Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Southern Ghosts Part Four - Rich Mountain, Arkansas
Ghost stories often provide a glimpse into real events from the distant past. This is the case with the legend of the Ghost of Rich Mountain in Arkansas.
Rich Mountain is located deep in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas. Although the area is now part of the Ouachita National Forest, it was once a region of isolated settlements where early pioneers clung to existence on the rocky slopes of the mountains.
On the top of the mountain, just off the Talimena Scenic Drive, is the Rich Mountain Pioneer Cemetery. Established at around the time of the Civil War by early settlers, it remained in use well into the 20th century. It is a mysterious place, even on sunny summer days. Cracked and broken tombstones surrounded by a split rail fence set off the drive in the woods are the focus of numerous stories of the early mountain settlers. Perhaps the most moving is the tale of the Ghost of Rich Mountain.
According to the story, a teenage girl was home with her mother and several younger children on a freezing night during the Civil War. The mother was severely ill with a fever, so the daughter went out with a bucket to obtain water from a nearby spring. It was late at night and icy winds were blowing across the mountain. Before she could return, however, she was confronted by wolves and took refuge in a tree. She froze to death there and was not found until the next day.
Legend holds that mysterious lights can be seen at night in the area of the Rich Mountain cemetery. The explanation usually given is that the strange light is given off by the ghost of the young girl, still trapped in a tree on the mountain more than 140 years after the Civil War.
If you would like to read more about the Rich Mountain Pioneer Cemetery, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/richmountainghost.