Urban Legends: The Vanishing Hitch-Hiker.

hitch(c) original artist.

Apologies as usual for the delay. I had some issues with my password for the site and it’s taken a while to get it sorted out. I’m currently researching a fair bit and they’ll be some forthcoming articles on Japanese demons and imaginary beasts. Also, I’ll try to find some more creepy games as I know they’re popular.

Urban Legend: The Vanishing Hitch-hiker.

We have probably all heard the story of the Vanishing Hitch-hiker. Just in case, I will briefly detail one of the numerous versions below.

Someone, normally male (usually a friend of a friend of the teller) is driving along a country road when they see a young girl at the side of the road. In some versions she might be wearing strange clothes, sometimes the sort of thing you might have seen fifty years ago, other times they might be horribly torn or damaged in some way that inspires compassion in the driver. Anyway, said driver picks her up. She insists on sitting in the back seat and when the driver asks about her destination they are told that the girl lives with her parents (sometimes mother, sometimes father) in a house around five miles away. The driver takes her there and this is where the legends diverge depending on which version you hear. The one thing that most versions agree on is that when the driver turns around he finds that the girl has vanished. At this point he might find that the house is abandoned and fallen into ruin, no sign of the girl anywhere. He may see something that causes him to flee the scene in terror, or he may simply leave, puzzled. In other versions, after finding his passenger gone he will approach the house and knock on the door. He will then meet a set of grieving parents who will inform him that their daughter had gone missing while hitch-hiking many years previously. They will show him something of their daughter’s that will match something the driver noticed about the girl (an item of clothing, sometimes a teddy bear or a photograph). Sometimes they will tell him that he arrived on what would have been her birthday. Sometimes the story may end with the driver taking the girl to a cemetery and finding her headstone. Sometimes the hitch-hiker is spotted in an urban environment, the collection from a club or other building you’d expect to find there. Sometimes it ends with the driver finding a newspaper article detailing a horrific accident or murder of some sort that had previously occurred in the location where he first saw the hitch-hiker. Occasionally the driver may own a cab and pick up the hitch-hiker as a fare. The variations are endless.

The interesting part about this legend is how long it has actually been around and how widespread it is. According to Jan Harold Brunvand (an expert on American folklore), it has been in printed tradition since the 1930’s and was orally circulated prior to that. In earlier versions the driver would be in a carriage of some sort, or occasionally riding a horse. This is an example of a popular urban legend evolving to match the time in which it is told, keeping itself relevant. It is also an example of the ghost on a quest tale, which is common to urban legends.

There’s a fair amount of videos on You Tube about this legend too.

Which version have you heard? Do you have any interesting urban legends you believed as a child?

Related Links

The Vanishing Hitch-Hiker (Brunvand)

Scary for Kids


Urban Legends

The Folklore Society

American Folklore


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