Friday, October 30, 2009

The Devil's Tramping Ground

I'm taking a break for a bit from mythology to go into legend.  I figure the two are close enough to count.  It was the day before Halloween, we had a teacher workday, and my family and I decided to take a road trip.  We had originally planned to drive up to the mountains in North Carolina and look at the leaves, but as we were very tired, low on money, and it looked like it was going to be a drizzly day, we decided to do something else.  When I checked the web for places to visit in my home state, I was drawn to a mention of The Devil's Tramping Ground.

For those of you who are non-North Carolinaers, two things: 1. I feel sorry for you.  This is one fantastic place to live, and 2. The Devil's Tramping Ground is a place that everyone around my age learned about in 4th grade social studies.  In 1949, a book came out called The Devil's Tramping Ground and Other North Carolina Mysteries and every fourth grade teacher scared us with stories from it.  Once I remembered that place, I thought, hey! what a great place to visit right before Halloween!

A little background - the Devil's Tramping Ground is a little place out in the middle of nowhere where nothing grows in a circle about 40 ft in diameter.  It is said that if you put anything in the circle (including a tent you are sleeping in) it will be moved outside the circle by morning.  Animals do not enter the place.  Apparently it has been that way ever since Chatham County was discovered before 1800.  Due to it's reputation, it is also said that Satanic rituals are performed there from time to time.  The legend says that nothing grows there and nothing stays there because at night, the devil walks around in a circle, thinking up new ways to ruin mankind. Another, lesser known or liked legend is that it is a place where some local Native Americans were buried and they resent anything being on their eternal resting place.

I got directions from this site:

So I packed the car up feeling strangely like an idiot.  Here I am taking my wife and kids to some devil infested, Satanic ritual place.  Talk about father of the year, huh? What is the worst that could happen? What we should have seen when we arrived was this:

But as people keep stealing the signs, the state no longer spends the expense.  Instead, we pulled the car over in front of the woods where the circle is and saw this:

Nice jaw bone, huh?  And check out that spinal column in the upper corner.  Well, my kids are thinking this is super cool and can't wait to see the actual circle.  Me, I'm wondering if the people who did this are hanging out nearby.  That horror movie image is now heavy on the brain.

When we get there, my oldest says, "This is it?"  Here is him showing how thrilling the circle was:

I'm not sure what he expected to see.  He has been watching a lot of Scooby Doo lately, so no telling.  You can see where someone lit a fire the night before.  I thought at first that that proves things don't disappear, but then I read when I got home that the legend says that things only disappear from the outer rim, there the devil actually walks.  Stuff can stay in the center.

Now my younger child was a bit reluctant about stepping in the circle (quite possibly the smart one - takes after his mother - but I am sure that my genes will surface in him soon).  His desire to get his picture taken, however, outweighed any fear of the circle.

Note his cool Spider-Man shoes with the interchangeable black and red webs!  There was another guy who had shown up to check out the circle as well.  I told the kids that he was the devil coming to walk the circle.  They left him alone.

Outside the circle are many paths, but since this is really private property, we didn't feel the need to trespass any further.   Plus the freaks that left the bones might be out there.  Double plus that would leave freaks in front of us and the aforementioned devil (which I had by now convinced myself was the real deal) behind us.  Forget that!

Just outside the circle are two things:


And trash

Lots of trash from drunks coming up at night to people seeing if the legend is true.  I don't know about the devil walking around it, but I can tell you this: there was no trash, no anything except freshly fallen leaves in the area where the devil supposedly walks, there were no animals around (except for the skeleton remains), and the place was quiet (well, except for two very loud little kids who kept following me around).

I would love to hear from you if there is a similar place where you live.  Have you been?  Post a reply!

Happy Halloween guys (or happy Samhain, or happy Pomona, or whatever you are celebrating today).

*Note* After posting this entry, the local TV news did a segment on the circle.  Just to prove to you that all of the above is NOT a lie, check out the clip:


Ed Bain said...

Edward Bain said...

Mark Alford said...

Pretty nifty Ed. Thanks for sharing.