Running from the tip of Florida to the top of Maine, US Route 1 was the first major construction project of the interstate highway system. Begun in the early 20th Century, the original Baltimore-Washington Boulevard was already obsolete within a decade. The increased traffic from military convoys during WWI continued as the University of Maryland moved its undergraduate campus from Annapolis to College Park in 1920. Accidents on the crowded highway were so common that the mile south of Elkridge earned the name Dead Man’s Curve until the construction of a bypass after WWII. The ghastly accidents that plagued Route 1 inspired iconic campfire stories of phantom headlights and ghostly hitchhikers, and the suburbs near University of Maryland gave us tales of an ax-wielding boogieman stalking Lovers’ Lane.
In 1945, the suburban communities around the University of Maryland incorporated as the city of College Park and development exploded across the formerly agrarian environs of Prince George’s County. The esteemed Maryland Agricultural College continued to be a flagship of the University as cosmopolitan Washington gradually expanded into the suburbs. This ensured there was a pastoral preserve within the campus even as surrounding farmland was cleared to build more subdivisions. For young amorous college students, the nearby country lanes were an ideal location to go parking. So long as they didn’t run into the Goatman.
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That was an interesting read, and I was definitely not expecting that ending. Being mostly a skeptic, it does sound like a rational explanation of an urban legend.
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. PG County is definitely a creepy place. Having explored those backroads late at night, it is easy to understand why people get spooked and think there is some kind of monster in the woods.
There are some rather cool urban legends in regional and remote areas around the world. A part of me wishes they were true to make life more interesting.
The fun thing about urban legends is that there is often a kernel of truth behind them. The Route 1 ghost stories are a living memory of the many ghastly accidents that used to be a regular event on that highway.