We are bringing things back to New Jersey, because let’s face it, it’s a weird place with a lot of unusual tales. One which might be all too familiar is the legend of how Route 55 is cursed because it was built over and old Indian Burial Ground. Now whether you are superstitious or not, I think you wouldn’t think twice about avoiding that area. Why mess with something like that and take a risk when you don’t have to.
Back in 1983, a new section of Route 55 was commissioned to be built near Deptford, NJ. Warnings were given by Sachem Wayandaga, the chief and medicine man of the Delaware Indians at the time, that the area they were planning on putting the highway through was sacred land and an ancient Indian burial ground. In spite of the warnings, the construction proceeded.
Unusual Deaths / Incidents During Construction
Soon after the construction began, unusual deaths started to take place among those working on the project. Now you might say that it’s a construction site and things will happen if you are careless. I couldn’t agree with you more, but the incidents that took place here seemed to be a little more mysterious than the common place work incident.
- While on the job site, a construction worker’s feet turned black
- A worker was run over and killed by his own asphalt rolling vehicle
- A worker was blown off an overpass he was working on by a gust of wind that came out of nowhere
- A number or workers and their family members died of cancer within a short period of time
- A vehicle transporting D.O.T. employees caught fire and exploded
- A number of other odd injuries. . . . . .
During the construction time, it became commonplace for the workers, engineers, and project managers to talk about the curse. They all didn’t come into this project as superstitious people, but if they were lucky enough to make it out alive, they sure left that way. These reports have been documented and told from stories in the Weird NJ books to Philly.com articles.
Continued Incidents After Construction
Even now that Route 55 is completed, it is a highway filled with memorial to car crash victims. I have personally seen 3 cars on fire on the side of this road and have talked to people who have witnessed eerie things while driving this stretch of road. This area of the highway also seems to have the most disturbance in cell phone reception. Technology has come a long way since the 80’s but I don’t know if it can outgrow the supernatural.
I talked with a driver who worked for a limo company in Vineland, NJ (limoservicevineland.com). Since Rte. 55 connected Philadelphia to the smaller South Jersey towns such as Vineland and Millville, it became a very highly traveled road. He shared stories of seeing “apparitions” every so often on the side of the highway. Those stories I could kind of dismiss as him being tired and seeing things in the dark. He also mentioned that stretch of road near Deptford was the most common place for him to have car trouble. More than a few times over the years he had gotten flat tires and had engine trouble and broken down with vehicles that seemed to have to no other known issues. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Maybe it’s something more. Either way, he seemed to contribute it to the disturbance of those Indian grave sites.
Will The Curse End?
Who really knows? Does time hold any significance to the dead? It doesn’t seem like there’s any chance that the sacred land will be restored to how it was, and I’m not even sure that it would make a difference. What’s done is done and now we will have to live with the consequences. As the Indian Chief Wayandaga said in an interview, “The Damage is done. The problem is I feel sorry for some of the people who will be traveling that road in the future.”
So my advice to you, whether you believe in the curse or not, if you ever drive through that section of Route 55 near Deptford, NJ, just be alert. Unexplained things happen any time, but there might be a reason they happen more often there. New construction is happening all the time and it doesn’t look like there is any end in site to the Ancient Indian Curse of Route 55.