Haunting of Molly's Rock painting by Gary L. Johnson

The Haunting of Molly’s Rock

A large roadside boulder known as “Molly’s Rock” near Rhinelander in Sugar Camp, WI was said to be haunted the protective ghost of a woman named Molly Sasek who laid claim to it many years ago.

I hadn’t heard of Molly’s Rock until I received a message from Gary Johnson detailing the story.

Keep Off Molly’s Rock

“Molly’s Rock was a very large landmark for decades in the township of Sugar Camp, just north of Rhinelander, Wisconsin,” Gary writes. “It was located on a very sharp turn on the Pine Lake Road, going South off Highway D.”

The rock once stood on the corner of Hunter Haven and Pine Lake roads. It got its name from a regular summer visitor named Molly Sasek. Gary says she claimed the rock as hers. She liked to take walks along Pine Lake Road, and would stop to sit on the rock.

But it’s said that Molly didn’t want others climbing on her rock, and one day the words “KEEP OFF MOLLY’S ROCK” appeared on it’s face in red paint.

“Through the years, if the letters were ever tampered with, they would reappear on the rock overnight,” Gary says.

More from the Northwoods: The legend of the hodag

Molly’s Ghost

Molly eventually passed away, but that didn’t stop her from visiting her rock.

“After she died, many residents stated her ghost haunted the rock to protect it,” Gary explains, “and her spirit could be seen at times as a bright glow that floated above it, usually in the early morning hours or late afternoon and sometimes during a full moon.”

A number of legends rose up about who Molly was and what her ghost was up to.

While researching her name, I found a WXPR article about it.

“One theory is that a horse and buggy from long ago crashed into the rock, killing a woman named Molly,” Kerry Bloedorn writes for WXPR. “Or was it a car accident, or drowning in a nearby lake? However it occurred, the huge rock was most assuredly haunted by her spirit. What became a driving marker for locals also turned into the site of teen pilgrimages to the rock to test its theory about ghosts and spooks.”

Similar to the legend of the mausoleum at Dartford Cemetery, local lore held that if you sat on the rock, Molly’s ghost would push you off.

The Real Molly

Molly sitting on her rock in Sugar Camp, WI c.1957

Molly sitting on her rock, c.1957

As Bloedorn writes, the real story doesn’t quite live up to local legend. Molly wasn’t a victim of some forgotten historical tragedy. She was a resident of Berwyn, Illinois, an rock collector, and the wife of a man named Joe Sasek. Joe traveled frequently for his job with the Sinclair Gas Company, and he would often bring mineral specimens home for her.

One day around 1934 he returned home from a trip to Wisconsin’s Northwoods with a rock so special (and so large) that he couldn’t bring it home for her. Molly would have to go with him to see it for herself.

“It took the Saseks two years to finally get up north together where Molly found Joe had painted the rock in bold red letters ‘Keep Off Molly’s Rock,'” Bloedorn writes. “Imagine Molly’s delight to see this big rock Joe had ‘collected’ for her.”

The Saseks soon bought a cabin near the rock where they vacationed for many years.

After Molly’s death, Joe continued to visit the rock and touch up the big red letters with a fresh coat of paint in memoriam.

“Over time, the reason behind the message on the big stone was lost,” Bloedorn says, “and people created the well known local legend.”

Cursed Rocks

Molly’s spirit is said to have guarded her rock for decades. Eventually, though, it seems Molly could no longer protect it. Following years of repeated vandalism in the form of vulgar graffiti, it was deemed a road hazard in 2006 and destroyed.

But the rock, like Molly, didn’t completely vanish. Gary says remnants of it can still be found on the corner of the road where it once stood.

Souvenir hunters beware, however. According to Gary, it is advised to leave the rocks right where they are. It’s said that whoever takes a piece will be cursed by Molly until they return it.

Even today, you can almost sense her presence if you stand where the rock once was,” Gary says. “Many residents and visitors to the area are still very upset the rock was destroyed, but the legend of it will always be.”

The Haunting of Molly's Rock painting by Gary L. Johnson

Painting of Molly’s Rock by Gary L. Johnson

Thanks to Gary for sharing this fascinating legend and his painting that preserves it’s memory.

Have you had an experience at Molly’s Rock? Share your story in the comments below or send us a message.

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