Spooky Story: Ghost Cow

image by Ken Summers at whofortedblog.com

image by Ken Summers at whofortedblog.com

It runs the same as many local legends: a foggy, misty, midnight drive on a dark road. The driver sees someone… or someTHING… white an apparition like, crossing the road. He tells friends. He calls the police. No physical evidence is found to prove his wild story.

The poor fella is the butt of many jokes. Can’t avoid being teased. Until, someone else, on the same road, on a similar night, also sees the ghostly shape. More witnesses follow, and a ghost story is born.

That’s how things happened in central New Jersey near the Griggstown Lock at the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. The park’s “Milepost” newsletter describes their own local ghost:

Like an alien craft, some claim to have seen the mysterious animal, but little convincing evidence has been produced- save a questionable photograph here and there.

The mysterious animal? A ghost cow. According to wikipedia, sightings of the cow went on for some thirty years. The area where it was seen was mostly suburban or state park land, with no farms nearby. Anyone hearing these stories doubted the teller.

Until November 23, 2002. A NJ Water Authority employee saw a cow lying helpless in a ravine. He appeared aged and arthritic, unable to stand, let alone climb out of the ravine. Several onlookers gathered, and a plan was made to hoist the black and white bull to easier ground using a rope. At this point in the story, the Milepost tells it best:

All hoped the Griggstown Cow would survive this mishap so the beloved local legend could live on to amuse a future generation of skeptics. A rope was attached to the animal and like some comedic tug-of-war, an army of men heaved the hapless, massive victim up the soaked embankment onto level ground. Their heroic efforts paid-off as the cow was eventually pulled onto dry ground. Drained, confused and no-doubt in some pain, the Griggstown Cow heaved a heavy sigh, hung his massive graying head and remained motionless as if to say “I’m tired, old and my days of carefree roaming are numbered.”

Sadly, a veterinarian on the scene diagnosed the bull as being in a severe state of suffering. (Life spans of cows average 15 years, and ghost cow sightings had been going on for 30.) The elderly cow was euthanized and laid to rest close to his territory. The Milepost suggests that the bull was one of the last members of a herd of feral cattle who once ranged around Griggstown.

-Rachel Elliott


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