Haunted ‘Devil’s Highway’ remains after Route 666 renamed

Mysteries
Route 666

A highway sign in Gallup, New Mexico. (Wikimedia Commons)

MYSTERY WIRE — The name alone is a reason to explore the “Devil’s Highway,” which runs a meandering route from north to south from the Four Corners area down to the Mexican Border at Douglas, Arizona.

After holding the Route 666 designation for nearly 80 years, it’s a road popular with bikers and sightseers. But it’s also haunted, according to the website haunted-places-to-go.com. See their story for details on:

Route 666
  • Satan’s sedan
  • The hounds of hell
  • The evil spirit of the semi truck
  • The pale spirit
  • The skin walkers
  • Disappearances and time loss

And several government web pages — and even a New York Times article — indicate there was a constant problem with thieves, who just couldn’t get enough of the “666” signs.

The origin of the name is described on the Arizona Department of Transportation’s website:

Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles was designated as a US Highway in the 1920s. The decision was made at that time to number the major north-south highways that intersected Route 66 from east to west as 166, 266, and so on. When the highway got to Arizona, the next number was 666.

Arizona was ahead of the curve in getting the road renamed:

Predictably, the highway became known as the Devil’s Highway, with even some talk of strange, supernatural problems. In 1992 Arizona petitioned to have the route renumbered, partially to avoid the evil connotations of the number and partially because, like other states, it found the signs for the route were favorite targets for theft. Other states followed suit in renumbering the highway over the next decade.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson started the wheels in motion to change the “666” designation in 2003.

As Route 491, the road runs into Interstate 40 at Gallup, New Mexico. North of there, 491 goes by Shiprock, a mountain sacred to the Navajo Nation. “The Rock with Wings,” or “Tse Bi dahi,” is part of an ancient folk myth that tells how the rock was once a great bird that transported the ancestral people of the Navajos to their lands in what is now northwestern New Mexico.

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