Old Whipporwill Valley Road in Middletown is perhaps the single most famous road in New Jersey, made known by issues of Weird NJ, the paranormal bible of the state. The road, night in and night out, plays host to kids and adults alike, looking for a good night of fright.
The reason why this road is so popular, is because it is one of the safest isolated places that Weird NJ has ever published, and by “safe” I mean LEGAL. Here you cannot get arrested for trespassing, because it is an actual road and not private property. There are so many legends surrounding the road, including the woods in the surrounding area serving as a meeting spot for Klansmen in the early 1900’s (some say that even continues today), a meeting spot for Devil worshipers in the 1800’s, and of course, the spot where a witch was supposedly burned in the 1800’s as well.
These three are the front-running stories, but obviously false legends have also sprung up noting people who have gotten murdered in the woods or on the road, and how when you exit the road, if you look on the back of your car, you will see hand-prints.
Out of all the stories, the only one that really makes sense is the one involving the KKK. Monmouth County and parts of Long Island, New York were hotbeds for Klan activity in the early 1900’s. The seclusion of Whipporwill Road would make it an ideal area for Klansmen to meet. The solitude felt there now would only be even worse back then, as mansion homes can now be seen from the road.
As for the Devil worshipers, I suppose it is possible, although the ritual acts of worshiping Satan really did not become popular until the mid-1900’s, with Anton LaVey’s creation of the Church of Satan. However, it could be possible that other forms of occult practice were held there.
When it comes to burning witches, the only confirmed acts of witch-hunting on record predate the 1700’s, and most come from Salem, Massachusetts. That said, it is highly unlikely that any were burned here, as this was the practice in Europe, not the newly settled colonies. Here in the U.S, drowning and hanging were the ways witches were put to death. For this to happen in the 1800’s would almost be impossible. There were more newspapers around by this time, and more reporters looking for extravagant stories to make a name for themselves. Should an event like this happen at a more civilized time in this nation’s history, it would be fact, not legend.
So for the first time, last night, I made it down to Whipporwill Valley Road (the valley was added recently in order to try to confuse people seeking the road) with my friend Brett Bodner, who has assisted Jeff Huber and I on numerous paranormal investigations. He had been on the road numerous times and was no longer frightened at the creepiness of the road. For me, it was a different story. The road we took to even get there was actually scarier that Whipporwill, I found. This was Cooper Road, which if you are heading towards Red Bank on Highway 35, it is right after Chapel Hill Road. This road was increasingly narrow and was not paved, much like the road we sought to find.
Once we turned onto the “haunted” road, my biggest concern was not Klansmen, or witches, or Satanists, or anything supernatural for that matter. The scariest part of the whole evening was thinking about what it would be like to break down. Sure we have AAA, which Brett reminded me he had on speed-dial (this really did not make me feel better), but it could be hours before they arrive, and being there are no streetlights, and the moon is blocked by the trees, you would be sitting in absolute darkness. There is also no store or gas station within at least five miles.
The other concern would be kids playing around, hiding the trees, and throwing rocks or sticks at the car, possibly causing damage. To me, those would really be the only two things to worry about if you have never been there before.
A lot of those roads in Middletown are creepy or have some historical significance to them. If one rides down East King’s Highway, directly next to Spirits Liquor Store (home of an eerie looking circus clown sign which Weird NJ has also featured), about three miles in on the right side there is a sign noting how the British army camped there on Sir Henry’s Clinton’s retreat from the Battle of Monmouth, on his way to Sandy Hook. There are also more signs about Revolutionary War history that you will see if you travel farther down the road.
Jeff and I will be heading back to Cooper and Whippoorwill tonight, as he has never seen it. I will bring a camera this time and see if we can capture anything suspicious. I highly doubt any of the lore surrounding the road is true, but that does not mean the weird in weird New Jersey can’t come out.
Greg Caggiano and Jeff Huber are the founders of Franklin and Heard Paranormal.