Thursday, October 27, 2016
HGB Ep. 159 - The Devil's Tramping Grounds
Moment in Oddity - The Dover Demon
In April of 1977, there were three separate sightings of a creature that Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman named the Dover Demon. Bill Bartlett was a seventeen-year-old boy who was driving through Dover, Massachusetts at night. He was shocked when he caught a creature in his headlights. It was the size of a dog and he at first thought that was what he was seeing. But as he looked closer, he saw that it had glowing orange eyes, long spindly legs and a large bulbous head. The thing had slender fingers that it used to grasp the pavement and it was hairless. Bartlett drove away terrified and sketched what he had seen. The next day he showed it to friends. An hour after Bartlett's sighting, a fifteen-year-old named John Baxter claimed to see the creature while he was walking home with his thirteen-year-old friend Pete Mitchell. Baxter described it as bipedal with orange eyes. He drew a similar sketch. The next day, fifteen-year-old Abby Brabham and eighteen- year-old Will Traintor claimed to see the Dover Demon from their car that they had parked on the side of the road. Their descriptions were similar, only they described glowing green eyes. They said it was the size of a goat. They drew sketches as well. All matched even though none of the individuals knew each other from the separate sightings. Many claimed that the Dover Demon was a baby moose. Loren Coleman has pointed out that moose were not found in that area at that time. Others thought it was a hoax. Whatever the case may be, the description of the Dover Demon certainly is odd!
This Day in History - Constantine's Vision of the Cross
On this day, October 27th, in 312, Emperor Constantine has a vision of the cross in the sky. This took place on the eve of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. This would be a battle of Constantine's army against the army of Maxentius right outside of Rome near the Milvian Bridge. Constantine was directed in a dream to fight in the name of Christ and he added an intersected chi (X) and rho (P) to the shields of his men. What was described as a dream could have been a vision that assured Constantine of victory. The author Eusebius, a Constantine apologist, also described the event in "Life of Constantine" as, "He saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS. At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle." Constantine was outnumbered, but he defeated Maxentius’ forces. They retreated over the bridge and it collapsed and many men were trampled or drowned. Constantine took the head of Maxentius and rode into Rome.
The Devil's Tramping Grounds (Suggested by Konda from Germany, McKenna Wilson, Steven Pappas, Bob Sherfield and Whitney Land)
Study a map of the world with a focus on name places that carry the word "devil" in the name or some derivative thereof, and you will literally find hundreds of them. What is the fascination with using the devil's name? There are some who believe these places have been named this way because they harbor some kind of evil. Some of them are located at places thought to be crossroads. And it would seem that some of these places do have strange legends or supernatural activity connected to them. These places could be considered the Devil's Tramping Grounds. On this episode, we are going to focus on a handful of these locations that have some very strange or nefarious happenings connected to them. Join us as we explore the Devil's Tramping Grounds!
Devil's Tramping Ground - The inspiration for the name of this episode is a place that has been dubbed the Devil's Tramping Ground. We'll give Steven Pappas credit for bringing this to our attention. This legendary area has been talked about for hundreds of years. This area is found south of Siler City, North Carolina. It is a forty-foot barren circle of land that was first mentioned in history before the Revolutionary War when the first settlers came to Chatham County. So what is the reason for this circle of land to be barren? The legend claims that the Devil liked this particular spot to work out his devilish plans. He would walk in circles as he plotted the demise of men. His steps killed all the plants that he trotted across in the circle.
This legend may seem preposterous to most people, but how about an explanation that incorporates two Native American tribes crossing paths in a very violent way on this spot. The losing tribe fled to the coast and became the Croatian tribe. The fight was intense and much blood was shed. So much, that it killed the vegetation in the circle. But this is not why nothing continues to grow there. The natives claimed that the gods decreed that nothing should grow there as a reminder of the war. But logical people believe that science can give us the real explanation. As was the case with the Hoia Baciu Forests, scientists have tested everything in the area. They did find a high content of salt, which could perhaps cause greenery not to grow. But what explains the perfect circle?
There are hauntings related to the circle lending credence to the idea that this is a supernatural spot. Objects placed in the circle will be moved outside of the circle overnight. There are stories that anybody who spent the night in the circle would come out of the circle completely insane. This was because it was claimed that they would see the Devil's true face when they spent the night. A young woman by the name of Sarah camped at the site with some friends. They set up their tents and climbed in for the evening. Sarah was awakened in the middle of night by whispers outside of the tent. She at first assumed another group had ventured to the circle. She poked her head outside and the whispering immediately stopped. And there was no one outside. Sarah went back to sleep, but shortly thereafter there was talking again, but this time it seemed as though something were hitting the tent in several places. Once again, Sarah and her friends found no one outside.
Stories like this have been told by many people staying at the Tramping Ground. People also claim to have seen shadowy figures darting between the trees. It does not help that occult practitioners enjoy using the area for seances and rituals. Have they brought the haunting figures here? We'll probably never know why this area is barren, but it sure seems that something strange is going on here.
Devil's Bridge (Suggested by Bob Sherfield) - The Devil's Bridge is not one particular bridge. There are several bridges in Europe that carry this moniker, including the countries of Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom and others. The bridges share some common elements. They date back to medieval times and rather than just spanning a waterway in a flat line, they are built in a high arch as if to accommodate ships sailing underneath. Some believe that humans could not have built these structures and thus came legends that the Devil built these bridges. In several legends, the price that must be paid to get the Devil to build the bridge is a human soul. He says that he will take the first one that crosses the bridge. Each legend has the Devil being tricked out of his prize when an animal, either a dog or a rabbit, is first to cross the bridge. How did these people know that the architect and builder of the bridge was the Devil? Many would see a hoof from under the long coat he wore and there was a tinge of the scent of brimstone whenever he left.
Devil's Playground - The Devil's Playground was named by the Apaches. This is an area that is drenched in the supernatural with claims that this is a vortex. This is a mountainous area in south central Arizona. Claims made about the Playground are that it has a cave that is an entry into a subterranean world. Supposedly, an ancient spiral staircase can be found in the tunnel that penetrates into the bowels of the earth. Time and dimensional shifts have been reported by visitors. The Circlestone Medicine Wheel is an artifact comparable to England's Stonehenge and is found here, 6,000 feet up in the mountains.
Devil's Island, Nova Scotia - Devil's Island off Nova Scotia has a rich history of hauntings and unexplained phenomenon. It is located at the northeast entrance to Halifax Harbour. The first mention of the island came in 1711 when it appeared on a French map of the Province of Nova Scotia. The name used to be Rous' Island because the original owner was named Captain John Rous. The name was changed to Wood Island because of all the trees, but after a fire wiped out all the trees, people started calling it Deville's or Duval's Island, which was later anglicized to Devil's. A community of European settlers grew up on the island in 1830. A school was built along with a general store and there were once two lighthouses. Only one still remains and that is the Southeast Lighthouse. A house once stood on the island that was reputed to be very haunted. As a matter of fact, those early settlers claimed the entire island was haunted.
One year, a lighthouse keeper was working to spiffy up the place and he decided to put a new coat of paint on the stairs. He finished up and turned to collect his painting tools and material. When he turned back around to survey his handywork, he was astonished to find footsteps in the fresh wet paint. He was the only person at the lighthouse. One of the rumors about how the island came to have the name Devil spawns from a story about a man named Caspar Henneberry. He may have had too much to drink one night, but he claimed that one evening he found a talking halibut that claimed it was the Devil himself. Caspar told the townspeople, but they laughed at him. They weren't laughing the next day when Caspar was found hanging over the side of his boat, drowned. And thus the island got its name.
That haunted house we mentioned was the victim of several mysterious fires. People who lived at the house and those who visited claim that objects would move on their own and that weird knocks would be heard in the walls. Foul odors would seem to come from nowhere and disembodied voices were heard. The house was eventually razed, but this hasn't stopped the paranormal activity. Strange lights and fires are seen where the house once stood. In the mid 1990s, a camper, who was also a fan of the paranormal, decided to put the island's haunted reputation to the test. He set up camp near the lighthouse keeper's house. He noticed in the evening that a light was visible in a window. There is no electricity on the island, so he decided to check out the house and see what was making the light. He discovered a candle in the window, but it had been blown out apparently. He felt the wick and it was still warm. He looked around to see if he could find anybody in the house. He found no one and he was quite unnerved because earlier he had explored the island and there was no one on the island but him.
Devil's Backbone (Suggested by Whitney Land) - We know we have many beer drinkers out there, so you might be familiar with the Devil's Backbone Brewing Company. The Devil's Backbone that this is named for was a perilous cliff area in Virginia that was surveyed by men like Thomas Jefferson's father. Their task was to carve and measure a straight line that was 80 miles long and would come to be known as The Fairfax Line. They also wanted to trace the sources of the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers and try to connect them.One of the surveyor's wrote in his journal, “Friday, October 3rd … Thence 604 poles to the top of Devils Backbone to a Chestnut Oak we marked 31 miles. This day several of the horses had like to been killed, tumbling over rocks and precipices, and we ourselves were often in utmost danger. This terrible place we called Purgatory …”
The Devil's Backbone that Whitney suggested is in Texas. It is part of Edward's Plateau and runs from Wimberley to Blanco. The hills are made from limestone. The road people drive along is called Purgatory Road. Occasionally a bizarre creature will appear on the hood of people's cars. Whitney wrote, "One of my favorite features of the Hill Country in Texas is a limestone ridge called Devil's Backbone. It's a beautiful drive and a popular ride for bikers. There are tales of seeing ghosts of Spanish monks, Native Americans, the spirit of a wolf and even confederate soldiers riding their horse. This area had a spot on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries!" There are reputed to be many ghosts here that include a miner's widow and child, a Native American cattle herder named Drago and a wolf spirit. The miner's widow is said to be wandering trying to bring her husband a proper Christian burial.
The ghostly galloping of horses is heard across the Devil's Backbone. Reports claim that the beating of the hooves can shake a house on its foundation. TVs at the Devil's Backbone Tavern turn off and on by themselves. A hunter claimed he would never return to the area after hearing the thundering of what he figured were the hooves of fifty horses. When he looked towards the sound, he saw a Confederate Calvary. A farm family claimed that their son was talking to an imaginary friend who was a little girl he described as having a hole in her head. The girl had told him that her father had shot her. It was a common practice at the time for families to commit murder-suicide during Comanche raids.
Devil's Dyke (Suggested by Bob Sherfield) - This is a V-shaped valley on the South Downs Way in Sussex in southern England. It is believed that the extremely cold climate that existed here 14,000 years ago and river erosion helped form the valley. At least, that is what scientists will tell you. The locals will probably tell you various legends all dealing with the Devil, which is how this dyke got Devil in its name. The Devil was apparently digging this trench with the diabolical goal of destroying the churches in Weald of Sussex with a flood of sea water. The trench was left unfinished. The reasons are multiple depending on the legend told. One claims the Devil stubbed his toe kicking a rock and the injury forced him to stop. That rock landed in a valley in Hove that came to be known as Goldstone because of that rock, which had hints of gold in it. That stone can be seen at the Old Shoreham Road end of the park and may have been a center of worship for Druids. Another reason given for the cessation of digging was the crow of a rooster, which made the Devil think that morning was coming and so he ran. And yet another version claims a woman lit a candle after the digging disturbed her and the light chased the Devil away. He threw one last shovelful of dirt over his shoulder and the Isle of Wight was formed. But consider this: There have been reports for centuries of sightings of a devil-like creature. So which came first? Did the sightings cause people to create the legend? Or has the legend led to people thinking they are seeing the Devil?
Devil's Tree (Suggested by McKenna Wilson) - In Somerset County in New Jersey stands a solitary tree that is known as the Devil's Tree. It's an oak tree with dead limbs that many claim is cursed. Bernard's Township, where the tree is located, was considered one of the headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey and this tree reputedly was used to lynch African Americans and rebellious slaves. Another legend claims that a local farmer killed his family and then hanged himself from the tree. Whatever is the cause of the curse, it is said that anyone who disrespects the tree by urinating on it or making disparaging remarks towards it, will have a mishap later. Like a car accident or some other misfortune. Other legends claim that people who get too close to the tree will be chased by a black Ford pick-up truck that will then disappear at a certain point. The ground below the tree does not collect snow in the winter and a nearby rock is referred to as "Heat Rock" and there are claims it blocks a portal to Hell.
Devil's Footstep or Teufelstritt (Suggested by Konda from Germany) - The Frauenkirche is a Catholic Church built in Munich beginning in 1468. It took twenty years to build and architect Jörg von Halsbach designed the structure. It was built in the Gothic style out of red brick because it was a cheaper building material. The church was not completed as designed because construction suffered from many financial issues. Many Gothic features were not included initially for this reason. Two towers would not be completed until 1525. They were suppose to have pointed spires, but instead were completed with dome tops. This again was due to funds and it was thought it would be better for rain. They do not match the rest of the structure, but it makes the church very distinct. It is the largest brick church north of the Alps. There is a unique legend that goes with the church.
Konda wrote, "This story was told to me by Sister Miriam, a nun who had been a close friend of my mother. The biggest and most recognizable Catholic Church in Munich is the Münchner Frauenkirche (translates to women's church.) This is where the Devil's Footprint can be found. It is a black mark resembling a footprint, which according to legend was where the devil stood when he regarded and ridiculed the 'windowless' church. Here is the version of the legend that Sister Miriam told me: The Devil made a deal with the builder to finance construction of the church on the condition that it contains no windows. This would keep the angels out of the church and therefore ensure that no blessings would come from any ceremony conducted there. The architect; however, tricked the devil by positioning columns so that the windows were not visible from the spot where the devil stood in the foyer. When the Devil discovered that he had been tricked, he realized he could not enter the already consecrated church. He could only stand in the foyer and stomp his foot furiously, which left the dark footprint that remains visible in the church's entrance today. Legend also says the Devil then rushed outside and manifested his evil spirit in the wind that furiously rages around the church. This church actually has enormous fallwinds due to the facade and the postioning of the church. Even on days when there is no wind at all, you will always have a breeze there. Another explanation for the wind is that the Devil rode on it to the church and when he became enraged and left quickly, he forgot the wind there and it must stay until he returns to retrieve the wind." This wind has been dubbed "Perpetual Wind."
Does the Devil make himself homes in certain areas on earth? Are these locations harboring something evil? Are these Devil's Tramping Grounds haunted? That is for you to decide!