My first exposure to Riverdale Road was an article from my high school paper dated October 25th, 1995 which told of myths about a man who went insane, murdering himself and his family in a house fire he started, leaving only the chicken coops and an ominous iron gate. Teens spread the urban legend for years, claiming the chicken coops were Gates to Hell, and it became quite the young tourist attraction. My school paper also warned of a phantom drag racer who would challenge you in his pickup, and would run you off the road whether you won or lost.
As soon as I was licensed to drive, I spent almost every year since exploring the road, and introducing the curious to its grisly legends.
Along the way, Iíve met others whoíd heard gory details about the roads frightening past.
Iíve discovered reports about Riverdale Roadís early history, suggesting that much slave labor occurred in the surrounding area. Found on the historic Cherokee Trail, the land was inhabited by Native Americans long before Europeans set foot in the area now known as Thornton.
In a report researched and written by High School teachers and students in the 1970ís, we are told of a historic mansion on Riverdale built by David Wolpert. He came into the area while following the gold rush. He married, had children (two who were deaf mutes), and settled down on 9190 Riverdale, in his home, the Wolpert Mansion.
Years later, tenants would report floods (no damage reported), and in May 1975 the chicken barn was burned to the ground. Later that year, the Mansion was also destroyed in a blaze.
This may have alluded to tales about the area called ďThe Gates of Hell.Ē Itís said to be much further north than the Wolpert Mansion, but the legends tell of a man who went insane and burned his house to the ground, with his family and himself within. It was said that his chicken coop was where had been provoked by demons to commit the murder/suicide. For years, the chicken coop was guarded by a large fence to deter the curious from exploring, and the mischievous from vandalism, hence the term ďThe Gates of Hell.Ē
Aside from legends regarding the Gates of Hell, there is a story about a young boy who was walking to school and was hit by a car along the way. It is said that he walks the street at night, smearing his blood on the street signs as he goes.
Riverdale has the scariest signs Iíve ever seen. Sometimes the shapes on the signs resemble handprints and dried blood splatters. The thing is, Iíve never seen any such signs anywhere else. And these signs arenít just weathered signs that have been posted for the last 20 years. As two new bridges have been recently constructed, new signs have been added on the street. These new signs also contain the blood-like markings. If you visited today and then visited a week from now you might still see the markings, but they would vary from the ones you saw today.
I have yet to find evidence of this childís identity, accident, or death.
I have, however, uncovered many accident reports and online testimonials that would suggest automobile accidents, often not resultant of drugs or alcohol. And whatís more, there werenít other vehicles involved. It sounds as though the driver saw something and swerved to avoid itÖ Or perhaps outrun itÖ
I once explored the road with a friend who had heard stories about demons who take animal form and haunt Riverdale Road. Likely stemming from Native American Legend, it was said that if you witness three forms of life (not counting other drivers or insects, of course) between entering Riverdale on 104th ave, reaching the end, and returning, then you would certainly die before reaching the bridge on 104th.
In my many years of exploration, I havenít seen more than two. Anticipating a third is scary as Hell.
My friend also spoke of two animal guardians in constant battle. A demon, or the devil himself, is said to take the form of a gray fox. His evil will consume you, should you encounter him.
His rival, a coyote, is said to be an Angel sent to protect you on your journey. I have seen a red fox twice before, but have yet to see the gray fox or coyote.
People have often reported seeing an Old Woman with a grocery cart, or a disembodied jogger along the side of the road. Other classic spirits like a ghostly hitch hiker, and a woman who was just in an accident, but disappears when you stop have also been supposedly seen.
Perhaps scariest of all are the reports of Satanist cults who hold black masses in the fields. And worse yet, stemming from a history of tragedies, is it possible that spirits of the dead, the damned, and the cursed are enough to drive wanderers to the brink of madness and murder?
Search. Explore. Investigate. And Please let me know what you've found.
"Wolpert House" - Dr. Hugo Rodeck