Vanishing Road

A neighbour told me about a man who had an awful experience one night on Eggelston Mountain in New York. Over cheesecake & coffee this man (he still lives in Cooperstown so I can’t use his real name) told me a rather scary tale.

One night after a ballgame (1970) he, his date and two other couples piled into his old car to have some fun at the old abandoned apple orchard on Eggelstons abandoned farm. They were 1st year college “kids” with a 6-pack of beer and had hoped for some privacy at the orchard to drink, party & make out. This orchard is in an isolated place just down the road from the Eggelston House, which is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman who lived there in earlier times. The kids used it as a lovers’ lane at night and to party in general. The older people had picnics there during the day & hunters hunted deer there in winter. The view across Cherry Valley was fantastic. They had their good time, met up with some other young people they knew and at around 11:00 PM headed out of the orchard.

There are several dirt roads out of the orchard on Eggelston Road. You could turn left or right depending on which town you are heading to. As usual they turned right and headed towards their town. The night was pitch black with no moon. Within several hundred feet Sal knew something was strange as he didn’t pass the few other houses along the road. Just trees and darkness. They drove on and the trees became thicker and closer to the road.

The road narrowed to almost one lane. He worried that somehow they got onto a shortcut – but didn’t remember any shortcut to the secondary road into town. Then they worried what would they do if another car was coming up the road. Could two cars pass? The road got steeper going down and in worse shape. They stopped and looked back up the hill. The trees were so huge and so close to the road edge that they formed a canopy overhead. They were in a tunnel formed by the trees. There was almost dead silence, just some crickets…. no other sounds. He didn’t want to chance backing up the curvy steep road or try to turn around in such a narrow space in the pitch darkness. He said it was horribly creepy and the happy chatter & joking had stopped. The five of them were locals from that area, one girl wasn’t but none knew of this dark, treed over tunnel of a road. So he decided to continue on.

Another mile or so they saw the headlights of a car coming up the road. They squeezed over as far as they could to let it go by. As it approached they saw it was a model T or some other very early automobile. There was what appeared to be a man driving it. As the car passed them the man never looked their way. Then another car approached… another old early model with the front crank, also black in colour. A couple were in this car and never glanced their way either. All joy ceased in the car as they all became very uncomfortable. His date Judy thought there might have been an antique Auto show in the area but no one had heard of any show. Then the third car passed, and a fourth. The road seemed to go on forever. Then as they rounded a curve they saw a space with a wagon pulled over with two mules and a man looking like a ragpicker. He was shabbily dressed and seemed to be getting ready to pull back out into the road and head up the hill. Sal topped and called to the strange looking man in drab clothes & straw hat. The man turned towards the old Buick and Sal saw that he seemed to look at the car or him, was too dark to see clearly and slapped the mules with the reins to move out. They vanished up the hill and were gone. He said that by now the girls were almost panicked and the guys were really scared and tried to hide it. Where the hell were they?

They decided to ignore all future cars, wagons and people they might see and just keep driving. They couldn’t see any houses or farms due to the heavy wooded roadsides. Another very old car passed them, again the driver acted like he didn’t see them. Suddenly Sal saw lights behind his car. They were sort of high up and shaky and he knew an old auto was coming down behind them. He freaked out and gave the Buick the gas….. they bumped and slid down the road as fast as he could chance it. Clouds of dust rose up behind the Buick. Suddenly the trees fell away into low shrubbery and the roadsides became widened again like a normal 1970’s road. They saw lights up ahead and were relieved & overjoyed to see civilization again. Yes it was the secondary road they wanted, that would take them to town and home. They turned right towards Cooperstown and started to talk about their experience excitedly. No one ever knew or heard of that road, and what was with the cars and the guy with the mules, at that hour of the night? They had come out by a closed Gas Station and Sal and one of the other fellas decided that they’d look for this road the next day – in daylight. They wanted to know where it started and where it ended.

The next day they drove out the secondary road to the gas station. They tried to find the Eggelston short cut they were on the night before – no road was there! They drove back and forth refusing to believe the road had just vanished overnight. The old road they both knew well was there but not the tunnelled road. The road they knew was several miles from the station. They then returned to the apple orchard and started looking from there. Nothing! Just the well known old road down the mountain. Where had the road gone? Who were the people in the old, old antique cars? Was there ever a road there at any time in history? What was going on?

After they returned to school and started talking about this awful mystery they ran into other students with a similar story. The old orchard was well known. Other people had suffered the same experience as they had. But how can a road just vanish? The mystery has never been solved and no one knew if it was in any way related to the Eggelston House. Sal said no one ever found the old vanishing road but that he’d hear stories about it “happening” every now & again.

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