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Route 666: The Highway to Hell

You would think that our nation’s highway planners would know to avoid naming any road “Route 666,” the sign of the Antichrist. You would think wrong. There is a Route 666--it was originally the sixth branch of the long gone Route 66 that runs through four states in the west. The road is almost 200 miles long, and runs through Colorado, New Mexico, and ends in Utah. These states are making efforts to change the name of the road, although nefarious happenings still occur along what locals have dubbed “The Devil’s Highway” nonetheless.

One enduring legend of Route 666 speaks of a young girl in a white dress who wanders along the desolate, dark road in the middle of the night. Being that there is nothing around for miles, most motorists who see the girl attempt to stop and offer help. Invariably, when they do, the young girl disappears into the thin air of the night.

More malevolent spirits of the road will go so far as to climb into your car with you. It’s said that Native American shapeshifters, known as skinwalkers, terrorize motorists along Route 666. They first appear as various animals in front of moving vehicles, hoping to cause drivers to swerve and crash. If this does not work they appear in the back seat of the car, attempting to steal passengers’ souls.

Linda Dunning, author of “Specters in Doorways: The History and Hauntings of Utah” tells of an experience her husband had on this treacherous road. He was driving alone on Route 666 one night when suddenly “he saw a truck that looked like it was on fire heading straight for him, right down the middle of the highway. The truck was going so fast that sparks were flying up off the wheels and flames were coming from the smokestack.” He estimated that the truck was traveling 130 miles an hour. He pulled off the road and fled into the desert until the imposing, flaming vehicle passed him by.

According to Linda the mad trucker is not the only apparition one should be wary of while traversing this cursed ribbon of asphalt. She says “Packs of demon dogs have been seen on this highway as well. They attack at night with yellow eyes and sharp teeth; shredding the tires of those silly enough to stop along this highway at night. Then there is a beautiful, young and frail girl in a long nightgown that roams the road. People see her walking along the side of the road, all alone in the dark out in the middle of nowhere. They stop to help her and as they approach, she instantly vanishes. There are many other tales of people who either disappear along this route or suddenly appear out of nowhere. There are even tales of the same person, disappearing at one point along the highway and then reappearing at another location miles away, without having any recollection of where they have been or what they have been doing.”

There are decidedly non-paranormal horrors on Route 666 as well. In 2002 a woman had a heart attack while driving and drove head on into a speeding truck. Four people died and a baby was seriously injured on the Devil’s Highway.

After much public pressure, most of the highway has been re-christened with different number designations. The states included the following justifications for changing the road’s name in their petition to federal officials: 

"WHEREAS, people living near the road already live under the cloud of opprobrium created by having a road that many believe is cursed running near their homes and through their homeland; and

WHEREAS, the number "666" carries the stigma of being the mark of the beast, the mark of the devil, which was described in the book of revelations in the Bible; and

HEREAS, there are people who refuse to travel the road, not because of the issue of safety, but because of the fear that the devil controls events along United States route 666; and

WHEREAS, the economy in the area is greatly depressed when compared with many parts of the United States, and the infamy brought by the inopportune naming of the road will only make development in the area more difficult. "

In Arizona the road is now Highway 191. In Utah it will be known as New 491/Old 666. This new moniker has not stopped the strange incidents from happening on the road, nor has it stopped people from telling stories about it.

“Drive Route 666 at night, and you drive at your own risk,” warns Linda Dunning. “Even in the daytime some of the long, deserted stretches are enough to frighten drivers, or at least put them to sleep, which is just as dangerous as seeing anything. Take a lot of people with you and don't leave any space for unwanted passengers who just might decide to appear in your backseat. Pull off the road if a huge diesel truck comes barring down on you from either direction. Don’t be curious to see if there is a driver in that single car passing you in the night. Don’t look for lights floating in the sky. Hope you don’t see any young girls in white dresses. Never stop if you spot something peculiar and don’t pick up hitchhikers. Lastly, if demon dogs approach you in the night, just keep driving." Photo by Troy Paiva – lostamerica.com

Weird Utah

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