Ghost at Blevins Farmstead; Excerpt From 'Haunted Hikes'
It's Halloween, so how about a spooky story? Andrea Lankford, author of the book 'Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales and Trails from North America's National Parks', has given us permission to re-post a story from her book. Andrea qualifies herself as a skeptic, but to read about her own spooky encounter at a Civil War battlefield site, check out this story. ~Jeremy
BIG SOUTH FORK: A man of constant sorrow
We have to thank the Eminent Domain for many of the places we now enjoy as national parks. However, whenever the federal government takes land from people unwilling to give it up, whenever the government forces people to leave their homes, hearts are bound to be broken, and some spirits may never recover.
For more than 50 years, Oscar Blevins lived in a cabin, a simple long structure built in 1870, and farmed the grassy fields near Bandy Creek. In 1975, the government condemned Blevins’ property to include it into the newly established Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. Thirteen years later, in 1988, Oscar Blevins died. An acquaintance of Mr. Blevins told ranger Howard Duncan that poor ole’ Oscar had "grieved himself to death over the loss of his farm."
After Mr. Blevins passed away, park staff began to notice unusual things at the Blevins Farmstead. According to NPS cultural historian Tom Des Jean, more than one ranger reported getting the "willies" while at Oscar’s farm. One hot summer evening, a ranger was unsaddling a horse inside the corral behind the barn when his hair stood up on end. Someone was watching him. The ranger looked behind him. Just outside the barn stood an old fellow wearing bib overalls and a black slouch hat. The ranger hailed the man in the overalls and continued to unsaddle his horse. Then he carried the saddle to the barn so that he could chat with the elderly park visitor when he was done. But in the time it took the ranger to set the saddle down and come out of the barn, the old man had vanished.
The old man with the slouch hat appeared again sometime in the early 1990's. Early one morning, the Bandy Creek wrangler went to Oscar’s farm to pick up a horse and load it into a trailer. As the wrangler led the horse out of the barn, the horse stopped at the barn door and reared back. This behavior was out of character for this normally docile mare. Coaxing the horse with encouraging words, the wrangler pulled on the halter, but the mare absolutely refused to cross the threshold of the barn door. Suddenly the wrangler’s scalp began to prickle. Feeling a presence, the wrangler looked over his shoulder. Standing not more than 30 feet from the doorway of the Blevins cabin was an old man wearing bib overalls and a slouch hat.
"She won’t come out will she?" the old man said, sending chills down the wrangler’s spine and causing the mare to fight the lead. Returning his attention to the horse, the wrangler grappled with the desperate animal. As soon as he got the mare under control, the wrangler looked around for the old man, but he was nowhere to be found.
He never claimed to have seen a ghost, but the wrangler told rangers the experience had rattled him. Ranger Howard Duncan described the wrangler, who is now a Special Agent with the DEA, as "a fellow who does not frighten easily."
Lankford shares such eerie tales as John Brown's haunting of Harper's Ferry, the disembodied legs that have been seen running around inside the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center, and the "wailing woman" who roams the trail behind the Grand Canyon Lodge. Lankford also uncovers paranormal activities park visitors have experienced, such as the chupacabra that roams the swamps inside Big Thicket National Preserve and the teenage bigfoot who rolled a park service campground with toilet paper.
She also reports on long-forgotten unsolved murders, such as the savage stabbing of a young woman on Yosemite's trail to Mirror Lake, and the execution style shooting of two General Motors executives at Crater Lake. The witnesses to the supernatural occurrences are highly credible people-rangers, park historians, river guides, and the like-and each tale has factual relevance to the cultural or natural history of the park.
Haunted Hikes provides readers with all the information they need: for each hike: a "fright factor rating" is listed along with trailhead access information, detailed trail maps, and hike difficulty levels. Most of the haunted sites included in the book can be reached by the average hiker, some are wheelchair accessible, and others are for intrepid backpackers willing to make multi-day treks into wilderness areas. Intriguing photographs of many sites are included.
Haunted Hikes is sure to satisfy readers looking for those spine-tingling moments when you begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe, we are not alone.