SHADES OF DEATH ROAD: Allamuchy, New Jersey
The grim name of Shades of Death Road definitely made us want to visit this location as soon as possible. A quick research into the background and history of the naming of this road made it even more desirable to go and visit. One day we decided to take the ride to the legendary Shades of Death Road. This trip included The Fairy Hole, Jenny Jump and Ghost Lake. Shades of Death Road, located in Allamuchy Township, NJ is a 6.7 mile long road according to our GPS. All the street signs are firmly planted into the concrete ground due to the many attempts at stealing the signs; the thought did cross my mind!
The story is as follows, that back in the day this is the road that many Indians attacked the settlers on and later many carriages were robbed along this path. Shades of Death? Yes, many were killed along this road. Many of the local townsfolk would lynch the criminals that robbed travelers and then hang them up in these trees to rot and to also serve as a deterrent to future robbers. Also Malaria took its toll on the local residents before the invention of antibiotics and many people died. This area has a very deep and dark history. Yet another story in an attempt to explain the source of the name for this road was due to the packs of wildcats that used to roam the area. It is interesting to note that Cat Swamp Road is located in the area also.
One of the odder stories associated with Shades of Death road were that years ago supposedly a pile of Polaroid photos were found along the side of the road. The photos were blurry and out of focus but seemed to center on a female form. Soon afterwards a police investigation was launched but then apparently shut down as quickly as it appeared.
A quote from the person that found the photographs (they wished to remain anonymous, “My husband and I decided to take a ride down Shades of Death Road. We ended up on a dirt road that leads to it coming out of Frelinghuysen. There were tons, and I mean tons, of Polaroid photos scattered everywhere! They are very weird. There are pictures of women, none of them smiling. Almost as if they were caught off guard. Many of the pictures were of people laying down on something metal, and they didn't look to be asleep.”
GHOST LAKE (also known as Haunted Hallow):
Located along Shades of Death Road in Allamuchy, is a man-made lake created by two wealthy men that dammed the area off. The lake was built above an Indian burial ground, the name came about from the ghostly looking vapors that can be seen rising off of it on cold mornings. Upon of arrival here it was dark and pitch black. It was like looking off into a dark abyss. So we couldn't really see Ghost Lake all that much. But it was blacker than oil. Story is that during the day the mist that comes off this lake looks like ghosts. We took a few photos, but nothing all that interesting occurred.
THE FAIRY HOLE
This location was hard to get to; we had to hike along the right side of Ghost Lake to get to it, but not without tripping on the rocks, getting pricked by sticker bushes, tormented by bugs and sliding on wet leaves. Each and every time I was ready to turn around something kept telling me to just go a few more feet. Then low and behold there it was about 20 feet above me.
The Fairy Hole was a cave used by Lenape Indians many years ago when they were traveling around. I thought the cave would have been a little bit deeper, but it was pretty cool to venture inside of it. While inside The Fairy Hole I noticed the small stalactite formations on the ceiling; they’ve been growing slowly since the last Ice Age. The cave is about 10 feet wide and 15 feet deep and the floor is flat. A natural "chimney" in the rear of cave sometimes contains blind cave cricket. Scant evidence of Indian occupation has been found here, including a few pieces of pottery and evidence of a fire pit near the opening. When the cave was excavated in the 1930s by state archaeologist Dorothy Cross, thousands of mammal bones and fragments were recovered, among them the tooth of a giant beaver, that is now extinct.
JENNY JUMP is a state park and was the cliff where young Jenny jumped off to her death to escape from the Indians. Legend states that her ghost still haunts the forest. It is one hell of a climb to get on the top but well worth it when you reach the top. Getting back down is another story.
(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com)