The Legend of Thirteen Curves

IMG_0214-2Nestled between what was formerly called Pumpkin and Toad Hollows is a road that has supposedly a dark tragic history to it. This road is known as Cedarvale Road and is located about ten miles outside of Syracuse, NY.  It runs between what is now known as the towns of Onondaga and Marcellus. It is your typical rural country road that is very beauitful to take a scenic drive. The landscape consists of corn fields, woods and cow pastures. Several old farmhouses and modern homes are scattered throughout this area. There is a section on this road that consists of twisty and sharp hairpin turns known by locals as Thirteen Curves.

This section of Cedarvale Road starts at Howlett Hill Road and ends at Pleasant Valley Road. On one side of the thirteen curves are tree covered hills that form a wall extending the whole length of the curves. On the other side is Onondaga Creek with several deep ravines. This part of the road is extremely dangerous especially if you are going at a high rate of speed or are not paying attention to what is in front of you. The terrain is up and down hill. One can also easily get vertigo and disoriented traveling in this area Throughout history there has been several automobile, truck and farming vehicle accidents that occurred in this particular section. In winter the pavement can become very icy and snow covered. Someone not familiar with these treacherous curves can get into an accident here. This may have been the case of one particular deadly night sixty or seventy years ago involving a newly married young couple.

IMG_0212-2I grew up in a farming hamlet called South Onondaga in the southern part of Central New York situated in the town of Onondaga. South Onondaga in the 1800’s and early turn of century was known as Toad Hollow. It is a very hilly region and has several isolated rural roads that tend to twist and turn but nothing compares to Thirteen Curves. If you take Cedarvale Road from the Marcellus area you will eventually end up in of South Onondaga. As a child I heard several stories about Thirteen Curves and the ghostly tale. My mother also was born and raised in South Onondaga. She was born in 1942 and the story of Thirteen Curves has been around since she was a child. The legend of Thirteen Curves is very well known to locals. Recently it has gained international attention from being featured in several books and on T.V.

The version of the story which I heard throughout my childhood involved a newly wed couple traveling from Syracuse on their way to the village of Skaneateles to spend their honeymoon there. Skaneateles is a historical village that has several fine dining restaurants and inns even back in the early 1900’s. The couple was traveling in a new brand luxury car. They became lost and ended up on Cedarvale Road. It was late at night and they weren’t familiar with the dangerous curves on this road. The car veered off a curve and plummeted down into the creek. The accident supposedly happened on the seventh curve. The bride was killed instantly.

To this day, it is said that the ghost of bride haunts Thirteen Curves. Her spirit has been seen in the back seats of cars traveling the road, in the woods, floating above the creek or guiding across the seventh curve. She has been seen wearing a white wedding dress. Some report she is carrying an orange lantern. Sometimes she has been seen covered in blood. Others state she has been seen carrying her husband’s head. She also supposedly walks out in front of vehicles causing them to crash.

There are also several versions to this haunting tale and if you ask locals they may tell you a different story depending on who you ask. Variations to this story include many different scenarios on what happened to the car and the couple. One is that the couple’s car broke down and the husband went to get help at a farmhouse nearby. When he came back he found his wife dead and covered in blood. Not knowing how she died. Another version reports that the couple died instantly when they crashed into the creek. Yet another states that the husband died fixing a flat tire on their car while the wife waited in the car. Eventually the wife heard scraping noises on the rooftop of the car. She got out of the auto to take a look and saw a frightening scene. Her husband was dead, bleeding and hanging upside down from a tree. His fingers were touching the roof of the car causing the noise.

It is hard to keep track of all the stories regarding Thirteen Curves there are so many. Is it just a legend or true story? No one knows for sure. However no one can find records of a new married couple involved in a deadly car crash on Cedarvale Road that occurred sixty or seventy years ago.

IMG_0209-2According to the Webster Dictionary an urban legend can be defined as a story about an unusual event or occurrence that many believe is true but really isn’t true. These stories are usually told by word of mouth and have several variations to it. Usually there is no evidence or records to prove that this unusual event took place.

Locals and several others claim they have seen the ghost that haunts Thirteen Curves. The only commonalities to all the variations of this story is that a deadly car accident occurred involving a newlywed couple and there was death. If you look at other urban myths across the country you will find similar tales involving a couple in a deadly car accident. There are also stories about bride apparitions haunting different roads or streets and being seen in the back seats of vehicles.

This haunting tale fits the description of a classic urban legend. There are several different versions of the story. It had been told word of mouth. Generations have told the story in school yards, community events, in books and on T.V. There are similar stories across the country. There is no evidence or history records of this strange event. However what about those sightings of the ghostly bride by locals and people traveling the road?

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