Route 55: Indian Curse Road

2 Indian Curse RoadA couple of weeks ago Facebook and Philadelphia radio was all abuzz about a ghostly figure that was witnessed walking along the side of Route 55 near exit 53 in Deptford in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, March 22th. The apparition was described as a young woman in a white wedding dress and veil, holding a boutique of flowers. A Facebook user named Bill Hand captured the scene in a cell phone video as he drove slowly past the mysterious specter. Within a couple of days thousands of people had viewed, shared and commented on the posting of the alleged ghost girl.

Lady In WhiteAnother witness to the strange sight was Philly radio personality Big Daddy Graham, a Gloucester County resident who recounted the story of the Route 55 phantom on his program.

“I look to my right and in the dark there’s somebody … in a wedding dress and a wedding veil, carrying flowers,” Graham told listeners. “Let me tell you, it freaked me out.”

Both Graham and Hand immediately reported what they had seen to local police, who were quick to locate the wandering woman. By Friday, March 25 Washington Township police confirmed that the girl was not in fact a ghost, but instead a teen who had walked off from Robin’s Nest, a local children’s services facility.

This stretch of highway is by no mean without it strange stories though. Route 55 has a long history of curious occurrences.

In March of 1983, the Department Of Transportation started construction on a field just off Route 47 in Deptford, between Mantua and Franklin Township, to build a new 7.2 mile stretch of Route 55. Two months later mysterious deaths began to befall the workers involved with the project.

“All they had to do was detour around the field maybe three or four miles and nothing would have happened,” said Carl Pierce in a newspaper article at the time. Pierce, or Sachem Wayandaga, the chief and medicine man of the Delaware Indians, said the land was an ancient Indian burial ground, and therefore sacred.

“I told them what would happen if they didn’t stop the desecration, Pierce was quoted as saying. “The damage is done. The problem is I feel sorry for some of the people who will be traveling that road in the future.”

The first unfortunate incident was that of a 34-year-old worker who was run over by an asphalt roller truck. Another worker fell to his death when he was working on an overpass, swept up by unexpected high winds that had apparently come out of nowhere.

Soon after those incidents, an inspector fell dead on the job from a brain aneurysm. Other workers, or members of their families, suffered strange maladies. One worker’s feet turned black, while other workers’ family members developed cancer. Then a van carrying five Department Of Transportation employees caught fire and blew up. The parents of killed asphalt worker died during the first week of construction, and a brother and father of another worker died that same week.

A D.O.T. employee, who asked not to be identified because he fears the curse, said that Karl Kruger, the site engineer for the project, would often speak about the curse, and the coincidence of the events. The employee informed Weird N.J. that Mr. Kruger had died of cancer shortly thereafter. Yet another victim of the curse?

A Healthy Respect for Indian Curse Road

I’ve lived here in South Jersey almost my entire life. I remember when they were building Route 55 and I remember when (and why) they had to stop building. It’s all true – workers were killed, machinery malfunctioned, one man was killed when his own steamroller ran over him! I have never experienced anything really scary there myself, though I use Route 55 often. I attribute this to the fact that I have the deepest respect for the Native American Indians. But I have noticed that if there is an accident, or a broken-down car, or anything unusual, it is always in the “haunted” area. –Cris C.

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Indian Curse Road Hits Home

I am local to the area of Indian Curse Road, and have heard rumors of this “curse.” The thing is these rumors have become quite a reality as the curse has hit pretty close to home for me. My younger brother had two of his best friends were killed on this road due to a drunk driving incident on prom night back in the early 1990’s. This couple came to a party at our home after the prom. Although they had not been drinking at the party, they happened to run out of gas while driving home on Rt. 55.

While trying to refill their car from a gas can, they were struck and killed by a drunk driver. There is a memorial posted near exit 50. More recently a close friend of my family was killed in a freak accident on Rt. 55 near exit 58 southbound.

I drive many nights on that road and it never fails to amaze me how many cars are parked roadside in the middle of the night. I think on any given weekend night there are 3 or so cars parked there. –M.A

The preceding article is an excerpt from Weird NJ magazine, “Your Travel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets,” which is available on newsstands throughout the state and on the web at www.WeirdNJ.com. 

Illustration by Ryan Doan / RyanDoan.comPhotos by Weird NJ / Mark Moran