A rumbling in a moonlit forest, a stirring in an abandoned courthouse, the screams of new bride, the window in which no one ever dare looks…Did something just go bump in the night? If asking that question while in The Kentucky Wildlands, the answer could be a surprising “yes!”
Known as one of the most haunted areas in the U.S., The Kentucky Wildlands is chock full of spooky legends, ghost stories and mysterious hauntings, local tales of ethereal sightings and eerie lore so detailed and woven through generations, that you have to wonder if they couldn’t be true. Actually, eastern Kentucky with its old-time mountain superstitions, abandoned coal mines, isolated hollers and remote forests has some of the best settings and conditions for scary stories and hauntings.
Here, you find tales and accounts laced with local history and flavor, such as the Civil War soldiers who still walk the hallowed Ivy Mountain battlefield grounds at night, or the old Prestonsburg courthouse where many locals say you can hear the desperate cries of prisoners trying to escape. There’s the Tan Man of Pike County who trudges through a house accompanied by the smell of roses. And the Benham Schoolhouse Inn in Cumberland is housed in what was once a high school and is now where witnesses claim ghostly students run, laugh and slam doors throughout the halls of the building.
One of the most famous hauntings in the state is of the widely reported “ghost bride” who on her honeymoon, slipped and fell to her death over Cumberland Falls in the 1950s, followed by her devastated husband who plunged in after her and also died. She consistently appears atop the cliffs above the falls and around the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park Dupont Lodge and has been seen and heard weeping by a number of park employees and visitors. Cumberland Falls is also home to some accounts of phantom creatures along the paths to the falls.
Another state park, Carter Caves State Resort Park, is known for the legendary haunting of its X Cave where two Cherokee lovers are said to have died. Red Dog Road in Harlan is the site of flickering lights and sounds reportedly connected to a shooting incident between two miners in the 1930s where one was killed. And longstanding Olive Hill residents claim you’ll see “the scariest thing in your life” when you look into the window of the rustic church on Friday the 13th, but no one ever dares try…
If you’re intrigued by the mysterious and strange, eerie occurrences, you may want to spend some time in The Kentucky Wildlands taking a ghost tour, exploring a haunted house or seeking the truth behind these famous legends, lore and hauntings for yourself.