Spook Road

Background: My informant was young Caucasian man who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He currently attends the University of Sioux Falls for Biology and History.

Main Piece: My informant made me aware of a historical location known as Spook Road, that exists just outside of the small town of Brandon, SD. Brandon is a suburb of the Sioux Falls Metropolitan area. In this area, there is a county road that is known as Spook Road to local residents. This is because there are many accounts of supernatural events occuring within this location. The most famous has to do with a ritual that many young people take, especially during Halloween. The idea is that there once was a girl there who hung herself on a bridge. What one is supposed to do is, during the middle of the night, you and your friends get in a car and drive down spook road between the main road and the highway. On the way through, you should pass over a series of bridges. You should count the bridges as you cross them going on way, turn around, and then do the same on the way back.  You should count 5 bridges on your way, one-way. However, it is said that if on your way back, you count 4 bridges, you should be very scared. There are various reports of strange happenings on this very long, very narrow road. However, this story has created strong cultural ties for the people. The road is long and narrow, so there have been many attempts to fix it and improve the road, to reduce traffic accidents. However, many in the community have slowed down this progress even to a halt, petitioning to protect the “historical landmark”. The informant also says that there are also old reports of witchcraft happening in the area, though they do not know how accurate or likely this is.

Performance Context: According to the informant, this road is particularly famous in Sioux Falls, especially since many Brandon youth visit the main city. The relative closeness to the main city means Brandon folklore is often spread through hearsay and most people know about Spook Road as a result.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it has gone from being a spooky story to a sort of rite of passage of many of the youth. There is a ritualistic action that many take upon themselves due to the relative ease of access to the story and also the challenge it seems to prod at. It is also something that is very easy to drag your friends into on a cold Halloween night, where everyone is out trying to have a good time.