Ever Hear of Central New York’s Thruway Jesus
Stories of a mystical being hitchhiking and offering the word of God have been carried thru the ages. Few, however, reached the status of a figure dubbed, "The Thruway Jesus." We found a man who witnessed the "man in white" first hand.
To protect the identity of our witness, his face has been deliberately pixelated during the interview. Several "Thruway Jesus" stories circulated during a period between 1971 and 1972, with most occurring along interstate exits between Rochester and Syracuse. Our witnesses' story met those parameters.
Coming from Rochester to the Utica Rome Area before we got to the Weedsport Exit there were 3 guys standing beside the road.
Being a cold autumn day, 2 of the guys were bundled up while the 3rd was dressed all in white with long hair and a beard. Our witness a frequent hitchhiker himself pulled over to give the 3 men a ride, but only two got in the car.
We asked where's your buddy, they replied what buddy, we're traveling alone.
Obviously shook up, they took the hitchhikers to the Weedsport exit. When our witness told the Toll Booth Attendant something weird had happened, the attendant replied: "Did you see the Thruway Jesus, a man dressed all in white." He added there had been 50 to 60 reports on the figure that day.
Not that we doubt our witness, but a quick internet search turned up more of the same stories. An article on Snopes recounts a 1972 story of a St. John Fisher College student traveling with his wife and aunt. They picked up a lone hitchhiker who asked if they had ever heard the gospel and if they knew Jesus, saying “He’s coming soon.” The figure then vanished from the moving car.
The NY Times' archive features a story from 1974 titled, Hippie Hitchhiker Haunts Thruway. Dr. Lydia M. Fish, from Buffalo State College, used her class on folklore to collect stories of encounters with the mysterious figure. Students compiled 50 to 60 tales of the mysterious figure in white including one sure to curl your hair. The same scenario, lone hitchhiker gets in the back seat, buckles his seat belt and asks if they believe in the "second coming." When the couple turns to answer, he's gone but the seat belt is still buckled.
Have you heard stories of the Thruway Jesus? Share them below, on our Facebook page or email: firstname.lastname@example.org