Many of the names and some of the descriptions in this blog have been changed to protect the guilty.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Suburban Legend: The Haunting of Rock-a-Dundee Road

No, there were never any hangings on Rock-a-Dundee Road, nor has a crazy “hatchet lady” ever chased motorists out of the area.

Yes, there is a permanent roadside memorial to a small child who died in 1993.

Yes, a person was stabbed on Rock-a-Dundee Road.

JULY 1967

Looking back at one of the area’s most bizarre tales:

Two teenagers were making out in a car on the side of Rock-a-Dundee Road in Hampden, Mass., when, much to their dismay, the car wouldn’t start. “I’m walking to town for help,” said the boyfriend. “Keep the doors locked, and no matter what, don’t unlock the doors or get out.”

His girlfriend waited awhile and heard a scratching sound on the roof, but she thought it was the wind blowing a branch, since they were right under a tree.

Awoken the next morning by a Hampden police officer, she was escorted to his cruiser and instructed not to look back at the car. But she did, and saw her dead boyfriend hanging from a noose, his toes barely touching the car roof.

Many communities have adopted this bona fide suburban legend, going back, according to snopes.com, to at least 1964 in Kansas. By the late 1970s the story had spread across the world. Why is this kind of tale associated particularly with Rock-a-Dundee Road? As far as anyone knows, no murderous bloodbaths ever occurred there. Maybe it’s because of the road’s weird name. Rock-a-Dundee—sounds like a satanic chant. Or maybe it’s because it gets pretty damn dark out there in the boonies.

“The Boyfriend’s Death” story originates, no doubt, in tales of real life lover’s lane slayings. Hell, look at the Zodiac murders in the San Francisco area in the 1960s and 1970s. Necking can be fatal if a serial killer finds you. Snopes.com goes on to analyze the girlfriend defying the “don’t look back” order: it seems that taboos are always broken in folklore, and look what happened to Lot’s wife in the Bible when she ignores a similar command.

When we were growing up, we heard the theory that some sort of mob operation—counterfeiting or bootlegging or something like that—had taken place at a house on Rock-a-Dundee Road, and that the perpetrators had spread the haunting rumor to keep people away. If that was the case (although doubtful), quite the opposite has occurred over the past four decades. Thrill-seekers in Sixteen Acres, Wilbraham, Hampden, and East Longmeadow—the local legend hasn’t really spread much beyond this area—have considered it an adolescent rite-of-passage to make at least one chilling cruise down Rock-a-Dundee Road late at night.

Sure, my friends and I went down to Rock-a-Dundee Road a few times in our youth. But we never saw anything. Granted, it’s not a place you want to break down, especially where it turns into a dirt road and goes through a wooded area as it winds into Somers.

Over the years the stories have expanded to include tales of a crazed woman wielding an ax and chasing anyone foolish enough to venture down the road, teenage suicide hangings (the nooses, of course, are supposedly still dangling from the trees), and even an account of a bus running over a small child named John on the road after dropping him off. In this story, after the accident, his parents built a gazebo at the bus stop in his honor, and if you enter the structure, sometimes you can still hear the boy crying.

There is, in fact, such a structure on the road, decorated for the season with large Christmas lights, red bows, and four flat standup wooden carolers. A large boulder sits next to it, engraved with the message “Our bus stop in loving memory of John Shea.”

A note to readers: this isn’t his real name. But out of respect for the boy’s family, I’m not going to divulge it, and I’ve blocked it out of the photos.

A four-year-old boy named "John" who lived on Rock-a-Dundee road did die in the summer of 1993, but he wasn’t hit by a bus. He quietly passed away at home after a long illness, and the gazebo was apparently built as a memorial to him.

The story, of course, has been twisted and adopted into regional lore on the Internet by youngsters fascinated with the paranormal, including one person who claimed he was in the gazebo and felt a sudden gust of cold air, and then an hour later he found a scratch on his face. “I really freacked (sic) out,” he wrote, “because i felt like i was being folowed (sic) the rest of the day.”

I’m not surprised that the gazebo has prompted another Rock-a-Dundee legend: it’s just too tempting to see the rock inscription and skew the facts about the boy’s death to suit a haunting story. No, I didn’t go inside the gazebo once I took the photos. No, I didn’t get a weird feeling when I was there, except for being painfully aware of the fact that I’m a middle aged-man visiting Rock-a-Dundee road again after nearly 30 years. No, the road wasn’t named after the large rock, but that’s what people will undoubtedly be saying for the next hundred years. Yes, I know I am inevitably contributing to the spot’s notoriety by writing about these stories, but so be it.

There is a short YouTube video shot by adventurers cruising down Rock-a-Dundee Road at night. I’m not going to provide the link, because it’s not really worth watching. For a moment it has a humorous Blair Witch Project quality as headlights suddenly bear down on the couple. It's not a murderer, but an irritated motorist who just wants to pass the crawling car. Indeed, people who live on the street are sick of kids cruising up and down their street and turning around in their driveways at night, but they’re stuck with a legend. The YouTubers brought a Ouija board on the trip, and the passenger announces that it has directed him to the letter R. That’s R, I believe, for Rock-a-Dundee Road. No shit. “You couldn’t pay me enough to live on this street,” declares the driver. Believe me, honey, you probably couldn’t afford to live there.

OCTOBER 22, 2008

True story: a 20-year-old man was stabbed on Rock-a-Dundee Road this year. Fortunately, he survived. The circumstances were unclear from the news reports, but two adults and two juveniles from Springfield were arrested and charged with armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of marijuana.

This doesn’t sound like the kind of random slashing that is the stuff of Rock-a-Dundee road legends, but I’m sure in time the story will be amended enough to be incorporated into the area’s mythology. After all, we have the Internet now to speed up misinformation.

Memo to dead boyfriend, hatchet lady, and "John": you’ve got company—knife man.



a1cneva said...

I lived in the Hampton County area my hole life. I grew up here and my parents and so on.
My grandmother told me about the storys on Rock a dundee road. They all are bogus. Except for that poor boy you refer to as John. I've gone to the area at night. The bazeebo was beautiful. Not at all scary.
The road on the other hand is so dark and narrow it is a little erie.

Steve said...

wow. never thought id see a reference to a video i shot on my "PoS" camera 2 years ago. i'm quite surprised that i've seen absolutely no stories about the couple who drove off the side of the road after being possessed, or the girl who drowned in that lake...

iive been through that road at least 50 times in the 2 1/2 short years ive known about it, and it gets worse and worse each time.

one time a cell phone i had in my car which was not turned on, not even registered at the time, suddenly turned on and vibrated like as if i had a text message, which i found odd since there was no service there, and the phone didnt even have a number at the time. i looked at my friend (the female driver in the youtube video) and took out the phone. opened it up and read "Hello Stephen" freaking out i threw the phone out the window, and havent found it since.

ever since we uploaded the video, and the school we were attending heard about it (CCHS) its been so many people up there it wasnt even worth taking the ride up anymore.

but its been a good year and a half since ive been up there, and think its time for another adventure through Rock-A-Dundee road.

Youtube video link:

My facebook link:

Hell's Acres said...


Thanks for reading. I never heard the story of the woman who drowned in the lake. What year did that happen? I also never heard of the "possessed" couple who drove off the side of the road, but on the Facebook "Tales of Rock-a-Dundee Road" group a woman from Sixteen Acres describes the time she and her boyfriend went off the road after going too fast.

Wow, kids from Chicopee go all the way to Rock-a-Dundee Road? That's quite a haul. Let me know what happens on your next trip.

Steve said...

will do. trying to go up sometime soon. and there is alot of people from chicopee going up after we started to. Ouija board moved to the letter r and it could have meant anything, or maybe the dirt road made it move. no clue as to that. after word got out around our school that road has taken a turn for the worse. potholes everywhere, dirt roads all messed up.

for the couple who went off the road, ill search for the story again, but try to describe it as best as i can.

there was a couple going down the rod, male driver, female passenger, the male started randomly speeding up, and was scaring the female. she started to yell slow down, and he slowly looked over, and his eyes were black. continued to speed and slammed into a tree off the side of the road.

pretty sure i remember what tree it was, and not sure if i have a picture of it on my myspace or not, but ill have to take one next time im up.

the girl in the lake is a creepy one, as one time we went up druing a full moon, and it looked like a form of a teenage girl was sitting on the rocks on the side of that lake.

not sure of the year it was in, but rumors were that she drowned in the lake, and id have to ask my friend to post here and explain it, as she knows the story better than me. the lake is said to look like its always raining (girls tears) and it looks that way, but after going back during the day time we found out that it was A LOT of bugs skimming the top of the water making that affect.

the woman with the hatchet, normally people have spotted her in the cemetary down the road from rock-a-dundee. never seen her on the road itself, but that cemetary scares the hell out of me. went in there once and it was the worst feeling ive ever had.

another story is about a red (i think, or black) truck that will tail gate you down the road, and disappear. now one time this did happen, and they were right behind us from the turn around point, until we took a right bout halfway down the rod, and we had to swerve into a random street to make them keep going straight. after coming out the other end of the street to speed back to the road we noticed that there was no car down the way they had just went since the road ended in that direction.

"john" as you call him, there is something fishy about him. everyone whos heard of that road heard of the "bus" that hit him right? thats the normal story. as we were using the Ouija board we talked to him, and we asked how he had died. got a response of p-o-i-s-o-n. thinking nothing of it i went home and decided to research the road more carefully. stumbling across an obituary i found that the house number he lived in is correct, but the cause of death, and the last name were not. his last name was slightly different from that on the boulder, and the cause of death was from "a sickly illness he had been fighting for months". after reading that i thought of what we had seen on the Ouija board.

going to try to see if we cant get up to that road sometime soon, and see if anything goes down. will be replying after i find out anything.

Anonymous said...

All of these legends sound like an episode of that show Supernatural. Every single one... It's all bull. We were up there the other night and nothing happened except it was near impossible to get through in a pick up truck.

agatherratic said...

I just went down this road for the first time last night, we headed over there at around 12am from Springfield & it took about a half hour to get there. I was expecting some whole crazy shit to happen but nothing insane occured, other than us passing through a huge mist in the middle of the road. Yes, it was foggy, but it wasn't a "fog" mist. This mist looked like if you blew out a candle & how the smoke would appear, but it was so stationary. It wasn't floating up into the sky, it wasn't drifting off with the breeze, it was so stagnant. I'm convinced it was a ghost & I refuse to have anyone tell me otherwise.

Oh & by the way, the little boy who was killed by the bus, his name wasn't John Shea, it was Jaren M. "Duney" Ascher. And he actually wasn't killed by the bus. He was 4 years old & he died of a brain tumor.

Mike M said...

Funny thing, if you go in from the Connecticut end the sign used to say "Rocky Dundee Road", thought that was strange.

We used to go up there on Halloween night every once in a while, just knowing the legends makes it pretty creepy. We usually did it to scare the girls and make them cuddle up next to us so we could "protect" them. I used to have a van that had a manual choke. Yes it was the seventies and the van had shag carpeting on every remotely flat surface, and a separate room with a bed in the back. One trip I stopped on the bridge at the beginning of the road and pulled the choke all the way out when the engine was warm so the truck wouldn't start, the girls were screaming and literally shaking and all the guys were smirking. One of the girls punched me in the arm so hard that I had to 'fess up and start the van before she had a panic attack. Good times...

Hell's Acres said...

Yes, I've seen maps that show "Rocky Dundee" in CT. There are a few Rock-a-Dundee Roads in New England. Unbelievably, a studio named Nagrom Films is making a thriller/horror called "Rock-a-Dundee Road" based on the Hampden legend.

Hell's Acres said...

Whoops, mistyped on the last comment. There are a few ROCK O'DUNDEE Roads in NE, a slight variation. (Celtic roots to this curious name?)

Anonymous said...

I've personally been on the road and have been followed by the red truck. Pretty freaky

Anonymous said...

Im from Chicopee, and I've been to this road about 5 times. First time wasn't so bad. Second time I brought a friend, at a turn, my friend says he saw the boy standing in the bushes. Second time, I brought my lady friend, at the same turn (without me telling her any of the stories) she claimed she saw a boy, and felt as if something was following us. The fourth time, a third friend felt a presence, and immediately had stomache pains at that same road. My fifth time on that road was truly terrifying. We heard screaming, we saw shadows, we took pictures (I believe I took a picture of the boy, in fact). We even saw the ghost truck behind us, we sped out of there, not sure I'll be going back anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

I went last night with a couple of friends we went into the lake platform and yelled tick Tok 3 times we did see the spirit of the girl tht drowned in the lake. When I seen it I ran inside the van so fast really creepy. Tht same night we went to the memorial for the lil boy stand in it we all felt very wierd I felt lightheaded as we was bout to leave we heard a knocking sound at first we just thought it was just the trees or something 3 time it kept on doin it... tht will be the last time I ever go up there for those who don't believe nothing will come to u if your just looking for something to happen things will start happening if ur not looking. Ikno weird but I was in a car with non believer after lastnighy it changed our whole opinions.

Anonymous said...

Literally just went on it. It's not haunted guys, it's just bogus. Relax. We all know, we don't need to hear your pretend stories.

Hell's Acres said...

So I assume you guys are going out there on Halloween? Keep me informed! Red rum! Red rum!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Hampden in the 60's and 70's. those stories are so fake, we as kids used to tell others that didn't live in town about these urban legends and they stuck and were believed, some are so gullible, my favorite was the disappearing castle on the corner. there's a new one to share about that street. You can mention rock-a-Dundee road to any teenager in the springfield area and they still to this day believe these stories are real, to funny

Anonymous said...

I grew up on Rock-a-Dundee Road and I can honestly tell you there is nothing haunted about it. Its just a dark road in the middle of the woods. My brother is the little boy who that bus stop was memorialized for. He did not die in a bus accident but rather from a devastating brain tumor. He always wanted to ride the bus but was never able to, hence the bus stop. For those of you who have reached him through a ouija board, I guarantee he's off doing better things than haunting you. Please respect his memory and remember he has family members who were destroyed by his loss and occasionally run across these boards. Otherwise, enjoy the road. I never ran across anything scary, but you never know.

Anonymous said...

Do not post things about a poor little boy who suffered at a very young age..let his spirit be free and go entertain yourself elsewhere

Anonymous said...

I've been there a couple times, not a problem in a (red) pick-up or small suv. I experienced voices of kids-when no one was there, car problems-that never occurred before & stopped after leaving, an eerie silence-dead quiet like not even the wind blowing-followed by howling sounds-that were didn't sound human, & things being moved from one visit to the next-even when they were just days apart. I don't know if being wiccan has to do with Not being harmed, but I wasn't. My company wasn't either, unless you include mosquito bites in that. I haven't seen nooses, a "hatchet lady" or obs & "normal" paranormal activity. Nothing flying at us or chasing us, but I Will go again. Creepy-feeling or not. I Know I've Experienced a Few things at the camp site. Some friends of mine have too, on separate occasions.

4 reel said...

A good friend and I were at rock a dundee recently and we wanted to play out all the rumors, we had just had a pretty creepy experience in cromwel ct. At "Dudley town" a truly Haunted place very scary day or night! I have to say rock a dundee is dark and spooky but Nothing crazy to speak of, the only hint of anything was a couple small sets of handprints on the side of the truck when we stopped at the gazebo. Not sure why or how, pretty cool tho. We did stop at the lake...Nothing. We went to the cabins, feel creepy but still...Nothing. Walked thru the woods...Nothing. We had our own black truck so no one tried to chase us! If you want to Truly feel threatened head to Dudley town in cromwel ct but Beware it is illegal to enter! Do your research.

Anonymous said...

So my fiance went up there about a year ago and there was a car windows all smashed out and post it notes covering the car then to top it out both headlights blew on her car. I wasn't there but I can't get her to go threw there with me since she will jump out of the car rather than go up there. Some strange things but never happen to me

Pete said...

You people are all cracked out.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Monson in the 60-70s time, we used to go there to drink beer. There was a big house with a wall and we were on the wall when some mafia looking guys came up with guns and told us to get out of there. Think some big shot had a hide away out there.

Anonymous said...

I also grew up in Hampden in the 60's and 70's Rock A Dundee is where the kids went to smoke pot and screw around at night...that maybe the source of some of the weird sightings and stories. It definitely was cloaked in mystery back then

Anonymous said...

I grew up at the old brick house on mountain rd in Somers, ct. Back in the 60's. The house was supposedly haunted! Well let me tell all of you, that house absolutely was not haunted. I loved that house and wished I could have bought back. My parents had sold it to camp aya po, camp aya po sold it years later but kept most of the land that originally went with it. Having horses as I always did, 3 acres just didn't cut it for me.the house was homey and I really did miss the place. As far as the haunted part, I think my cousin made all that crap up, I remember as kids she would tell me she go in the barn by herself and the old man would be hanging from the rafters.I think about it now that I'm all grown up (57 years old to be exact) I think it's all pretty funny. Definitely not haunted. As far as rocky dundee rd is concerned. I have been up and down that road on horseback so many times in my lifetime and I have never encountered anything whatsoever that was creepy or scary. I have friends that have lived there since the 50's, they originally owned all the land on the top of the road and they've never mentioned anything bad about the road, other than it can be a pain in the ass to travel all the time because it was dirt, though much of it is blacktop now. So I hate to burst everyone's bubbles but the only thing wrong with that area is because it was so beautiful and peacefull everyone has built a ton of houses up there and ruined it by over populating the area. To many people go up to that area partying and snorting who knows what and are obviously halucinating.signed, - a somers resident her entire life.

Tess Ahlberg said...

I have been living on Rock-A-Dundee Rd for over 30 years, and yes there are strange phantoms that haunt different times of the year. My house was built in 1790 and was chock full of various spirits. Until I had a meeting of the minds with them and won dominance over the property . Now they are my minions and limit their harassments to possessing the mice from time to time, which can be aggravating. I only allow one spirit to haunt my brothers bedroom and he keeps to himself, but the phantom will yell and scream in my brothers ear if he sleeps in the bed around 2:30 am, which has occurred on several occasions . The first time was when I was a teenager during the first night we spent in the house it was quite shocking! I was sleeping in the room and was abruptly awoken out of sleep to a loud scream right in my face! A horrifying demonic scream ! I bolted out of bed so startled my skin crawled! Even though fear produced an overflow of adrenalin throughout my body, I still tried to rationalize what I had heard thinking it might be a fisher cat, or fox that might of sneaked into the house. I searched but could not find any wild animals. I tried to wake up my Dad and Mother they were comatose and would not stir from their deep sleep nor would my brother. I have other stories that are out of this world shocking. And will chill you to the bone! I knew the little boy that died and his name was not John he was very sweet and his parents divorced soon after his death his mother was devastated with grief.. His father remarried and has moved away many years ago. I have heard his voice calling for his mother from time to time at night, I answer him and say its Ok your mother is doing well no need to worry. People are fascinated with mysteries they can not explain like hauntings and Rock-A-Dundee Rd has its folklore. I have been inspired to create art and music living here and I created a song called Master Haunts the Puppet here is a video clip. I am making an independant film subscribe to my youtube channel TessAhlberg take a look and give us a like! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEJSv4B0gxY

Musings of a Life-Long learner said...

LOL!! Growing up in Wilbraham, we heard all the stories!! Of course we had to go there! With six of us in the car, we heard a knocking on the window.....it was a police officer. And in a Bela Lugosi voice, asked us to please move along. Naturally, we were all screaming and got the hell out of there. I just listened to a urban legend on TV that is the same as I learned in high school. It is only a story, but a good one. Happy haunting everyone.

Musings of a Life-Long learner said...

Ahhhhh, the castle!!

Anonymous said...

I've gone up and down that road every October just for the spooks. My parents used to load up the car as a sort of family tradition of scaring the shit out of us kids. Now as an adult it's out turns. Keep the legends and folklore alive.

Anonymous said...

Then u were in the wrong place buddy because it's a traveled dirt roaf

Anonymous said...

wow...spell much? Hampden County...Hole is a thing in the ground (whole is the correct spelling in this case). Stories not storys...and eerie...not erie..and what is a "bazeebo"?

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in Hampden, MA and lived on Rock-A-Dundee for my first 18 years with my family. Let me just start off by breaking the news that THE ROAD IS NOT HAUNTED. Residents on the road would love and appreciate there privacy which is probably what they were looking for when they moved to a wooded area on a dirt road in Hampden, Ma.
I grew up listening to made up stories and everyone asking "is it haunted", "is it scary living there?", "has anything weird ever happened?". The answers. No, No , No. It's a normal dirt road with acres of woods with a few houses. Save some time, have some respect for the people living there and go visit a haunted house.

Boston Nate said...

I've been there a lot of times when I was in high school and we went up their to scare our dates... anyways only things we seen were orbs when taking pictures, sounds of someone walking behind us, ( cause we walked the road a few times at night) even being in the car we heard foot steps, the lake is beautiful, and I live in belchertown for it's a drive and we have our abandoned state schools that are "haunted" which I've been in many times and nothing happened, if you wanna be scared try walking the road, their are so many trees and so dark it is scary no matter who you are.

Anonymous said...

Love the story about being tailgated by the truck. I had it happen one time in the mid 80's. They'd drive up fast, lights off and then put on the highbeams out of nowehere when they were right on your ass.
Awesome prank, scared the shit out of us. This happened 3 or 4 times going through Hampden, the last time we were just onto Allen St.
5 minutes later when we had just passed Fenway Golf and the truck w/ no headlights on came flying up behind us I really shit a brick!
And then that was it, they turned off Allen St. near the Spfld line and were gone.

Looking back at it now, that last one so far away from Hampden was awesome!!
Really scared the shit out of us!!!
Good times & clean fun!