Hello, my fellow creepy travelers, and welcome back to part eight of my 10-part series spotlighting the creepiest urban legend in each of the 50 states. We’re down to the final 15, but that doesn’t mean the stories are any less compelling than they were in the beginning!
What will the next state hold? Read on to find out, and don’t forget to let us know your favorites, as well, in the comments below!
Oklahoma: The Hornet Spooklight
When it comes to urban legends, Oklahoma has more than its fair share and I honestly had a hard time choosing one for this article. Cry-baby bridges are rampant across the state, and southeastern Oklahoma has a long history of Bigfoot sightings. Then there are the numerous people who have vanished among the dunes in what is now the state’s panhandle region dating back hundreds of years.
Still, there’s another phenomena that drew my attention repeatedly while researching this article. It’s called the Hornet Spooklight, and it has more backstories than you can shake a proverbial stick at.
In many ways, the spooklight, which is often seen along the border between Oklahoma and Missouri, is not unlike other “ghost lights” or “fairy lights” seen in various parts of the globe. Most of these can be explained away with atmospheric electrical charges, gasses, etc. The spooklight, however, has never been fully explained by any of those methods, however.
The earliest mentions of the lights go back to the late 1800s and it has been seen continually ever since, and so naturally, it has sparked numerous urban legend-like explanations. Some say it’s the ghost of a Civil War soldier, and others say they’re the spirit of Native American lovers tragically separated who still search for each other in the dark. My favorite, however, involves a miner who lost was decapitated in an accident and who wanders the hills with his lantern held aloft still looking for his lost head.
In 2014, a college professor and a team of students concluded that the spooklight was actually the reflection of car headlights. This is all fine and good, but someone should probably remind the professor that replication of a phenomenon is not concrete proof. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure that there were no cars and therefore no headlights in 1866.
Either way, if you’re ever in Oklahoma, you should check out the mysterious spooklight for yourself!
Oregon: Witchcraft at Malheur Butte
Malheur Butte is a dead volcano and has been for millions of years. That hasn’t stopped local legends from cropping up about the location.
It is said that witches once used the Butte’s summit as a location for dark rituals and that now, if one should find themselves near the location at night, they should be on the lookout for dark, imp-like creatures that roam the surrounding area. Some say the creatures are demon; others say they’re Fae beings of one sort or another.
Either way, the area is said to give off a peculiar vibe to visitors, and it’s one place I’d definitely like to see for myself!
Pennsylvania: The Bus to Nowhere
I love this urban legend so much for two reasons. First and foremost, it’s genuinely creepy in a tragic sort of way. Second, it seems to have been born only in the last decade but has definitely taken on a life of its own despite its recent emergence.
It is said in Philadelphia that there is a bus that only appears to those who find themselves in the grip of profound grief and depression. The bus will appear out of nowhere to that person and once they climb aboard, they will find themselves surrounded by other lost and despondent people. Perhaps their spouse left them. Perhaps they lost their job and have no prospects for the future. The thing they all have in common is a need for escape.
No matter their circumstances, they now ride the bus until the day they’ve finally dealt with their grief and are ready to move on, at which time they can stand up and pull the cord for the driver to let them off. Once they step off the bus, they don’t remember their ride. In fact, they don’t even remember the bus, though some have ridden it for days, weeks, even years.
As I said before, I love this story. There is something tragic and beautiful about it, though it is undeniably creepy. As for where the story began, it seems to have emerged from a blog written by Nicholas Mirra in 2011, and since that time–much like Slenderman and the Russian Sleep Experiment–it has taken on a life of its own with some locals swearing that it truly exists.
Rhode Island: Dolly Cole
In Foster, Rhode Island, legend says, there was once a woman named Dolly Cole. Depending on which version of the tale you read, Cole was either a natural healer or she was an evil witch, possibly a vampire, and a prostitute. Cole’s legend most likely was wrapped into some of the vampire panic that went on in New England during the 18th and 19th centuries during which time outbreaks of consumption aka Tuberculosis were blamed on vampires slowly draining the life of their victims.
Regardless of which version of the story you read, the outcome was the same.
The townspeople came to distrust Cole and went out in a mob to her house in the woods with intention of being rid of her once and for all. They set fire to the home, not realizing that Cole was not inside but her young daughter was. It’s said that the girl died in the fire and upon discovering this, Cole laid a curse on the land and people of the area.
Since that time, sightings of Cole’s spirit pop up from time to time. It’s said those who find themselves face-to-face with the spirit are left in a terrified, nearly inconsolable state.
South Carolina: The Ghost Hound of Goshen
Legend says that in the 1800s, an innocent man was hanged for a crime he didn’t commit, and he was subsequently buried in Ebenezer Church Cemetery near the township of Goshen.
The man’s dog laid atop his grave, refusing to move until the hound also died.
Since then, a large, ghostly white dog is said to wander old Buncombe Road, a five mile stretch of road that runs from the cemetery to an old plantation house.
Some say no matter how fast you’re driving the dog will run alongside your car. If you stop, he will sit in the road in front of your car and turn its head to sky, howling in his despair. According to legend, seeing the dog is a sure sign that someone you love will soon die.
Of course, it’s only an urban legend….but would you take the chance to find out?