Small-town haunts offer big adrenaline rush
4 years ago Triangle Editor 0
By Katherine Carpenter
Dayton isn’t the most entertaining place I’ve ever been, nor is it the spookiest. It is, however, not completely devoid of its own personal “haunted” sites.
As a Dayton local, I grew up conscious of the local urban legends in town and the surrounding areas. Not much has happened in this sleepy little city, but what little lore we have is enough to scare the pants off the most jaded horror movie buff, a.k.a., me.
For the past 150 years, Shipley Hollow Road in Sale Creek has been known as home of one of the most infamous beastie sightings in the area. The year was 1775. Legend tells of a female settler and her four children driving home one night in their horse and buggy. As they crossed the Shipley Hollow bridge, surrounded in fog, they suddenly heard a “pit, pat, pit, pat” noise behind them. Before they knew it, a cat-like creature, walking upright on two legs, ran out from behind them, spooking their horse and flipping the buggy. The woman and her children were thrown from their seats. As she floated in and out of consciousness, the poor mother saw her children carried off by the hideous creature, never to be seen again.
Now, whether or not this story is true is entirely up to who you are, and who you talk to. But one thing that’s not up for debate is how thoroughly creepy Dayton’s own locally Donkey Grounds is. Donkey Grounds is so named for its entirely uninteresting past: it used to be part of a BLABLAH. Located just off of New Union Road, Donkey Grounds is a secluded clearing that lets out onto the lake. Even though nothing much has happened there apart from heavy drinking, littering and the occasional dead animal dumping, it’s still one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been. It’s mostly used as a makeout spot for local high schoolers, but it could easily double as an onlocation set for a remake of “The Town that Dreaded Sundown.” Something about the thick underbrush and lonely road seems to practically beg someone to dress up in a clown costume and wander the town stabbing teenagers.
The thing that makes Garrison Cemetery so uniquely terrifying is the fact that it is completely and totally isolated from the public. You have to know exactly where it is to find it or be really bad with directions. Garrison Road itself is pretty out of the way, and the cemetery, with its unassuming road sign buried in the trees, and long, winding uphill path to the clearing that some call their final resting place, is almost impossible to find by accident.
I have been a lot of places at night, and seen a lot of horror movies, so I am no stranger to the creepy-crawly feeling on the back of your neck that makes you think, “Hey. Maybe there’s an axe murderer behind me; Maybe I should get back in the car; Maybe I should drive home where I can huddle under my comforter and watch ‘Law and Order’ in peace.” And brother, let me tell you, I have never felt that feeling so strongly as I did on Friday night. There’s nothing to make you remember “The Lord’s Prayer” in a hurry quite like being in a dark cemetery surrounded by woods.
Even though I wasn’t alone on Friday, and had my high beams on, my skin crawled like it did the first time I saw a slasher flick when I was eleven. The logical 10% of my brain was thinking, “You giant whiny baby, what could possibly happen to you out here? Even if there are ghosts, they’re probably just as freaked out as you are,” but the remaining 90% of me was screaming, “…Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us poor sinners, now, and in the hour of our death AMEN.”
Even though, obviously, nothing happened to me, I almost took my tires off getting out of there. Now that I’m away from it, though, the fright seems more appealing. Who knows? I might try camping out in Garrison Cemetery. I probably wouldn’t last long, though. In such a remote, lonesome area, there’s no one to hear you scream. Apart from the corpses.