Urban Legends: 25 People Share the Scariest Stories they’ve Ever Heard
Image credit anoldent / Flickr.

We’ve all heard a scary urban legend or two; they are what small towns are made of. Whether it be the haunted house on the edge of town or the strange and terrible monster that lurks, deep in the woods. Passed from generation to generation these stories shift and change with the passing years and while they are often based on nothing more than our darkest fears, who knows a few of them just may be true.

Settle in and get ready to shiver as people from around the world share their most horrifying hometown urban legends. Go on, read them after dark—we dare you.

1. Dead Children’s Playground

“Back when I lived in Huntsville my home was ~100 yards away from the “Dead Children’s Playground”. During the day it was just a place parents could drop their kids while they visited buried loved ones, but during the night it’s also a huge fog trap due to a giant rock wall around half of it. Supposedly swings move on their own and you can hear children laughing. We used to go out there at midnight all the time but apparently, you have to go at “the witching hour” which I’m guessing is past my bedtime.” — TexMcBadass

Related: 21 Terrifying True Horror Stories That Will Keep You Awake Tonight

2. Charlie No-Face

“Raymond ‘Ray’ Robinson was a severely disfigured man whose years of nighttime walks made him into a figure of urban legend in western Pennsylvania. Robinson was so badly injured in a childhood electrical accident that he could not go out in public without fear of creating a panic, so he went for long walks at night. Local tourists, who would drive along his road in hopes of meeting him, called him The Green Man or Charlie No-Face. They passed on tales about him to their children and grandchildren, and people raised on these tales are sometimes surprised to discover that he was a real person who was liked by his family and neighbors.” – wwhart

3. Mothman

“Mothman. In a 13 months period between 1965-1966, the town of Point Pleasant, WV reported seeing a winged beast with big red eyes. The last report was the beast standing on the Silver Bridge. And then the silver bridge collapsed. The beast wasn’t reported again afterwards.” — TheSpanishDerp

4. Overtoun Bridge

“There’s an old house to the north of my hometown in Scotland called Overtoun House, and the legend goes that walking your dog along the bridge that leads up to the house will cause it to spontaneously leap to its death from the bridge.

This is an observable thing that actually has happened at least 50 times.

People will refuse to cross the bridge, as there are also people who report feeling suddenly and unexpectedly depressed after crossing. There was even a man who threw his baby son off the bridge in a fit of insanity after claiming his son was the Antichrist.

There’s an old Scottish myth of a “Thin Place” where the afterlife and the physical world are very close together; Overtoun Bridge is said to be one of these places.” – Connelly90

5. The Poinciana Woman

“I live in Northern Australia and everyone growing up in my town knows of the legend of the Poinciana woman.

A quick google search will elaborate into the many variations to the story but the one I grew up to know is that of a woman who was raped by Japanese fishermen who hanged herself from a poinciana tree when she had discovered she was pregnant. She is said to appear as a beautiful woman to entice men; with long dark hair dressed in a white gown, and is said to be situated at our army reserve.

When I was around twelve, and my younger brother ten, he had been in his room and I was in the lounge room on the computer. He had come barreling out from his room screaming can you hear that! Can you hear that?! before dragging me over to the window.

There was a faint feminine moan/hum, we could hear it moving from the window we stood at, to the one across the room and back in a clockwise direction. The wind had picked up with the noise despite how still the night had been. The sound became so loud that we were on the floor covering our ears crying, when I’ve brought it up recently my brother agrees it was almost as if the sound had been in our heads. This went on for about ten minutes before abruptly stopping. No wind, nothing.

We found out the next day that our older siblings had been at the army reserve that night before they got home, had climbed the concrete pillars to the locked gun turret and had been “taunting” the Poinciana woman before they left when they heard footsteps assuming it was security.

What creeps me out most is that not long after this happened, I realized that we had a poinciana tree outside of that window.” — unharmed

6. Slaughterhouse

“I used to live near Statesboro Georgia for a time, and while my own hometown didn’t have its own creepy urban legend, there was a legend about the old abandoned slaughterhouse on the aptly named “Slaughterhouse Road.” The slaughterhouse had been built sometime originally in the 20s and worked through the mid-40s before a fire ran through the place, killing a number of the employees. The legend was that the fire had been started by the owner when he found out that his young bride to be wanted to break off the marriage in favor of her childhood sweetheart. Among the dead was the woman, and the presumed sweetheart. The owner himself effectively vanished off the face of the earth after the fire, making the case technically (he’d be long dead now) still open.

The building has long stood abandoned, with no power, phone, nor access to the very topmost floor. Yet this hasn’t prevented phone calls to 911 cropping up from there, as well as strange sightings of a woman walking aimlessly along the top floor where the offices were.” – Kabukikitsune

7. Tinker’s Hollow

“I grew up in Ohio. There is the legend of Tinker’s Hollow. It is said Old Mister Tinker, a miner, haunts the site. He can sometimes be seen riding his horse and buggy, and if you go under the bridge, you can sometimes hear his buggy pass overhead. It is said that you can see his green eyes glowing and he’ll lead you to his gold if you talk to him.

Mr. Tinker was an alchemist. He made a special nonrusting metal, that has never been duplicated. There are tombstones around town that were made with his Tinker’s metal, they’re pretty neat. Unlike anything you’re used to seeing in a graveyard.” – jessika_anne

8. The Chatawa Monster

“I live in Louisiana so we have quite a few yarns to spin. My personal favorite is the Chatawa monster in my hometown. The story goes that a circus train was coming along and derailed out in Chatawa. Now aboard this train was a variety of critters, but the most notorious of them was a freak. It was a cross between a man and beast yet not quite either and was terribly ferocious so naturally, it was kept in a heavy cage in its own rail car. When the train derailed all the cars went into the woods and killed most of the animals save for a few monkeys that fled to the woods and this creature.

Well, the story goes that should you take you a little ride out to the Chatawa bridge in the dead of the night. You then kill your truck wait til the strike of 12. At first, it gets eerily quiet, then you’ll start to hear a chittering, and howling of monkeys, the branches of the trees start to sway and shake, and by the time you cut your truck back on there, there will stand the Chatawa monster waiting for his next victim.” – stopresistingtaser

9. The Cult

“In my town, we have The Cult.

It’s a really big house with super tall fences topped with barbed wire. There’s hedges planted around it so you can’t see into the property, gates with cameras and guards at the front. Armed guards walk around (or at least used to, I haven’t been out there in ages) the fences and none of the neighbors mow all the way to the fence line. Supposedly vans come and go out of the place all hours of the night certain times of the year.

The place has been an urban legend here since my mom was a kid, and for the life of me I’ve never been able to figure out who owns the place.” – KGRanch

10. The Devil’s Step

“I am from Lower Bavaria, Germany and there is this city Zulling, which also has a church. Next to the church, there are two spots in the grass, where nothing grows. People claim that back in the days, some guy robbed the church and killed the pastor. He fled through the window and the moment he touched the ground outside the church, he got struck by a lightning and died. Since this day nothing grows where he touched the ground. This spot is called Teufelstritt (literally translating to devil’s step).” – Mephistophos

Related: 20 Encounters that Prove You’re Not Safe in Your Own Home

11. Changelings

“Changelings. It isnt so much a scary folklore – human children and women stolen by fairies and replaced with fairy children or dying fairies – but how people reacted was horrifying.

Changelings were usually used to describe otherwise misunderstood or mysterious illnesses, deformities, or conditions. So, a woman has a healthy child who starts showing signs of autism at 2 years old; must be a changeling.

Which is whatever, but there were ways people thought you could get the changeling to reveal themselves or even ways to get the fairies to switch the babies back. Some were stupid harmless stuff, like cooking egg shells to confuse and surprise the changeling into speaking. Other ways were a lot worse, like beating the changeling, putting it in the fireplace, holding it under water.

There are quite a few cases where mothers killed their children because they were convinced they were changeling – drowning them, burning them alive, beating them to death, and so on.

And it didn’t end until relatively recently. In the late 1800s, nine people became convinced a woman was a changeling following a serious bout of pneumonia, including her husband and father. They beat her, threw urine at her, burned her alive, buried her body in a shallow grave, and then reported her missing to the police, saying fairies had taken her.

They were only charged with manslaughter because they firmly believed they had killed a changeling, not a woman. Or, at least, that’s what they claimed.” — iamasecretthrowaway

12. The White Bride

“I live in Worthington, Ohio. In our town, we have the legend of the “White Bride”. Supposedly in the late 1800s, a wedding was being held in our town square. Through a series of unfortunate events, a horse and buggy ran wildly across the village green and into the wedding party. The bride was instantly killed.

Now, the legend goes if you go to the village green on the anniversary of the tragedy you can hear the gallop of horse hooves and the scream of the bridge as she was run down.

It’s a big thing for the kids in our town to gather on the green on this night and see if they can hear it.” – diamondsealtd

13. The Bloody Axe

“Lansingburgh, New York (The Old Highschool).

The legend has it that early in the 1900’s a teacher went insane and slaughtered as many students as he could with an axe in room 243. This room is haunted at night by the ghost of the teacher, ranting and raving and waving his bloody axe and by the students running and screaming in panic.” – breadstick13

14. The Ghost Train

“Statesville, North Carolina, 1891. A crowded train derailed near a tall trestle, killing 30 people. From then on, on the anniversary of the wreck, you could hear the sounds of a train crashing and the screams of the dying.

In 2010, a team of ghost hunters were on that trestle on the anniversary of that wreck. They heard the sound of an approaching train and then saw a light.

Turns out it was an actual train, and it hit and killed one of the ghost hunters.” — Juxen

15. The Strangler

“We have one in Venezuela called “El Silbón” (The Whistler) typical of the wetland plains and prairies regions we call “Llanos”.

Description is usually of a very emaciated man dressed in cowboy’s (llanero) rags with a wide brim hat that hides his skeletal face. He roams the countryside and patches of bush at night, with drooping shoulders, downcast stare and a heavy bag full of bones and half decomposed remains slung over his back.

There are two distinctive features, however, that make him particular: he continuously whistles, a high chord progression C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C that goes higher in tune with every note – and is unnaturally tall and strong, with some accounts describing him as towering over 6 meters in height.

His origin is not clear, with some tales stating him as an accursed parricide. But whatever he is, is feared by lone travelers. Specially drunk or unfaithful men that travel through the country. Story has it that his ominous whistle is suddenly heard very loud and close, yet the source cannot be pinpointed – and contrary to logic, when the sound gets lower and appears more distant it is an indication of his immediate proximity.

He will then kill by strangling or by concussion and devour the victims and throw the bones in the bag. Can be seen occasionally wading over the high walls of haciendas/fincas and honest prayer should keep him away.” — softmaker

16. The Stüpp

“The Stüpp is a type of werewolf from German folklore. It usually waits around crossroads at dusk and after dark and leaps on unsuspecting passers. And that’s it. While other werewolves would promptly tear your face off, the stüpp just stays clenched to the hosts back like a backpack, forever. As the person struggles to get the creature off, it grows in size meaning the more they struggle the greater it grows until the person either has their body broken or shattered, or they die of exhaustion.” — Elfgoat

17. Stull Cemetery

“I live about 15 miles outside of Stull, Kansas. There’s a cemetery there with a church, behind which there is purportedly a staircase that is one of the seven gateways to hell. The church is old, so it’s just stone walls and no roof, but allegedly no rain or snow will fall inside of the church and if you manage to find the staircase, it descends forever and you can never reach the surface even if you turn around just moments after beginning your descent.

There was a large tree near the church that was supposed to have been used to hang witches once upon a time, but the tree was recently destroyed. There’s a rumor that, when flying over Kansas several years ago, the Pope refused to fly over Stull. It’s a very popular spot for drunk high school kids to go visit on a dare in the middle of the night.

Sadly, the walls of the church were knocked down a few years ago as well, but you can still tell where it was and the staircase remains. It’s supposed to be difficult to find, and I’ve never bothered to look very hard for it, but a lot of people insist that there really is a set of stairs descending into the ground. I’m not much for creepy stories usually, but the few times I’ve visited Stull, I wasn’t sorry to leave. It’s just a creepy place.” – menlovebluetooth

18. The Haunted Highschool

“In my hometown in El Paso, there is a legend that one of our high schools is haunted by a girl who committed suicide in the school.There were reports of green like ooze dripping from the ceiling and the hallway supposedly covered in fog every day. The hallway has been closed on the fourth floor that has been closed off for decades. Some hear a girl sobbing near the hallway, some see her waving at them from the balcony, even some see a girl jump off of the balcony and see her vanish before she hits the ground.” – SwegTestica7

19. The Blue Hole

“Indiana folk legend of the blue hole. Southern Indiana is prone to sinkholes due to limestone being weathered out from the previous ice age. This part is true they are everywhere down here. The legend goes that there is a blue hole; a sinkhole filled with crystal blue water (the kind you find when a quarry floods). Legend goes that no one has ever reached the bottom because it separates into an elaborate underwater cave. Even after professional dives. Some teens drowned in the blue hole and their bodies were never found. The blue hole just swallowed them up.” – Schneid13

20. Man-o-Woods

“In the Northeast U.S., there’s a story about Woodspeople or Man-o-Woods. When you’re driving along a road in the woods and catch a glimpse of what looks like a person in the corner of your eye, but when you look directly at it it’s gone, they say you might have encountered a man-o-woods.

They are masters of camouflage and can sense when someone looks at them. They come to a halt so you can’t sense any movement. It’s speculated that they wear bark, mud, moss, and grasses to blend in. They’re supposedly human, but extremely simple-minded; barely verbal. They’re very small in stature and avoid contact with civilization mostly. Nobody knows where they live or congregate, but they usually move on if there’s too much activity around.

They’re also peaceful. Around some farmlands, they will do very simple chores at night or off in the distance. They may sweep a barn floor or stack some wood, but anything more complex is beyond them. They do it in exchange for not bothering them as they sleep in the barn for a night or for some bread and vegetables left out for them to find. They’ve never been known to steal or kill animals or livestock.” — NickelFish

Related: 31 Real-Life Horror Stories That Will Chill You to the Bone

21. The School Bus

“San Antonio, TX A school bus stalled on Southton Rd. railroad tracks and not all of the children escaped before a train that couldn’t stop in time hit the bus and killed 10 children and the bus driver. Now if you stop on the tracks and put your car in neutral facing west it will begin to roll forward across the tracks. If you put some type of powder on the back of your car you can see small childlike handprints on the trunk and bumper as if your car was being pushed. The weirdest part is that your car rolls uphill.” – puddingisafunnyword

22. Theorosa’s Bridge

“In Wichita, there is a bridge, Theorosa’s bridge. There are a few versions of the story, but most of them tell that there once was a woman who had an illegitimate baby, and she threw the baby off the bridge into the water to be rid of it. Full of grief and regret, she then jumps in after the baby and drowns herself. Supposedly, if you go to the bridge and yell loudly that you are Theorosa’s child or that you have her child, she will appear and drown you in the river.” – Hawkings_Legs

23. Black Annis

“Good old Black Annis!

Black Annis, also known as Black Agnes, is a bogeyman figure in English folklore. She is imagined as a blue-faced crone or witch with iron claws and a taste for humans (especially children). She is said to haunt the countryside of Leicestershire, living in a cave in the Dane Hills, with an oak tree at its entrance.

She supposedly goes out onto the glens at night looking for unsuspecting children and lambs to eat, then tanning their skins by hanging them on a tree, before wearing them around her waist. She would reach inside houses to snatch people. Legend has it that she used her iron claws to dig into the side of a sandstone cliff, making herself a home there which is known as Black Annis’s Bower. The legend led to parents warning their children that Black Annis would catch them if they did not behave.” – PM-ME-YOUR-POEM

24. The Stick People

“I’m Native, and the story of the Stick People always gave me the heebie-jeebies at dusk, or if I was alone in the woods. It basically is that there are these Stick People that live in the hills, and they draw children in who don’t pay attention to their parents, children who are out past their bedtime, or even babes out of their baskets when their mothers have their backs turned to put up laundry on the line.

The Stick People, as told to me, are small, midget-like, in size and skeletal. They were mischievous and wicked, they would steal from you…like the extra sock from your dryer, your lost car keys, or…your children.

As I lived in a very rural area on a reservation, I’d assumed these Stick People lived up in the hills…so every time I’m in the hills now I’m always looking around, and very alert, and not because there are bears and cougars in the area…but because of the Stick People.” — labrys71

25. The Beast

“On the little island I grew up on, there was a story of a “beast” that would come into your home at night and fiddle with kids. And it turned out to be true.

He entered homes at night dressed in a rubber mask and nail-studded wristlets, attacking women and children. It went on for a period of eleven years from 1960 as the beast roamed the island.

Caught in 1971. Story here. And then there was a book. The cover gives you an idea of what the Beast of Jersey looked like.” — fletchindubai

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