Atco Ghost of the Southern New Jersey Piney Barrens
The sparsely populated towns and countryside of the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey have often been the ideal setting of various ghost stories, including the infamous tale of the Jersey Devil, that are told in the more heavily populated Northern New Jersey and Philadelphia metropolitan regions. One of those “Piney” towns is home to a lesser-known, but equally interesting, tale of a street that is haunted by the ghost of a young boy. The story is set in the town of Atco, within Waterford Township, and is located approximately half-way between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, right in the heart of the Wharton State Forest section of the Pine Barrens National Reserve.
The story was told to me by one of my high-school classmates, who is a resident of the town of Atco. The nineteen year old young man is currently a sophomore at Clemson University and describes himself as being a Roman Catholic of half Italian-American and half Irish-American decent. The young man also noted that he is normally very socially conservative and a staunch Republican. His father is employed as a general contractor and his mother runs her own catering company. He describes himself as a “self proclaimed expert of all things related to the Atco Ghost.” He cannot remember the specific date when he first heard the story, but stated that he can remember knowing most of the details to the story for most of his life. He also claims to have attempted to see the ghost on only one occasion and after what he saw, he refuses to ever go back to that area of town at night. The following is an almost word for word account, which he checked to ensure its accuracy, of the lengthy story as he retold it to me on a recent trip to my hometown:
During the 1970s, on Burnt Mill Road, right off the Old White Horse Pike there used to be a factory until it was knocked down sometime in the ‘80s. I think the current building at the site is head of Waterford Township Water and Electric. All types of trucks, from flatbeds to tractor-trailers, would travel down the normally empty roads to load and deliver materials to the factory.
One night, in the summer of ’77, I think, a flat bed was heading back to the factory just after dusk. Thinking that he was going to be too late to make his delivery, the driver attempted to make up his lost time by taking a short cut and traveling down the less populated Burnt Mill Road, where he could travel at a speed well above the posted limit without worrying about getting caught by the police. What the driver did not know was that a little boy, about seven years old, was playing basketball in his front driveway. The parents, who were known throughout the town as having a “hippie” approach to raising their children, often let their young son roam around the outdoors with no supervision. As the flatbed continued to fly down the street towards the factory, the innocent young boy missed a shot and...