The Story of Sweet Hollow Road and Mount Misery
Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Photograph by Tara Gruber THE STORY OF SWEET HOLLOW ROAD AND MOUNT MISERY by Scott Ferrara
Anyone who is interested in the haunted happenings of Long Island is familiar with the bridge on Sweet Hollow Road and the adjoining area of Mount Misery, along with the strange things that lurk there. Perhaps even you, reader, have traveled there before and may have your own expereinces to share. Sweet Hollow Road and Mount Misery are located in West Hills, a hamlet in the Town of Huntington, New York. Sweet Hollow Road is a winding, narrow, and trecherous roadway that runs north to south, adjacent to Mount Misery Road. But, what is Sweet Hollow Road and Mount Misery? What is the cultural history of this notorious location? Why is it so damn spooky? In this post, you will learn about the earliest known human activity of this location, the different bizarre practices that have taken place there through time; all the way up to the modern use and legends we know and share today. Like all of Long Island, the story of Sweet Hollow Road goes back thousands of years to the Native American communities of this area. Archaeological excavations in the 1960’s by Ron Wyatt of Garvies Point Museum discovered evidence of an ancient Native campsite along what would later become Sweet Hollow Road. These remnants were from thousands of years before European arrival in America and includes many types of stone tools (like arrow heads) and pottery. The archaeological remains indicated that the vicinity of present day Sweet Hollow Road was perhaps a winter campsite/hunting grounds for ancient Native Americans on Long Island. Native Americans were more than proficient at hunting, fishing, and foraging, and would supplement these primary methods of subsistence with farming as they saw fit. However, this area was unsuitable for farming and a strangeness in the soil led the Native Americans to consider this area dangerous and "off-limits", or so the legend goes. Once European settlers arrived, they would also soon learn of the dangers of traversing these strange lands for themselves.
Friction immediately ensued after Europeans arrived on Native Long Island. The first European settlers from Huntington would also band together for hunting parties in order to feed the growing colony. The vicinity of present day Sweet Hollow Road was a preferred hunting area for these settlers, who would travel from the protection of their newly formed colony and often found the Mount Misery area prosperous with all the game and vegetation needed to sustain their growing colony. However, ambush attacks by Native Americans sought to drive the settler's hunting parties away from the Mount Misery/Sweet Hollow Road area. In 1635, the Huntington settlers constructed a small stone fort within this coveted area to protect themselves at night during hunting excursions from Native Americans. It is likely, Native Americans of this area were protecting their home territory from encroching European settlers. This stone fort had no doors, but instead was accessible only by ladder that was pulled in at night. This fort resided at what we would now consider as the corner of Chichester road and West Hills Road.
During the 1700's the West Hill School was established on Sweet Hollow Road just south of Downs Road and was used until 1912. Not much is known about this bygone classroom and all that survives is a historical marker along Sweet Hollow Road now covered in vegetation. Legend goes that the teacher locked her students inside the school and torched the building killing them all, though no documented information has been found to support this account.
But where does the name Sweet Hollow come from? While the area had been known for its abundance of wild honey, one legend tells of a honey farmer travelling down the old wagon pass with barrels full of honey. After an accident, the barrels of honey spilled over "sweetening the hollow" forever dubbing the path as "Sweet Hollow". When the town of Melville was established and many areas becoming increasingly developed in 1854, the Sweet Hollow Path kept it's name as it was transformed into a road connecting Jericho Turnpike to Broad Hollow Road. During the late 1890’s, the Peace and Plenty Inn located along Sweet Hollow Road at the corner of Chichester Road, known as the “Mountain Mist Spring House”, discovered bizarre healing properites of the water taken from a nearby running creek. This water was soon bottled from streams along Sweet Hollow Road and sold as a “miracle cure” for yellow fever to the soldiers returning home from the Spanish American War – stationed in Montauk. A roadside historical marker commerating this location still exists today.
In one legend, a hospital or asylum was consturcted along Sweet Hollow Road in the 1840's. This building was burned down killing the patients and caregivers inside. The hospital was rebuilt 15 years later only to be burned down again by an insane woman named "Mary". The name Mary appears frequently in Long Island folklore and another legends tells of a Mary who was pushed out of a car by her jealous boyfriend while driving down Sweet Hollow Road. Mary was struck by another car and killed instantly. Her spirit, dressed in white, wanders the side of Sweet Hollow Road, searching passing cars for her killer.
In 1908, Route 110 was constructed, which runs adjacent to Sweet Hollow Road. This greatly affected the flow of traffic in the area and soon the notorius Sweet Hollow Road bridge was constructed. Some legends tell of a police officer who frequently stops cars that are parked along Sweet Hollow Road. The officer approaches your car seeming normal, but as he walks back to his police cruiser, drivers report that the officers back is bloodied and the back of his head is missing. Legend tells that the officer died along Sweet Hollow Road after being murdered during a traffic stop. The police vehicle vanishes into the night after the encounter. A black dog is also said to be a resident of the Sweet Hollow Road/Mount Misery area. This black dog is reported to be a "harbinger of death" and seeing this dog means death is not far behind.
Perhaps the most well-known legend involves the Sweet Hollow Road Bridge. In the 1970's, several teenages are said to have hanged themselves on the bridge, dangling above the overpass. If you honk your horn three times when travling under the overpass, legend states you will see the hanging kids. Another version of the story states that the boys were struck by a car while walking in the road and that if you don't honk your horn before passing under the bridge, the spirits of the boys will jump out in front of your car. The area of Sweet Hollow Road and Mount Misery has served as the backdrop for many historical events and local legends throughout the centuries. From ghosts, demons, and harbingers of death, to bygone stone forts, haunted classrooms, and magic healing spring water; whatever you discover on your next trip to Sweet Hollow Road, just dont bring any ghosts back home with you..
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How to get there:
The Sweet Hollow Bridge is located at in Melville, NY at [40.798010, -73.421515], but be careful traveling this road as the narrow street is dangerous to drive and even more dangerous to walk alongside. Passing cars have a hard time seeing around the winding corners of such a tight path. Take caution when visiting, especially at night. A map of the Mount Misery walking paths can be found here: https://www.huntingtonny.gov/filestorage/13749/13843/15187/99828/153038/17956/Trails_Guide_Mt__Misery_Nature_Preserve.pdf
Roadside historical marker photographs by [Andrew Ruppenstein, September 4, 2019/HMDB.org]
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