While we are sure that every state has a ghost story about a lady in white, New Jersey boasts two lady spirits clad in white: one in Branch Brook Park and the other on Riverview Drive in Totowa.
Today L’Aura Hladik, author of Ghosthunting New Jersey tells us about the Lady in White of Branch Brook Park.
Branch Brook Park in Newark is 360 acres of beautifully designed gardens and more than 2,000 cherry blossom trees. One can take a leisurely walk along the four miles of park. There are two three-ton stone lions, once affixed to the headquarters building of Prudential Insurance Company in downtown Newark, that stand watch over the trout-stocked lake.
Several stories surround Branch Brook’s Lady in White. The first is that she and her new husband were on their way to the park to have wedding photos taken when their limo hit a patch of ice and skidded into a tree, killing the bride instantly. A variation of that story says that in 1976 a bride and groom were on their way home from their wedding reception and the chauffeur decided to take them through Branch Brook Park. He lost control of the car on the sharp turn and the car slammed into the tree. The bride was killed, but the groom and chauffeur survived. Weeks after this crash, two other crashes took place at this same location. Another popular story has the white lady on her way to the prom with a date in the park. He lost control of his car in heavy rain and hit the same tree. The impact killed the girl, but her date escaped with minor cuts. Regardless of the discrepancies, each story says that the Lady in White lingers near the tree that caused her death. Some feel that she is warning drivers of the dangerous curve in the road. Others think she waits for her prom date to come back for her.
On a gorgeous spring day, I took a ride to Newark to search cherry blossoms, I couldn’t find the tree of the Lady in White. I did see a couple trees with strange markings on them that could have been there to serve as an indicator of her tree, or simply a tag by the county park’s official for pruning. At the south end of the park, I saw a tree with a rather odd indentation on its trunk consistent with being hit by a car. This tree, however, is no longer near the road because the county rerouted the road due to a dangerous curve near the tree. I photographed another tree, one close to the road, as an example of how the Lady in White’s tree would have appeared prior to the road’s rerouting.
A little background research also revealed that in 1895, much of the park was originally a swamp called Old Blue Jay Swamp. Inhabitants of the surrounding tenements drank this impure swamp water, which contributed to Newark’s cholera epidemic in the 1800s. As a paranormal investigator, I suspect that the Lady in White was a product of former swamp gases and other atmospheric conditions like fog and humidity. However, the appearances of the Lady in White in Branch Brook Park seemed to subside once the road was redirected away from the fatal tree.
If you like this ghost story check back next week to find out about the the Lady in White at Totowa’s Dead Man’s Curve or pick up her book Ghosthunting New Jersey.
About the author: L’Aura Hladik, is the author of Ghosthunting: New Jersey and Ghosthunting: New York City. L’Aura has been officially ghost hunting since 1993 and founded the NJ Ghost Hunters Society in 1998, which to date is the largest paranormal investigating organization in New Jersey.
As a paranormal investigator, L’Aura has stayed at the famously haunted Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, LA. Other ghost hunting explorations have taken her to Chicago, Savannah, and New Orleans. Internationally, she’s investigated several Irish haunted castles, most notably Leap Castle (County Offaly, Ireland).