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Urban Myth Inspires 'Munger Road' Movie

Nick Smith grew up in St. Charles and is back to shoot his first feature film.

The making of "Munger Road" came just in time for the Smith family. Without it, they'd be empty nesters.

Just as the they were sending their youngest off to college, their son Nick Smith started filming his first feature film.

It's all about roots on this set. Nick Smith has returned to his hometown to make a thriller inspired by a St. Charles urban legend. The movie takes place the night before the Scarecrow Festival and, as fate would have it, a group of teens pick the wrong night to go explore Munger Road.

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"I've known about Munger Road for as long as I've been driving," Nick Smith said.

This infamous "road" is actually a stretch of Stearns Road near Powis Road. For years, St. Charles teens have stopped on the abandoned train tracks in hopes of finding a ghost by using baby powder.

The help of Smith's family has made this movie possible. Jeff Smith is Nick's dad and the executive producer. He allows four guys working on the film to sleep on the extra beds in his house, while his wife prepares lunches every day for the working cast and crew.

"From day one, I knew we had something," Jeff Smith said.

It's all about the script, he said.

"That's how we drew everyone in."

The cast and crew is made up of people from Los Angeles and Chicago. The production has about one week of filming left. Kyle Heller, a producer from Los Angeles, said "Munger Road" has a story to which everyone can relate.

Children grow up with an urban myth no matter where they come from, Heller said.

"Everyone has their 'road,'" he said.

Nick Smith said there are actually a few tales surrounding Munger Road. There's the one about the little girl who was killed on the train tracks and doesn't want anyone who stops on the tracks to get hit by a train. If a driver puts baby powder on the back end of the car and puts the vehicle in neutral on the tracks, the little girl will push the car off the tracks and the driver will be able to see the lingering hand prints in the baby powder. And then there's the one about the farm that used to be near the tracks where an old farmer still haunts to this very day.

But Nick Smith said the movie is more a thriller than a ghost story. He's always appreciated the simplistic ghost stories told around a campfire.

Jeff Smith said his son wasn't always a storyteller. When he was little, Nick wanted to build roller coasters. Perhaps, now, the moviemaker has found a different way to share twists and turns.

Jeff Smith waited until the script for the thriller was ironed out just right before giving the project the green light. He is financing the film, which has become a family affair. Jeff Smith said having his son back for a little while has been a good transition for him and his wife before the empty-nester stage comes.

When it's time for the movie to wrap-up later this week, Jeff Smith doesn't know what they're going to do.

"We'll just have to start the sequel."

Becky Pomrenke August 30, 2011 at 04:18 AM
I took that road everyday to school starting in grade school on my way to Wayne elementary then in HS on my way to the now closed Valley Lutheran. Can't wait to check it out.
Bob September 02, 2011 at 03:27 AM
I spent most of my evenings in the late 80s early and 90s on Munger Road. We would chase people, jump the tracks in our trucks, and explore areas around there on foot. The abandoned barn and the "worshiping" clearing in the woods were always fun to bring first time visitors. We even saw the old man in the house next to the tracks on several occasions walking along the tracks. After the early 90s, development in the area and increased traffic kind of killed it.
Tim D. September 13, 2011 at 07:07 PM
I can confirm some of this. I live near Munger and in the early 80's used to walk my dog on hte tracks from Munger to Powis. There is a siding there and plenty of room to get clear if a train passed. At that time it was the Chicago Central and Pacific railroad. At that time there were several houses on the west side of the road, north of the tracks and the road was gravel and rough. There a very small white house south of the tracks and it was very close to them. An old man lived in the house and I only saw him a few times always with dark glasses, black coat and a black hat. The house did have a high fence and lots of floodlights. He used to walk all the way up to Stearns shop somewhere and come back with a bag of supplies. The strange part is they demoshished all the other houses to the north but not his. I just figured they were going to let him stay there and ride out his years. I assumed the Forest Preserve accuired the houses. But one day I went by It was all boarded up. Sometime later I went by and it was gone
Karl Brubaker September 13, 2011 at 10:01 PM
I knew nothing about that road during the early 1980s but I used to drive past it down Army Trail. This was long before Army Trail became the road it is now. I told my friends back then that I always had this strange urge to turn left onto Munger and had no idea why..
nicolle September 22, 2011 at 08:32 PM
well i hope he will read my email i sent to him. i have more info about Munger road that im sure he would love to hear

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