Just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, sits Zombie Road. This area has some hefty history dating back to Indigenous tribes in the area before being used by Civil War soldiers heading west.
Nowadays, spooky legends of serial killers, rail ghosts and possibly a sinister graveyard haunt its history. On this episode, The Lady Dicks are kicking back for a little jaunt to learn about the Lawler Ford Road ghosts.
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Lawler Ford Road Ghosts
Just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, sits Zombie Road. Now, the actual name of the road is Lawler Ford Road, and it’s also referred to as Al Foster Trail, but even the tickets police write for trespassers read Zombie Road, a moniker it picked up in the 1950s.
Zombie Road sits on what’s described as the site of the largest indigenous burial mounds in America, which you know just lays the groundwork for a spooky story. The trail is 10-feet wide, and though it’s paved, much of it has fallen into disrepair and nowadays it’s largely impassible via car, and is used as a paved biking and hiking path.
This road has a rich history, with roots dating back hundred of years. The trail winds through beautiful woods and ends abruptly at what used to be a rock quarry that was closed and abandoned in the 1970s.
The official road was constructed in the 1860s, but was used well before that. Indigenous tribes initially used the trail (and area surrounding it) to cross the Meramec River. Then, during the American Civil war that took place between 1861 to 1865, Zombie road became an often-travelled route to the west.
All of the eerie vibes, strange shadows and dark lurking nights make it a generally unsettling place.
Glencoe and Zombie Road
The area around Glencoe served as a resort community until the mid-1940s. At that time, many of the houses around the area were converted for year-round visitors, but others were simply left abandoned and decaying, which only added to the creepiness of the area.
There are old shacks and ruins that run along the beach at the end of the trail, and it’s a hotbed for ghostly sightings. Many report ghostly sightings of former home owners, biding their time in their favourite vacation spots.
There are specific apparitions too. At the trail end, hikers and bikers report the specter of a mysterious old woman who yells as passers-by from a house but when they go to investigate, the woman is never there.
Then there’s the ghost of a young boy who fell from the bluffs along the river to his death—his body was never found. Ghosts of inidgenous people who previously lived on the land and used at least part of the road as trails are reported. Then other ghosts of confederate soilders, school children and quarry workers who were maimed by machines on the job.
Overall, the area is unsettling. Hikers often report unsettled feelings and sensations of being watched. Not to mention eerie sounds, unexplainable noises and disembodied footsteps.
In the 1950s, when the road got it’s nickname, it was a local hot spot for teenage couples looking to get away. By this time, the road was falling into disrepair. The winding curves made it a dangerous road for cars to drive on, with it being hard to see what was coming beyond the next bend, it was a hotbed place for accidents.
The name Zombie Road was adopted from the legend of “Zombie” a serial killer who used to live out in one of the abandoned shacks along the trail.
According to the legend, “Zombie” AKA the “Zombie Killer” escaped from a nearby hospital and disappeared somewhere along Lawler Ford Road, leaving his blood-soaked clothes on the side before vanishing into the woods.
He lived out his days in one of the abandoned homes. He would sneak out into the woods at night and attack young lovers who used the area looking for a place to be alone… supposedly murdering them.
However, this theory is debunked by the fact that no hospital was in the area, nor did any slightly out of the area report losing such a character. Furthermore, there are no serial killings reported in the area. Though we can’t report that there are no creepy dudes hanging out in the shacks alongside the road—we’re sure at some point in history someone was lurking in one of those summer homes.
A slightly different story related to Zombie is that he worked at an “orphanage run by sadists” and that the area around Zombie Trail contains a cemetery of murdered children… though it’s important to note this is something that cannot be proved, further to that, there was no orphanage in and around the area that could have served that purpose.
Before “Zombie Road”
In 1868, the Glencoe Marbel Company opened. They mined limestone depositions in the area, set up a small railroad and used trucks to haul stone and gravel until the quarry at the end of the road eventually shut down in the 1970s.
Reminents of the abandoned railroad built by Glencoe Marble Company in the late 1800s, the extend along the river and pass through what would later become Glencoe. Though only a few remnants of the railroad lines can be seen near the dead end of Zombie Road.
But just a hint of railroad is all you need to stir up spooky stories, visitors report seeing a translucent figure in white walking along the abandoned line that simply vanishes leaving a bluish-white light behind, but when they go to investigate it disappears.
Some believe this might be the ghost of Della McCullough.
Della Hamilton McCullough was the wife of a local judge in the area. Sometime in 1876, Della was hit by an oncoming train. We have no details and no records, but local legend says it did, in fact, happen.
Nowadays, Della’s ghost is often touted as a ghost that haunts the area.
Others think it’s one of the other restless spirits of rail accident victims. Over the years, the sharp bend in the track lead to the area being a site of frequent derailments. Eveneutally, due to the continued losses, this part of the service was discontinued.
Rumours of another rail victim, a man hit by an uncoming train, from the 1970s is also talked about. But there’s no record of a rail-related death taking place near Zombie road in the 70s.
In 2010, the road was paved and renamed Rock Hollow Trail, which leads us to now where the road is a popular hiking and biking trail located just outside the city.
Troy Taylor, ghost hunter but self-proclaimed healthy skeptic, has dedicated several chapters of one of his books to Zombie Road in an attempt to prove or disprove the alleged paranormal activity on the road. But though the area is unsettling he cannot confirm the activity. However, it should be noted that a separate paranormal group reported and took a photo of alleged shadow people lining the trees near the road.
While Zombie road might not actually be full of paranormal beings, ghosts and spectres, they say that even the biggest paranormal skeptics describe the road as being “claustrophobic.” It also never appears to be the same length twice to visitors.
Visiting Zombie Road
You can visit Zombie Road yourself if you happen to be in and around the St. Louis area. It’s on the outskirts of the city of Wildwood, which sits on the western edge of St. Louis County.
As we said at the top of this episode, the road is really named Lawler Ford Road, and it’s also called Al Foster Trail—but, regardless of the name you use, you can absolutely visit it… during the day. This 2.3-mile trail weaves through forest and the area is often referred to as a wilderness park.
The park is closed at night. It opens one hour before sunrise and closes an hour after sunset. Police have written hundreds of tickets for visitors that violate those rules that literally say “Zombie Road” on them and the fines are up to $1,000. So make sure to avoid heading there at night!
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The Lady Dicks did not just magically come up with the information for Missouri’s Zombie Road: Lawler Ford Road Ghosts, Wildwood, MI, they, in fact, did research beyond Wikipedia (thanks jerky iTunes reviewer for your one-star comment), and here are those sources:
- Zombie Road, one of Missouri’s most haunted places, Dangerous Roads.
- Zombie Road – Lawler Ford Road, Haunted Places.
- Traveling Down This Haunted Missouri Road Will Give You Nightmares, Only in Your State.
- Is Zombie Road Really Haunted?, St. Louis Magazine.
- Ghost Photo: Shadow People, Ghosts n’ Ghouls.
- What Waits Down Zombie Road?, The Lineup.
- Al Foster Trail (Zombie Road), Travel.com.
The Lady Dicks Podcast was created by Tae Haahr. The Lady Dicks are Andrea Campion, Nikki Kipping and Tae Haahr. “Missouri’s Zombie Road: Lawler Ford Road Ghosts, Wildwood, MI” was research, written, edited and produced by Tae Haahr. The Lady Dicks theme music, A Pink Panther, is licenced through AudioJungle.
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