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HISTORY & HAUNTINGS OF AMERICA
HAUNTED UTAH

HIGHWAY TO HELL
Mysteries of Route 666 Across Utah
BY LINDA DUNNING

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Route 666 is a lonely, deserted stretch of road with a long history of accidents and apparitions. Because of the so-called bad luck along this stretch of road, state highway officials in all four states have been asked at one time or another to change the name of this highway. The only state to respond to this demand until just recently, was Arizona. Because a lot of Arizona motorists complained the highway running through their state is now named Highway 191. Also disgruntled, a man from Indiana wrote one of his U.S. Senators, asking why New Mexico didn't change their section of the highway's name. In each case and state (except in Arizona) the demands were tabled. Eventually, however, quite a bit of this highway has become Highway 191, even in Utah. Originally named in 1926, it was the sixth branch of the now defunct Route 66, and therefore became Route 666. Most of the highway now will be named Highway 191.

However, people still don't like having to drive on a road that refers to the antichrist and still remember that it once had such a name.. Interestingly, my husband has his own tale of traveling this very same highway when he was on his way to Texas, long before I ever met him. He used to drive very long distances all by himself, being a country boy from southern Indiana. There wasnĎt much for small town high school kids to do there in the evenings but drive the old country roads, watch the fireflies over fields, gather in graveyards, go arrowhead hunting or chase imagined UFO's. Anyway he was driving this highway (in the middle of the night) headed for Gallop. He was alone and hadnít seen a car for miles and miles. 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. It scared him so bad that he pulled way off the road and walked 20 feet or so out into the desert away from his car and waited for the truck to pass him, going what he estimated was 130 miles an hour. He then got back into his car and continued on. If it were I, the fear of rattlesnakes and skin walkers would have kept me inside the car. I probably would have been run over, because I wouldn't have been able to judge the distance accurately.

In addition to the mad trucker, packs of demon dogs have been seen on this highway as wel1. 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 Native Americans tales of unwanted passengers appearing in the backseat of the car along such stretches of highway, but especially along Highway 666. It seems that skin walkers, or evil-minded Medicine Men, can shape shift often into animals such as crows, coyotes, or wolves and appear out of nowhere in front of your car on the highway. This, in and of itself, can cause unexplained accidents along the road. However, this is usually a warning and can happen several times before the evil shaman decides to appear in the backseat of your car, if you are driving alone. So it is advised that people drive in groups so the evil skin walker has nowhere to sit. This may work and it may not, for the skin walker can play all sorts of tricks on the eyes, being able to shape shift as he or she does. So it is also good advice not to be driving all night or to be very tired, as this is when the skin walkers are on the prowl stealing souls for themselves.

ďDrive Route 666 at night, and you drive at your own risk,Ē the signs should say. 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. Donít be curious to see if there is a driver in that single car passing you in the night. Donít look for lights floating in the sky. Hope you donít see any young girls in white dresses. Never stop if you spot something peculiar and donít pick up hitchhikers. Lastly, if demon dogs approach you in the night, just keep driving.

© Copyright 2003 by Linda Dunning. All Rights Reserved.

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