Rutgers Rarities Investigations

In addition to reporting coincidental personal experiences and occurrences and collecting stories from the general public, Rutgers Rarities is approaching rarities and unexplained phenomena in a more pro-active way. Research is being conducted on the history of the Rutgers community as well as New Brunswick, Piscataway, and the immediate surrounding areas. Based on various leads, Rutgers Rarities investigations are currently being conducted. The "Investigations" section will be used to document some of the more interesting locations that have been explored by providing a series of brief summaries and accompanying images. This page will be updated frequently as additional areas are investigated. Account-worthy stories will be written up for the Incidents, First-Hand Accounts and Stories section, while significant interviews and items of interest will be included in the applicable sections.

Due to the high volume of recent Rutgers Rarities investigations, this section has been divided into three separate investigations pages:

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

Land of the Giant

The tombstone of the Middlebush Giant is pretty ordinary, unlike the man, the myth, and his legend.

The Rutgers Rarities Team first heard about the "Middlebush Giant"s grave" from one of our favorite media friends, the Home News Tribune"s own Ava Gascer, who told us that the legendary 600-pound, 7+ foot tall man was buried in nearby Cedar Grove Cemetery in Middlebush, Franklin Township. Now, the RR Team is always up for a cemetery investigation and the gravesite of a bona-fide Barnum & Bailey Circus sideshow freak definitely qualifies as a rarity of interest. How big would his plot be? Would his tombstone be extra-large (w/pepperoni)? The Team had many questions that would only be answered by an on-site investigation.

Cedar Grove Cemetery is hard to find. We probably drove past it at least six times before finally succumbing to putting on some bright lipstick and asking a gas station attendant for directions (our standard investigatory procedure). As it turned out, the entrance to the cemetery is nestled between two houses in a residential area that is on the outskirts of Franklin. The grave also proved difficult to locate as the cemetery is surprisingly big for its location among suburbia and has a ton of old graves dating from the 1700's on. Co-investigator Ray was astonished when we first pulled up and he immediately sighted a huge tombstone that stood apart from all the others. "That must be it!" he exclaimed, "who else but a giant could have a monument that big?". Anybody else, it turns out. The name on the misleadingly gargantuan decoy tombstone was literally "John Smith" or something equally bland. We remembered from Ava"s article that the Giant"s grave had the title "Middlebush Giant" but we had no recollection of what his real name actually was. We blundered around in the twilight for quite a bit trying to systemically work through every grave, getting little for our efforts, although we did find the tombstone of one Charlie Brown. I also happened to find an old bone fragment that I sincerely hope is part of the remains of a deer or dog as it is kinda creepy to find a bone in a boneyard at night. When we finally located the tombstone in one of the oldest sections of the cemetery in the far back lot, it read "Col. Routh Goshen, Middlebush Giant, 1837-1899". The Team was impressed and surprised by the inscription. A Colonel? -hmmmm...we thought, this begs further research.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, we found out that our Giant was a man of mystery as was the exact location of his plot. It turns out that his tombstone may not truly mark his body"s final resting spot. Fearing that his body would be "dug up and put on display", this genuine Barnum and Bailey star (billed as the "world"s tallest man") requested that his plot remain unmarked after death. Several years later his tombstone was put up in "the general area" of his plot, but as Ray and I saw during the investigation, the area in which the tombstone stands is sparsely populated with few other graves and there was certainly a lot of room in the location, even for a giant. Even the Middlebush Giant"s name is uncertain as "Col. Routh Goshen" was a stage name given to him by Bailey, who also fabricated several different exotic biographies for his star, citing him at times to be a Turkish-Hebrew giant, born in Jerusalem and titled a "colonel" by virtue of fighting in the Crimean war. He was alternately billed as a Belgian giant, born on the Isle of Man who met Queen Victoria and toured all the European courts. The newspapers that announced his death list his real name as Arthur James Caley and state that he was a mulatto, born in the United States, famous for his circus career but ultimately ending his life as a successful farmer in Clyde, NJ.

We may never know the truth of his story, but the RR Team was happy to at least find his tombstone and ascertain that even the mightiest in stature can find a peaceful & spacious resting spot in crowded old Jersey.

We would like to once again thank Home News Tribune Staff Writer Ava Gascer for directing us to this unique find. Her excellent article on the cemetery and its caretaker is entitled "Each Stone Tell Its Own Story"

The Middlebush Giant was the world's tallest man in the greatest show on earth, yet he went back to his New Jersey roots as a farmer in the latter stages of his life.

The area around the grave appears empty, which begs an answer to the question of where the Middlebush Giant's body lies. He might be giant, but they hid him well.

Hawk Watchung Point

An amazing view of the rock quarry from the hawk Watchung point.

A spot of strangeness that pushes the borders of the Rutgers Rarities territory is the Chimney Rock Hawk Watch Point, located in Washington Valley Park, just off Route 22 in Martinsville. The woods that surround the lookout point are a part of the Watchung Mountains, which have an infamous history for satanic rituals, the Devil"s Tree and dangerous old mine shafts in the mountains. A friend who lives nearby encountered evidence of weirdness such as the skinned carcasses of squirrels tied up with kite string and left to dangle from the upper limbs of a tree. There is also the official local Native American legend of a murder that took place directly at the Hawk Watch Point, regarding a Sahican Indian Chief named Manamsamitt who bashed a rival"s brains out on the actual "White Rock" formation that juts out of the ledge. Of course, for me, having been a teenager in nearby Piscataway, White Rock was also known for being a hang out spot, where one could get high, get spooked, and usually have some encounters with the local police force.

With all this background info, the RR Team had some expectations of weirdness for an expedition in them thar woods. As is usually the case, when the expectations for strangeness are high, the outcomes tend to be small. On the actual Hawk Watch Platform, the Team noted that the "White Rock" was completely discolored by someone"s attempt to paint the rock formation pink and scarlet. There was so much paint dumped on the rocks that it pooled and was still moist and flexible in some crannies, despite the obvious evidence that the "painting" occurred some time much earlier- there were several rusted old cans of paint left in the nearby bushes. The overlook out to the quarry was fantastic though, and we definitely caught great views of some really huge hawks swooping down at sunset. Of course, some of the swooping aerial juggernauts proved to be big bats getting their evening meal, but it really is an excellent vantage point for bird watching.

We also took some of the trails and found the remnants of an old car wreck, possibly a VW bug, way off in the woods, along with an interesting altar-like rock resting at the foot of a pair of trees. No evidence of any ritualism was found however, except some crushed beer cans which indicated that the sacred high school ritual of drinking in the woods remains strong.

Further yet into the woods we found the waterfalls, which were a veritable hotspot for random couples making out in the dimming sunset. Blah, blah, blah. After crossing the falls the hard way via climbing slippery rocks and literally walking across the fall"s ledge, the RR Team accepted that this place was pretty stable for the night and that strangeness would have to be encountered elsewhere. One last interesting moment however occurred on the way out when a Park Ranger"s truck went plowing up one of the dirt trails at a very fast speed into woods that were labeled as private property. The truck went flying by so fast that I doubt the Ranger saw us, which we were glad of as it was after dark and the park was definitely closed. We were curious as to what the emergency was and where exactly the Ranger was headed to in such a quick manner. We listened but heard nothing, the woods were almost eerily silent at this time and thus, we simply walked back to the trusty RR-mobile to plan our next stop.

A site of Native American lore overlooking a modern day rock quarry - legend has it that a tribe member was toma-hawked there out of jealousy over a woman - thus the name Hawk Watch Point - that and because people watch hawks from that spot.

Beautiful views of the mountains and rock quarry at Toma-Hawk Watch Point - named for a frequent flyer to the area who was affectionately name Toma, the Algonquin word for Watcher, by the Native people.

Some hawks flying freely above the horizon. One may be Toma, but we will never know.

An old car believed to be a VW (very wrecked) Bug. Why or how the car got there remains a mystery.

A strange rock altar in the woods (left) and some shots of the great unnatural falls (right).

More views of the falls including a too-friendly couple and the water walkway that the RR team utilized for passage.

Nightfall over Hawk Watch Point - not unlike how the Native Americans viewed it except, of course, for the lights, heavy machinery, and buildings - au natural.

RR and the Spunky Skunky

The scurrying skunk near GSE, filling the air with unpleasantries.

they're here, they're there, they're everywhere this spring at RU! Large, feisty dynamos of black and white that are definitely the most-feared animal on a campus that is home to coyotes, wolves, foxes, bats, rats and who the hell knows what else. Our smelly friends, the RU skunks, have proven to be the boldest creatures this spring with numerous sightings on all of the campuses, the latest being at the good old GSE (Graduate School of Education), where a huge one promptly chased the RR Team away from Lot 16 late in the night. This was probably our biggest and boldest skunk encounter yet as this thing just kept making a beeline for us and when it sent us scrambling to our car, ultimately vented its skunkly rage on the right wall of Milledoller Hall, just above the window of a basement level office. While thus far we amazingly haven"t been hit yet, take heed that these guys are underfoot, even on the busy College Ave Campus, and that they aren"t reluctant about protecting their little piece of RU.

The skunks heads straight for the RR team on a night when no one can hear them scream.

To and fro, from here to there, the skunk surges forward - its tail in the air.

The Arches of Bishop Hall

The lobby of Bishop Hall - an ornate entrance to this curious locale.

The Bishop House is the home of the Scarlet Listeners and if that is not scary enough (I mean it"s peer counseling after all), this architectural masterpiece contains one of the tiniest little one-man bathrooms on campus. The RR Team recently went through this building, which dates back to 1852, from the basement to the gables, seeking more than just peer support, and we found that this building is just plain odd. Named after James Bishop (1816-1895), the Bishop house holds the record for narrow, winding staircases (on which one of the RR Team almost completely wiped out) and bizarre little basement nooks. You can actually see where coal was shoveled and loaded back in the day & there are still all the fixtures for gaslights along the walls. This place is virtually structurally unaltered since the days of the Martin sisters circa 1900. The Martin sisters were three reclusive spinsters who owned the Bishop House as of 1899, when the prior owner, their brother Malcolm Martin, died and left it to them. Now according to a 1949 Targum article sent to us by a friend, these spinsters dreaded co-existing with all the college boys who lived in the nearby frat houses on what was then known as "Neilson Campus". The three women actually never left their home after their brother"s death and purportedly had all food delivered to the house through a back window, so that no one, not even a delivery boy, had access. Two of the sisters ultimately died in the home and the remaining sister finally sold the Bishop House and land to RU in 1929. The place is mostly deserted at night but all the doors are open, possibly to allow for emergency counseling services, and strange elements, like squeaky Dutch doors abound. we're absolutely sure that someone, somewhere on campus has a tale to share about this structural oddity smack dab on the College Ave Campus and we personally would love to get the view from the tower up top. If you"ve got a tale about the Bishop House and could use some support or a referral from your RR friends, drop us a line- we're here to listen.

Special thanks to Mr. Steven Greene, Rutgers Class of "79 for his invaluable aid in digging up yet another odd tale at RU.

Bishop Hall abounds with strange and impossible doorways, hallways, passageways, highways, and bi-ways - all the way up to the tower and all the way down to the basement.

Panorama - from the tower to the North and to the South.

Panorama - from the tower to the East and to the West.

The Bishop basement - a menacing labyrinth of twists and turns. The site of an old oven used for baking bread and other bakery goods has been turned into a storage unit.

Caged off torture rooms, telephone wiring, and supplies give a sense of chaos and disarray.

Filing cabinet and pirate-themed rooms are reminiscent of Adventureland and Tommorrowland - only scarier.

Grateful Shed

Mario and Luigi would definitely appreciate the hidden flower power in the fields of Cook Campus.

we're thinking that some long-haired freaky people of the Rastafarian ilk got back behind Cook one hot summer night and put some flower power on the walls of a small building located in the fields behind College Farm Road. The RR Team stumbled upon this little gem of a rarity while traipsing along some paths that wove through some of the turf or sod grass plots. Aversions to manure composts notwithstanding, we found this section of the campus to be pretty cool as who would have ever thought that some artist would be inspired to work a little graffiti magic back here, where the efforts of the tag may only be seen by the occasional lone gardener or a couple of busybody, nosy students (yes, damn them all). In any case, we think this is a great piece and is only surpassed in beauty and originality by the first ever air-inflated double-layer polyethylene greenhouse (that"s AIDLPG to you greenhorns) which is another erstwhile Cook landmark. Happy gardening!

In the spirit of George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars, the psychadelic flower shed is in full effect, y'all.

Rutgers Rarities Investigations Menu
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Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page II
Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page III
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Rutgers Rarities Investigations Page V
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©Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, 2005