Spooky Stories Define So Many Things
History is full of mystery
It can be expected and in all fact should be expected that a town as rich with historical reverenceas Wheelwright Kentucky would in fact have it's fair share of spooky stories and folk tales. These tales have been handed down from generation to generation and through the years may have been upgraded to fit the norm but despite these modifications the tales still hold one thing to be true, they are meant to scare the hell out of us!
Every city has their stories of ghost and goblins and those strange things that go bump in the night. Look at places like Chicago and Gettysburg just to name a few! I know I may be getting ahead of myself by comparing the humble nook known as Wheelwright to one of these locales but is it not a safe bet to say we backwoods folk have our own fair and thrilling tales of terror and chaos too? I bet we do and I am hoping you will share just a little while to listen to a few.
The Flying Horse
As a kid my dad thrilled us children with stories of ghost and hauntings. I am sure most came from his imagination but many of these tales were spun from the stories he himself had heard from people he knew or hung out with on a regular basis. Being a poor family we had to find ways to entertain our self and dad's scary stories would easily fit that bill any night of the week.
One of my favorite tales was told about an old man who had a horse as lazy as he was. The steed would barely get from point A to point B but the man insisted it was the fastest horse this side of the Floyd County line and would argue for hours on end that his horse still had many a good year left in it. This was big words in days when men took such words as a challenge and a few of the younger folk in town decided the old man and his death of a horse needed to be put into their place so they set out to issue a challenge. A race was made. The man and his horse against one of the strapping young fellows and their horse. This would not bode well for the old gentleman and his horse.
This all seemed a huge joke as no one actually thought the older gentleman had a chance in the world of even coming close but as fate would have it there would be no real winner to that race!
As both racers were winding a mountain side curve the old man and his faithful steed tumbled over the hillside and rolled to the foothill. The fall was not a lengthy one but a fatal one none the less and both rider and ride were dead when the bottom finally met them. The story did not end there. There are still some who claim that on windy nights when the fog is in the air just right you can look to the area now known as the slate dump and see the brown steed galloping over the dirt road, even though the particular road is no longer there. This as led many to call this the flying horse of Wheelwright.
I have not seen it, nor have I talked to any direct witnesses and while the years have seen less and less people following the story as little more than a tall tale in a small town there are still some old folks who swear the horse still flies high above main street hoping to redeem the ride it failed.
Hall Hollow's Ghost Dog
The legend of the Hall Hollow Ghost Dog began for me as a child hearing my uncle's buddy Jeff retell of how every time he walked home from my grandma's house he would hear the growl of a large animal but never see anything that would be responsible for the sounds. After several weeks of this he started to see glowing red eyes and could hear it creeping up behind him and even claimed he saw dust trails. After so long he just could not take it so he yelled for the creature to attack if it could. Several hours later he was receiving some fine new stitches and swearing he would never return to my uncle's house again after dark.
That was the late 70s, but I would approach the ghost dog years later as a youth myself. While my encounters would not turn violent they would still scare the color out of me on numerous occasions. My first real moment was when I was about 13. I was walking down to meet a few friends to play Dungeons and Dragons. It was around 8 at night and dark as usual. I saw what I thought was just the wind moving some brush and then I heard the breathing of what sounded like a moose. In all honesty it just sounded so large. I could not see anything and then I heard the steps and just took off running.
Later on I would actually return as an adult with my team of paranormal researchers to try and lure the ghost dog out. To my shock we managed to get some very strange audio of the breathing sounds as well as loud thumping.
To this day that little curve in Hall Hollow is still a mystery and still home to the ghost dog. people are still reporting it being just as active now as it was then.
The Graveyard Under A Church
While not haunted the cemetery near the Methodist Church in Wheelwright is quite possibly one of the most spooky and unusual ones of it's kind. On the outside it appears just as any cemetery of it's age does. Old stones beat and worn down by mother nature and her elemental fury but on the inside of the church lies a whole other spectrum to the grave yard.
Under the church you will find that the building was not build beside a cemetery, but on top of one. Grave stones and markers still decorate the under belly of the church and are accessible through a side door. The dusty dirt floors are decorated with stones that detail the existence and passing of some former resident of this great city.
For many it is strange to imagine that under a church lies a graveyard, but for others it seems almost peaceful that loved ones rest beneath a house of worship. Regardless of which side of that argument you take it is still a bit unnerving to think of from time to time. I have spent and logged many hours under the church hoping to catch something paranormal but I can honestly say if it is there my team failed to get it on audio or video.
Orb captured in Wheelwright's Historic District
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Why Do Spooky Stories Continue
Wheelwright is a legacy town, one with a past so memorable that people cling to it, and they should. Stories like these exist to kind of keep that legacy memorable but at the same time create a side of it that gives it some edge. Noone would visit the little curve at the end of Hall Hollow just below Marie Little drive just to see a curve in a one lane road but add in the tale of the ghost dog that can bit and wound you and it becomes a place that people might venture into.
These stories add something to an already great place that give it an edge that may attract someone to want to be a part of it's story. The greatest thing left of a town's past is the ability to tell the story.
I think in many ways it is that continuation of the story and how it adapts and changes that makes a place more interesting over years. I am sure eventually the ghost dog will either fade into obscurity or become a creature far worse than a dog or the story of the flying horse will fade away but for us who live now, in this particular moment they are there for us to enjoy. We don't have to choose to believe or disbelieve them. We simply just need to know they are there for us either way.
Want to learn more?
You can read more about Wheelwright Kentucky or see some of the many pictures collected by the Wheelwright Historic Society right here on the Wheelwright Historic Society Page. Visit us and learn more about one of the nation's most cherished coal towns and find out why it was once called the Chamalot of America.