It’s autumn and that means that some of you leaf peepers are traveling up and down America’s highways watching the leaves explode like fireworks in a multitude of colors all across our great land. And that’s absolutely wonderful! However, if you’ve been reading our blog over the last couple of months, you know we like to do things a little different here at Stuckey’s. We like to go off the beaten path to the tackiest, kitschiest and coolest places that also lend their own color to this great tapestry that is America. I guess you could say that we sometimes like to put the “trippin’” in road-tripping. With that said, you can probably guess that autumn means a little something different to us than peeping at leaves. Yesiree, to us autumn means Halloween and all that is spooky, tacky, and kitschy that comes along with a good scare. So without further ado, here are five spooktacular road trips that you can take during the Halloween season or really any time of the year that you want to have a ghoulishly good time. 1. The “Dead Zone” on I-4 in Florida Who would ever think that a road lined with places like “The Holy Land Experience” and “The Happiest Place on Earth” could hold something sinister under its asphalt? Yet, there’s a ¼-mile stretch of Interstate 4, Florida’s central interstate highway that has earned itself nicknames like “the Dead Zone” and “America’s Most Haunted Highway”. Indeed, something wicked this way comes when you come this way. Henry S. Sanford c 1865 So the story of this haunted highway begins about a century and a half ago when, in 1886, a man named Henry S. Sanford, head of the Florida Land and Colonization Company, hatched a scheme to create a new colony of European Roman Catholics just south of where I-4 crosses the St. John’s River today. So, he built a railway station, divided the area into 10 parcels of land and hired a Catholic priest by the name of Father Felix Swembergh to oversee the colony. However, only four families accepted Sanford’s offer and they were all dead of yellow fever soon after they arrived. Father Swembergh quickly buried them in a patch of woods nearby and was called to Tampa just after putting the last one in the ground. Nevertheless, three days after arriving there, he, too, would die of yellow fever before he could tell officials about the final resting place of the colonists. A Matt Morgan drawing circa 1870 personifying yellow fever dragging down Florida as Columbia rushed to the rescue. Yellow fever reached epidemic proportions in the summer of 1887. It came from Cuba to Key West and moved up the west coast to Tampa and across to Jacksonville. [ State Library and Archives of Florida, Florida Memory ] By 1890, the present town of Sanford was growing so quick, it enveloped the entire area in which the colonist once lived and they were nearly forgotten about. Fifteen years later, Albert Hawkins bought the land for farming, save a little wooded patch of land that stood out like an island in the middle of Hawkins’ farmland – the cemetery of the four German families. Now fasten your seatbelts, because things are going to get bumpy now. At the time, the makeshift cemetery had four rotten and unreadable wooden markers as headstones and Mr. Hawkins thought he would remove them. By the time he pulled up the last marker he turned around to find his house burning down. Seeing this as a sign, the farmer decided he could make more money leasing the land to other farmers rather than farming it himself, so that’s what he did, warning his tenant farmers about the cemetery in the middle. Obviously something was a little odd about this farm. Without heeding his warning, however, one farmer tried to remove some rusty wire that was placed around the circumference of the cemetery to keep people out. By the time he arrived home that day, he found that his house, too, had burnt to the ground. In the 1950s, a little boy who tried to dig up one of the graves was killed by a drunk driver on his way back home that very same day. As you can see I-4 passes right over the top of the gravesite. But wait, because it just gets weirder. In 1959, the owner of the land sold it to the government so they could build Interstate 4 across it, probably forgetting to mention the dreaded curse. Nevertheless, the graves were soon discovered, and instead of reinterring them in another location, on September 10, 1960, the government dumped fill dirt on top of the gravesite to elevate the new interstate. This seemingly only infuriated both its occupants and Mother Nature even more because on that very same day, all hell broke loose in southern Florida. Hurricane Donna, one of Florida’s most powerful hurricanes of recent times, slammed into South Florida on September 10, 1960, changing its direction near Tampa, her deadly path now headed northeast, seemingly paralleling the surveyed route of the new interstate highway. At midnight, the eye of the hurricane passed over the graves. When it was all over at 8 a.m. the next day, Donna’s fury headed north out of Florida and up the eastern seaboard, interrupting the construction of I-4 for nearly a month. The path of Hurricane Donna seemed to eerily follow the path of the new interstate that went right over the graves of the yellow fever victims. Still, the dead would not rest in peace because on opening day of the new interstate highway, a tractor-trailer jackknifed near where the graves were discovered and brought about the highways’ first fatality. Since 1969, more than 1,500 accidents have plagued the interstate, making I-4 the deadliest highway in the nation. If you plan to travel this haunted interstate highway on your next road trip, be extra cautious as you approach the Dead Zone area; travelers have reported seeing phantom trucks and cars racing down the road and crashing not only during the Halloween season, but all year round. Additionally, check the weather forecast before you leave as hurricanes and tornadoes are said to frequently travel exactly along I-4’s path. Additionally, traveler’s have witnessed hitchhiking apparitions, floating headlights, and freezing asphalt on hot days, which only add to the bizarre stories told about this infamous interstate. Driver beware! Just over that bridge lies the Dead Zone. And don’t expect your smart phone to save you, as many people claim their mobiles simply stop working and that static disrupts their radios in this section of highway leaving you not knowing about what troubles might lay ahead. Nevertheless, happy motoring! 2. The Ghost Boy of Clinton Road, New Jersey From Florida’s I-4 we travel up the Atlantic Coast to New Jersey’s Clinton Road, perhaps the most famous of the many haunted roads of New Jersey. And just as there are many haunted roads in New Jersey, there are as many tales of ghost sightings along this 10-mile stretch of road that lies just an hour’s drive outside of New York’s Manhattan Island. What’s more is that many of these stories involve some sort of tale about a ghost boy that lurks in various places along the winding road. Oh, sure, there are stories about a phantom Camaro and the lady who still drives it around even after a horrific crash in 1988 claimed the lives of both the car and the young lady while she was racing around the road’s notorious “Dead Man’s Curve”. There’s still more stories about a phantom truck taunting living drivers and headless headlights just hovering in the air like floating eyes. Ghostly park rangers are also said to roam the road along with human/animal crossbreeds that started appearing after 1976 when West Milford Jungle Habitat safari park closed its doors forever. Also adding to the eeriness of Clinton Road are ominous tales of KKK meetings and satanic rituals that have plagued the area for decades. Other macabre stories abound about the road only to be further exacerbated by the release of the horror film Clinton Road in 2019. “Hey. You’re just in time. We’d like to have you for lunch.” Nonetheless, most of the stories told by travelers along Clinton Road go back to that young boy who mostly hangs out under a bridge and returns coins to you after you throw them in the water. How he got there, no one knows for certain. Some say he drowned after losing a challenge to stand on the bridge at Dead Man’s Curve, falling to his watery death. Other say it was while he was trying to retrieve a ball from the waters below the bridge. And then there’s the one about a little boy was hit by a car and killed on the bridge when he went to pick up a quarter he saw on the ground. The infamous “Ghost Boy Bridge” on Clinton Road in New Jersey. Legend has it that, if you throw a coin into the light tea-colored waters below the bridge, you’ll find that same coin on the road upon your return just a few minutes later, placed there by the little boy. Some even go a little further to say that he will throw the coins at your car as you drive away, while others have claimed that an image of the little boy appears in the ripples created by the coins tossed into the creek. At least he comes with a money back guarantee! Whatever, the case, if you’re looking to adopt a little ghost boy of your own, then head to Clinton Road in New Jersey, but be warned: He ain’t no Casper! 3. Kelly Road and Pennsylvania’s Mystery Mile Next we head over to State Road 4043 which is located between the towns of Industry and Ohioville in western Pennsylvania. Otherwise known as Kelly Road, it’s one of the haunted street names you’ll hear most often in your quest to find America’s most haunted roads. By the way, you may have noticed that the above haunted highways have thus far focused mainly on one particular area of that road – a ¼-mile stretch of I-4 in Florida and Dead Man’s Curve on Clinton Road – and Kelly Road is no different; most of the paranormal activity that happens here takes place along the “Mystery Mile” part of the road – an area shaded by a dark foreboding forest on both sides of the road that local folks say is home to Native American curses, Satanic cults, and the ghosts of lovers buried in the obligatory graveyard at the end of the road. “Aww! Look Mommy! That doggie is smiling at us!” If you’re traveling with pets, take extra care because, as the legend goes, even the most docile of animals become crazed beasts along the Mystery Mile. Vehicles will also suddenly just shut off or malfunction without any reason. Beware the Phantom Carriage of Kelly Road! Another ghostly legend that supposedly once happened along the Mystery Mile goes something like this: a couple were enjoying a carriage ride when something spooked the horse, flipping the carriage over, breaking the neck of the young bride, killing her instantly. Her young groom lay under the carriage begging for help; unfortunately, he slowly died as well. They say if you’re quiet enough, you’ll hear the sound of their carriage flipping over and the groom forever calling for help that will never come. 4. “Resurrection Mary” Lives on Archer Avenue At least once in your life you’ve more than likely heard a ghost story using the typical vanishing hitchhiker scenario that goes a little something like this: A traveling salesman sees a woman walking along the highway late at night, so he offers her a ride. She accepts. He asks her name and they strike up a conversation. As they get into town, she asks him to drop her off at a certain place (usually next to a cemetery). He obliges and says he will call on her again the next day just to make sure she’s okay. Morning comes and he heads over to the place where he dropped her off only to be met by the news that the woman has been dead for years and he picked up her eternally wandering spirit. The details of the story may change but the gist of the story remains the same. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl because she’s a freaking ghost! Didn’t your mother warn you not to pick up hitchhikers? No matter how the stories are told, however, they all have their origins in a young apparition that goes by the name of “Resurrection Mary”. Since 1939, Mary has been seen at all the trendy night spots along Archer Avenue just outside of Chicago, Illinois. Jerry Palus was the first to report her existence that year when, while out at one of these trendy night spots one night, he took a liking to a beautiful blonde woman and decided to talk to her. The next thing he knew, they were dancing all night and into the wee hours of the morning when she asked if he could take her home. Of course he could, he told her. Palus dropped her off on Archer Avenue in front of Resurrection Cemetery where she disappeared into the darkness. He never saw her again. But others have. In 1979, a cab driver picked up a young woman wearing a white party dress and matching shoes. She told the cabbie to take her to Archer Avenue and simply disappeared when they arrived at her stop at Resurrection Cemetery. Other men have given a ride to a young woman in a white dress, all ending in the same result at “Resurrection Mary Cemetery” as the cemetery has since been nicknamed. Still others tell of how they nearly killed a woman wearing a white dress after she suddenly appeared in the middle of the road in front of them. So who was Resurrection Mary? Nobody really knows for sure. She could be any number of Marys who have perished in automobile accidents along Archer Avenue like Anna “Marija” Norkus who died in a 1927 car accident on her way from the Oh Henry Ballroom or Mary Bregovy who died in a 1934 car accident (though the latter is said to have had brown hair, not the shoulder length blonde hair that the has come to be associated with “Resurrection Mary”.) Could this be Resurrection Mary? Whoever Mary is one thing’s for sure: The next time you pick up a young woman on Archer Avenue with blonde hair wearing a white dress and you two go out dancing all night, you probably shouldn’t expect a second date. 5. Bray Road and the Werewolf of Wisconsin You know the story: “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.” We don’t know if the seven-foot-tall wolf man that roams the fields and forests that line Bray Road near Elkhart, Wisconsin, was ever pure of heart. We also don’t know if he says his prayers at night. What we do know is that a creature appearing like a wolf walking on two legs with fangs, claws, and brown or grey fur has been spotted by several people along this quiet country throughway since 1936. Sightings exploded in the 1980s and 90s in what would only seem like a “Son of the Wolf Man” sequel. Some say it’s not a wolf at all, but rather they believe it’s the legendary Bigfoot. (Wisconsin is supposedly a hot spot for Bigfoot sightings.) But whatever it is, driver beware! Several witnesses have reported having close calls with the beast including it leaving long claw-like scratches on their vehicles. A local woman claims to have hit something crossing the road on one foggy night. When she got out to investigate, a large creature resembling a wolf with glowing red eyes chased her back into the car and she promptly sped off. Her story was corroborated by the long scratch marks left by the monster on the rear passenger door. Obviously these scratches meant that the beast wanted to leave a message, but what does it all mean? And it’s not just foggy nights that the creature has been sighted. Several witnesses have stated that they have seen an extraordinarily large wolf-like creature running on all fours chasing deer through the nearby corn fields. Others have found unusually large animal tracks resembling those of an extremely large coyote or some sort of coyote/wolf hybrid, sometimes near half eaten animal corpses with certain organs removed. If you plan on exploring Bray Road looking for the Werewolf of Wisconsin, just remember to take extra care even if you say your prayers at night. “Look Mommy! That’s doggie is smiling at us, too!” As a matter of fact, while out looking for any of the supernatural phenomena we’ve talked about in this post, always be aware of the road ahead. Please remember to drive carefully and have a hauntingly ghoulish road trip! If any of these stories left you a little shaken, why not make a Stuckey’s stop at a Stuckey’s location near you and find some comfort in some of your favorite comfort foods like our famous pecan log roll – now available in an even more comforting bigger 10 oz. size! Why your there, warm yourself up with some coffee in one of our new Stuckey’s coffee mugs or try on a Stuckey’s cap or t-shirt for size. Ah! Finally some friendly lights on these spooky nights. And if these haunted road stories made you afraid to go out at all, you can still make a Stuckey’s stop on the information superhighway. Order a Stuckey’s pecan log or two or some of our other fine pecan candies. And with the holidays fast approaching, don’t forget that Stuckey’s merchandise always makes a great gift any occasion. See how you can get yours delivered right to your home from stuckeys.com.