Take I-74 west to exit 7. Turn right (north) onto 128, toward the gas stations and Wendy’s. Take 128 through Miamitown until you get to Harrison Avenue. Turn left onto Harrison Avenue. From where the road begins to curve in front of the Village Pump Antique store up to the point where it straightens out at the top of the hill is what the locals know as Dead Man’s Curve.
Many accidents have occurred on this stretch of road between Miamitown and Harrison. Most of these accidents happened in the mid-1900s. During this time, Harrison Avenue was the major artery of traffic through the area since the Interstate Highway System had not yet been created. At least fifty-two serious injuries or fatalities have occurred in vehicular accidents going up or coming down Dead Man’s Curve.
Probably the most spectacular of these accidents involved a molasses truck that was coming down Dead Man’s Curve toward the Miamitown Bridge in 1953. It didn’t make the last turn and barreled into what was at that time the post office at the corner of Harrison and 128.
It caught fire. One man rushed into the burning post office in a futile attempt to help the truck driver, who was pinned in his truck. He was alive and conscious but could not get out, and the Good Samaritan could not help him. Eventually the propane tanks heating the molasses exploded, and the entire block burned to the ground. The only fatality was the truck driver, who, since he was alive and conscious, most likely burned to death.
A phantom hitchhiker haunts Dead Man’s Curve. The story goes that if you are driving up or down Dead Man’s Curve, you sometimes will see a man hitchhiking on the side of the road. Whether or not your original intention was to pick the man up, as you get closer and closer to him, you are filled with more and more of a sense of dread and fear. By the time any cars get next to him, they are so terrified that they speed away. No one ever stops to pick him up. The few people brave enough to slow down and look at the man see that he is very badly burned. They even sometimes report that the flesh is hanging from his face and from his hands. Perhaps this is the ghost of the man who burned to death in the truck accident in 1953.
There is nothing stopping you from looking for this ghost all you want. You can drive up and down this road all night long. I do not know what direction of the road that the phantom hitchhiker prefers. The reports that I have collected seem to be from both sides, so you have an equal chance of seeing him when coming down the hill and when going up.
The one thing to keep in mind on this road is to be careful. The locals don’t call it Dead Man’s Curve for nothing. The hills are steep and the turns are sharp. It is hard to make it up and down these curves if you are unfamiliar with the area, especially after dark, so take special care to stay safe when driving the road.
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