Rutgers Rarities Investigations

Rutgers Rarities Investigations Menu
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page I
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page II
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page III
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page IV
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page V
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page VI


Leader of the Pack - Coyote Pack Found on Livingston Campus


Enhanced still images captured by camcorder - first known images of coyotes at Rutgers.

As mentioned in the original Coyote Sighting Account, I was driving home through Livingston campus late one evening when standing before me in the middle of the road was what I believed to be a wolf or a coyote. I stared the creature down before for several seconds before the headlights of another car scared it away. While many doubted what I had seen when I told the story the next day, Jessica was the only one who didn't laugh. This began an exchange of interesting stories about the stranger side of Rutgers, and thus, Rutgers Rarities was born. While there have been many confirmed reports of coyotes from friends, Piscataway Township workers, and facility maintenance workers at Rutgers, Jessica had never seen a coyote with her own eyes until recently. Her first sighting was near the Facilities Maintenance Building, as she saw a single coyote, small enough to possibly be a pup, running its normal hunting route. Witnesses from the Visual Arts Center and the Facilites Maintenance Building confirmed reports of individual coyotes running through their normal paths around that area.

While all of the previous reports were of single coyotes, the most exciting discovery was made several days later by Jessica, her second sighting within a week. As we drove down Avenue E on Livingston (just past the RAC) on our way to Busch Campus, Jessica yelled that she had just seen them (the coyotes). Unlike the previous reports, she had witnessed an entire pack of at least 10 or 12 that she said were of different colors and sizes. Pulling the car around, we were lucky enough to see several before they ran back into the woods. One coyote in particular stared back at us from across the street, and another, much larger one, made his presence known. It appeared to be the Alpha male, and was the last to inspect us before following the rest of the pack into the woods. Some footage was captured and the coyotes can be seen in some of the stills. A video was also captured of one of the coyotes running, and these can all be found in the Coyote Account Update. A drive back to home base had actually turned out to be an important investigation, and one that will be further explored. Let's just say there's a better than average chance that the next investigation of this nature will involve pork chops.


No-Bell Tower - Waksman Institute Clock Tower


The bell tower of the picturesque Waksman Institute on Busch Campus.

Our first investigation with guest investigators turned out to be quite a success after a nerve-racking start. Members of a New Jersey newspaper accompanied our first exploration of a location that was quoted as being one of the scariest places on campus by a facility maintenance worker. As in all investigations, there was no guarantee of success, so it was a fairly big risk to bring members of the press to a potential failure. The investigation started off rocky, as all of doors to the public building appeared to be locked up. It wasn't until the last possible entrance was checked that we gained access. After running into several roadblocks, roof access was finally achieved in a pitch black mechanical room with a spiral staircase. This led up to an illuminated room containing a busted ping pong table and piles of old journals and magazines. Another spiral staircase led to the balcony of the bell tower with a beautiful view of the campus. After ascending a metal ladder into the room behind the clock faces, a final ladder brought us to the pinnacle. Instead of finding a bell, however, the only thing that was found was a set of speakers. While listening carefully for any signs of phenomena, the speakers were set off and boomed in our unprepared ears. The sheer volume of the tones forced us to evacuate a bit prematurely. Reflecting on the experience, this was probably the most gut-wrenching part of the investigation. Rather than spooky and scary, as we were expecting from the tip we had received, the spot was rather tranquil and serene. It is possible that Waksman had spared us that night, but either way, it was a worthwhile investigation that has been turned into the No-Bell Account, named for both the award to Selman Waksman for his discovery of streptomycin, the cure for tuberculosis, and the lack of an actual ringing device in the tower.


Night of the Livingston Dead - Livingston Barracks


Behind the Livingston barracks, formerly a part of Camp Kilmer.

The Livingston Barracks are an interesting bit of history on the Piscataway side of the Old Raritan. Built in the 1940's, the barracks are former military housings that were actively used by the Camp Kilmer Station until Rutgers University acquired all 122 buildings/structures in 1963. These are the dingy, gray, long buildings at the furthest west end of Livingston campus (near the Edison/Highland Park border) where today you can find useful places like Telephone Services, Reprographics or the Key Shop for Rutgers. At one time though, these buildings held prisoners of war and served as a full war station complete with a hospital and prison. Just think, sixty years ago, where that nice key lady sits at her desk in the building on Street 1604, savage prisoners of war were probably screaming inanities as they were tethered and bound in a dank, criminal pen. Okay, well maybe I’m dramatizing a little, but still, the place has an undeniably dark history.

There have also been rumors of homeless people living in the tunnel network under the buildings. This seemed very plausible to Ray and I during our explorations of the buildings closest to Avenue E as the tunnels were roomy, fairly accessible and nary a cobweb was seen. The dauntless RR Team proceeded to investigate the dilapidated building right behind the REHS building and we were lucky enough to get inside the creepy old barrack and get a few shots of its wrecked interior. The building we accessed was a mess from the vine-encrusted exterior doors to the seriously ripped up interior. The oddest find of the evening was the “picture room” where one of the walls was covered with strange drawings of nude female bodies and the other wall had an intricate, labyrinthine design spread from floor to ceiling. Definitely a weird, creepy place!


From the outside looking in to the strange abandoned interior of the barracks.

Interior of the desolate, run-down Livingston barracks, the perfect setting for a horror film.


Suicidal Tendancies - Tillet Hanging


Hallway of the Tillet basement where an apparent hanging occurred.

Tillet Hall on Livingston campus is home to a dining hall, a computer lab, classrooms, and a basement that holds a secret. An anonymous former Rutgers employee informed the RR team of a suicide that took place in a hallway on the basement level of the building. They took us back there to show us the evidence of what was left behind. The source informed Rutgers Rarities that the staff was made responsible for cleaning up the blood stains from the basement floor, and that there was a great difficulty in removing it. They were told to use stronger and stronger agents to remove the stains, but the outline of a head and body were still clearly present for many years. Revisiting the site, our source had more trouble locating the spot, as it had been many years since the last time they had seen it, stating that a strong enough cleaning agent must have been found to remove most of it. The exact spot was located, with a pattern that looked like a cross appearing where the acidic cleaning agents must have eaten away from the floor. The vague outline of a body could be projected over the area upon close visual analysis. The only details of the suicide that were relayed to the RR team were the rumor that the main cause of death was a hanging, with some sort of noose rigged to the pipes on the ceiling, and the involvement of a great deal of blood, which don't seem to fit together. Apparently, the staff who worked at Tillet at the time, which may have been 4-8 years ago, knew all about it since they were involved with the clean-up. If anyone has additional information about the Tillet suicide, please contact Rutgers Rarities with more details.


Remaining evidence of the blood stains on the basement floor of Tillet after years of extensive cleaning.


Bird's the Word - Lucy Stone Hall Dead Birds


Behind the Livingston barracks, formerly a part of Camp Kilmer.

Thanks to our contact "a", who has been a great resource for Rutgers Rarities, also confirming the existence of the Unidentified Livingston Creature, we were provided with information that led to the investigation of Lucy Stone Hall. "a" wrote an e-mail about the phenomenon, stating:

While this is not particularly a weird experience, it may be something worthy of interest or investigation. On Livingston Campus, at the juncture at which the path coming from quads 2 & 3 meets the overpass of the B wing of Lucy Stone Hall, one may often find bird carcasses. These are not small birds that may have fallen from a nest or something, but larger adult birds of different species lying dead with no apparent or grave physical injuries. Just having come from there after reading the targum article about your site, I noticed 4 bird corpses in varying stages of decomposition at that spot. A possibility is that they accidently fly into the windows, however, it would seem then that they would ricochet back rather than landing under the overpass as they do, and that they would probably be more obviously injured (not to mention that the windows would show some sign of this constant barrage). Additionally, this wouldve been notable in previous years; however to my memory this has not heretofore been a regular occurence until the start of this year, during which I have noticed as many as 5 rotting there until maintenance comes and disposes of them. I would estimate that as many as 15-20 birds have died in that area since the beginning of september. Is there some malicious maintenance worker dishing out poisoned scraps to further his anti-aviation ideology? Are birds choosing death over life among the depressingly cold architecture of the livingston campus? Did Jesus do this? It might be an interesting thing to speculate upon if you ever find yourself on livingston with nothing to do.

Sure enough, when we went to the location, there were several dead adult birds that did not appear to be the victims of flying into the overpass. They looked more like they had been subject to taxidermy and belonged in a nature exhibit. If anyone has insight into the reason for this strange occurrence, which apparently occurs regularly and should be visible to many students on Livingston campus, please let us know.


From the outside looking in to the strange abandoned interior of the barracks.


Goin' to the Chapel - Vorhees Chapel


The Voorhees Chapel seems to just beckon to the casual onlooker. Nestled amongst some of the oldest buildings on Douglass, the Chapel, with its stately tower, seems so dignified and kind of misplaced in the hurly-burly campus traffic. The Chapel was built in 1927 and is named after Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees (1841 - 1924) who put up the funds for the chapel’s creation. One funny factoid is that Elizabeth was quite the Victorian tease – she apparently insisted on a 17 year engagement to Ralph Voorhees before actually marrying the poor guy. Patience thy name is Ralph. Anyhow, the RR Team was fortunate enough to peep at a practice session of The Queen's Chorale women's ensemble while trying to scope the place out. Imagine creeping around a dimly lit chapel to the sonorous strains of “Ave Maria” and trying not to be obvious. Creaky staircases and loud door hinges aside, the RR team was able to locate an access panel to the chapel tower, although we were unable to get in.

This is definitely one spot that we have to return to as that tower simply calls to us...and what could be a better background score to an investigation of the paranormal at Rutgers than Maria, Gratia plena, Ave, Ave dominus, Oh Ave Maria!


Exterminator - John B. Smith Hall


Oftentimes, we take our surroundings for granted. It isn't until they are destroyed that we look back and wish we could have appreciated them more. John B. Smith Hall in New Brunswick was one of those locations. The first time I every really took a good look at the seemingly misplaced building behind Douglass Campus on Georges Road was when they were dismantling it. The first time I every really bothered to research the contents of the building was after it was too late to ever go back. The building that housed the Department of Entomology was a little-known museum of rare insects and bugs. The Department moved there in 1937, but the builidng was much older, the former headquarters of "Reckitt's Blue", a suppier of laundry bluing. The enormous collection of every species of moth, every species of butterfly, and an abundance of other insects. Since the building was not large enough to contain the entire collection, many displays were moved to and housed by the Museum of Natural History in New York. Until its closing and recent destruction, John B. Smith Hall held over 200,000 insects. As mentioned, all of these facts were learned after the building had been taken down. Its significance was only learned as an afterthought. The question that remains is why did the building shut down? Although it looked to be misplaced, since there were no other classroom buildings around, it did withstand the test of time. Please contact Rutgers Rarities with any information about the former John B. Smith Hall. There may be more to this than there seems.


Remaining walls of the Department of Entomology before it was completely dismantled.

Destruction of the John B. Smith Hall that housed an insect museum.


Land of the Lost - Former Highland Park Industrial Site


Alongside River Road, across the street from Johnson Park, right on the Piscataway/Highland Park border, there is a huge woodsy lot with an old iron fence that runs parallel to the road below a steep incline. When driving by all you can see is the summit of the steep hill of woods and the fence, nothing too obviously interesting to the casual commuter, but to the ever-intrepid RR Team, where there’s an iron-bound fence and woods- there’s something cool. Sure enough, when we decided to explore the area further and find out exactly what the fence was meant to keep out (or in), the Team found yet another interesting abandoned industrial site which suggests that the Rutgers area is literally peppered with environmentally questionable spots.

This one, technically located in the furthest eastern section of Highland Park, is vaguely listed in town maps as the “former industrial site” and “filling station” adjacent to Cleveland Ave and an active Conrail railroad line. All attempts via the Internet to find out exactly what “industry” was originally located here have been fruitless. Clearly, like Union Carbide, this was a site of some level of hazardous contamination as nearly every trace of the former structure has been removed and there are these strange pipes that go into the ground which are actually used to for testing toxicities in the soil. The area is also listed with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as one of the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Contamination Sites, but the company that was there is not named. After walking alongside the railroad track, the RR Team found an access point where the barbed wire fence had ended. They found the site to be a desolate wasteland that while mostly hidden by the woods alongside River Road, is an apparent and obvious eyesore in the quaint Highland Park suburban setting.

In addition to some strange wooden debris, the Team also found a remnant of an animal’s bone at the site. This nearly petrified fragment turned out to be part of the joint of a large muscular mammal, most likely a deer or large dog, which is only unusual in that this fragment was found alone and not with any other parts of the animal’s frame. The most likely explanation is that a deer was probably struck by a train on the nearby railroad, but why such a small piece was scattered in an abandoned area remains a mystery. There were few signs of life at the site, no birds, rabbits or deer. This place is a silent testament to the reckless days of EPA-free industrial environmental exploitation. One can only wonder if this site is yet another Rutgers Rarities X-factor that in some way contributes to the strangeness of the area.


The desolate wasteland at the edge of Highland Park. Current residents are neighbors to the abandoned factory.

A trailer holding waste products and some of the tanks and testing sites which may have previously contained (and my still hold) hazardous chemicals.

Train spotting alongside the tracks and from the former factory site.

Shots down the hill toward River Road. For curious passersby the site is a mystery, as it used to be for the RR team.

Evidence of a former parking lot. The iron gates on River Road used to provide an entrance way and the path that led up the hill connected to the parking lot. A busted fence on the train side did not stand the test of time.


Fine Wine and Spirits - The Winery of Bound Brook


When one member of the RR Team was contacted by an employee of “The Winery” in Bound Brook regarding a spooky experience while working alone one day, the Team responded quickly, as Bound Brook is an amazingly old creepy town that we have heard many strange tales about. Rumors of hidden “speak-easys” from the days of Prohibition, stories of illegal immigrant compounds and weird little graveyards abound in nearby Bound Brook, which is also home to the unique “Rail” restaurant- a historical monument in and of itself.

Our contact met with us at the Winery and told us her account of seeing inexplicable shadows and hearing heavy, stomping footsteps on the mysterious second floor when there was absolutely no one in the building but herself. According to our source, she was working alone in the secured and alarmed building when she caught some shadows of movement under a door in front of the stairway to the second floor. After seeing these unexplainable shadows, she then heard a loud stomping and heavy treading on the second floor. She was 100% sure that she was the only one there and she says it’s impossible for anyone to have gotten up to the second floor without making any noises on the creaky staircases.

Our investigation of the old and eerily silent wine-making facility revealed nothing too unusual but our source is 100% correct when she states that it would have been impossible for anyone to get up to the huge loft on the second floor without revealing themselves. The building is very old, the stairs are creaky and every noise made an echo in the huge rooms.

The RR Team was impressed by the bravery of our informant as the Winery is a very cold place, due to the storage of wines, and has a rather creepy appearance. We found an interesting skull drawing inside one of the unfinished rooms on the upper floor and we noted some unusual deviations in the structure of the building such as small partially constructed rooms, unusually steep staircases, and a little balcony off the one side. The place has sort of a mortuary-type feel to it and our source told us that she learned that the second floor served as a sweatshop many years ago.

Upon inspection of the digital photos taken from the outside of the site after the investigation was conducted showed evidence of several orbs, as shown in the pictures below. There is one large one just above the second floor and two smaller ones. The RR Team cannot help but wonder if there is a connection to the second floor pheomena reported by our contact. In addition, the smaller orbs may possibly represent children who may have worked at the sweatshop which was reported to exist at the site. Under the harsh conditions of such a location the risk of injury or death may have been high. In any case, it seems like more than a coincidence that the orbs are seen in the vicinity of the second floor, the same location where stomping and loud noises were reported.

If anyone can confirm the history of the Winery or has any stories of their own about buildings in Bound Brook please contact Rutgers Rarities (rutgersrarities@rutgersrarities.com). Thanks again to K.A. who told us her story and gave us a tour of this very cool place.


Second floor of the Winery with large open room and small corner containing furniture.

Crowded storage area of the second floor with entrance to the balcony and various lights, bar stools, and boxes.

Mysterious unfinished room on the second floor in which the apparent drawing of a skull was found.

Close up image of skull inside unfinished room. View of the closed first floor door, just as it was when the shadows were seen. Shortly after, the loud stomping was heard on the second floor imaged above.

Photo taken outside the Winery after the investigation. Upon further inspection, a large orb and two smaller ones were located above the area of the second floor. This may be the result of spirits haunting the location, which would explain the phenomena. The smaller orbs may also represent spirits of the children of the former sweatshop.


Astronomical Observations - The Schanck Observatory


Okay, College Avenue Commuters, how many times have you passed the odd little tower on the corner of George St. and Somerset St. on Old Queens? This tower is actually composed of two circular rooms dedicated to the observations of the astronomical and mathematical cycles of nature. This Observatory contains a refracting telescope and mean solar clock that was modeled after the Tower of Winds of Athens in the year 1865. The 100+ year old structure is named after Daniel S. Schanck who donated the funds that began construction of the tower. Daniel, who was born in Middletown, NJ in 1812, was not a student of astronomy, nor even a student of Rutgers. He moved to New York in his youth and became a successful businessman who remained in the City for the rest of his life. Exactly why he generously supported the construction of the phallic-like NJ Observatory is unknown. It was rumored that he was very much in love with one of the wives of a Tutor at Rutgers and built his monument to impress her. His lonely spirit is reputed to “haunt the tower” and be visible on cold, starry nights when the planets are aligned just right.

For the RR Team, this is one of the most elusive mysteries on the College Avenue Campus. After inspecting the building, we found it to be securely locked up, albeit with an old rusty lock and according to the Rutgers index, the building has not been opened for more than twenty years. Like the inaccessible Merriwood Castle, the Schanck Observatory is an irresistible curiosity to the Team who would love to learn its secrets.

Special thanks to Prof. William H. Bauer who leant the RR Team his copy of “Aloud to Alma Mater”, which has proved to be the most complete source of information on the Schanck Observatory and other Rutgers historical spots.


Rear view of the Schanck Observatory from the Kirkpatrick Chapel parking lot. The secrets of what the observatory contains remain unknown.

The observatory has been locked up for 20 years and is a major challege for the RR Team.


Rutgers Rarities Investigations Menu
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page I
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page II
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page III
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page IV
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page V
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page VI


©Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, 2005