Due to the graphic nature of this haunted place, listener discretion is advised this episode includes dramatizations of harm against children and brief references to lynchings and the genocide of Native Americans. We advise extreme caution for children under 13.
B didn't like driving much less at night, she'd gotten her license just a few months ago and only pasture test by the skin of her teeth, she prayed that her headlights would get her from Thornton to her parents house in Brighton safely, but her hands gripped the steering wheel tightly.
All she had to do was stand Riverdale Road. But what should have been a straight shot was instead a series of tight curves surrounded by shadowy trees and black sky. She focused her gaze and obeyed the posted speed limit. She stayed well below 30 miles per hour, even though the road was empty.
But soon she saw another car approaching some vintage muscle thing her brother would have loved, she watched it quickly closed the distance between their two cars too quickly.
Suddenly, she realized just how fast it was going to be looked left and right. If the other driver was drunk, there was no way for her to swerve and avoid it. She'd be in a ditch either way.
Then she saw him. There was a jogger in the other lane. These knuckles went white. The runner was right in the path of the hot rod.
If he didn't get out of the way, he would surely be hit by faster headlights and leaned on the horn. But the runner kept jogging, totally oblivious.
The speeding car turned a corner, throwing the jogger between its headlights. But this time it was in the center of the road. It was about to hit both of them. Be close your eyes, in spite of all she'd been taught, bracing for a collision. But there was nothing, no crash, no squealing tires. She opened one eye and slowed the car to a stop. She threw open her door and walked onto the pavement. But there was no steam coming from the hood, no blood on the road, no wreckage at all.
Both the car and the jogger were gone. Welcome to Haunted Places, a Spotify original from podcast, I'm Greg Pulsing. Every Thursday, I take you to the scariest, eeriest, most haunted real places on Earth. You can find episodes of haunted places and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify. And every Tuesday, make sure to check out urban legends. These special episodes of Haunted Places are available exclusively on Spotify. This week joined me on a supernatural journey to Colorado's Riverdale Road, an isolated spot of highway between two Denver suburbs that is known as the scariest road in America.
And discover why to this day it's haunted. Coming up, we'll take a drive down Riverdale Road.
Riverdale Road is an 11 mile stretch of narrow highway between the Denver suburbs of Thornton and Brighton, Colorado, like much of the Denver area. The road is the very definition of wide open space, green fields and dusty farms bisected by a two lane highway. Though farmhouses dot the landscape every now and then, you likely won't see another living soul as you travel down the pavement, even under a blue sky.
The road makes you realize how very alone you are.
But at night, Riverdale Road comes alive. It's known for being a place of shadows, ghosts and demons. Rumors include two ghost cars and a spectral jogger who was killed in a collision.
But it isn't these small spirits that gave Riverdale Road the title of the most haunted road in America. It's something far bigger and a bit more flammable. Sophie didn't know how long she'd been driving at some point during her cruise down Riverdale Road. Time had lost all sense of meaning. Her body was going through the motions of driving, but her brain was quiet. She liked the isolation of it all, sometimes imagining she was in a completely different world. There were no other cars in sight.
Fields of weeds sprouted on the sides of the highway. The sun dip down just below the horizon, and the crooning of Ella Fitzgerald drowned out the sound of her tires churning on the pavement. But then the route started to move from straight to curving. She slowly let her attention come back to her driving not fully ready to let go of the beautiful emptiness in her mind. She held onto the steering wheel loosely and shoved her sunglasses onto the top of her head.
It was nearing dusk.
Sophie flicked on the headlights and her breath immediately caught. There was a Victorian manor sitting in the middle of the street, her mind struggled to make sense of what she was seeing, but her foot slammed down at the brake hard.
The car halted and her body jerked forward, but the seatbelt held her back. Somebody pulled up the parking brake with her heart pounding in her chest. She closed your eyes and breathed deeply, forcing her heart rate to slow down when she felt that she was under control. She opened her eyes again slowly. Sophie couldn't understand what she was seeing, the highway just stopped right at the house, a small park. She knew she wasn't lost, her GPS said.
So she was just heading to a friend's house just off the route. But the old house looked like it had been standing there for at least 100 years. It didn't make any sense. She knew she should probably stay in the car and find another route. Turning around would have been best.
There wasn't enough space for her to go around the manor, but the sight was so strange, so improbable that she couldn't help herself. She had to know if she was dreaming. Sophie got out of the car and approached the house. The white wood of the door and window frames was split and fading. Cracks in the glass spread like spiderwebs. A small porch around the structure had several missing floorboards as she walked closer to her brain, told her to let it alone to go back to the car.
But her body felt differently. She climbed up the steps. The house groaned as though it didn't want company. But Sophie knocked on the door anyway and waited for a response. She didn't expect one, but she also didn't want to scare anyone. She just wanted to peer inside only for a moment. But nobody responded. She gently pushed the door open. It moved ajar with a sigh, as if the whole house was breathing.
This made her more nervous. As much as the space called to her, she didn't like how alive it felt. Houses didn't have souls. She shook off the thought she was making too much of things. She should just go in. Sophie placed her hand on the cracked white paint of the door that nudged it open the rest of the way.
Based on the outsides condition. She expected dust, mold and maybe pieces of the ceiling hanging by a thread.
But the inside was completely different. The lacquered floor of the foyer gleamed from a fresh coat of polish and gas lamps with gleaming brass fixtures gave the entire space a soft glow overhead. A crystal chandelier hung perfectly still and glistening as a brand new Sophi stepped inside the room, pulled by some force she didn't understand. She hurt the door, shut firmly behind her. Whoever lived here had embraced the age of the house, decorating it to look as though it came out of a period film with all the candlelight and crystal.
It was unnerving, but beautiful. Soon, a woman floated down the stairs, Sophie flinched in surprise, but after a moment, she found herself taken by the woman's appearance. She was wearing a diaphanous dress with a bustle in the back and her hair piled stylishly on her head. Sophie felt a desire to get to know her, to learn her name. Sophie called out to the woman, hello, but the woman didn't reply. Instead, she carried on as if Sophie wasn't there at all.
Sophie was upset, at least at first. But as she watched the woman move through the glistening house, some part of her told her it was better not to be seen. So she quietly trailed behind her until they reached an ornate dining room. The woman set the table with fine China and two children climbed out from underneath the tablecloth like their mother, they were dressed in beautiful antique clothing. The children walk and spoke in harmony, and the mother set the table with ruler like precision.
Sophie was so puzzled by the strange demonstration that when the door opened and shut behind her, she didn't hear it.
The children looked over in Sophie's direction, smiled and ran through her body.
She felt herself growing cold and stiff, as if ice crystallized around her bones. Then a strange smell floated in from behind her. It was familiar and alien all at once, soothing but synthetic. Sophie tried to move out of the way, but her feet were stuck. The children ran through her again.
Then came something much larger, coming toward her from behind. A massive chill ran through her body as a disheveled looking man walked through her and toward the family. Sophie smelled the odor again. The man's skin, his clothes, everything gave off that strange synthetic smell. She watched him tip a flask upside down and trickled liquid along the floor. Sophie suddenly realised what the smell was gasoline. Sophie screamed, begging for herself to wake up, but no one appeared to hear her, and her body stayed where it was locked in the nightmare or what she hoped.
It was a nightmare. The fumes were going to Sophie's head. She willed her legs to move, but they wouldn't budge. She was completely frozen. The man splashed some of the flask onto the children's heads, then sprinkled some of the table that children looked up at him, confused. The mother smiled, not blinking. He approached a stone fireplace, took out a match and dropped it onto the table.
The fire caught immediately consuming the table like a rabid animal. Sophie watched as the flames leapt from the furniture and toward the children's heads. She screamed as loudly as she ever had so loudly that her throat hurt. Finally, she felt her feet start to wobble, motion returning to her limbs. She didn't hesitate. She turned and ran out of the house. She heard the door slam behind her, but she didn't stop. She ran straight for her driver's seat and jammed the key in the ignition.
Panting She began in a moment back on the road, she thought. But just as she turned the key the engine wouldn't catch. She begged her car to start glancing toward the house. In a panic, the flames grew and crackled. Coming closer and closer, she heard glass break. Her engine finally roared to life and she exhaled, putting the gear into reverse. She turned and sped away her mind racing. But what she just saw, should she call the fire department the police?
But when she looked up at her rearview mirror, the manor was gone again. She was alone on a long strip of road, curving off into the distance. It was as though the house had never existed at all. Every bit of local Denver legend seems to involve the Wilpert match and in some way, the house was built in 1864 by a settler named David Wilpert, who came to Colorado looking for gold but settled successfully into agriculture. The Wilpert are said to have lived happily in the nine room mansion for over 50 years, but it's after this point that things get hazy.
The building was reportedly used as a gambling den and a brothel in the 1920s. But sometime between 1918 and 1937, the house fell into disrepair and it was left vacant. It deteriorated until a fire broke out on November 28th, 1975. That morning, the whole mansion burned to the ground. Members of the community have long speculated about the fire's cause, but at some point, a legend about a man who burned down the home with his family inside took hold.
Some suggest these rumors about the 1975 fire were an echo of a previous tragedy that occurred decades before. But there's no concrete proof yet. The lack of historical records hasn't stopped the legends travelers on Riverdale Road report seeing the ghostly visage of an old house in what should be empty fields and sometimes in the middle of the road. Up next, the gate to Wilpert mansion has an evil life of its own. Podcasters, you know, the world can be chaotic and unpredictable, but how far would you go to turn the tides of favor in your direction?
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Now back to the story, the remains of Wilpert mansion are set back from Riverdale Road, buried within the surrounding woods, decades before a small dirt road was built to lead up to the house. But today, it's experienced as much wear and tear as the mansion itself. For this reason, the surrounding area appears desolate and abandoned, the perfect place for dumping trash or holding certain special projects.
Jake was always down to travel for a new and unique experience from Instagram pop ups to underground art shows, he drive from Colorado to Oregon. If it meant an event like no other someone, he'd received an invite to a party by a lonely length of road in rural Colorado. He knew he had to check it out and bring his 300000 Instagram followers along with him. He liked parties, scary things and eatery spaces where your imagination could run wild. But he especially liked the photo of the person that deemed him.
He didn't know them persay, but they looked friendly enough. Besides, he could handle himself even if things got a little eyes wide shut. Jake drove four hours to reach Riverdale Road, which is supposed to lead straight to the venue. It was true to his Google search, a long snake of asphalt that extended into the horizon.
Nature caressed the road on both sides with overgrowth. Leaning toward the street, small patches of snow lay in the fields, trying to hang on through the early spring.
As Jake drove around a new curve, his GPS began to struggle, losing signal even though we had full bars. Finally, it shut off completely. When he turned it on again, it acted as if he was still in the closest town. Thornton, the usually calm navigation voice, screeched, its words garbled. He managed to turn the whole thing off before it blew out his eardrums, but he needed to pull over. When he got out of the car, he noticed a cluster of rusted chicken coops in the adjoining field.
Jake whistled, trying to draw the attention of the chickens, but there was no clucking. Only silence, a silence too deep for a place as long as these woods on the other side of the treeline line, he noticed a small house waiting in the distance. It was a charming little thing. They pulled out his phone to get a quick picture. Maybe he could finally use that cottage core hashtag. But as he zoomed in on the chicken coops, he noticed there was something behind them.
Jake slit his phone in his back pocket and jogged over behind the empty chicken wire. A series of small animal heads were lined up in neat little rows, not just chickens, but squirrels, rabbits, even a fox. All of them were in various stages of decomposition. Some had small pieces of bone sticking through their skin, while others had lost their flesh completely. He debated posting a picture and asking his followers what to do. But something about the display didn't sit right with him.
Whatever kind of person was ripping the heads off woodland creatures and stacking them like some Indiana Jones villain wasn't someone he wanted to meet or even entertain the thought of. He turned to leave, but he felt his foot slide into something with a wet squish.
When he looked down, maggots and aphids were crawling along his shoe. Jake stomach churned. He stepped into a partially disemboweled squirrel body. The head was gone, probably the newest one in the collection. He carefully lifted his shoe out of the mess and rubbed the soil against the slushy ground, trying to pull the guts off his white sneakers. Dirty white sneakers weren't cool, no matter how hard he scraped.
Small flecks of red and brown still clung to the fabric. He walked back to the car and sat in the driver's seat with the door open. He took off his soiled shoe and banged it against the car doorframe. Pieces of viscera and insects went flying into the wind. He didn't care where they went as long as it was away from him. He pulled out a wet wipe from his glove box and finished cleaning his shoes more than a little grateful his mom had put both wet wipes and hand sanitizer in his car.
Jake put his shoe back on and squirted a glob of hand sanitizer into his palms. So far, this wasn't the kind of adventure he'd been looking for. He turned the engine back on and checked his phone. Thankfully, the GPS blinked to life. He was only a few miles out from his destination. Jake scanned the horizon, but he wasn't sure what he was looking for. The person and his teams had only told him that he'd know the entrance when he saw it.
But a line of dead rodents wasn't exactly Jake's kind of party, so he decided to move on. As he continued to drive, he began to grow, nervous about how desolate the area was. It didn't feel like a place meant for humans, and he didn't even want to think about the one speck of human evidence he did find. He kept his foot on the gas, looking left and right for some sort of sign. He was contemplating giving up when out in the distance, he spotted a rusted metal gate, rays tied to the sky like some death metal cover came to life.
Just behind it, he caught the glimmer of a bonfire. It had to be the party. He was sure of it. Jake turned down the small offshoot road and tried to drive through the open gates, but his car stalled right beneath them. Jake turned the engine once, twice. Still no luck. He guessed it didn't matter. Now he was planning on staying the night anyways. He could do an Instagram, live in the morning and have his followers help him figure out what was up with the car.
He locked the car up and shoved his hands in his jacket pockets. Soft snow was falling over the field, now heavy as ash, but the flames of the distant bonfire still flickered in the growing darkness. This was going to be awesome. He pulled out his phone again to take a picture, but he could see in the image was snow. He'd have to get closer. As he crossed the field, a large brick house emerged from the swirling white, a bonfire crackled right in front of it, but no one was maintaining the flames.
Jake looked around him, but there was nothing but the dark grey sky. The fire and the house. So the house it was he climbed up the steps to the front porch and opened the door.
Inside the party was in full swing, the sounds of laughter and toasts carried into the hallway, the great room was filled with gold and crimson roses and jet black candles. Every guest wore an identical white mask that concealed their eyes but left their lips visible. And everyone's teeth were perfect. Their smiles glinted under the twinkling chandelier is making the revelers look almost fanged. Jake worried he'd missed the memo, but he felt a servant pull off his coat and thrust a mask into his hand.
He was glad he kept his phone in his back pocket. He'd sneak in and updater to from the bathroom. But maybe it was time to stop and smell the roses, even if they were a little satanic. He moved between the currents of laughing people as they sipped fizzy red drinks and swallowed canapé whole, Jake reached for one off a passing tray. But when he looked down, he saw that whatever it was was still raw, wriggling alive, rich people.
Jake thought he took out his phone and snapped a picture. At least it would make a good story. He met the waiter, passed without partaking a masked man, played upscaled jazz versions of pop classics. Maybe he actually liked Nickelback, after all. Jake leaned in to speak to a waiter, asking where he could find the host. The waiter laughed and told Jake that the host would find him. They'd been waiting for him. Jake blushed and shrugged and down to what he thought was a deep red rosé.
He was absolutely parched, but the bubbly crimson liquid offered no relief. It was too thick and tasted slightly metallic. He was about to ask for water when a small but striking person approached him. Jake knew them from his DBMS, their profile, his host.
They looked at him with glittering gray eyes, smiling with perfect teeth. Jake was delighted. They made small talk. His host asked him how the trip had been and if he'd learned anything. On the way, Jake cocked his head, puzzled. What did they mean by that, the host just laughed. There was no need to be modest, they assured him curiosity was always rewarded in their domain. Jake laughed nervously. Domain was a little much even for him.
He tried to move the subject away from himself, asking them to tell him what their domain was called. He was expecting some vaguely British sounding name, Northanger Hights or the like.
But the host just smiled at Jake the way a cat smiles at a mouse.
They thought the fire would make it obvious. The host told him they then took Jake's hand and led him to a door sleeping with heat. He didn't even have time to pull out his phone before the host opened it wide. And Jake got to experience what had been waiting for him all along. Sometime between 1975 and the present day, Riversdale Road became a popular dumping ground for trash from neighboring farms. It was also the destination for something far stranger than rusting tractors.
The western side of the road in particular, allegedly became a popular site for animal sacrifices and Satanist rituals. Paranormal investigators who frequent the area commonly report feelings of an oppressive presence on the western side, one that leads to feelings of dread and hopelessness. The rumored Satanists are said to be drawn to Riverdale Road by the sinister power of Wilpert mansion's front gate, an ornate iron barrier whose dramatic curves and horn like protrusions have given it a striking nickname, The Gates of Hell.
Coming up, Wilpert mansion is repurposed, but even nature can't fight its dark legacy. Now back to the story of.
Ten years ago, nearly all of Riverdale Road felt desolate, the sky and fields stretched on forever, all sense of distance and space collapsing into a never ending vista. But the area has been developed in recent years. Ranchers have built dirt trails off of Riverdale, and new houses sit right next to the road itself after the Wilpert mansion burned down. The community began to reclaim the land from life instead of death, and established a preserve with bird watching, fishing and walking trails.
But just because the old house is gone, it doesn't mean its former inhabitants aren't still waiting for visitors.
Kami look very cute in her waders, if she did say so herself, there was a peer, but she didn't like being around all the people she much preferred walking into the river and getting a little bit of distance when she cast her line. She loved the feeling of independence. When she was fishing, she was accountable to nobody but herself. The float at the end of her line dipped just once below the water.
She felt a slight tug on her pole, a devilish smile washed over her face as she gave the line a little slack, she'd get the little guy to come to her. She focused on a point in the distance and balance the rod, preparing to pull in earnest. But then she saw something in the trees that made her lose her focus. It was a small gray silhouette, a child maybe, but a kid couldn't have traveled all that ground on the other side of the river alone.
Suddenly, Cami realized she forgot to pull her fishing line, the line unspoiled and unspoiled until she finally felt the tension again. She focused on her pole, her hands burning as she gradually reeled the fish back in. But it was slow going. She returned to scanning the horizon, looking for the shape. But there was nothing there.
Frustrated, she growled slightly and pulled the rail a bit too hard, the line snapped and the fish swam away, carrying her favorite tackle with it. Cami stopped her water covered foot in the river, angry at herself. She knew better than to disturb the water again, but she wasn't used to losing to something so low on the food chain. That catch should have been easy. She took a deep breath, repaired the mine and cast again. She relaxed as the line fell into the water, but then her eyes narrowed.
The shape was definitely there now. It slowly came into focus, a strange gray scale against the green trees. It was a little girl. She was watching Kamei curious. Kami sighed and waved begrudgingly. She didn't like kids, but she didn't want to be a jerk about it. But the little girl didn't wave back. So Cami shouted Hello. And again the child refused to acknowledge her. Cami told yourself it wasn't worth disturbing the fish for some dumb kid.
She closed her eyes and tried to imagine she was still by herself. But when she opened them again, the girl was just across the water. Standing in the reeds faced little bugger, wasn't she? The girl's dress was gray and stained, oily. Even her skin was pale. Cami was never one for encouraging children to wear makeup, but that under circle situation needed help. Cami called out again, smiling awkwardly. This time, still, the girl just stared at her, fidgeting with the folds of her dress.
Cami was at a loss. This was why she never wanted to be a mother. She had better things to do than worry about some kid. Then the girl began to wade into the river. Can we try to yell? But her voice was dry. She needed to tell the girl not to go any further. The currents had serious pull. Even Cami wouldn't try to cross it, and she was wearing waders. The kid was nine maybe and thin as a rail.
If she fell, she'd be a twig in the rapids. Cami shouted again, this time trying to sound as gentle as she could. She told the girl to turn back, but she only waded in further. Kami tried every tactic she could, cajoling, ordering, begging her to stop. But the girl kept coming Kami side. She dropped her rod into the weighted bucket and march toward the center of the river. The girl reached out her arms to her.
Kami grumbled that her behavior wasn't cute. Then the girl lit on fire.
Cammies mouth fell open, water rushed by her as blue and orange flames consumed the girl's clothes and skin, ash slowly fell into the river, only to be swept away. Cami gasped, still rushing forward. She had no idea what she could do, but some part of her told her to try to help. No one else could. She weighted toward her fighting the current with each step. There was no heat coming from the girls flaming form, just the cold rush of water.
As it tugged at cammies heels, she reached for the girl arm stretched, balance teetering, hoping to dump her in the river if she could. But as her fingers touched, the girl disappeared, can be slipped and fell back into the water with a splash.
She struggled to stand up, sputtering, but her waders were filling with water.
The weight pulled her back down. She tried to get traction to stop herself from being dragged with the current, but her boot slid on the wet rocks below, and before she knew it, she was being swept into the shallow rapids. She tried to call for help, asking for anyone to come grab her to pull her out. But then her head hit a rock and Cami was washed away. If you drive down Riverdale Road today, you'll still see the stunning natural beauty Colorado was known for a wide open skies, bubbling river and sparkling lakes.
But things are changing. The Wilpert property is now a small nature preserve known as the pelican ponds open space. It's a great spot for walking, bird watching, fishing and nature photography. Sure, sometimes mysterious ghost children appear in the shots, but that makes the photographs all the more striking. Riverdale Road is one of those places that seems to collect urban legends the way abandoned buildings collect dust. Some are drawn from actual traffic accidents or collisions that at least sound like they could be true.
Others are a bit stranger, like the mysterious Wolpert mansion and its gates to hell, and some are a sign of a shared guilt. The community isn't ready to remedy and perhaps never will be. The corpses of lynched slaves are said to appear in the trees beside the road and white occupiers. Legends of Native American skinwalkers prowling the side of the road still persist today. But we can't give credence to these ghostly rumors beyond America's own shadowy legacy. One of the facts we can prove is tangible.
According to locals, the recurring presence of burnt candles and mutilated animals on the west side of Riverdale Road. So what came first? The hauntings or the Satanists? The stories or the guilt? Much like a driver on that fateful stretch of highway.
We can't see things from a different perspective unless we turn around. That's not to do that, though, because on Riverdale Road, you never know what's chasing you.
Thanks again for tuning into haunted places. We'll be back on Thursday with the new episode. And don't forget to come back on Tuesday for our Urban Legends series available only on Spotify. You can find more episodes of Haunted Places and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify. I'll see you next time. Haunted places this modify original phone podcast executive producers include Max and Ron Cutler, Sound Design by Kenny Hobbs with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Erin Larson.
This episode of Haunted Places was written by Little Director and Jennifer Rachet with Writing Assistants by Alex Garland. I'm Greg Polson. Hang a horseshoe above your door, keep a rabbit's foot in your pocket and follow superstitions free on Spotify, listen every Wednesday for the surprising backstories, stories to our most curious beliefs and thrilling tales that illuminate the mystical eeriness of our favorite superstitions.