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The History of the Devil’s Tower of New Jersey

Amidst the tree-lined streets of Alpine stands an ominous tower with a haunting reputation.

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  • Photo Credit: Tim Murphy / YouTube

Alpine, New Jersey, a borough of Bergen County, is just a 15-mile drive away from Manhattan. A rather upper crust place to live, Forbes ranked Alpine as one of America's most expensive zip codes in 2012 and it's maintained that prestige ever since. As nice as it is, history will prove that even the most pleasant, bustling, sought after town is not without its share of dark mystery and folklore, and Alpine has several shares of it.

Amidst the tree-lined streets, gorgeous houses, and beautiful parks of Alpine stands an ominous looking tower called The Devil's Tower. Built in 1910 by a millionaire sugar importer named Manuel Rionda, the tower has taken on a reputation for being both cursed, and haunted—a terrifying combo. But how did an otherwise striking piece of architecture acquire such a sinister reputation? There are many different theories.

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It's widely thought that Manuel built the 100-foot stone tower at the end of a scenic pathway lined by cedar trees as a gift for his wife, Harriet, so she would have a nice place to break away from the troubles of the day and look out at the sweeping view. When Harriet died in 1922 stories began circulating that Harriet actually jumped to her death from the highest point of the tower after looking out and catching her husband cheating on her with another woman. This story went from mouth to ear so many times in the town of Alpine that it became known as truth, which is so often the case with legends such as this. 

Since Harriet's death people have reported being pushed by unseen forces in the tower, seeing apparitions in the form of black clouds that appear and then vanish in a blink, and even smelling Harriet's perfume. 

After hearing one too many reports of things of this nature, Manuel locked the tower and filled in the tunnel that ran from its entrance to the house. At this point the tower gained its newly official name of "The Devil's Tower," which has stuck to this day. If you ask a local they'll tell you that it's known around those parts that if you drive (or walk) backwards around the tower a number of times Harriet will appear to you.