Piedmont Strangeness: The Devil’s Tramping Ground
From the Piedmont area comes a strange little tale of the downright unusual.
I remember this old tale from when my dad told me it when I was a kid. Down near Siler City North Carolina, out in the county, there lies an odd circle of ground in the woods, where nothing ever grows. Anything left there at night disappears. And the devil himself circles it at night, plotting ways to pick mankind to destruction.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration, I present The Devil’s Tramping Ground.
This rather unremarkable looking spot made an appearance in the book Weird Carolinas, as one of two places where people see connections with the supernatural. According to the entry on NorthCarolinaGhosts.com, the details of the old telling are that the place bothers dogs and men alike, leaving the animal fearful and the humans insane (usually after staying a night there.) The soil is a killer of plants. If you stay there at night, do expect to wind up in a state of wild mental instability, because you’ll probably be meeting up with the fallen one himself.
Of course it’s a mystery that no one can figure out.
Well, really, scientists today pretty much know that there’s simply a lot of salt in the ground there, and the high concentration did keep things from growing there for a long while. But, apparently, over the years, all the deer (I guess) and various other factors mean that there’s less salt now than there was 100 years ago, so the famous barren spot is a little smaller. There are also frequent visitors. Thrill-seekers, looking for the paranormal, and kids, looking for a good time (like a party, again according to NorthCarolinaGhosts.com) I’m good with this explanation, as far as the barrenness is concerned. But some other explanations caught my eye.
Naturally, UFO’s have been blamed, since the site is a nice circle. Then there are the “Indian burial ground” legends, and the stories of Druids, and the one about Chief Croatan, who might be buried. Or the battle that left the Croatan the losers and fleeing quickly to the coast.
Now there’s an interesting connection.
My first official post here was about Roanoke Island, and the mysterious inscription “Croatan” that appeared on the tree. When I began research for this week, I never expected this link between the two to appear. It is literally something I’d never heard of before, and it really grabs my attention.
Why does the area make dogs so afraid? This isn’t unheard of; I even featured an e-mail from a reader who experience the same thing at the old Beaufort cemetery. What if Croatan was a name that acted as a code?
What if there’s something there in Siler City that isn’t clear? I’m not talking about the devil literally walking around it at night. The inaudible frequencies that can cause dread in human beings have the potential to drive one insane with the stress of several hours. Perhaps paranoia and bad nerves became, over the years, insanity, at least in the story.
What could Croatan have meant to the people who carved it? Did they mean the island? The tribe that was said to have run east after losing a battle in a very mysterious place, where dogs cry and men scream in the night, what did they mean?
Maybe the Devil’s Tramping Ground is simply another hole in the world, and as the wind blows over it, the music begins, and not everyone can hear it.
So what might be on the other side?