It’s the season for spooky stories; what better time to talk about ghosts and coins?
Clinton Road, New Jersey, is not only reported to be one of the spookiest roads in the country, but is also the home of a ghost obsessed with coins. There are many legends about the Ghost Boy, and not all of them agree about his origins or the proper method for summoning him. In some, he was challenged to stand on a bridge as a dare, from when he fell into the water and drowned. In others, he was trying to retrieve a fallen ball, or was hit by a car when picking up a coin from the ground. To summon the ghost, one generally drops a coin into the water under the ghost’s bridge to get a glimpse of a child’s reflection in the rippling water. In some versions, the child is never seen, but will take coins dropped in the water and place them on the roadway overnight. In one account, a person who was discussing the ghost’s story was startled by the sound of the coin hitting their windshield.
In Labrador, Canada, a story is told about Sam Croucher, a salmon fisherman who distrusted banks and always insisted on having his money in gold coins. Fearful that someone would break in and steal his wealth, or that a fire would melt it, Croucher hid the gold on an island. He took his almost-blind son with him to the island, but did not show him where the gold was buried, only remarking that it was well-marked. He refused to tell his wife and daughter where the coins were, lest someone force them to reveal the location. When Croucher died suddenly, no one knew where to find his treasure. Years later, after her marriage, Croucher’s daughter dreamed that her father’s ghost appeared to her and told her the specific location of the treasure. She was told to take her brother with her, and to share the wealth with him. When she arrived at the island, she went inland to find the gold, but came back empty-handed, stating that nothing could make her go back to find her father’s gold. She never told anyone what she saw on the island.
The Bell Island Hag is not known as a ghost who is fond of coins, but she has been commemorated on a coin from the Royal Canadian Mint. Some say she is the spirit of an old woman lured into a bog by the pixies; the townspeople, fearing for their own lives, ignored her cries. She initially takes the form of a beautiful young woman, but turns into a fearsome hag as she approaches. Men have stumbled out of the marshes after days, unable to remember anything but the sight of the hag, and a putrid stench as she forced them to the ground. The coin from the Canadian Mint takes advantage of lenticular technology: tilt the coin to see the hag transform.
Another Canadian ghost is the Fairmont Banff Springs Bride. The story goes that a young bride, posing for a photograph on the stairs, tripped on her dress and fell, breaking her neck. Some have claimed to see her still on the staircase, while others have seen her in the ballroom, mourning for the first dance with her groom that she never had. As with the Bell Island Hag, the coin featuring the bride changes as it is tilted.
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to verify any of these stories. But as the days get shorter and colder, it’s fun to recount a few spine-tingling stories!