September 13, 2010

Red-Headed Hitchhiker of Route 44



There's a classic urban legend called the Phantom Hitchhiker, which goes something like this.

One night, a man's driving down a dark country road when he notices a young lady hitchhiking by the side of the road. She's pretty, with long blonde hair, and she's wearing a blue dress. The man thinks, "She looks safe. Why not pick her up?"

The young lady gets in the passenger seat and says "There's a big white farm house about a mile down the road. Could you drop me off there?"

The man agrees. The hitchhiker doesn't say anything else, and he doesn't push her for more information.

After a mile, the man sees a big white farm house. He turns to the young lady and says "Is this the place?"

But she's not there. The passenger seat is empty.

He pulls over in front of the farm house and looks in the back seat. She's not there either.

An old woman comes out of the house and says, "Hey! What's all the commotion?"

The man explains that a young woman just disappeared from his moving car. The old woman says,"What did she look like?"

"She was pretty, with long blonde hair, and a blue dress."

The old woman says "You just described my daughter. She died in a car accident on this road ten years ago tonight."

As far as ghosts go, the Phantom Hitchhiker is pretty innocuous. But there's a hitchhiking ghost on Route 44 in Massachusetts who seems a little more malevolent.

People who have seen the ghost describe him as a red-haired, middle-aged man in a flannel shirt. He doesn't say much, and is pretty quiet - at least at first.

In one story, a driver picks up the red-haired man, who gets in the back seat. Naturally, it's late at night.

"Where are you headed?", the driver asks.

The hitcher says nothing but just points straight ahead. But as they head down the road, he starts to giggle. The giggles become loud laughs.

"You want to tell me what's so funny?", the driver says. The hitchhiker says nothing, and the laughs become howls of wild, derisive laughter.

"You better knock it off if you want a ride!" the driver says.

The hitcher keeps laughing. The driver looks into the rearview mirror, and sees the red-haired man's face distorted with malice, his eyes bugged out with insane glee. And then, suddenly, the red-haired hitchhiker disappears like a soap bubble. Only his laughter lingers on, slowly fading away into the night.

The red-headed hitchhiker haunts Route 44 in Massachusetts along the Seekonk/Rehoboth border at night. It's the same stretch of road where Ananwan Rock is located. Luckily, Tony and I didn't encounter him on our trip down there. We were there during the day!

This story, and others about red-headed hitchhiker, can be found in Thomas D'Agostino's Haunted Massachusetts, and Joseph Citro's Weird New England. Some of the stories are even stranger than this one.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You can find more tales of the hitch-hiker in "The New England Ghost Files" by Charles Turek Robinson; I believe that book was actually the first time that particular phantom appeared in print!

Peter M said...

Thanks! I don't have that one in my collection yet.