This next spooky location needs no introduction. The Pine Barrens cover one point one million acres in New Jersey. That’s nearly twenty-two percent of the state. It offers many of the amenities that other state forests or preserves offer: hiking, boating, camping, and the Baton Trail, which is nearly fifty miles long through three different state forests. But behind all of this natural beauty is a sinister secret that has even infiltrated pop culture and the inspiration for the name of New Jersey’s hockey team. It is the name of the state’s most infamous demon: the New Jersey Devil.
The Jersey Devil or the Leeds Devil is a piece of folklore that is well-known throughout the United States. In the early 1700s, Mrs. Leeds was giving birth to her thirteenth child. During the birth she cursed the baby and famously said “Let it be the devil!” and thus the devil complied. Immediately after the child was born, it let out a horrifying screech and flew out the window into the wilderness. The Jersey Devil has been said to have the face of a dog or in some accounts the head of a horse, wings like a bat, horns, and a tail. There are countless tales of the Jersey Devil appearing and destroying farms, killing animals, and terrorizing the residents of at least fifty different towns in and around New Jersey. At one point there was even a reward of one hundred thousand dollars to capture the Jersey Devil dead or alive. The creature has been seen by people from all different walks of life, police officers, businessmen, and regular everyday people.
So, the question remains: is there a Jersey Devil prowling the largest forest preserve in New Jersey or is this a bit of slander against Mrs. Leeds?