Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Ghosts and Legends of Highway 666


Growing up in New Mexico I have heard many stories about a lonely stretch of highway near Gallup within view of Shiprock called Highway 666. 

Many people over the years have been killed in accidents along this road. Christians feel the three 6’s represents what they refer to as the “Number of the Beast.” Because of the random number assigned to this highway it became known as the “Devil’s Highway” this name is part of the urban legend that grew around it.

This highway is also considered to be very haunted. For years, despite it majestic scenery many travelers have gone out of their way to avoid driving this road, especially after dark.




The Native Americans that live in the area call the ancient eroded volcano of Shiprock Tse Bi dahi meaning “Rock with Wings” this came from an ancient myth that tells how the rock was once a great bird that transported the ancestors of the Navajo to the land were they now live in northwestern New Mexico.

The Indians in this area believe in people who have the ability to transform into various animals. These people are called skinwalkers. A more general term for this is shapeshifting. Within this culture many still believe that skinwalkers exist on Highway 666. They sometimes appear suddenly in front of oncoming traffic. Others believe these skinwalkers appear to warn them not to continue down the road—if they don’t take heed an evil shaman will appear and attempt to take their life in order to capture their soul.

This highway is haunted by a pale spirit of a young girl that appears by the side of the road wearing a white gown. Her expression is one of great sadness that often prompts the concern of individuals who have spotted her alone on this desolate desert road. She sometimes appears as a hitchhiker, and when people have stopped she literally disappears. Others describe her as running right into the road in front of their cars and just as they are braking or about to hit her, she vanishes.

One urban legend that surrounds Highway 666 is about a ghost vehicle that is referred to by the name of “Satin’s Sedan.” This dark apparition appears after sunset, on nights when there is a full moon. It charges it’s innocent victim’s cars driving them right off the road. 

Another ghost vehicle is described as a semi truck driven by a crazed man who also tries to drive people off the road. Some witness descriptions state their cars have either over heated or they have had a flat tire that forces them to pull over. Stranded on the side of the road, they claim this fast moving truck has intentionally aimed for them. Several have had their cars hit by this angry driver that is known to hate anything that has life. 

These two black vehicles are also seen when their headlights are spotted in drivers’ rear-view mirrors. They start to tail gate their intended victims, and then hit them repeatedly from behind.

Another urban legend is about ghost dogs. These vicious, threatening dogs are called the “Hounds of Hell.” Witnesses have seen them run so fast that they can keep up with cars regardless of how fast they are traveling. It is claimed these dogs have caused many accidents. They are said to have razor-sharp teeth that have shredded many car tires. There are also claims that they jump right into cars mauling the individuals inside.

The last urban legend connected to Highway 666 is people disappearing without explanation. Several times people’s cars have been found with no trace of the owner. Some disappear for long periods of time and then they suddenly reappear hours or days later. The people who have claimed this has happened to them state they were not aware they were gone so they have no recollection of what happened to them during their absence. 

A similar phenomena connected to this road is people who have stated that it took them a lot longer to travel it then they expected. They also are not able to explain this loss of time.

Parts of the original Highway 666 crossed Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. But it is the stretch near Gallup, New Mexico, within sight of Shiprock; that has experienced most of this strange phenomenon. 

Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico, fulfilled one of his campaign promises when he was first elected; he changed the name of Highway 666 to U.S. Route 491. He also spent thousands of dollars to improve the road. Since the name change people say the road no longer lures the evil spirits it once did. The improvement to the road itself has cut down the number of accidents that occur.

A side note to this is when people found out the highway’s name was to be changed every “Highway 666” sign was stolen—several of them were later sold on eBay.

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