Isolated. Foreboding. Dangerous. Lonely roads make a good setting for a ghost story, and there are plenty snaking their way across the American Heartland. But which is the scariest of them all? Mysterious Heartland is proud to bring you our list of the top 10 creepiest roads in the Midwest! Any of these roads makes an excellent spooky night-time trip, but remember, always be conscious of other motorists – especially if they might be of the undead variety!
10. Boy Scout Lane
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Though not based in fact, gruesome tales continue to persist about this dead end road west of the Wisconsin River. The road, it is said, was named in honour of several Boy Scouts who died in the distant past. How they died is up for debate. Some say the scouts were murdered by their bus driver. Others say the scouts became lost in the woods and were never found. Still others say a scout dropped his kerosene lantern, starting a fire that killed the other members of his troop. Since then, visitors to Boy Scout Lane have seen a light that gently bobs through the trees. It is believed to be the light from the lantern that started the fire, or someone searching for the missing scouts.
9. Dead Man’s Trail
Thief River Falls, Minnesota
Before Europeans settled this area of Northwestern Minnesota, it was home to the Chippewa tribe. Today, no one is quite sure how the town of Thief River Falls got its name, but the stories centre on a trail running along the Thief River. Some locals refer to this trail as “Dead Man’s Trail,” and they say an Indian warrior used a cave along the river as a hideout while he was wanted for murder. According to another legend, a young Chippewa woman was chased by unknown pursuers. She hid her newborn near the river so she could move faster, with the intention of coming back for him. When she returned, however, the river had swept the child away. She cursed it as “Thief River” for having stolen her baby. Today, people report seeing the ghost of an Indian maiden desperately searching for her child along the trail.
8. Witch Road
As motorists drive down Callan Road at night, the gnarled branches of barren trees cast frightening shadows in their car headlights. Some of these trees begin to take the form of a twisted old crone. The spirit of a witch, they say, inhabits these woods. The remnants of her old house can be found in the woods off to the side of the road. Some visitors have reported seeing the ghost of an adolescent girl hiding behind the trees, still trying to escape the clutches of the witch. Additionally, strange flashing lights have been spotted deep in the woods, and the sound of trickling water echoes down the lonely road at night. Witch Road is not for the faint of heart!
7. Stony Hollow Road
The ghost of a heartbroken young woman is widely believed to haunt this road about eight miles north of Burlington, Iowa, near the Mississippi River. According to legend, a young woman named Lucinda was secretly engaged and planned to meet her lover on the bluffs outside of town so that they could elope. The man, however, never showed. Some say his buggy became stuck in the mud. Lucinda was so heartbroken that she threw herself off the cliff and onto the road below. In another version of the legend, she went home and heard rumours that her lover had run away with another woman, and that was why she killed herself. Either way, motorists have reported seeing her ghost on Stony Hollow Road for decades. Supposedly, if you go to the bluffs and say Lucinda’s name three times, you will die the next day.
6. Staley Road
New Carlisle, Ohio
In the early 1800s, a pioneer named John Wrench hired three Staley brothers to build a flower mill. The result was the first double-wheeled mill in Ohio. Business boomed, and Wrench eventually sold his business to Elias Staley. When Elias died, his brother Andrew continued to produce flour at the mill until 1905. Today, the mill still stands, and Staley Road winds its way through the woods near New Carlisle. Teens have taken to driving this road at night to test their courage, or just for a cheap thrill. According to legend, “Old Man Staley” went on a murderous rampage and now haunts the road. Motorists will experience car trouble, including being buffeted about by an invisible force. Others have reported seeing Staley’s ghost standing or lying in the road. As the gnarled tree branches close in, it is easy to believe these hair-raising accounts.
5. Cuba Road
Lake Zurich, Illinois
Cuba Road sits nestled between the towns of Lake Zurich and Barrington, both upper and upper-middle class retreats. It is the setting of a plethora of paranormal phenomenon, including a phantom car (or cars), a pair of spectral lovers, and a vanishing house. A side street called Rainbow Road formerly had the distinction of being home to an abandoned mansion that some believed was an old asylum. Along Cuba Road sits White Cemetery, which author Scott Markus has referred to as the Bachelor’s Grove of the north-Chicago suburbs. This small, rectangular graveyard dates from the 1820s and its ghostlore concerns mysterious, hovering balls of light.
4. Laughery Creek Road
Dearborn County, Indiana
A quiet farmhouse used to sit along this road dividing Delaware and Ohio counties. Its physical remains are long gone, but the psychic scars from a gruesome crime cannot be disbursed as easily. In May 1941, a man who had twice married into the Agrue family confronted his in-laws with a shotgun. He brutally gunned down Johnson Agrue, his wife, and their two sons. Then he hid the shotgun in a hollow tree, but later confessed to the crime. Nearly 30 years later, in 1970, the farmhouse mysteriously burned to the ground. Since then, locals have whispered that Laughery Creek Road is haunted by the Agrue family, or perhaps, their killer. Even the bravest souls avoid driving down this road at night, just in case.
3. Knock-Knock Road
Ghostly children are almost always creepy, but they are especially so when they appear in unexpected places. This is the case along Strasburg Road in economically ravaged Detroit, Michigan. For years, travellers along this road have reported the unusual sound of a young child rapping on their car doors and windows as they pass. According to legend, an adolescent girl was riding her bicycle in the neighbourhood when she lost control and rolled into the busy street. She was struck and killed. Today, her ghost knocks on the windows and doors of passing motorists, trying to get their attention. Another version of the legend, however, tells of a car full of teenagers who crashed their car into a pole and slowly burned to death. Trapped inside the burning vehicle, they pounded on the windows, desperately trying to alert people to their plight.
2. Zombie Road
Once called Old Fawler Road, this claustrophobic stretch of pavement now known as Al Foster Trail (Rock Hollow Trail in some places) follows the Meramec River, but has been closed to vehicle traffic for years. It has developed quite a reputation over the years, and is well known even outside the St. Louis area. Most of its legends centre on an old railroad crossing at the western end of the trail. It is here that labourers who died building the railroad rise from their graves at night—hence the name, Zombie Road. Other folks say the road is named after an inmate named Zombie who escaped from a mental institution and was found dead on the road. In the 1970s, two teenagers were struck and killed by a train near the crossing. Multiple suicides and murders are believed to have occurred here as well. Strange lights, sounds, and sightings have led many to believe Zombie Road is thrilling to visit, but a bad place to stay for too long.
1. Archer Avenue
Willow Springs, Illinois
Starting with Resurrection Cemetery and ending at St. James-Sag Church, this section of Archer Avenue forms the northern border of a triangle of forest preserves, lakes, trails, and burial grounds that could easily be described as the most haunted area in Chicagoland. This region has a well-deserved reputation built upon generations of strange encounters, which makes it a favourite for ghost tours, paranormal researchers, and curiosity seekers alike. Resurrection Mary, one of the most famous ghosts in the U.S., hitchhikes down Archer Avenue on her way to Resurrection Cemetery. Phantom monks lurk in the hills around St. James-Sag Church. Maple Lake’s spook lights, Fairmount Hills Cemetery, the “Grey Baby” of Sacred Heart Cemetery, Healing Waters Park, and the phantom riders of 95th and Kean are just some more of Archer Avenue’s fascinating stories and mystery sites.
If you like this article, you will love Michael Kleen’s book Legends and Lore of Illinois: The Definitive Collection!
The Legends and Lore of Illinois is an exciting and informative look at Illinois ghostlore. Join the Fallen as they visit some of the most haunted places in the Prairie State – Will they unlock the secrets of the unknown, or will they unwittingly unleash shadows from the darkest recesses of our imagination? Get ready to explore infamous places such as Bachelor’s Grove, Airtight Bridge, Resurrection Cemetery, Winston Tunnel, the Seven Gates to Hell, Manteno State Hospital, Axman’s Bridge, and many more! What adventures await you inside?