The 13th Floor

What Dark Mystery Lurks on New York’s Buckout Road?

The County of Westchester, New York is a relatively little known one — despite the fact that some of its towns and cities boast some notable persons. For example, both rapper DMX and notorious serial killer David Berkowitz (a.k.a. “The Son of Sam”) called the city of Yonkers home, and this writer’s hometown of Mamaroneck gave the world of cinema an invaluable gift in the form of thespian siblings Matt and Kevin Dillon. But there are some strange places in Westchester as well — with bizarre and ominous stories attached to them.

One such place is a small strip of back road that lies between the towns of Harrison and White Plains, New York, known as Buckout Road. The road is a long, narrow one-way path, so those who turn out onto it are forced to traverse its entirety.

Buckout Road supposedly gets its name from a once well-known and prominent landholding family that lived by the road for decades, up to around the turn of the 20th century. Indeed, a sole headstone can be found in an otherwise unremarkable and neglected gravesite to the right of the road, where one John F. Buckhout and his wife Charlotte are laid to rest.

According to the New York Daily News, while John and Charlotte had fairly uneventful lives and deaths, another member of the family, Isaac V. Buckhout, was convicted and hanged in 1872 for the murder of his wife Louise and her lover Alfred Randall on New Year’s Day, 1870. Word is that the spirits of these murdered lovers can be seen haunting the woods of Buckout Road in the dead of night.

Nobody’s ever claimed to have seen the spirit of Isaac himself, but maybe this can be explained by the fact that the jilted-lover-turned-murderer is buried in the nearby town of Sleepy Hollow (yes, that Sleepy Hollow, the very one Washington Irving set his famous story of the Headless Horseman in. But that’s another article for another day).

The road, once surrounded by thick woods — which are steadily being cut through to make way for new properties — has many more myths and legends attached to it.

One of the most-talked about stories involves a ramshackle red barn off to the side of the road that no longer stands, having been torn down only fairly recently. For years, it was rumored that a family of vicious albinos lived within the house. If you stopped your car near the site and honked your horn three times, the family would rush out and attack your vehicle. According to one Westchester resident who wrote an entry about  Buckout Road on the old-school urban legend website Weird U.S., a teen once went to the albinos’ house to prank them by putting an M-80 into their mailbox… only to find the decapitated head of a child inside. According to “Bobby,” this has led to Buckout Road gaining the alternative nickname “Head Road.”

[Side note: as someone who has lived in Westchester County for twenty-plus years and has made a trip or two through Buckout Road, I’ve never heard of this outside of that web entry. But with a decades-long history and countless permutations of stories, God only knows which mysteries surrounding Buckout Road are real, and which are merely pure fabrication.]

Another tale of Buckout Road’s general weirdness involved three white X’s painted onto a particular portion of the road. It is rumored that these markings have been left there and re-applied over the years to mark the spots where three witches were burned for practicing their craft. It’s said that if you stop your car in front of these marks, flash your lights three times (the number three always comes up in these types of stories — perhaps some kind of perversion of the holy trinity, as noted in films like THE CONJURING) and turn off your car’s engine, chances are it will not start up again. While this was not the case when a friend and I performed the ritual on a late-night drive, scores of locals swear up and down they have experienced car trouble on that spot and feared for their lives.

Even further down the rabbit hole is the urban legend of the Leatherman — a kind of ghostly drifter who stalks the road at night, looking for a long-gone cave he used to call home. If anyone out there has ever encountered this creature, please come forth with your story; I’m curious to know if he’s at all pissed that Leatherface stole his thunder.

Buckout Road is a curious little spot — it’s got a hodgepodge of tall tales circling it, to the point where it’s almost comical, and yet, as I sit here typing this closing paragraph, I can easily feel the dread that I felt as a curious high-schooler driving slowly down the narrow roads, the headlights of my ’92 Chevy Lumina the only illumination guiding me through the darkness. No matter how much time passes, there will always be an unsettling vibe, a dark energy hanging over that space.

So if you find yourself in Westchester, open up that GPS and take a ride on down… and tell the ghosts, killers, and killer albinos waiting for you that Chris sent ya!