Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring Mills Phantom

Photo from Sotterly Plantation's Website
Imagine it's late at night and you're driving down an unfamiliar country road, trying to get back to the highway.  As the fog creeps in, so thick you can't see 10 feet in front of you, you pull over at a crossroads and try to get your bearings.  Suddenly, the fog takes on a greenish hue, and time seems to stop.

Movement from the woods to your right catches your eye, and as you sit, paralyzed in fear, a figure slowly emerges, staggering through the fog and headed right towards you.  The figure is that of a man, dressed in Confederate Gray.  He's clutching his lower back with both hands, a pained look spreading across his face.  With his last remaining strength, he flings himself, hands first, across the hood of your car. 

You jump out of your vehicle to assist the man who is obviously terribly wounded.  However, by the time you race out your door around to your hood, the man has vanished.  All that remains are two bloody hand prints, which will slowly fade away before you make it back to civilization, erasing with it any proof of your phantom encounter.

It sounds like a cute little piece of fiction, but to many traveling in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, its an experience that is all too real.  For years, motorist have been having encounters with what is known as the Spring Mills Phantom.

Back when I was in elementary school, my step-father was the athletic director for a local high school.  When that school's football team made it to the state championship finals, being held nearby, we turned the trip into a family vacation...and no family vacation with my mom and me is complete without a little haunted history hunting!  Our local newspaper had recently run a series of articles on famous haunts in WV, and this story made the cut, so we added it to the itinerary. 

We pulled up to the crossroads mentioned in the article, shut off the engine and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After what seemed like forever, sitting in the dark and the fog, we started to see movement coming from the woods.  At first sign there might be ANYTHING coming out of those woods, my now-former step-father turned the engine on and stomped on the gas, lol.  I will never know whether or not I missed my opportunity to meet a Civil War veteran in real life.

Anyway, this gentleman hasn't been seen to my knowledge for many years, but if you find yourself on the Hammonds Mill Road section of  Route 901 in Berkeley County, keep an eye open at the crossroads...you might get the opportunity I missed!

I am not 100% sure where this location is.  It's been over 20 years since I was there last, and my mom doesn't remember exactly, either.  I do know that a crossroads played a vital role in this story, and that the road we were on was very rural.  From what I've found, I would GUESS that the crossroads is actually where Route 901, which stretches between Hedgesville and Falling Waters, connecting WV9 and US Rt. 11, meets with a road called Harlan Run or Harlan Springs Run.  It is near the very haunted Hammond Mansion and Grist Mill.

More information can be found at the Southern Spirit Guide!

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