Shades of Death Road – Independence Township, New Jersey - Atlas Obscura

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Shades of Death Road

Independence Township, New Jersey

This ominously named New Jersey street seems to be attracting over-the-top legends of its own making. 


In rural Warren County, New Jersey the darkly named Shades of Death Road has unsurprisingly accrued a number of terrifying legends and seems to be spawning more supposedly haunted locales as the years go by. 

No one is quite sure how Shades of Death Road got its morbid moniker but most stories agree that the area was once known as “The Shades” and after a series of fatal occurrences, the thoroughfare earned its more over the top reputation. However, the details of the scary stories vary. Some say that a number of murders took place along the road beneath the overhanging trees from which the area got its original name.

According to another account, the area was once a swampy morass that harbored countless mosquitoes which led to a number of deaths due to malaria. Yet another says that the original inhabitants of the area were a band of ruthless outlaws who resided in an area they called, “The Shades of Death,” and as they were pushed out of their territory, their final refuge was the lonely road that now bears the name of their home base.

Whatever the truth, modern times have seen the road accrue all manner of ghost stories, no doubt in part due to the ominous name and mysterious history. The pull of legend even seems to be spreading to the landmarks along the road. Today there is the small body of water known as Ghost Lake, a man-made body of water that was given its name thanks to spectral pillars of vapor that are said to rise from its surface. Near to the lake is also a small cave known as “The Fairy Hole” that is rumored to be related to Native American burial grounds and witchcraft.    

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