Saturday, April 16, 2011

Piney Bottom's Headless Hitch Hiker

from Scary Halloween Costumes

Piney Bottom is near Harts, in Lincoln county, West Virginia, a little south of Huntington and located at the mouth of Big Harts Creek.

According to Wikipedia, the town was named for Stephen Hart (Heart), an Indian fighter and early settler who lived at the mouth of the creek. Originally, the town was named "Heart's Creek," then later "Hart" and more recently "Harts."

The Big Harts Creek runs along the Guyandotte River; there's also Little Harts Creek nearby and at least one sizable offshoot, the West Fork. The quiet hollow these streams flow through is known locally as Piney Bottom. And it's home to one of the state's eerier legends.

In the 1800s, there were several sightings of a headless man dressed in black walking the area, especially by the first creek flowing through the bottoms. Another version claims that a ghostly carriage manned by the headless ghost would give people rides.

H&H tends to discount that tale; you have to be awfully tired of traveling via the shoe leather express to jump aboard a spook wagon being driven by a headless apparition.

While a scary sight, the headless dude was harmless. But there's a more chilling second act to the lore.

Folk riding their horses through the hollow reported that a headless black beast, part man, part critter, would jump on the back of their steed to hitch a ride. The monstrosity would wrap its arms around the rider in a death grip (what else?), scaring him and the poor horse witless, hanging on from the first creek to the ford of the next stream.

Now no one knows who or what the creature is, although some suspect that it's just another form of the ghost in black - after all, it's headless, and hops aboard at the same spot that the spirit man haunts. But that link has never been proven.

And it probably never will. With the advent of the auto, the ghost in black reports have dwindled to nothing; maybe cars scare him. But if you're curious, strap a saddle on a horse and take a slow trot through Piney Bottom. Let H&H know how the ride went.

The story is told in "Haunted West Virginia: Ghosts & Strange Phenomena of the Mountain State" by Patty A. Wilson, a noted regional paranormal writer.

1 comment:

Ambria said...

funny that is my old home i lived there many years right in the middle of piney bottom an never seen a thing