled guns that was along… Read more »

I lived in Greendell and my friend and I rode our bicycles from Alamunchy to Great Meadows, it was spooky but we never saw any ghosts,also I have a cousin that lives on the Shades of death road

Does anyone remember fellow named William Crouse who lived there for many years?
He was also known as the Squire of Shades of Death Road and many articles were written over the years about him and “Shades” as he often called it. While he readily accepted and discussed the area folklore and myths he was also quick to dismiss and even debunk the so called hauntings and spookiness many believe still exists.

William was my husband, we lived on shades for
20 years, I have binders and pictures of things
he built. call me if you want to know more about
it,

I live a few minutes away. A priest I know had his car break down next to the lake and the stateys thought he was kidding when he said where he was, they didn’t know their own area. My buddy was t-boned there after finding a pool noodle on the ground there. The noodle vanished. There’s also the lady of the lake who supposedly wears robes and roses or of the lake. I haven’t been down the road, and I don’t plan on it. F that.

I don’t know about this place but the old Stewartsville cemetery and road leading there is definately stuff of nightmares. Felt evil once, another time was chased by a ghost car.

Use to walk this road from Johnsonburg to see a girl that lived there. Many times at night. At 14 Years old it was scary but never saw anything except the girl I went to visit ! Fished on ghost lake many times but no orbs or ghost just fish. LOL

I worked on that road for years. Drove down at night, nothing. Only lore I heard from old timers was the plague one and the doctor living at the end where most wouldn’t make it by foot or horse, thus ghost figures. Did have an albino buck jump in front of my car. That was about as close to weirdness I came.

Now the Henryville Inn in PA! Spine chilling and I don’t believe in the supernatural.

Betty Olenick Carnahan
I was born and raised on the Allamuchy side of the Shades Of Death Rd. as young kids my sister and I use to go climb Jenny Jump Mt.(that is what it was called then) we did find old pottery and a small cave which we couldn’t get into since the opening was too small, we hunted and hunted trying to find this cave again but never could. It just disappeared. The old cabin that was right along the road was the only thing that scared us, it was too spooky, the door which was barely attached, would swing back… Read more »

Went there, nothing happened haha

This is one of many that fascinates me.

“Just give me your address and I’ll deliver it.” “225 Shades of Death Road.” “On second thought, maybe you should pick it up here at the store.”

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