Clinton Road is known to have a rank on the top ten scariest roads n America. Famous legends and myths are said to have occurred on this very road. Located in West Milford, New Jersey, the history and spooky aura of Clinton Road had caught the curiousness of teenagers and adults from all around the area to come venture the terrifying road for themselves.
The road has a few legends that contribute to its spooky nature. Allegedly, there was a young boy that would ride his bike along Clinton Road every day. One day, he walked down to a bridge overlooking the lake on the corner of the road. A shiny silver quarter on the floor had caught his eye, so his fragile body bent down to pick it up. Suddenly, as he was leaning down, a drunk, truck driver was speeding down the road and knocked the young boy of his feet. The truck’s impact threw him over the bridge and he fell fifteen feet into the water. Upon falling, he hit his head on a rock causing blood to gush through the stream. He died alone in the lake and ever since then, the bridge was given the name “Dead Man’s Curve”. The legend goes on to say that the young boy haunts the stream. Supposedly, if a coin is thrown in the water then the young boy will throw it back. To challenge the legend, teenagers and brave adults travel to the stream and throw a quarter over the bridge and into the water.
Another story involves Richard Kuklinski known as “The Iceman”. Kuklinski was a serial killer in the mid 1900s known for freezing his victims to mask the time of their deaths. In 1983, a bicyclist found the body of Daniel Deppner being eaten by vultures in the woods of Clinton Road. After running a series of tests on the body, the police believe Deppner was murdered by Kuklinski and left in the woods to decay. People suspect that Kuklinski had left a great amount of his victims scattered across the forests of Clinton Road. The abandoned woods are never explored, thus providing Kuklinski with a perfect area to hide his murders. The real story of The Iceman’s murders on the road attracts curious and brave individuals till today.
In mid April my friends and I dared to venture the mysterious and spooky Clinton Road. It was eleven o’clock on a Saturday night when the four of us drove along the Route 23 and entered the path that read “Clinton Road Up Ahead”. Liam was driving and Hailey sat in the passenger seat next to him while Kat, and I sat in the back of the small, black, Toyota car. As we slowly drove down the path, Hailey began reading conspiracies and myths about the road.
“…-Shoot the rest isn’t loading…I lost connection,” she said.
“No way, stop trying to scare us Hialey, I was just on my phone a second ago,” spoke Liam.
“I’m not kidding! It says I have no service!” Hailey wailed loudly with fright. I looked down at my phone and the words “No Service” were implanted on the top left corner of the phone screen.
“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me,” complained Liam frustrated. He ran his finger through his hair and sunk his nails into the fake leather of the steering wheel.
The road ahead of us was dark with no street lamps visible for miles. The forest on our right hand side consisted of fallen trees and leaves remaining from the autumn. The lake on my left hand side was a deep blue that extended to the other side of the forest. Over time the lines of yellow that once separated the right and left lane on the road have naturally turned into scratches of barely noticeable color. We continued driving on the right as the darkness of the night surrounded us on all sides. We drove for half a mile down the road until we reached Dead Man’s Curve.
“Over there!” I pointed. Everyone in the car turned to look at the legendary bridge I was referring to. The bridge was bigger than I imagined and the night seemed to get darker by the minute. I was certain that I wanted to throw a coin over that bridge. I opened the car door causing the cold night wind to invade the car and grant me goose bumps across my arms. All my friends turned to look at me with eyes as big as gold balls except for Liam.
“What the hell are you doing,” exclaimed Hailey as she looked back at me.
“I’m going to throw a coin over the bridge. The legend is all fake just to scare people,” I said while I rolled my eyes. “Liam you got a quarter?”
“ Yea I do, I’m coming with you to throw a coin,” he then handed me a shiny silver quarter and then laughed at Hailey’s scared facial expression. My warm hands gripped onto the cold coin. Kat and Hailey exchanged looks.
“You guys are insane,” they exclaimed in sync.
“Seriously, if you guys don’t come back in the next five minutes then Kat and I are driving home without you,” Hailey said in fear.
“I better take the keys then just in case”. Liam then took his key out of the car’s ignition and shut it down. The car’s heater stopped releasing heat and the Britney Spears song on the radio was replaced by the tune of owls and bats that inhabited the woods.
“NO! DON’T TAKE IT!!” Hailey and Kat shouted at the same time. I laughed at their expressions and got out of the car. Liam and I crossed the road to get to Dead Man’s Curb and left the two of them behind in the dark car.
The sound of night crickets and owls enveloped us as we silently approached to the rusty metal bridge. The water beneath it was forcefully hitting the rocks and reconnecting with the lake. I released my grip on the coin and threw my coin like a Frisbee into the water. I watched my shiny coin break the surface of the water and create a splash. Thus, challenging the legend like many others have before me. I began crossing the road to get to Liam’s old fashion 2010 Toyota.
That wasn’t too bad I thought. Kat and Hailey were scared over nothing; this whole myth is a lie. There’s no little boy out here to throw a coin back at me, I thought. What was the other part of the legend? Something about a truck? I don’t see any-
“WATCH OUT,” Kat screamed at the top of her lungs. I was frozen in the center of the haunted road. I tried to look up but a bright white headlight blinded my vision. The loud engine of a truck roared as the driver began speeding. The wheels looked bigger as they came closer to me. I ran to the car faster than I could blink. The truck speeded past me and I felt the cold air whiplash the side of my face.
“Oh my gosh, Mar! That truck driver speeded up when he saw you. I don’t want to be here anymore,” exclaimed Kat.
“You know one day, your love for adventure is going to kill you,” Hailey told me. She was wrapped in blankets and shivering in the passenger seat.
“I like a good adventure,” I shrugged. Besides, it was only a coincidence that the truck came right after I threw the coin in,” I argued.
After that day, my friends and I returned to Clinton Road twice more, but the experiences were very bland. The silent road was usually abandoned despite a few cars belonging to other teenagers exploring the road. Each time we passed the road sign I felt adrenaline and excitement rush through my body. For a month, it became our tradition to venture Clinton Road then get milkshakes at Dairy Queen right after.
However, our tradition ended quickly after we heard news reports about a dead body found at on the road. On April 30th of 2017, police found a Jeep Cherokee engulfed in a fire on the side of the Clinton Road. The fire started in the car and burnt down the surrounding forest. The man driving the Jeep was found dead due to the fire burning him alive. The West Milford Police Department suspects that the car was deliberately burned considering the area has no cellphone service, therefore the victim could not call for help. Until today, the victim is unidentified, but his death adds on to the list of victims that have lost their life on Clinton Road.
As for me, I will not be returning to the road anytime soon upon hearing this news report. Adventuring the road with my best friends is a teenage memory that I will cherish, but I now recognize that the area is more dangerous than I had thought. The road’s spooky reputation continues on, and the road will resume in attracting curious individuals like myself. Overall, Clinton Road is the place to be for an adventure with friends on a weekend night, but only if you’re brave enough to enter.