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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

The Nomadic Nightmares of Newark


The spooky season has come to a close and it is only a matter of days before turkeys and Christmas trees take over. Let’s hash out some of the myths and legends of Newark, according to online sources. 

Starting off with a rather famous one, the New Jersey Devil, most have heard about this in some capacity as that is what the New Jersey Hockey team stationed in Newark is named after.  

The tale starts off with a woman giving birth. The conditions in which the woman gave birth vary based on which time frame the story was told in. The earliest record mentions that an impoverished Quaker woman had given birth to her 13th child.  

Frustrated by her situation, she wished for it to be the devil. She blamed the child for her misfortune, and the child was born deformed with a horse-like head, human feet, and a tail. The child eventually escaped, and hence, the devil was born.  

A later version states that when America was still fighting in the American Revolutionary War, a woman fell in love with a British soldier, and the townsfolk were not happy with the match. In response, they cursed the women to give birth to the devil.  

The last version is about a frightened woman who refused a Romani begging for food. The Romani was furious and cursed the woman to turn her firstborn son into a devil, who eventually fled into the woods.  

Needless to say, no matter how the state devil was born, it is said to be powerful enough to kill with its breath and destroy crops. Sightings have been reported throughout history, and a weird fact is that the more you travel up the state, the more benevolent residents are to the creature.  

While it is an image of the boogeyman and terror in the south, it has become a symbol of protection in the north — it was a symbol of anti-war during the Vietnam War, becoming known for punishing evil-doers, especially the ones who harm nature.  

Now, let’s look at the tales that haunt Newark.  

First, we have the Ghost Train of Newark. There is not much lore behind it, but it’s chilling nonetheless. The legend stems from the murder of an engineer in 1868 on the train tracks of Broad Street Station. At midnight on the 10th day of every month, the sounds of the ghost train are heard moving by, and it never makes a stop. The story claims that the train is driven by the engineer who died along with five passengers.  

While there is only one account of this next story, it is quite a wholesome tale. In the old town hall closer to West Orange, odd sounds permeate the nearby areas. In 1937, when the building was demolished to make way for a gas station, the policemen of the town were worried that the ghost, who they believed to be quite friendly, would have no place to haunt. Maybe the ghost can finally be at peace after all these years.  

Staying on the topic of apparitions, two lovely girls unfortunately met their demise in Newark in these next stories. The first girl is Annie Crest, a filial daughter who fell in love with a man and expressed her wish to marry him. Crest’s father, who was afraid of losing his only caretaker and companion, sent a gang to roughen up the lover.  

But alas, her lover died, and she jumped into the Morris Canal due to heartache. The canal eventually dried up and in its place is Raymond Boulevard. Legend says that Crest comes back to die every year once the moon is full and bright, when an innocent person can see her die a painless death.  

The second girl is known as the White Lady Tree. She was killed in her carriage while riding to her wedding along the roads of Branch Brook Park. Many years later, two men nearly crashed their car after seeing her ghost but survived to tell the tale. Since then, the white graffiti on the White Lady Tree has been stripped and that road has been relocated.   

Apparently alongside the sightings of ghosts, there have been alleged encounters with Satan himself. One stormy and windy night, two sailors were making their way home after a long day of work, walking through Gully Road. Midway through their journey, one of the men noticed that they were not alone and shined their light at the third person.  

That’s when they saw the stranger had flashing red eyes, and smoke was emitting from every crevice of his body. Soon, his feet and hands turned to hooves and the two sailors ran the rest of the way back to the safety of their home without looking back at the devil who was laughing at their fear. For years, many refused to walk down that road, especially on dark and stormy nights.   

Last but not least, we come to the story that is harmless to most of the general populace but is a nightmare to the NJIT Highlanders. It is none other than the tale of the NJIT bell tower. The myth has it that if you walk under the bell tower, you will not graduate within the timeframe you originally thought. That thought alone is stressful for students.  

However, it is not just NJIT that has such a narrative. Purdue University and the University of Oklahoma have very similar tales. But why? Is it because of the concept of bell towers and witchcraft in history or because of the deaths surrounding it, even in a college setting?  

The lingering question would be: Is it just a harmless yet strange rite of passage for every college student or something more? 

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Vaishnavi Kodali, Staff Writer
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