The Legend of Rock-A-Dundee Road

 

Tucked away in the small Western Massachusetts Town of Hampden is the infamous Rock-A-Dundee Road. The narrow, partially unpaved road winds through the woods across the state border to Connecticut. I grew up hearing all kinds of stories about the road. In fact, my mom heard them when she was growing up as well. It’s a common practice around here to take a drive up Rock-A-Dundee Road in the dark with your friends, especially around Halloween.

 
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What Happened on Rock-A-Dundee Road?

In the late 60s two teenagers had parked their car on the side of Rock-A-Dundee Road to find a place away from the prying eyes of their parents to make out. Later, when they attempted to start the vehicle, they discovered they were having engine trouble. The boyfriend decided he would walk into town for help and told his girlfriend to stay in the car, wait for him, and not get out under any circumstances until he returned. So the girlfriend sat, and waited. At one point she heard a scratching sounds on the roof of the car but dismissed it as a low hanging branch waving in the wind since the car was parked under a tree. She eventually fell asleep and was jolted out of her slumber by a police officer knocking on the car window. As the officer escorted her from the car to his cruiser he warned her not to look back. She did not heed his warning and glanced back to discover a horrifying scene. Her boyfriend was hanging from a tree branch with his toes just barely scraping the roof of the vehicle.

Then, in the early 90’s a young boy was struck by a bus and killed. They built a gazebo in his memory and his ghost is said to tied to that area. People claim to have seen full body apparitions and heard him laughing and playing. One person even claimed to have been scratched on the face by the young boy’s spirit.

There is also said to be a witch who wields a hatchet and chases motorists out of the area. I’ve even heard stories of numerous teenagers hanging themselves in the trees all right in a row, mob activity, phantom trucks, and bizarre behavior from dogs.

The problem? None of this ever actually happened. But that’s the thing about legends and folklore, they have a life of their own.

 
 

The Origins of the Legends

The story of the murdered boyfriend is a variation on the ever-so-popular hook man urban legend. The first known written account of this legend was in a Dear Abby column in 1960. However, one likely source of the legend is the real life Texarkana Moonlight Murders in 1946. This series of unsolved murders and attacks by an unidentified serial killer sent the small town of Texarkana, Texas into a state of panic. Just like the legend, the first attack happened to a couple parked on a lovers’ lane. They survived the brutal assault but the next couple wasn’t so lucky. Two double murders followed the first attack. Then the killer struck one more time shooting another couple, this time in their home. The husband was killed instantly but the wife survived. These unsolved Texarkana murders have been immortalized in the 1976 slasher film The Town that Dreaded Sundown which the town actually screens every Halloween. Another film with the same name based around the murders was released in 2014 although it’s not quite a remake or a sequel. There are other real-life examples of lovers’ lane slayings that I’m sure helped to add fuel the legend including the Zodiac Killer in the 60’s and 70’s. The urban legend has grown into several different versions and been featured in several movies and an episode of Supernatural.

The legend of the ghostly boy doesn’t have much truth behind it. A boy who lived on Rock-A-Dundee Road did pass away at the age of four (not seven like the legend says), but he wasn’t hit by a bus. He passed away quietly in his home from an illness. I found the obituary just to be sure. The gazebo was built in his memory and does have a marker next to it calling it “our bus stop”which is probably how the story got twisted around into the boy being killed by an out of control bus.

My mom told me a story from decades ago about a crazy older woman who used to live on the street when she was younger. Apparently people used to say she was a witch and kids would drive up the road and shake the gate surrounding her property so she would come out and chase them away. I can’t be 100% sure, but I have a feeling this is the origin or of the hatchet lady everyone talks about to this day chasing away motorists.

Also, there is no evidence or record of any suicides happening on the road or in the surrounding woods that I could find. Someone with mob ties did live in one of the houses on the road for awhile but that house has changed owners many times.

Despite this, there are several videos on YouTube of people exploring the road and looking for evidence of the paranormal. There is even a Facebook group dedicated to people telling tales from the road and at one point there was a movie being made about it, but I’m not sure what happened with that.

 
 

So what is it about this road that breeds all of these legends? Maybe it’s the remote location and lack of cell phone service that leaves people feeling uneasy. Or how dark it is up there at night without any streetlights that preys upon the common fear of the dark. Or the dense woods that envelop you as the road twists and winds onward. The woods do have a presence that tends to leave a lot of people feeling unsettled. After all, you never know what could be lurking beyond the veil of trees.


 

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