Taking Jacobs Ladder to the Devils Tomb (Grave)

Devils Tomb & Jacobs Ladder –
Look what happened when Weird NJ Issue #12 came out.

A place that sits quietly in obscurity for hundreds of years comes to an
BR_Jacobs_Ladderabrupt end when overzealous devil seekers search to find the devil himself. Thanks to Weird NJ issue 12, I’ve always found it interesting how gore and ghosts have always lured people into learning history. The problem when you link history to ghosts, the history sometimes gets stretched, or even down right exploited.
WeirdNJ_issue12For fun, since the article is now out there, I thought it’d be fun to get my kids to meet up with a local historian and go over just what Jacobs Ladder and the Devil Tomb is, was, or what they are from both angles, historical and lore.

First, to get to the Devil’s Tomb and Jacob’s Ladder, from Jacobs Ladder is Pennbrook Road so just google it – Pennbrook Road, Bernardsville. If your ‘re traveling from Lake Road, once the road bends to the left after a field with a massive oak like tree (you’ll see it), it will start going uphill. Walk it and you’re sure to get tired quickly. About a 1/4 mile and you’ll start traveling up what’s known as Jacob’s Ladder. Locals also call it “The Seven Bumps Road”

Jacob’s ladder–noun

  1. a ladder seen by Jacob in a dream, reaching from the earth to heaven. Gen. 28:12.
  2. Nautical.
    1. Also called jack ladder, pilot ladder. a hanging ladder having ropes or chains supporting wooden or metal rungs or steps.
    2. Any ladderlike arrangement aloft other than one of rattled shrouds.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

The term “Jacob’s Ladder” has popped up in a few interesting places. Is it just coincidence that Jacob’s Ladder is written in the Book of Genesis 28:12 and also in Weird NJ issue #12…I don’t think it’s coincidental!

jacobs_ladder_chargeSorry….the term Jacob’s Ladder made itself famous back in 1931 in the Dr. Frankenstein movie whereby the mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein wielded his sinister magic from what’s known as a electrical phenomenon called a Jacobs ladder (left) , (Click Here to see how to make one) The term show up again in the 1990 cult film Jacob’s Ladder. But did you know it also referenced as a particular wild flower (right). Too pretty for this tale.

Other terms have been used to mention this fascinating throughoughfare…“Seven Bumps Road” is one (I heard this at a local meeting discussing the area. And another reader responded that it was also called ‘Thank You Man Road’ because of the numerous ridges that the road traversed (you’d be thankful to make it all the way in your car). jacobs_ladder_flower

Let’s continue…So you drive, or climb up Pennbrook Road, or the “Jacobs Ladder” and up the hill you see a strange flat roofed stone structure what’s been called the “Devil’s Tomb”, about 50 feet from the side of the road. The structure is on private property, so please respect the law. You’ve been warned.

It’s pretty funny what people have said about this spot. Weird that it can be one of the most beautiful serene views during the day, and one of the scariest and most treacherous if traveled at night.

BR_Devils_Tomb
BR_170_Pennbrook_RoadNow let’s think for a moment, would you build this right up the street from where you thought the devil was tombed? It’s a fabulous estate just up what is know as Mitchel Road, extending just before Post Kennel Road. I hope to post an interactive virtual google map with everything I’m covering here someday.

It’s why I love history so much. It never gets old!

As I said, history comes in all flavors. Here’s the article, but then again, lore is always more creative than fact. Just don’t know actually what the building is….more to come.

Additional Articles:

Part 2

The Plot Thickens-
Peapack’s got a Jacobs Ladder too!

Jacob’s Ladder #2 – So I kept digging about Jacobs Ladder. Not that I wanted to, but the internet has it’s way of bringing information right to my doorstep. It seems that a few of you who’ve spent your childhood in the region realize that the Jacob’s ladder mentioned in Weird NJ is not the REAL jacobs ladder, but a rendition of what they wanted you to believe. How about that! I was stunned at first as well, until I got a
PG_Jacobs_Ladder2 second email. Then a third. All indicating that the Jacob’s Ladder mentioned above is not the downward spirialing woods and water death trap drop that they remembered.

It went down and down into a ravine with little waterfalls sliding down rock walls and at the bottom, a long stretch of path thru the ravine, so far down it was always in shadow,” wrote one reply. “I never got to the end of the path, though it seemed that I walked a long way. The only reason I know it was called Jacob’s Ladder was that there was a tiny little sign at the entrance. I never say anyone else down there, probably most people didn’t know it was there…it was beyond the last house on the road, beyond the paved road, and you’d have to be on foot to find it I think. It was very mysterious, to me, as a child…..” he wrote..
jacobs_ladder_toyThe other writer….who definitely would have known wrote me to say “Jacobs Ladder likely refers to one of the oldest children’s toys that I know. From the web <Jacob’s ladder is an old toy made of six blocks of wood, which are connected by ribbons. If you take only the top piece and turn it, then the pieces under it turn alternately to the left and to the right and fall down. It descends quickly for a short time, levels out to allow a diagonal ridge to force any run off to the side of the road and then descends steeply again only to repeat. These could be considered the steps of the ladder. It was almost impassable by the end of the 50s.”

While I didn’t find the sign, I certainly found the area. And it’s in Peapack, not Bernardsville. Ah our childhood….things looked so different then!

If you hear of any other tales. or you’d like to elaborate on your local lore of Somerset Hills, drop us an email. Click Here.

Don’t worry. They’ll know who to give it to.

Originally posted in April 2007