5 spooky urban legends you definitely heard as a kid
Did your older sibling scare you with these tales?
Urban legends are campfire fodder, told by kids and adults alike, all over the world. Many of these stories have been told for generations, focusing on a certain area of a town that’s “haunted” or some inexplicable sightings that seem to plague an area. Some may have originated as folklore, or told solely to teach kids a lesson — like not to play in dangerous areas.
Even if they haven’t been debunked, we now know these stories aren’t true… or do we? Were any of these urban legends told in your area? What stories did you hear at sleepovers growing up?
1. Ghost kids
If there’s anything scarier than ghost adults, it’s ghost kids. Which is probably why so many urban legends involve them. One of the most popular stories involving ghost kids is told to explain areas where a car in neutral will roll uphill. While these gravity hills are surprisingly common, many people in towns with them will tell stories of a school bus that crashed on that road. Apparently, if you sprinkle flour on your back bumper, once you reach the top of the hill, you’ll see the the fingerprints of the ghost kids who helped push your car up the hill…
2. Woman in White
The Woman in White is a popular urban legend about a woman in a nightgown or white dress, seen on the side of the road by drivers. This legend dates back to medieval times and spans countries — for example, her name is La Llorona in Latin countries and is also known as a White Lady throughout Europe —and despite where your local Woman in White hangs out, the story you heard growing up is probably similar. She lost her children and cries for them, bringing misfortune upon anyone who happens to see her.
In North Dakota, a road that leads through the Tetrault Woods is allegedly home to a White Lady whose baby died shortly after she was married, so she’s been spotted still in her wedding dress. Sometimes, this story includes a young girl instead of a woman, like the girl of Knock Knock Road in Michigan who… you guessed it, knocks on your window for help.
3. Various bridges
Is there a rickety old bridge near where you grew up that you were warned not to walk or drive over because it was haunted? While you likely shouldn’t venture over out-of-service bridges in general, because they’re probably unsafe, it just sounded so much creepier to warn of a haunting or a ghoul than saying, “be sure to stay off that bridge, it could crumble under your feet.” Of course, mischievous kids ventured over the bridge anyway.
4. Gates of Hell
There’s a surprising number of alleged gates to hell scattered throughout the country, usually located in dilapidated old buildings or spooky areas of the woods just outside of town. This seems to be another legend started in an effort to keep kids out of areas that they shouldn’t be hanging out in.
In Alabama, there’s the Hell’s Gate Bridge that combines both bridges you shouldn’t cross and portals to hell. Just a few years ago, there were dozens of stories about a portal to hell that allegedly opened up in a house in Gary, Indiana.
5. Human/animal hybrids
This is a tale as old as time. Whether there’s a Bigfoot creature that's been spotted near your hometown or a goat man that your cousin swore he saw one night, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who was never spooked by some type of otherworldly creature as a kid.
Another urban legend that’s combined with bridges is the Goat Man of Pope Lick in Kentucky, who apparently hides under the bridge at Pope Lick Creek and lures people on to the train tracks. Louisiana has “the Grunch,” a gang of human/monster hybrids who hang out by Grunch Road, a dead end, looking for drivers to eat. Virginia has a story of a Bunnyman — really though, how scary can he be — who escaped from an insane asylum. We also can’t forget about the story of the legendary Jersey Devil, which dates all the way back to the 1700s.