The Watchung Reservoir

The Watchung Reservoir

The following informant is a 66 year-old man who was born and brought up in New Jersey. Here, they are describing a local urban legend that they had heard throughout their upbringing; they will be identified as R.

R: The Watchung reservoir, off of Route 22, going west in New Jersey. At nighttime, we’d drive up there, and it was a dark two-lane, windy road, and there was one stretch, I forget what they used to call it, but rumour has it, and I actually did this once, where you drive in, and the road, you stop in this one part of the road, and it appears to be going uphill — you put the car in neutral, and the car keeps going uphill.

So, the story goes, one night, a couple of, the guy and his date, they were going up there, and he was showing it to her, put the car in neutral, and it started to go uphill, and she got so freaked out that she jumped out of the car, and he jumped out after her, and the next morning they were both found hanging from a tree. That’s what happens in Watchung…


This interaction took place at a family gathering for a friend that I had been invited to; the informant is the father of the friend who invited me along. This performance took place with the informant’s girlfriend listening and occasionally laughing or expressing surprise and disbelief of the story. Having an audience most likely aided in the particular delivery of this legend, as everything led to the final cadence (almost as if to add shock).

My Thoughts

I tried looking up this particular urban legend online, but without luck (this is not to say that I disbelieve the informant). There is a plethora of additional paranormal sightings, interactions, and legends. While there does seem to be an actual Watchung reservoir, the Watchung Reservation yields many more results online — perhaps this is what the informant was referring to.

The bounding borough of Mountainside is a hotspot for these stories, including rumors of witchcraft and satanism. In this regard, this legend, whether the result of countless retellings of a rumor, or an actual optical illusion affected by the location’s “haunted nature,” makes sense.