From 1960-1964, Americans tuned into the adventures of Todd and Buzz, two young men who sought action, adventure and love along Route 66. The two traveled from town to town righting whatever wrongs they encountered along the way. Since then, Route 66 has been decommissioned to make way for modern interstate highways. It may not have the travelers that once journeyed down it’s black top of dreams, but long stretches of this great American highway still exists.
Cutting through the arid deserts of Utah and Arizona, there is an offshoot of route 66 that has gained a sinister reputation. A long stretch known for disastrous accidents and chilling encounters with frightening supernatural beings. Welcome to Highway 491, or what it used to be known as, Route 666. America’s highway to hell.
In the mid 1960s, Route 666 was redesignated Route 181 when a devoutly Christian businessman complained it was improper for a road to have the devil’s number. The road number may have been changed, but this didn’t stop the macabre stories associated with the road. In fact, it would seem to only intensify the paranormal activity said to happen there. And one of the most frightening apparitions encountered there is a ghost known as, the Mad Trucker.
The ghost of the mad trucker was reported long before the route’s designation changed. A man traveling along the lonely road late one night reported his encounter to local authorities. According to him, he was driving down the road when a peculiar sight caught his eye. Approaching him from the opposite direction was a bright yellow and orange light. As it approached, the man could finally make out what the light was, an 18 wheel semi engulfed in flames. Not knowing what to do, he pulled over to the side to avoid being hit. As the blazing truck passed the man could hear what sounded like maniacal laughter coming from the cab. When the truck vanished in the distance, the man continued on his journey.
A long standing staple of supernatural folklore in the United States are reports of phantom hitchhikers. And Route 666 has one of the most terrifying on record, the faceless girl.
Over the years, drivers have reported coming upon the lonely figure of a woman walking along the road. When they stop to offer assistance, she approaches the window and her true nature is revealed. The occupants of the vehicle are stunned to see the girl has no face. Just a blank slate devoid of any facial features. When the driver peels away, the driver watches in the rearview mirror as the specter vanishes.
If apparitions of a faceless woman and fiery trucks isn’t enough to give you a lifetime of nightmares, demonic black dogs have been seen roaming Route 666. The unusually large dogs with glowing yellow eyes and bloody fangs, are known to attack cars. They charge out from the shadows and shred tires leaving people stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Western beliefs of the number of the beast aside, is there another reason this road got it’s sinister reputation? That answer may lay in the folklore of the local Native American tribes. They believe Route 666 lays in the path of a being so vile, they dare not speak it’s name. According to the them, the dreaded Skinwalker stalks the road.
The Skinwalker, or Yee Naaldlooshi, is a morally bankrupt, thoroughly evil shapeshifting sorcerer. The power of this being is so feared, the Navajo refuse to speak of it. To them, mentioning this being’s name is to attract it’s unwanted attention.
The Navajo believe the Skinwalker lives far removed from civilization in the deep desert where it can practice it’s black magic. For centuries, only the local tribes had to fear this reprobate being. However, when the highways opened up the southwest, Caucasian travelers reported eerie encounters with a half man/half animal creature that emitted a feeling of pure dread.
One such story was told by a man who claimed to have fought off a Skinwalker. While driving down Route 666, he came upon an old man sitting on the side of the road wearing what looked like animal skins. Wanting to be a good Samaritan, he stopped to see if he could give the old man a ride. When the figure raised it’s head, the driver found himself looking into the face of a Savage beast. Wasting no time, the man quickly drove away.
As he sped down the highway, believing he left whatever that thing was behind him, he looked out his window to see how wrong he was. Keeping pace with the car, was the frightening figure. According to the man the creature attempted to gain access but he was able to fight it off. As he left the creature in the dust, he heard what sounded like an unearthly howl ring out through the cool desert night. Those who have driven along Highway 491, old Route 666, are quick to warn others of the horrors that await them. They caution them to drive fast, be safe and most of all, travel at your own risk.
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