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Legend tripping is a name recently bestowed by folklorists and anthropologists on an adolescent practice (containing elements of a rite of passage) in which a usually furtive nocturnal pilgrimage is made to a site which is alleged to have been the scene of some tragic, horrific, and possibly supernatural event or haunting. The practice has been documented most thoroughly to date in the United States.
Sites for legend trips
While the stories that attach to the sites of legend tripping vary from place to place, and sometimes contain a kernel of historical truth, there are a number of motifs and recurring themes in the legends and the sites. Abandoned buildings, remote bridges, tunnels, caves, rural roads, specific woods or other uninhabited (or semi-uninhabited) areas, and especially cemeteries are frequent sites of legend-tripping pilgrimages.
Reactions and controversies
Legend-tripping is a mostly harmless, perhaps even beneficial, youth recreation. It allows young people to demonstrate their courage in a place where the actual physical risk is likely slight. However, in what Ellis calls "ostensive abuse," the rituals enacted at the legend-tripping sites sometimes involve trespassing, vandalism, and other misdemeanors, and sometimes acts of animal sacrifice or other blood ritual. These transgressions then sometimes lead to local moral panics that involve adults in the community, and sometimes even the mass media. These panics often further embellish the prestige of the legend trip to the adolescent mind. In at least one notorious case, years of destructive legend-tripping, amounting to an "ostensive frenzy," led to the fatal shooting of a legend-tripper near Lincoln, Nebraska followed by the wounding of the woman whose house had become the focus of the ostension. The panic over youth Satanism in the 1980s was fueled in part by graffiti and other ritual activities engaged in by legend-tripping youths.
Associated places in the United States
- The Black Agnes statue, formerly in Pikesville, Maryland and now in Washington, DC
- The grave of Captain Frances McHarry in Harrison County, Indiana
- The Lake View Public School, also known as the Gore Orphanage, near Cleveland, Ohio
- Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago, Illinois and its Fire Memorial in nearby Queen of Heaven Cemetery.
- Ong's Hat 
- The Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Medina County, Ohio
- The Pope Lick Trestle in Louisville, Kentucky, home to the satyr-like Pope Lick Monster
- Hexenkopf Rock in Williams Township, Pennsylvania
- Rehmeyer's Hollow in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania
- The Waverly Hills Sanatorium, an abandoned hospital for tuberculosis victims, in Louisville, Kentucky
- Old Louisville, reported to be the most haunted neighborhood in the United States
- Sweet Hollow Road and Mount Misery Road in Huntington, New York
- The New Jersey Pine Barrens, said to be home to the Jersey Devil
- Mudhouse Mansion in Fairfield County, Ohio
- The Baird Chair monument in Kirksville, Missouri
- The Hornet Spook Light twelve miles southwest of Joplin, Missouri
- Stull Cemetery in Stull, Kansas, claimed to be a "gateway to Hell"
- Old Alton Bridge south of Denton, Texas
- Bunny Man Bridge in Clifton, Virginia
- Tent Girl in Georgetown, Kentucky
- Manteno State Hospital in Manteno, Illinois
- Devil's Tramping Ground south of Siler City, North Carolina, near Harper's Crossroads.
- Bloody Mary (folklore)
- Ghost hunting
- Haunted house
- La Llorona
- Siguanaba (Salvadoran Folklore)
- Stand by Me (film)
- The Devil's Chair (urban legend)
- Urban legend
- Peter Monaghan, "The Surprising Online Life of Legends" The Chronicle of Higher Education Dec 12, 2011 
- Ellis, Bill. "Legend Trips and Satanism: Adolescents' Ostensive Traditions as 'Cult' Activity." In The Satanism Scare, ed. James T. Richardson, Joel Best, and David G. Bromley, 279-95. NY: Aldme DeGreyter
- "Death by Folklore: Ostension, Contemporary Legend, and Murder." Western Folklore 48(1989):201-220., p. 202
- Summers, Wynne, L. "Bloody Mary: When Ostension Becomes a Deadly and Destructive Teen Ritual." Midwestern Folklore 26 (2000):1 19-26.
- Mikkelson, David. "Black Agnes". Snopes.
- "Captain McHarry's Vault - New Albany, IN - Weird Story Locations on Waymarking.com". Waymarking.com.
- "The Gore Orphanage". Forgotten Ohio.
- "Our Lady of the Angels School fire December 1 1958 Chicago Illinois".
- Kinsella, Michael (2011). Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong's Hat. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1604739831.
- "The Witch's Ball of Myrtle Hill Cemetery". Forgotten Ohio.
- "Hexenkopf: The Witch's Head". horrorfind.com.
- "THE DEVIL'S CHAIR". October 3, 1996. Archived from the original on August 20, 2006.
- "THE HORNET SPOOK LIGHT". prairieghosts.com.
- "STULL CEMETERY! ONE OF THE SEVEN GATEWAYS TO HELL?". prairieghosts.com.
- "The Truth About Bunnyman Bridge". Center for Paranormal Research.
- Brian A. Conley. "The Bunny Man Unmasked - Fairfax County, Virginia". Fairfax County Public Library.
- Aliens, Ghosts, and Cults: Legends We Live, by Bill Ellis (2001) ISBN 1-57806-325-6
- "Legend trip", entry in American Folklore: An Encyclopedia, ed. Jan Harold Brunvand (1996) ISBN 0-8153-3350-1
- Lucifer Ascending: The Occult in Folklore and Popular Culture, by Bill Ellis (2004) ISBN 0-8131-2289-9
- Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media, by Bill Ellis (2000) ISBN 0-8131-2170-1
- What's in a coin?: Reading the Material Culture of Legend Tripping and Other Activities (2007), by Donald H. Holly and Casey E. Cordy. The Journal of American Folklore 120 (477):335-354.
- "What is Legend Tripping?": Robinson, Robert C. "Legend Tripping: The Ultimate Family Experience 2014. IBN 978-1-889137-60-
- Bill Ellis. Aliens Ghosts and Cults, Legends we Live. 2001.
- Bill Ellis. Raising the Devil, Satanism, New Religions and the Media. 2000.
- Gary Alan Fine. "Redemption Rumors and the Power of Ostension". The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 104, No. 412 (Spring, 1991), pp. 179–181
- Michael Kinsella. Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong's Hat. (2011) ISBN 978-1604739831
- Kobrowski, Nicole Encyclopedia of Haunted Indiana 2008. ISBN 978-0-9774130-2-7
- Robinson, Robert C. "Legend Tripping: The Ultimate Family Experience 2014. IBN 978-1-889137-60-5
||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (August 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- The Legend Trippers Journal
- Legend Tripping in Ohio: The Gore Orphanage
- The Mill: Trip to a Ghost Site in Manassas, Virginia
- Plains Folk: Legend Tripping
- The Waverly Hills Sanatorium
- Weird New Jersey
- Weird US
- Ohio Trespassers - Ohio legends & Waverly Hills
- Ghosts of Old Louisville
- The Journal of Folklore Research