Thursday, 25 July 2013

Summer travels and supernatural roads

How is everyone doing?

Summer is the time of travels, and one of the most affordable forms of travels (long live to the economic and financial crisis) is surely the road trips. Driving across the country in your SUV or cabrio on the interstate highway, purposelessly moving from a point A to a point B with no specific purpose – what can be better? Human beings have once migrated through vast distances and we probably just love to be nomads and wander around from time to time (although some people are afraid to admit it).

The majority of local travelling in United States nowadays is done in personal vehicles. Americans just love to drive, but Europeans, Africans, Indians, and Chinese begin to enjoy systems of well-connected highways and motorways that make long and purposeless driving for hours, and even days, possible.

Long-distance driving is done along roads and highways, the arteries in the body of global transportation. There is a plethora of ghost stories, anomalies and natural phenomena that occur in some particular places along the transportation routes on virtually all continents. For instance, one of these accounts includes the story of the “Vanishing Hitchhiker”. Popularized by the Jan Harold Brunvald’s book “The Vanishing Hitchhiker” published in 1981, the story describes the account of drivers in various parts of the United States stopping to offer a lift to a lone person waiting by the side of the road. The first proper study of the story of the vanishing hitchhiker was undertaken in 1942 by two US folklorists and urban legends specialist Richard Beardsley and Rosalie Hankey. Beardsley-Hankey collected written reports of 79 accounts of encounters with vanishing hitchhikers identifying four distinctly different versions “distinguishable because of obvious differences in development and essence”. According to the most common legend, the driver stops to give a stranger a ride. The stranger gets into the vehicle and the journey proceeds in total silence. However, at some point the passenger vanishes from the vehicle. In some cases, the hitchhiker vanishes when a vehicle reaches the hitchhiker's destination. One other twist of the story describes how both the mysterious hitchhiker and the driver disappear together and the empty vehicle is found on the side of the road with no traces of the occupants.

Most of these stories are associated with specific traffic pathways. There are several roads or highways in South Africa, Switzerland, United States, or United Kingdom that are distinguished by numerous strange or paranormal occurrences. Amongst the most famous ones are the following:

Annie's Road, Totowa, New Jersey (United States)
Annie's Road in New Jersey is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a woman killed on the road many years ago. It is located in Totowa on the first half of Riverview Drive.

Clinton Road, West Milford, New Jersey
 (United States)
Clinton Road in West Milford, Passaic County, New Jersey is the subject of local folklore that includes alleged sightings of ghosts, strange creatures and gatherings of witches, Satan worshipers and theKu Klux Klan. Supposedly, if you go to one of the bridges at the reservoir and throw a penny into the water, within a minute it will be thrown back out to or at you by the ghost of a boy who drowned while swimming below or had fallen in while sitting on the edge of the bridge. In some tellings an apparition is seen; in others the ghost pushes the teller into the water if he or she looks over the side of the bridge in order to save him.

Jamestown Road, Jamestown, North Carolina (United States)
Jamestown Road is the subject of local folklore that includes sightings of a young woman in a white party dress, often seen thumbing for a ride on misty evenings, just before dark. Many reports include people stopping to give her a lift and taking her to her home, only to find that she has vanished right before arriving at the destination without any doors opening. Such sightings have been reported since the 1930s. This is published in the North Carolina book of Ghost Stories. The original road has been abandoned and replaced by a new road. However, the old road is still visible although it and the underpass (where the girl is said to be seen) is almost covered by trees and shrubs. Apparently, in the 1920s, a school girl was coming home from a dance that her parents did not want her to attend because of the young man who was escorting her. Apparently, he had a bad reputation was not acceptable to the girl's family. The young girl was killed on her way back from the dance that misty evening. It is said that she can be seen either standing at the old underpass or walking down the road.

Belchen Tunnel, Belhen (Switzerland)
Belchen Tunnel - Switzerland. Sightings of an old woman dressed all in  white who supposedly haunts the tunnel.

Stockbridge Bypass, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire (United Kingdom)
The road, also called Stockbridge Bypass, connects Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, to the M1 motorway. During its construction, security staff allegedly reported encounters with a ghostly monk believed to have been from the Hunshelf Priory.

A38 road, Wellington, Somerset (United Kingdom)
According to legend, phantom hitchhikers have been reported since the 1950s on the A38 road between Wellington and Taunton in Somerset. One tale holds that in 1958 a lorry driver named "Harry (or "Harold" in some tellings) Unsworth" saw a hitchiker he'd given a ride to earlier re-appear miles down the road from where he'd dropped him off.

A75 road, Gretna Green, Scotland (United Kingdom)
A75 road - a major road in Scotland from Annan to Gretna Green has been called Scotland’s "most haunted road" by some authors. According to one story, in 1957 a truck driver swerved to avoid a couple walking in the road but when he stopped to investigate the pair had "vanished" Other versions of the stories tell of a couple or group of friends driving down the road at night and are constantly plagued and harassed by shadow figures, from an elderly woman to the back end of a semi truck that they nearly hit before braking only for it to disappear.

E8 Kuala Lumpur – Karak Expressway (Malaysia)
The E8 Expressway, is reportedly one of the most haunted highways in Malaysia (though there has been no direct evidence of such manifestations). Many people driving late at night claim to see strange creatures and Pontianak (a Malay version of the vampire) on this road.

N9 road, Uniondale, Karoo
 (South Africa)
The road between Uniondale and Willowmore, in the semi-desert area of the Karoo is the subject of a story of the "Uniondale Phantom Hitchhiker", a girl named "Marie Charlotte Roux" who allegedly died in road accident on a particular stretch of the N9 on April 12, 1968 (Good Friday).

We sat down and decided to draft a map of supernatural occurrences in the United States. The list got a bit long but the message is clear – this is an interesting topic worth further investigating. Our map itself can be found here: 

Just a couple of notes related to our supernatural USA map (or what one can encounter on her or his way across the God's country):
 -   White tags: ghosts, poltergeists, spirits
  -  Black tags: demons and their servants (dogs and shadows)
  -  Yellow tags: werewolves and shapeshifters
  -  Red tags: vampires and vampire-like beings
  -  Violet tags: other supernatural beings (mutants)
  -  Green tags: pagan gods
  -  Light green tags: witches, alchemists

 -  Light blue tags: dangerous spots where people vanish, gateways to Hell or other dimensions
  -  Grey tags: Four horsemen of Apocalypses
  -  Brown tags: cursed places (talismans, burial places)
   - Orange tags: zombies

So, where are you heading for this weekend? Cannot wait to explore one of the places on our map? Well, we would like to warn you – it is on your own responsibility!

Happy summer everyone!

WS and EL

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