What comes to mind when you imagine taking an autumn road trip? Foliage, roadside farm stands, fields of pumpkins…all the typical stuff, right? If this is the type of trip you look forward to each year–safe, quaint, and suitable for all ages–then I implore you to take advantage of resources provided by The Travel Channel and Fodors, as well as the many travel books we have here at the library, including Fodor’s New England. If instead, you long for a more…how shall I put it…macabre experience, read ahead (at your own risk) for a Northeast road trip route designed to scare, thrill, and fright.
First, a few tips:
- If you do not enjoy any combination of the following, please feel free to skip this post: Haunted houses, scary movies, ghosts, Halloween, New England, road trips. While I appreciate your readership, I understand that not everyone enjoys this stuff. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of horror, myself. However, lots are. So, this post is for them. To your left, you will see the most recent posts of Checking the Shelf. Feel free to catch up on any old posts you missed!
- Please be respectful of the areas you visit. Just because a location is a tourist attraction doesn’t mean that it can’t also be a home, a place of business, or even a resting place.
- Obey the rules of each location, whether it’s as simple as parking rules or as strict as hours of operation.
- Just because I work at a library does not mean that I have a good sense of direction. In fact, I have a terrible sense of direction! I did my best, and made use of Google Maps, but please do your due diligence when planning your own trip.
Starting Point: Long Island
Start by heading north and drive along the infamous roads of Mount Misery and Sweet Hollow, which run parallel to one another through Huntington. Here, drivers are surrounded by dense woods and diminished light. If that doesn’t make your spine tingle, remember that this was once the approximate location of an eighteenth-century mental asylum. Local lore has it that a female patient burned the building down to the ground, and her ghost, known as The Lady in White, still wanders the roads.
Traveling south, pay a visit to the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, where apparition sightings and odd noises have been reported in this nineteenth-century colonial village. Many of the homes have been moved from their original locations, and any ghost movie worth its weight will tell us that this is one of the first steps in a proper haunting. The Hewlett House, the Conklin House, and the Williams Farmhouse have been singled out specifically as paranormal locations.
Amityville Horror House
How can you live on Long Island and not drive by the “Amityville Horror” house? Located at 108 Ocean Avenue (previous owners changed the address from the original 112 Ocean Avenue to protect their privacy), this was the site of the grisly 1974 DeFeo family murders. Subsequent owners George and Kathleen Lutz reported strange, paranormal events during their brief time living in there, and these supposed events spawned the myth of the “Amityville Horror.” Brush up on your knowledge by reading the original book written by Jay Aronson or watching Stuart Rosenberg’s 1979 original film (or the later 2005 remake…or the even later “sequel,” Amityville: The Awakening). The die-hard horror fans can even start putting their money together to buy the sprawling five-bedroom home, which went back on the market this June with an $850,000 asking price.
McCarren is a bustling, 35-acre park located in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. There are playgrounds, baseball fields, tennis courts, and….a haunted swimming pool? Many seem to think so. Over the years, residents have reported hearing the screams of an invisible little girl at night, as well as the tell-tale paranormal signifier: the strange appearance of orbs in photographs. Believers attribute these oddities to three mysterious drowning deaths that occurred before the pool was renovated in 2012. McCarren’s outdoor pool season is over, so you can try just driving by at night to check it out for yourself.
Rosemary’s Baby Apartment
Traveling west through New York City, make a pitstop at 1 West 72nd Street, also known as The Dakota. Director Roman Polanski used this famous apartment building for exterior shots in the classic gothic horror film Rosemary’s Baby. Beatles buffs will also remember The Dakota as the former home of John Lennon and, sadly, the location of his 1980 murder.
Ready for a break? Stop off at the Blairstown Diner, in Blairstown, New Jersey, and you can (pardon the pun) kill two birds with one stone: get a hot meal and visit one of the locations from Friday the 13th. The original 1980 film was filmed throughout Blairstown and nearby Hardwick and Hope. After you eat (the diner has 3 ½ stars on Yelp; not bad!), stretch your legs and take a walk around the town, keeping an eye out for other recognizable spots. Just don’t try to visit Camp Crystal Lake. The real camp, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, is private property and owned by The Boy Scouts of America. Don’t make your last stop on this trip a jail cell. There’s nothing fun about that.
Choose Your Own Adventure….
We’ve reached a bit of a fork in the road. To continue west, let’s head into Pennsylvania.
Located in the small town of Evans City, in Western Pennsylvania (very western…the drive from Levittown to Evans City is about eight hours), this cemetery served as the backdrop for Night of the Living Dead, as well as The Crazies. A brief word on decency: Be respectful. Even though this is a minor tourist attraction, it is still a cemetery.
To go back the way we came (or if you decided to skip PA all together), heading into New England, let’s make another stop in New Jersey…
Clinton Road, West Milford
These ten miles of serpentine road are said to make up “the most haunted road in America.” Multiple myths detail strange occurrences, though the most prominent is that of “Ghost Boy Bridge.” According to legend, when a coin is thrown from the bridge, the ghost of a boy who drowned in the brook below will throw it back to you. Buzzfeed contributor Katie Heaney visited Clinton Road and reported on her experiences. Take the trip yourself to see how your experience matches up.
The Lizzie Borden House
We all know the rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an axe…The Fall River, Massachusetts house where Lizzie may or may not have murdered her parents has been transformed into the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast/Museum, where guests and visitors can enjoy a nice New England stay while also touring this historical home. Extended evening tours are currently being offered.
Our final stop on this weird and wild road trip is the Warrens Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut. Ed and Lorraine Warren spent fifty years as paranormal investigators, founding the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952, and consulting on some of the most high-profile “paranormal” events, including The Amityville Horror and the Haunting in Connecticut. Their work with the Perron Family inspired the popular 2013 film The Conjuring. Lorraine, now 89, runs the museum in the back of her house (Ed passed away in 2006). Visitors will find the famous Annabelle Doll, supposed vampire coffins, and other oddities.
These are just a few of the many supposedly haunted and/or noteworthy locations that any fan of all things horror, paranormal, spooky, or just plain odd should enjoy. For more information, please consult the links provided.
A large part of my research came from these two books, which we conveniently have available at the Levittown Public Library: