A car moves slowly along a single-track dirt road, its wheels treading cau­tiously. They alone break the silence. Against cloudy skies and a night already fallen, its head­lights chal­lenge a darkness that crushes from all sides. To the left, through a thicket of trees, stands a dilap­i­dated barn with no visible means of access. To the right, old, broken fur­niture is scat­tered at the edge of a dense forest.

This is Church Road.

Twelve miles east of campus via Bacon Road, this small stretch, unplowed in winter, con­nects with Pittsford Road. But it’s far more than a long patch of dirt. For if one accepts local legends, then Church Road is unholy.

“It is so said that…a man killed his family and himself,” according to, ‘the ultimate col­lection of the strange.’ “That if you go down the road that you will see red eyes running beside your car and on a still night if someone rides outside of the car you will hear him running beside you!”

Charlie Winans, a former Hillsdale Academy student who fre­quented Church Road while in Hillsdale, knew this urban legend.

“Sup­posedly, a guy who lived at the barn mur­dered his family,” Winans said. “I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s the story, anyway, and that’s why the barn and the whole road is haunted.”

Senior Justin Fawley, who visited Church Road last fall, heard about it from a friend with a map of all the para­normal occur­rences in Ohio that also spilled into south­eastern Michigan, where it described both Church Road and the 1966 Hillsdale UFO sighting.

“I just knew that it was sup­posedly haunted,” Fawley said.

As with most urban legends of this type, however, no one is really sure from where it came. Though Academy graduate Hunter Murray heard about Church Road through Winans, he said awareness of the place is locally a priori.

“I heard about it through Charlie. But I don’t know how people first learned about it,” he said. “It seemed liked some­thing people already knew about.”

Regardless of its source, the mystery attracts seekers of the para­normal — and people just looking for some­thing to do.

“We weren’t sup­posed to go there. So I drove everyone out there. People told us not to, so we decided we had to,” Winans said. “You have Wal-Mart, you have McDonald’s, and you have Church Road. That’s a Friday night in Hillsdale.”

Church Road vis­itors have had some fright­ening expe­ri­ences. Winans said he and his friends would get out of their cars and walk from one end of the road to the other and back, have bon­fires, and try to scare other people who had come for inves­ti­ga­tions of their own.

“Go there on Hal­loween, because kids are always being dared to go there,” Winans urged.

He has also encoun­tered police, as well as squatters camped out in one of the road’s broken-down buildings rumored to be a drug house.

A ghostly car once chased Murray and his friends.

“Driving back from a party rather late at night, we were driving slowly through the road because it was dan­gerous, and then all of the sudden we noticed a car close behind us that was not there before,” he said. “We sped up and were like, ‘woah, that was freaky.’”

Despite these rumors, however, no one has reported any ver­i­fiable para­normal activity on Church Road.

“It was creepy, but nothing that could be con­strued as super­natural per se. We didn’t actually see any­thing,” Winans said.

“No, we didn’t see any­thing. We were driving 15 mph the whole time and we didn’t see any­thing,” Fawley said. “We drove along the road while it was pouring, with lightning and thunder. Every­thing you need for a great ghost story — except for the ghost.”

Yet Church Road’s amateur inves­ti­gators agree that, despite the lack of evi­dence, some inef­fable ghast­liness clings to the road.

“It’s just a creepy place, but there’s not much going on as far as I can tell,” said Winans.

“I don’t believe there is any super­natural occur­rence or presence at Church Road,” Murray said. “But the rumors cir­cu­lating about this lonely country road bring about an air of the macabre.”

Fawley agreed about the eerie atmosphere.

“[Church Road] is just a perfect storm of things being brought together to create a pretty crazy atmos­phere,” he said.

The truth of Church Road may never be known. But if you ever find yourself alone there on a dark, cloudy autumn night, you had better be careful. Some things belong to the dark.