I sit here on this All Hallows Eve, with our Golden Retriever, Briggs at my feet, Skip reading in his chair beside me, a small fire burning in the woodstove beside us. The doors are open allowing the night air to billow in, bringing with it the fog from the valley below and the eerie hoot of owls coming from the dark woods surrounding us. It’s pitch black outside, save the for the starlight; which in the absence of the moon, allows for the Milky Way to dazzle. It’s a perfect Halloween night. It’s a creepy Halloween night.
There are no trick-or-treaters that venture down our road…not anymore anyway. I imagine at one time, our road looked very different. You see, there’s history in these hills and hollows, and we are surrounded by old homesteads which the forest has reclaimed. Here and there tucked back into the woods, it is common to come across what’s left of a cabin, sometimes with only the chimney and corner rocks where the foundation once stood remaining. Here and there you can find pieces of tin cans, antique mason jars, medicine bottles buried in shallow graves around the house. Often, there will be a well nearby with the rocks near the edges worn into grooves where the ropes ate into them over time.
We have even found an old school house with a few desks remaining and a large green chalkboard still on the wall. There are old family grave-yards dotted in and all around the estate, making excellent fodder for those ’round the campfire ghost stories…perfect for nights like tonight. We often imagine what happened to the many families that once lived all around us, or what tragedies befell them.
The grave stones themselves can often impart pieces of their stories to us. Often we see tiny little stones that speak of high infant mortality rates, or stones that speak of a beloved mother or father, or in one case, the crypt of a civil war soldier. One of the earliest graves we have found dates back to 1815; back to a time very different from today as evidenced by the large trees growing through what was once a one-room cabin on a lively street.
Local legend has it, that our road once was home to quite a few moonshine stills, remnants of which can still be found deep in the woods today. In fact, there were so many quality stills on our road, the locals jokingly referred to it as Booze Ridge Road instead of Booth Ridge Road.
We have even found rock carvings of initials from travelers long ago, as well as petroglyphs we can’t quite desipher. It’s not uncommon to find arrowheads, spear heads and other such items in the Red River Gorge. There are active archeological digs taking place in some areas where they have unearthed shards of pottery, carvings, and old fire rings.
History haunts this area. There are thousands of untold stories and forgotten people and places, just waiting for someone to stumble upon their forgotten items that will help bring their story to light. It’s somewhat spooky and somehow comforting at the same time; an interesting thought to ponder on a night like tonight.