Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Haunted Appalachian Trail: Maryland

I want to preface this by saying that I believe that Maryland is the most paranormally active section of the entire AT.  I've read that the Smokies and the Shenandoah National Park are considered the most haunted, but with only 40 miles, Maryland packs quite a punch for its relatively short distance.  Perhaps the fact that Maryland is the only place along the entire trail corridor where the AT passes through a major Civil War battlefield has something to do with that.

 Crampton's Gap

The Battle of South Mountain is the basis for many of the area's ghost stories.   In the area of Crampton's
Gap, people have seen campfires in the woods at night. They've also heard canon fire and the screams of the wounded men and have seen ghostly soldiers walking the battlefields.  Not far away, there is an area known as Spook Hill where your car seems to roll uphill while in neutral.  Legend says that ghosts of Confederate soldiers are the ones pushing the car thinking it is one of their canons they refuse to leave for the Union Army to take over.  It's said if you sprinkle flour on the trunk of your car, you'll see their hand prints.

 The Purple Church

Just past Crampton's Gap on the road sits an old dilapidated church.  The church is supposedly haunted and it is said that in the 1980's it was the site of Satanic Rituals.  

Fox's Gap

In the area of Fox's Gap the focal point for the Battle of South Mountain, there was a farm owned by Daniel
Wise who lived there with his children.  During the battle the family fled to the safety of a nearby church and their home was used as a Union hospital.  After the battle, the Union dumped 58 Confederate bodies in a well on the property.  The bodies remained there for 12 years before being re-interred at the Confederate Cemetery in Hagerstown.  Now people hear the thud of the bodies being thrown in the well and see soldiers walking the battlefield.

Washington Monument

The rocks below the monument house a maze of caves.  Legend says that a young Civil war soldier stopped
at a nearby farm to get a drink from the well.  He met the farmer's daughter and they fell in love.  She begged the soldier to leave the army and the war and run away with her.  The soldier deserted and they both hid in the caves.  A rockslide ended up trapping the young couple in the caves and they died.  The distressing cries of the couple can be heard as they try to escape.

George "Gath" Townsend

George Townsend was a journalist and a novelist who built an estate in what is now Gathland State Park.  He also built the first War Correspondents memorial.  Though he died in New York and was buried in Philadelphia, Mr. Townsend's ghost still walks the grounds of his estate.


 Old South Mountain Inn

Just off the Appalachian trail is the Old South Mountain Inn.  In the 1800's, owner Madeleine Dahlgren was
hosting overnight guests.  One hot evening, one of her house guests opened the bedroom window and sat dozing in a rocking chair.  She awoke suddenly when she sensed something different- the crickets were quiet. Seeing a glow coming from the window, the woman looked out and saw a glowing figure about 50 yards from the house.  The specter was taller than any normal human being and hovered above the ground.  Terrified the woman closed the shutters and hid in the bed under  the covers.   Several nights later, another friend was occupying the same room.  As she got ready for bed, the woman noticed a strange glow coming from the window.  When she went to investigate, she saw the same ghostly figure.  The woman ran to get Madeleine to bear witness to what she had seen.  As both women watched, the figure spread a pair of large luminous wings.  Madeleine slammed the shutters closed and both women dropped to their knees and prayed.

Though she has since passed away, Madeleine Dahlgren still resides in her home at Old South Mountain Inn.  The current owners tell a story about how the ghost of Madeleine saved the Inn.  One evening, the cleaning man was staying late at the Inn waiting for a delivery of linens.  He noticed that a door that was always kept closed was sitting open.  The janitor smelled smoke through the open door and called 911.  A fire had started in the rear of the Inn, but the smell of smoke coming from he open door alerted the man and the Inn was saved.  The current owner also mentions seeing a "flash of something" in the attic one day as she was looking for some holiday decorations.

The White Woman

There are reports of a banshee roaming the South Mountain.  This banshee is said to be a harbinger of death or disaster.  A young girl saw a shrouded figure rise out of the ground and pass through her house.  Two days later her uncle died and the house burned.  The White Woman was also seen by a woman caring for her nine day old grandchild.  The banshee was seen leaning over looking at the child in her cradle.  Not long after, the child died. The White Woman has been seen other times, though there were no deaths associated with her sighting.

The area of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Maryland isn't just known for its ghost stories- it also has its fair share of cryptids (a creature whose existence has been suggested but hasn't yet been discovered or documented by the scientific community). And personally, I find the cryptids a little more frightening than the ghosts.  Afterall, the ghosts are not alive, the cryptids are...


The snallygaster is described as being part reptile and part bird with scaly body, lizard tail, and metallic beak
lined with razor sharp teeth.  Some descriptions report octopus like tentacles as well.  It has hooked claws, one large eye, poisonous breath and its screech sounds like a train whistle.  It flies over South Mountain looking for prey, and once it finds a meal, it tears the flesh from the victim and sucks the veins dry. So when you're laying in your sleeping bag at night on the Appalachian Trail on South Mountain and you hear a train whistle you'll wonder "Is that really a train or the Snallygaster looking for a meal?"


The Dwayyo is said to be similar to a wolf with the arms, stance and stature of  man.  It has a dark colored
shaggy coat and a bushy tail.  The Dwayyo is tall with some estimates claiming it's 7-9ft tall and leaves enormous clawed footprints.  It makes a frightful screaming noise.  Chickens and cattle have been found dead in area where the Dwayyo has been sighted, and dogs have refused to hunt the animal and hide when they sense the Dwayyo is near.  It has allegedly attempted to attack several people and shows up every summer.

Snarly Yow

The Snarly Yow is possibly more ghost than cryptid, but no one knows that for sure.  It's described as a
phantom black dog with a grotesque red mouth and fangs.  While most descriptions say it's black, some say the animal appeared as a white headless dog and some say that the dog had the ability to change color from black to white.  The Snarly Yow is known to chase cars and jumps out of bushes to scare passing hikers.  Many have heard its werewolf like howl.


You can't have a list of cryptids located in a wooded area without adding Bigfoot.  Maryland isn't without Bigfoot sightings, and some hail from the South Mountain area.  There are some who believe that the Appalachian Trail is used by Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) to migrate along the mountain range.

When you're out and about on South Mountain, keep your eyes and ears open-
 there's no telling what you might encounter.

For more in depth information on some of the hauntings/cryptids, 
please check out the Gettysburg Ghosts blog.

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