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Destination Strange Destination Strange

Your guide to all places other‑worldly, haunted, and just plain weird.

Resurrection Mary is America's most famous vanishing hitchhiker

Chicago's Resurrection Mary is one of the most famous "vanishing hitchhikers", well, probably ever. She's been scaring the crap out of the motorists on Archer Avenue since the 1930s, and with her consistent appearances she shows no sign of slowing down. 

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According to the legend, Mary is the spirit of teenage girl who, after getting into a fight with her boyfriend, decided to walk home from the Oh Henry Ballroom (now know as the Willowbrook Ballroom & Banquets) late one night. After less than a mile, Mary is struck and killed in a hit-and-run by a driver who flees the scene and never found. Distraught, Mary's parents lay her body to rest in Resurrection Cemetery , wearing the same outfit she wore the night of the dance. The End. Kind of.

Since 1939 people leaving the Willowbrook Ballroom & Banquets have reported seeing a woman in a white dress standing on the side of the road. Whenever she's picked up by a passing motorist, the quiet girl says nothing the entire ride, until the car passes the Resurrection Cemetery and she promptly disappears into thin air. Sometimes Mary exits the car, in one famous story she actually burns her hands into the cemetery gates, which still bare the mark to this day.


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"A couple miles up Archer there, she jumped with a start like a horse and said 'Here! Here!' I hit the brakes. I looked around and didn't see no kind of house. 'Where?' I said. And then she sticks out her arm and points across the road to my left and says 'There!'. And that's when it happened. I looked to my left, like this, at this little shack. And when I turned she was gone. Vanished! And the car door never opened. May the good Lord strike me dead, it never opened." - Bill Geist


Sometimes men will meet Mary at a local dance and when they offer her a ride home she'll accept, only once the car passes the cemetery she pulls the usual disappearing act. There are plenty of variations of the vanishing hitchhiker story, though they all end the same way... with Mary disappearing into thin air.

Folklorists and story lovers believe Mary's true identity is actually Mary Bregovy, a young girl who died in 1934. Others think she might be Anna "Marja" Norkus, another girl who died in a car crash returning home from Oh Henry Ballroom.

Plenty of perfectly sane people have claimed to see the ghost of Mary standing on the side of the road along Archer Ave. And if you're looking for something spooky to do this Halloween, Resurrection Mary is one of the most iconic American ghost stories of all time, so you can't get much spookier than that! Swing through Resurrection Cemetery (home to the world's largest stained glass window) and grab a drink at the Willowbrook Ballroom & Banquets and maybe you'll see Mary too. 

Just, don't give her a ride, 'cause she never chips in for gas.


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And then sometimes the car is way scarier than the road… Meet the real car that inspired “Christine”:

Read more about Clinton Road, quite possibly the scariest road in America:

One of our writers went to the abandoned Jungle Habitat BY HIMSELF… See what scared this idiot enough to run away:


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I certainly hope Mary's parents didn't bury her in the same dress she wore the night of the dance. Wouldn't it be a little tattered and torn and... I dunno... possibly covered in blood if she'd been killed by a moving vehicle? ;)
almost 4 years ago Resurrection Mary is America's most famous vanishing hitchhiker
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