Legend: The Sussex Wisconsin Bugline


In the Village of Sussex, Wisconsin, there is a trail (the Bugline Trail) that runs through our village and three neighboring villages. This trail is commonly used by all, except after 8 pm. It’s not the trail is closed or anything; the locals just chose to avoid it after dark.


Informant: “My parents and my grandparents have all grown up in Sussex, Wisconsin, right, and the Bugline trail, has always been an unofficial cornerstone of the community. It was actually only recently paved and added to the park system like 7 years ago. My parents always let me use the trail to walk between my community and my friends’ (it’s like a 15 minute walk). I literally could, even as a kid. But, they would never, ever let me use the trail after 8 pm. I was always told it was because there were stories of people getting kidnapped or going missing at night when using the trail, but I’ve literally never seen any news reports or anything about it. It was always just something everyone knew not to do.”


Given that Sussex, WI is my hometown, I’m all too familiar with this legend. I’ve heard so many versions of it over the years: a farmer once went insane and now haunts the trail, there’s an active KKK coalition by it, literally everything. The one thing to know about my hometown is that the people are very superstitious. So, I’m not surprised that this legend exists, especially when it exists with very little validation. I do know however, that every retelling of this story is basically a memorate at this point; everyone has their own unique take, and it’s hard to piece together the core of the narrative when everyone has such a personal interpretation of the legend.