The Allegedly Haunted Road That Inspired A Movie

As the New York Daily News explains, the infamous Clinton Road is a quiet but twisty 10-mile stretch of pavement in West Milford, in northern New Jersey, connecting NJ Route 23 with Upper Greenwood Lake. Despite this rather unassuming description, Clinton Road is generally regarded to be the most haunted road in America, especially by locals. Weird NJ records dozens of reports by New Jersey residents who claim to have encountered spooky business down the notorious road. Perhaps the most famous legend of Clinton Road is of a ghostly little boy, said to have died by a bridge at a sharp turn called Dead Man's Curve, either by drowning or being hit by a car. The stories say that if you throw coins in the water below the bridge, the boy's ghost will return them to you, with several variations in detail. In some versions, the boy will push you into the lake rather than returning coins.

But the little boy is far from the only strange sighting reported on Clinton Road. Residents tell of ghostly park rangers, spectral cars and trucks that try to run you off the road, strange animals including hellhounds and even monkeys, and, of course, UFOs. The road is also said to be full of strange groups of, for example, witches, Satanists, mutants, or KKK members, who will block the road with trees or other obstacles to trick unsuspecting motorists into getting out of their cars, leaving them easy prey for whichever malicious group it may be.

Spooky happenings at Cross Castle

One of the epicenters for many of the legends surrounding New Jersey's Clinton Road is the remains of an actual castle that once stood nearby the infamous road. As Weird NJ explains, Cross Castle was built by Richard J. Cross in 1905 in the dense forests surrounding Clinton Road. The castle was a mansion with three-story-tall stone walls, and was originally named Bearfort, after the nearby mountain range of the same name. However, Cross died in 1917, and his family sold the property to the Newark city government two years later. After some time, much of the castle was consumed by fire, and the stone ruins became a popular hangout for teens and other partiers. In 1988, the graffiti-laden remnants of the castle were deemed unsafe and torn down, with only some concrete currently remaining of what once stood.

Local lore assigns Cross Castle as the location of all sorts of unholy and terrifying gatherings, including Satanists, the KKK, and apparently a secret village of albinos. Residents report stories of friends who witnessed witches' covens at the castle, as well as alleged graffiti that is said to match lines from a Satanic text. Other visitors to the ruins report becoming sick, having disturbing visions of violence and murder, going into seizures, hearing mysterious chanting and rattling of chains, and walking away with strange, unexplained bruises on their bodies. Perhaps needless to say, the legends suggest you should never get out of your car near the ruins of Cross Castle.

The true horror of Clinton Road

It's not entirely clear why Clinton Road has become the focus of so many ghost stories and urban legends in northern New Jersey. Weird NJ suggests that the road being so long and lonely, with bad pavement and numerous dangerous curves, running through mile after mile of thick, dark forest, might just lend itself to such legends. However, there are hundreds of other such empty rural roads in the area without such mythology built around them. The nearby location of Cross Castle or the old Clinton Ironworks might play into it. According to the New York Daily News, the old ironworks is a pyramid-shaped structure built by a short-lived community that worked with iron in the area until the 1850s. The strange shape has led many locals to believe that the structure is some kind of ancient Druid shrine.

Despite sightings of death cults and mutant animals and such on Clinton Road being nothing more than tall tales, one such story is actually true: as the website North Jersey explains, the serial killer Richard Kulinski, known as the Iceman for his tendency to freeze his victims to throw off police, did dump a body along Clinton Road in 1983, where it was found by a passing cyclist. It's also no legend that the intersection of Clinton Road with Route 23 is the longest red light in America, staying red for 57 minutes of every hour and only turning green for about eight seconds at a time. Truly the worst nightmare of them all.

Clinton Road goes to Hollywood

As the website North Jersey explains, the vast corpus of urban legends and ghost stories surrounding Clinton Road made it basically inevitable that it would serve as the basis of a horror movie, which, in 2019, it did. The movie was directed by actor-director Richard Grieco (from the series "21 Jump Street") and Steve Stanulis, who–according to IMDb later directed a TV series called "Ghost Guidos." The movie (per IMDb) stars Ice-T as a widowed firefighter whose wife disappeared on Clinton Road. Other cast members include Ace Young of "American Idol," Oscar nominee Eric Roberts (as himself!), third-string HQ Trivia host Sarah Pribis, police detective turned media personality Bo Dietl, and Vincent Pastore ("The Sopranos").

The plot synopsis on IMDb suggests that the story features Ice-T's character teaming up with his sister-in-law to solve the mystery of his wife's disappearance. To this end, they hire a Haitian witch doctor to channel his wife's spirit, which leads to them letting loose the ghosts of numerous other victims of the haunted road, all of whom are seeking to escape Purgatory by harvesting fresh souls. "Clinton Road" was released to theaters and on demand on June 14, 2019, and according to Rotten Tomatoes, grossed a mere $38,900 at the box office, so probably don't hold your breath for "Clinton Road 2: The Secret of Cross Castle" any time soon.