Visiting 10 of Our Favorite Spooky Local Legends - Atlas Obscura Lists

Visiting 10 of Our Favorite Spooky Local Legends

The best kind of lore is the kind right under your nose.

Local legends hold a special place in our collective memory. Woven into the fabric of pop culture, and with a whiff of hometown nostalgia, they truly come to life (or death) during the Halloween season. These stories—some entirely invented, some with a kernel of truth—span generations and ignite the parts of our brain fascinated with the unknown and the unknowable. What’s real, what isn’t? With stories so full of sadness, fear, and the supernatural, does it matter? 

Visitors to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery might see a boulder that appears strangely out of place. According to local lore, during the colonial period, a Black man by the name of Joost dueled with the devil in a fiddling contest. After losing, Lucifer stomped on this rock in anger and left behind a hoofprint. In Waterbury, Connecticut, just off Interstate 84 are the decaying remains of a village—built entirely in miniature. Though believed to be what’s left of a simple roadside attraction, according to stories around town, elves tricked a local man into building it. During full moons, it’s said, visitors can hear the cackles of elves still finding joy in their ruse. From a doll that’s been causing mischief for more than a century, to a statue whose eyes seem to follow every passing car, here are 10 of our favorite spooky local legends.